Why being passionate makes you an asshole

A common conversation topic, usually among girls, is listing qualities most desired in a mate--and often, the word "passionate" comes up straight away as criteria. This made sense to me at first, until I realized that when I think of my favorite people in the world I would not describe them as passionate--or, if they are, they're passionate about things that I don't particularly care about (e.g., raising puppies, Bauhaus architecture), or can't be described as healthy (e.g., drinking, blond 23-year-olds). Granted, I  understand why you would not want your partner sitting on the couch all day in his underpants, but having interests and enjoying life can all be done without the daunting requirement of being passionate. And in my experience, passion does not necessarily make you more interesting company, or even likable. Often, it makes you an asshole.

We artists are excellent examples of passion gone wrong--misguided, arrogant, insufferable. Marc Rothko, whose passion led to him to live in a squalid apartment building to pursue his painting career, thought so highly of himself that he became annoyed when "common" people dared to stop him in the street to say hello; I can name at least two professors and met countless fellow artists whose passion is so extreme that it leads to a sort of tunnel vision, wherein they elevate their works' importance to near cancer-curing levels.  Artists, much like celebrities, are often given a free pass for being arrogant too, which always struck me as unfair--the underlying philosophy being if you're that talented, you're allowed to act however the hell you want.

This is not a black and white issue, of course. If you're an artist, maybe this attitude is necessary; maybe in order to create anything truly important, you have to be unhinged enough to think that what you're doing matters more than anything else. But the term 'passion' is thrown around as such a good, necessary requirement for art-making, that I get bothered not just by the cliche, but because it is so often indicative of not being quite in touch with reality. A good thing, maybe, if you're in love with someone--I am all for partners so passionate about each other that they can overlook flaws, unless abuse is involved--but when you can't look at what you do objectively, I think it makes it that much harder to do it well. I say, be curious about the world around you. Be thoughtful, be a good friend, and sincere. Be interested in people other than you. Hell, be obsessive, even--just so long as you're self-aware enough to realize it. Love your art, and also hate it for never being good enough. But don't be passionate, because that will just make you annoying.

Related: AA Gill on why being mediocre means more people will show up at your funeral.