While you may not have total control over who you fall in love with, you can choose what kind of partner you seek out. You can increase your chances for finding the “right” partner by thinking about partner traits that lead to happier long-term relationships – and ones that usually lead to unhappiness.
In my book, Insecure in Love, I point out five attributes of an “ideal” partner. While no one is perfect – and no single type of person is right for everyone – here are some qualities you might want to look for if you’re interested in a long-term relationship:
Secure and mature: You’ll most likely be happiest when you connect with someone who’s comfortable with themselves and comfortable maintaining emotionally close relationships. This person is interested in their own pursuits and supportive of their partner’s.. They’re insightful about themselves and open to acknowledging their own mistakes and shortcomings. They are empathic, compassionate, and forgiving.
Effective communicator: Because all relationships involve conflicts and go through difficult times, ideally you want a partner who can both listen well and share openly – even in the face of their emotions. A partner with these qualities is likely to be able to nurture a healthy connection and work effectively through difficulties.
Appreciative: Falling in love is a wonderful feeling. To maintain and deepen this feeling, each partner needs to appreciate and value the other. This is true not only in the beginning of your relationship, but through the years as well. The best way to determine early in your relationship if your partner has this ability is to see whether they’re appreciative of the people already in their life.
Good fit: It’s important that you enjoy the time you spend together. You may want someone who enjoys similar activities, but you might also find that you fit well with someone who has different interests. In the latter case, you might enjoy taking part in — or simply just talking about — each other’s varied experiences.
Ready for a relationship: Timing is important. Even if you find someone who’s a wonderful fit for you, the person must also be ready to make your relationship a priority. This includes devoting the time and attention to nurturing and maintaining emotional intimacy. It also means believing you’re each responsible for helping the other to be happy.
As you think about these attributes, keep in mind that they’re just guidelines. Before you can find a partner who is right for you, you’ll need to search deep within yourself. You must know what’s most important to you — what you can and cannot live with. For instance, you might fall in love with someone who’s a poor communicator. But if he’s open to your guidance in this area, that may be good enough for you. Or, you might find the “perfect” person, except they’re unwilling to give the commitment that you want now. Depending upon your age and your feelings about where you are in life, you might decide that you’re okay waiting for a while and giving the relationship a chance to develop.
As you become aware of your needs, you can figure out what attributes are most important to you. By doing so, you’ll be empowered to find just the right partner for you.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.