Edit: I’ve copied it here for archival purposes, given that ladytabitha doesn’t use that journal any more.
That’s a fascinating question.
There are lots of different kinds of things I get from other people. Many of them, like a sense of deep connection, sex, and a certain kind of bubbly optimism, are things that I often get from romantic or sexual relationships than from other kinds of relationships. Many of them, like conversation, shared brainstorming, and laughter, I can get in platonic, casual friendships. So there are a lot of elements I want in my life, a lot of different social nutrients I feel I need in order to be a healthy person, and I seek many of them out in relationships with other people.
I’m kind of unusual in that I don’t tend to centralize these quests for various things in one person as much as most people do. That’s part of why I’m not monogamous, and of why the primary–secondary model of relationships doesn’t work as well for me as it does for some people. It’s been a long time, for instance, since I’ve regularly gotten deep romantic love and sex from the same people — not for any particular reason, but because those things are somewhat separable for me and that’s the way it’s worked out. Similarly, in different close friendships or loverships I get to exercise different facets of my personality: some people I love spending time with because I love having intellectual, almost abstract conversations with them; some people I love having warm emotional discussions with; some people I like to Go Out and Do Things with; and some people I just want to hold or be held by.
So there isn’t one reason I seek out relationships (or friendships), but several. I have a lot of things I’m looking for in my life, and no one person is going to provide all of them, but I tend to notice people who either happen to work well with me in a number of ways, or else who are really good at one particular thing that matters to me.
Another thing that’s a bit unusual for me (and sometimes gets me in trouble) is that close friendship and romantic love are very similar for me. There’s a cluster of things I look for in friends, and another cluster I look for in romantic interests or lovers, but the overlap is very large. So for me, the difference between friends and lovers is largely a difference of degree. (At least if you set aside simple sexual attraction, but I’m not convinced sexual attraction isn’t partly affected by the same cluster of personality traits, and I’m also not convinced that it doesn’t have at least some effect on who I form friendships with.) One nice consequence of this is that I almost always stay close friends with exes.
If I had to pick one thing that I look for in relationships, it would be something that I associate as much with my closest friendships as with romantic relationships: a certain sense of intimate connection, of emotional sharing, of uncensored communication, and of trust. It’s something I get in pillow-talk with a lover, but also in conversations with a friend when we’re connecting well.
Coming at this from a more practical perspective, one thing (some) people expect from a long-term capital-R relationship is living together, or at least spending lots of time together. So one reason to get into that sort of relationship is for the practical benefits of seeing somebody almost every day, of being able to get into those sorts of deep conversations while washing dishes or getting ready for work in the morning, of having fairly regular sex (or at least the fairly regular opportunity for sex if you and your partner want it), of having somebody who keeps up with your life just as a part of their day-to-day routine, rather than having to be brought up to date in spurts. And yes, I’d love to live with someone who was both close friend and lover (and/or play partner). But for much of the last decade of my life, until my (platonic) life partners moved to Hawai‘i, I was getting much of that sort of thing from people who weren’t lovers.
I feel like I’ve sort of gone off on a tangent, and I’m not sure I actually addressed the question you were asking, but hey, I like watching myself type. :-)