- You can increase your chances of romantic success by knowing five traits of a good match for you.
- For a happy relationship, you don't need to find a perfect partner, just someone who is a good match for you.
- By identifying the qualities you want in a partner, you increase your chances of finding a good match.
If you knew an algorithm for beating the odds to win the lottery, wouldn’t you use it? While such a system may not exist for such financial success, you can increase the odds of romantic success. There are qualities you can look for in a partner that will increase your chances of being able to nurture a happy long-term relationship. In my book, Insecure in Love, I identify five attributes that make people great candidates for healthy relationships.
What to Look for in a Partner
I am offering a list of healthy partner attributes with the qualification that your needs might be met by someone whose traits don’t match parts of it. That’s OK. This is only meant as a rough guideline—as something to consider (though to seriously consider) as you look for a potential partner or evaluate how well the person beside you is meeting your needs. With that in mind, you want a partner who is:
Securely attached and mature. Because such people are comfortable with themselves and their connections, they are capable of being emotionally close, as well as wanting themselves and their partners to explore separate, personal interests. They are also able to reflect on themselves and their lives in an open, insightful, and emotionally connected way. This enables them to acknowledge their limitations and nondefensively admit to their mistakes—all without sacrificing a positive sense of themselves. Understanding that others are similarly flawed, they are able to readily forgive their partners.
An effective communicator. Such partners are good at listening and sharing, which helps them to nurture and maintain close relationships. They can also effectively work through disagreements. In part, they have these strengths because they are generally good at identifying and managing their emotions—a definite plus as you try to connect with another person and work through the difficulties that will inevitably arise in an emotionally intimate relationship.
Appreciative of you. It is not enough to fall in love. Because relationships are co-created, they will make you happy in the long term only if your partner respects and values you—and works to express this in some way. Your partner must show an interest in getting to know you. And, although it’s a steep learning curve at first, the quest to know you better should never totally plateau. You will also be happiest and reach your greatest potential with support and encouragement to explore your personal interests.
A good fit. It is important to enjoy spending time together. This generally means having at least some shared interests. But it definitely means enjoying activities together, even if that just involves having engaging conversations. Sharing, or at least respecting, each other’s values is very important for a long-term relationship.
Ready for a relationship. Your partner must be willing to make the relationship a priority. This means devoting time and giving attention to it, both when you are physically together and when you are apart. It also involves viewing sex and emotional closeness as two aspects of an intimate relationship that support each other.
Again, it’s important to remember that you do not need to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect—which is good, because neither of those people exist. And you don’t even have to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect-For-Me. That can prove to be an unending search with the constant hope of finding a better person just around the corner. Rather, what you need to find is Mr. or Ms. Good-For-Me. I am not suggesting that you settle for someone you are not really happy with, but rather that you make sure you have your priorities straight.
With this information in mind, here is an exercise to help you identify the characteristics of a partner who is right for you.
Imagining Your Good-for-Me Partner
Imagine walking along in some isolated area; you come upon an old wedding ring half stuck in the ground. As you pick it up and wipe off the dirt to see the design on it, out comes a genie. He has the very special power of being able to conjure up the partner of your dreams. All he needs is your wish list for what you want in a partner. Think carefully before answering—your future depends on it.
To help with this task, make a written list. Include all the qualities you can think of—their way of relating to others and you, information regarding parenting (for instance, desire to be a parent and beliefs about each parent’s role), physical and personality traits, lifestyle, priorities, and interests. Include your idea of how the two of you would enjoy spending time together.
The more detail you provide, the better. Of course, there is no genie, and you will probably never meet anyone who fits everything on your list. But by doing this exercise, you will have a better chance of recognizing not just a good match, but also someone you would do best not to waste your time dating. For more on who to avoid partnering with, watch this brief video, "Avoid This Huge Dating No-No."
Creating the Relationship You Want
Even if you could “order up” a good-for-you partner, doing so would not be enough to ensure a happy future together. You must also be part of creating it. So, think about what assets you have that nurture a healthy relationship. If you are insecure, push past your inclination to dwell on the negative messages you automatically send yourself. Instead, reflect on the good qualities that you bring to your friendships and that can make you a good partner.
Now, imagine a relationship with a “right” partner and with you being more secure. Allow yourself to have a sense of really experiencing it. Getting to know what this looks and feels like will help you know and feel in your heart the love you are really searching for.