What should you look for in a long-term partner?
Attraction is certainly important, and enjoying someone’s company is key. There has to be a connection and a real bond.
But beyond that initial spark and connection, what else should you look for?
Psychology has answers that will help you build a stable and meaningful relationship that will stand the test of time.
Let’s dive in.
Spontaneity is an exciting and attractive quality, but it cannot be the basis for a long life together.
Stability is something you should look for in a life partner, in the sense of someone who can take care of themselves.
They don’t have to be perfect by any means, but they should actively work on themselves and have a real desire to improve.
‘They must be able to stand on their own in every aspect of life or actively work towards it’ advises psychologist Lori Kret.
What are this person’s roots in his community, his family, and his career?
Ideally, they have commitments in their lives that are meaningful to them.
The kind of person who can connect in one area of their life is also willing and able to connect in another area of their life.
This is why it makes sense to look at what a person is committed to and what his or her ties are, to see what the future relationship is likely to bring.
There is certainly a place for teasing and naughtiness in a life partnership.
But there must be fundamental respect.
This means simple things like showing up on time, speaking with respect, and appreciating the way they treat you.
Without respect, a relationship threatens to become increasingly tense and quarrelsome.
This leads to the next point…
Having a partner you can really communicate with is absolutely crucial.
No matter how much physical and emotional attraction there is, without the ability to communicate and the interest in doing so, the relationship is doomed to the scrap yard.
Communication is not just about talking and can come in many forms, including reading each other’s moods and understanding subtle signals.
But if you are somehow not communicating in the relationship, then this person is not for you.
Without trust, even the most passionate connection has no legs to stand on.
Getting to know someone and seeing that you can trust him or her is crucial.
It is important in the little things, but also in the big things.
“Trust is the basis of a good relationship: it creates security and safety,” notes consultant Kari Rusnak.
“Without those things, it would be difficult to build connection and show vulnerability.”
Finding a partner who is empathetic is the key to long-term success.
You don’t have to settle for Dr. Phil or Oprah to find an empathetic person.
People from all walks of life can have high emotional intelligence and an understanding of their own emotions and those of other people.
Empathy is crucial to getting through the highs and lows of a long-term relationship.
Being with someone you love and are committed to is a wonderful thing.
But even the most stoic among us likes to get a reminder every now and then.
This is where affection and intimacy come into the picture. This means kind words, physical touch and sexual chemistry, as well as everyday interactions that show you are valued and wanted.
You want to feel like your partner would choose you even if he or she were single and choose all over again.
“Find a partner who, roughly speaking, conveys their appreciation and desire for you in a way that is compatible with what makes you feel seen and loved.”
Finding a life partner is about finding someone who is accountable to you and takes responsibility.
More importantly, they are accountable to themselves.
Of course, sometimes they fall short of their goals and standards, and they all do. But they recognize that and are honest about it.
They do not try to cover up their mistakes or ignore their commitments and promises.
They are honest and accountable to you and to themselves. You don’t have to keep an eye on them or make sure they are doing what they said they would do.
They are working on it!
Having a partner with a sense of humor and fun in life is a must, but their maturity level is even more important.
No one wants to be someone’s parent and partner at the same time.
Not only is it completely unsexy and unattractive, it is also very likely to lead to codependent paths creeping up and overtaking the relationship.
Before you know it, the two of you are repeating old patterns of codependency and neediness or detachment that have existed in your family since the early years.
Regardless of gender, vulnerability is a key characteristic in lasting relationships.
Choosing a life partner is about someone who you can still talk to and stick with through the ups and downs.
This person must be able to stand alone, yet be able to open up and bare their heart when times get tough.
Likewise, you need to know that you are valued and heard in the relationship and that you will not be put down or rejected if you open up and be vulnerable about how you feel.
Let’s be real:
Appearance and physical attractiveness are important when choosing a life partner.
Intellectual and emotional connection and finding someone interesting and affectionate is certainly important.
But ultimately, a life partner is someone who is irreplaceable and who helps you grow and vice versa.
This is someone whose soul you can see radiating and who can see your radiance and also bring it out of you in a unique way.
It’s a person who makes you laugh with your whole being, and who has something about themselves that is invisible but lasting and very meaningful to you.
“Focus on what is more important: the quality and content of their character, on the radiance of their soul, on how you feel when you are around them, how they treat you, what you might notice from them and know if you were blind and could not see.”
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