I read an article recently about the types of partners we are attracted to, and it got me thinking. What attributes do we find attractive in a partner? I think this has changed for me over the years. What I wanted when I was 20 isn’t the same as what I want in a partner now. I guess that’s called growing up, but it makes you wonder about people who meet their partner/spouse when they’re young.
According to Psychology Today, these are the five characteristics that you should look for in a partner:
- Kindness, loyalty and understanding.
- Emotional stability.
- Belief in relationships.
So what does this mean? And how can you assess these things in a partner (or possible partner) without making it seem like you’re fishing? As far as the first one goes, I feel like kindness and loyalty are two extremely important characteristics to look for… and further, something that I would consider to be a “given”. While I may have a sharp tongue and sometimes a harsh demeanor, I am a ball of jelly on the inside. Especially in a relationship. There are no lengths that I won’t go to to protect my partner, or ensure their happiness. Sometimes, at the sake of my own. In general, we should be looking for kindness in all of our relationships. Partners or otherwise.
Loyalty in my opinion, is also extremely important. Do you want a partner who is going to bail at the first sign of a rough patch? I can sometimes hit the panic button, but overall I like to think that when I’m committed, I’m in it for the long haul. Even if that scares me.
Understanding – to me, this one isn’t always easy to come by. You and your partner may have had different upbringings, or come from different cultures and finding a common ground is not always easy. You may be extremely understanding, but without enough background information, its hard to really understand where your partner is coming from. Or why they might have a certain opinion on something. To me, understanding and communication go hand in hand. If you don’t know something, how can you fully understand it? Having conversations with your partner about beliefs and opinions will go along way to ensure that you are both on the same page. It will also give you a deeper appreciation for the person you are in a relationship with.
Next, having things in common with your partner. Without common ground, can you sustain a relationship? I feel like I find more common ground with my partner all the time, but that’s not always the case. In a previous relationship, I felt like we were too different. We both seemed to want different things. Our ideas of lifestyle and the future seemed to be extremely different, and maybe that’s one reason why it didn’t work out? Try an activity your partner is interested in. Maybe it doesn’t seem like you would be, but it can’t hurt. You might discover something amazing that you would never have considered before. Be open in this area. Especially if it doesn’t seem like you have anything in common.
I’m not sure that I agree with “conscientiousness”. Yes, its great to have a partner who is careful and thinks things through, but you could end up with someone who over analyzes. Or who can’t make a decision because they are being too careful. I guess this one only works to a certain degree. Taking too long to make a decision on something can become frustrating. The downside of being conscientious, according to Wikipedia (not a great source, I know, but it allows me to make a great point) is that you aren’t viewed as easy going. Is that really what you want in a partner?
Emotional stability seems, again, like a given. Having a partner who is overly sensitive can be difficult. You never know what you can say or should say. Did you offend them? You’re always in a state of not knowing. I have been on both sides of this. A previous partner of mine was extremely volatile. One day, he would be extremely easy going and life was great. And the next day a hang nail would set him into a tailspin. Now, I know that my partner thinks that of me. And maybe it’s something I need to work on. Maybe I can go from zero to a hundred without taking a moment to breathe. In addition to being harsh and having a sharp tongue, I can also be a bit of a fire cracker. While this might be fun at times, it’s not a great way to build a relationship.
And finally, a belief in relationships. This one kind of blows my mind. Why are you looking for a partner who doesn’t believe in relationships? How can you think that you can be with someone who doesn’t believe in a long term relationship? In my opinion, this is fundamental. Yes, I’ve been in situations where one person wanted more than the other, but those situations always fizzled out. It can’t be sustained. I can see how two people would be able to sustain a relationship without having a lot in common, but I can’t see how you would even consider a partner who didn’t believe in relationships.
We have all been in bad relationships. No one is perfect. I think that this list is admirable, but I also want you to consider what other characteristics you might want from a partner. There are some characteristics not listed here that I think are important, also. What are those? Primarily – strength, honesty, compassion, sense of humour, openness, and the ability to communicate. Maybe some of these go hand in hand with those listed above. But no matter how much you have in common with someone, the relationship isn’t going to work if you can’t have openness, honesty and the ability to communicate. Or at least, that’s what I think.
You will notice that I didn’t talk about sexual attraction. Or any kind of physical characteristics about a person. I do think that this is important as well, but I wonder if we find ourselves more attracted (sexually) to a partner because of some of these characteristics? For me, there is a strong connection to another person’s mind. Physical attraction is important and there needs to be chemistry, but he doesn’t have to be a Greek Adonis to get that job done. From a relationship perspective, I hold these characteristics in higher esteem than physical attraction. However, both need to exist for me for the relationship to be successful. Does your partner have these characteristics?