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How to Choose the Right Partner

Do you have an ideal partner sketched out in your head? Perhaps you have a shopping list of “must have” traits. If so, you are not alone. The most common characteristics people want in their partners include honesty, intelligence, sense of humor, stability, communication, and common hobbies and interests. Though men and women might seek similar traits in a partner, research has demonstrated that each gender focuses on different qualities. Men typically want a relationship that allows autonomy, while women look for a sense of connection.

To begin your quest to find the right partner, think about the traits and behaviors you prefer. Most people automatically think of superficial traits such as height or eye color. Though these traits may be important to you, other traits may also be more important when it comes to having a healthy, long-term relationship. Here is a list of some important qualities to consider:

  1. Commitment to personal growth
    • Interested in learning how to be a better person and partner.
    • Aware of emotional baggage and weaknesses.
    • Has personal goals for self-improvement.

  2. Emotional Openness
    • Aware of his or her own feelings.
    • Able to express his or her feelings.
    • Desires to share feelings with partner.

  3. Integrity
    • Honest with themselves.
    • Honest with others and you.
    • Does not play games about wants and feelings.

  4. Maturity and Responsibility
    • Maintains a clean house, pays bills and handles finances
    • Ability to take care of themselves.
    • Follows through on promises, shows up on time, does not let people down.
    • Respects your boundaries, values, feelings, and time.

  5. High Self-esteem
    • Takes pride in themselves without being arrogant.
    • Takes care of their health, living environment, car, and possessions.
    • Does not allow other people to mistreat him/her.

  6. Positive Attitude Towards Life
    • Focuses on solutions instead of problems.
    • Turns obstacles into opportunities.
    • Sees the good in people and situations.

Consider some flaws that can be fatal to a relationship. Your partner might have one or more of these traits and still be capable of having a relationship.  According to Barbara DeAngelis, the following is a list of fatal flaws:

  • Addictions
  • Anger
  • Feeling like a victim
  • Control freak
  • Has sexual dysfunction
  • Hasn't grown up
  • Emotionally unavailable
  • Hasn't recovered from past relationships
  • Has emotional damage from childhood

Analyze Yourself

Next, turn the examination inwards. Ask yourself what is holding you back from having a loving relationship. Perhaps you are hurt from a previous break-up. Maybe you are afraid of commitment. Identify these issues and find ways to resolve them. In addition, examine your previous relationships and learn from them. What mistakes did you make? What aspects of a previous relationship would you want to develop in a future relationship? Finally, examine other factors that might affect your partner choice: cultural norms, expectations of male and female roles, religious background, and socioeconomic status. What are your core values that you are not willing to bend or change?

Analyze Your Relationship

Once you are in a relationship, continue to examine your compatibility with your partner. Do not overlook compatibility issues in order to just “be in a relationship”. In other words, do not ignore warning signs of potential problems. Other mistakes include making compromises, such as eliminating activities you like because they don't find them interesting, or reducing your communication with family members or friends your partner dislikes. Evaluate your core value systems and determine if they mesh with your partners. These values are important to you and if your partner and you do not share these values, then there may always be arguments about these.

Talk to Your Partner

You should not be hesitant to ask your partner questions. It is important to learn not only about your partner, but also about your partner's relationship with his or her family. Learning about their family will provide better insights about your partner. Here is a list of questions you could ask:

  • What do you like to do for fun? What did you do for fun when you were younger? How often do you get out and have fun? How much time per week do you take for leisure activities? What do you do when you want to relax? What do you like to do on vacation? What were your friendships like when you were growing up?
  • How do you handle tough times? How have you handled some of the difficult situations in your life?
  • What were your parents like when you were growing up? How did their opinions influence you, then and now? How did your parents get along? How have you changed over the years?
  • What are your plans for the future? What are your attitudes and what is your style for handling money? Do you like to help with household chores? What do you like to talk about? What conversations do you like to avoid?

Take Your Time

Overall, be patient. It is critical to know your own values, wants, and needs before you enter a relationship. Take your time getting to know your partner's personality, history, value systems, and ideals to evaluate whether this is a quality relationship.

References:

  1. James, J and Schlesinger, I. (1987). How to Choose the Right Partner? Addison- Wesley: Menlo Park, CA..
  2. DeAngelis, B. (1992). Are You the One for Me? Delacorte Press: New York.