It's been said that people will spend more time and effort deciding on a new car purchase than they will on selecting the right partner.
Maybe it's because most of us don't know there's a way to go about it; we just follow our emotions.
Well did you know that there’s actually a method for choosing the right partner?
I developed this method out of my utter frustration at being single seven years after divorce. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
Full disclosure here, I wasn’t exactly putting any good feels out. I distinctly remember giving off some pretty negative vibes about the opposite sex that I’d based on the worst stereotypes. My stock refrain was “all men are jerks!”
I stubbornly held onto this thinking until a friend pointed out that my sucky attitude was probably not going to get me any dates, other than with men who were, in my opinion, "jerks".
That’s when I realized something had to change, and the change had to begin with me. In the process of shifting my attitude and looking closely at my failed approach, I developed a unique method for choosing a partner. It worked so well that six months after I applied the method I met my husband. We’re celebrating our 10th year together and it’s been a wonderful journey, so there’s my testimonial! Here's the key principle underlying this approach: If you don't know what you're looking for, how will you know when you've found it?
It’s Still About You
If you recall in Part I, What to Look for in a Partner, you laid the groundwork for a successful relationship by asking yourself and answering some very important questions: What’s your motivation for wanting a partner? Who have you been in past relationships? And, what do you bring to a new relationship?
You’re fairly certain that a committed relationship is what you want and you’ve developed a good amount of self-knowledge and appreciation through the exercise. Now you can think about the other side of the equation--the right partner for you. Here it is in four easy steps:
- Check and adjust your attitude. What are your current thoughts about dating and relationships? Are you holding on to negative thoughts or grievances from past relationships? What are your expectations for a successful future relationship? If traces of negativity remain, eliminate them one by one until you can maintain a positive attitude about finding the right partner. Get some coaching if it’s a challenge or therapy if your emotions are stuck in grievances.
- On your computer or a piece of paper create two columns. On the left column write the heading “My Qualities”, on the right column write the heading “Partner Qualities”.
- Under My Qualities heading, list as many of your positive character traits as you can. See attached list here for ideas or add your own. Be generous with yourself. Under the partner heading, list the top ten character traits that are the most important to you in a partner. For example, if you detest dishonesty more than anything, truthfulness in a partner would make your top ten list. If paying bills on time is very important, responsibility would also make the list, and so on. Continue to list partner qualities beyond the top ten in descending order of importance to you, but be fair! You shouldn't expect of a partner what you don’t expect of yourself. If you need to move the order around until it feels right, that’s ok, there’s no right or wrong here.
- Take another piece of paper and create two columns. On the left column, write “My Values”, on the right column, write “Partner Values”. See attached here for ideas or add your own.
- From the list of values, select your top 5 values. Out of that 5, select at least 3 that are most important to you in a partner. After you’ve chosen the top 5 and top 3, continue to list values in both columns, in descending order of importance to you.
- Congratulate yourself! You now have a clear picture of who you are and who your future partner should be, so when you meet them, you’ll recognize them by their inner qualities and values. Keep the lists handy and read them often until they're firmly planted in your mind. These lists are your keys to compatibility, the most important factor in a successful relationship.
Now that you’ve got this information, beware the pitfalls of settling for less than what’s on your lists. In other words, don’t just go for physical attraction.
We’re not aiming for perfection, so if a prospect meets 80% or more of your qualities and values, you’re off to a good start, but you’re not done yet.
Take it to the next level of inquiry. Engage with a prospect in a discussion of their values. See if that person wants what you want out of life and from a relationship. Many people neglect to ask that question (as if they’d rather not know), and it can lead to great disappointment later on.
There are so many more questions to ask so don't hold back on asking them. This is the beginning of establishing open and honest communication that will both reveal your potential partner's skills in this area as well as set a good standard for any long-term relationship.
Don’t become attached to someone before pre-qualifying them based on inner qualities and overall compatibility. You’ll be blinded by infatuation and convince yourself that they've got what it takes. By that point your lists will be of no use.
Time is your friend in this process, so make sure you aren't rushing through it. Learn as much as you can about a potential partner before making a commitment.
So that’s the method, borne from a desire to find a life partner and a determination not to repeat the same relationship mistakes of the past. I hope you find this information useful, and as always, let me know if there's any way I can help.