Male, female, whatever we all have our idea of the perfect mate. We want tall, dark and handsome or skinny, leggy and blonde or something in between. But you see, that is where we take the first step on the wrong road. I am not saying that looks don’t matter, because, of course they do, but you have to remember that a partner is more than just arm candy. They are someone you want to be with for the long haul and that takes more than good looks or a great smile. Here are some things that you should be looking for:
- A Spark – I know it sounds cheesy and that there is probably nothing to back up the idea of love at first sight, but your brain does have an impression matrix that gives you your first gut feeling about a person. It might take a conversation of a few minutes, but you should get a vibe off of the other person and know if they are someone you would be comfortable with for the long run. If you have a sick feeling in your stomach or even a vague sense of wanting to get out of Dodge then by all means follow your gut. Your instincts have probably noticed something that was off. It could be anything, but trust your gut. However if you have butterflies and find yourself unable to pull away then that is a good thing! Just make sure the spark goes both ways before you throw yourself into the situation. How? Ask them! Honestly is always the best policy, especially if you are wanting a relationship to last.
- Honesty and Trustworthiness – Speaking of honesty, you do not want a partner that lies to you. If they lie on date one then you know they will be lying later on when there is more at stake. Look for little hints of lying: contradictory stories, lack of eye contact, too much eye contact, that ‘fake’ feeling. If you can’t trust them enough on date three or so to leave behind your purse or wallet when you visit the restroom then you need to rethink this relationship. They should also keep their word. Call when they are supposed to, not stand you up, be diligent about times and dates. Keep in mind that as time goes on people get more relaxed about stuff like this so if it is not great now, it will be even worse later on. You don’t want to be blown off or feel like you are the last thing on their minds.
- Communication Ability – Words matter. A lot. You may think it is cute that they ‘listen so well’ or ‘are shy’ at first but it will quickly fade into disgust and exhaustion as you do all the work to keep the relationship going. Relationships are built on a foundation of communication. You are not mind reader. You need to talk in order to get to know each other, what you like and dislike, and who you really are inside. If they are not willing or able to talk to you then move on. Make sure that you are not just ‘talking’ either. Small talk is not what relationships are about. Not that every conversation has to be ‘deep’, but sharing thoughts, feelings and dreams is foundational. Make sure you can talk about the hard stuff too. Money, kids, family, embarrassing moments, failures, and so on are hard to talk about but they are what makes up a life. You can’t avoid these subjects forever and expect to make a life together.
- A Sense of Humor – Speaking of communication an important aspect of that is a sense of humor. I know that every person is different, but we all like to share a laugh with our partner. Making sure your humor is compatible is more important then you would think. What is a relationship without laughter? If you love sarcasm and they love slap stick you may be in trouble.
- Give and Take – One thing that is a personal pet peeve for me is people that take all the time and never give, or give so infrequently, so little, that it doesn’t really count. There are people who are naturally more giving and people who naturally want to take more, however making an effort to find a healthy balance should be a priority. You should not feel like you are doing all the work to keep the relationship together, nor should you rely on your partner to make the effort and you just ride on their coat tails. That does not mean that you have to do everything equally. Maybe one of you hates to do dishes and the other hates to wash the dog. That is fine as long as you both agree that the work is still balanced. Or maybe you work all day and they stay home and keep house. That is great too as long as you appreciate that you each are giving something to the relationship.
- Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder – Going back to what I mentioned in the beginning; do not focus on physical appearance. Although it is alright to want someone with dark hair or blue eyes or so on you can miss out on a lot if that is what your focus is. Keep an open mind and look for the soul of people, not the skin. As you fall in love with a person they become more beautiful to you because you see the soul within. It sounds like a mushy sentiment, but many studies have proven it to be a reality. Those we love look better to us. Be open to new people and new ideas so that you can see the inner beauty.
- Affection – Last but not least, you need a partner to be affectionate. We all see affection in different ways. Some of us like to cuddle and kiss, some like to talk, some like to be give gifts, some like physical help or kind words. It is all up to your and what you need. The important thing is to find a partner that not only meets your needs but whose needs you can also meet. If they hate to kiss and you need it then your relationship is already in trouble from day one. Or if you like to hold hands and they are not comfortable with that then you may have a problem. Affection comes in different forms and different ways. Both visible and invisible it makes up a big part of the connections between couples. Make sure you know what you need and what you can give before you settle down.
As you can see there are many things to look for in a partner. This list does not even begin to scratch the surface. However it does give you a place to start.Hopefully you can find what you are looking for and have a strong and healthy relationship.
Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.