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  • Writer's pictureDr Joanne Stuart

Dating and ways to survive it - Life Partner


Life Partner

The importance of considering what you are looking for in a life partner when dating.

 

Whatever our experience of dating, one of the most important things for us to work out is what we are looking for.

 

Sometimes we are so desperate for someone to find us attractive that we forget to determine what we want. It is often the case that people with a good sense of themselves will be aware of what they are looking for and have clear expectations of how they should be treated. From an evolutionary standpoint, being confident of what we are looking for will help the person we are dating understand that we have self-worth, and this generally increases attractiveness.

 

So, before that first date, or even if you have been dating for a while, make a list of what you are looking for. Most people would be able to say that they want someone who looks a particular way, is funny or intelligent but we need to think further than that. Someone may be attractive, but if they don't fit with our value system, that can be a problem in the long run.

 

What might be the things you are looking for in a long-term partner? Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Do I find them somewhat physically attractive?

  • Does their value system fit with my value system?  Are they compassionate and thoughtful or critical and unkind?

  • Do they enjoy discussing the same things I enjoy?

  • Do they like doing at least some of the things I enjoy?

  • If I want children, do they also want children?

  • Can we have fun together?

  • Do they make me feel good about myself?


Life Partner

On a first date, it would not be a good idea to begin firing questions at someone. But subtly asking questions or watching how they respond to things can give us the information we need. Whether the person is right for us or not cannot be gleaned in one or two dates. It will take some time.

 

Do I find them somewhat physically attractive?

Research suggests it is not the falling in love at first sight relationships that generally last. The ones that last are those people we did not initially find attractive. It may have started as friends or individuals we knew at school or work. Physical attraction is important but do not dismiss someone who does not exactly fit. It may be nice to look at something beautiful, but the relationship has to work.

 

Does their value system fit with my value system?  

This, of course, depends on your value system, but we can find out about someone's value system from what they say, how they talk about their family, friends. How they respond to strangers. How they treat you. Any thoughtful individual would make sure they were asking questions as well as talking. If someone is just talking about themselves without any interest in their date, I would question why they were there. Surely it is important for both parties to want to get to know the other if the intention is for it to grow into something.

 

Research suggests that what helps relationships endure is compromise. Obviously, this needs to be on both sides for it to work. Watch out for thoughtfulness over rigidity. On a first or subsequent date, it is likely both individuals will be on their best behaviour. We can watch out for signs of kindness or compassion. How do they treat the waiters/bar staff/people around them? If they are unkind or rude to strangers it is likely that their value system is not going to be a compassionate or thoughtful one.


Life Partner

Do they enjoy discussing the same things I enjoy?

To find this out we need to talk about the things that interest us and see how they respond. If we want our date to find us attractive and only talk about what they seem interested in, we not finding out whether they like what we like.

 

Do they like doing at least some of the things I enjoy?

It is important for us to be honest with what we enjoy. We may think what we enjoy will not be good enough, especially if we lack confidence. But remember they might like doing similar things or at least be open to doing the things we enjoy. And although no one is going to like doing exactly the same activities, imagine spending your life with someone that would never dream of doing things they don't enjoy, no matter how much you liked it.

 

Can we have fun together?

Fun will mean different things for different people. If we want cosy nights alone with our partner and they want to be at a party every night...it might not work. Imagine a life with someone you could not experience fun or pleasure with. Being able to laugh with someone is nourishing and pleasure is fundamental to good psychological health.

 

You might also consider their outlook on life. What if you are a glass-half-full kind of person and their cup is seriously empty? How would that be? Equally so, if you are someone who sees yourself as a realist and taking matters seriously is important to you. Being with someone who takes life flippantly might be okay at the beginning but may well start to jar as time goes on.


Life Partner

Do they make me feel good about myself?

           

One thing that I am sure we would all agree is that our life partner should make us feel good about ourselves. Someone who has our back and we know they are there for us no matter what. That is why it is so important for us to think about whether the behaviour we see in the person we are dating ‘fits’ with what we would like in a life partner. Imagine spending a lifetime with someone who is always critical or cruel in some way? Noticing such behaviours at the beginning as a red flag, may well help in the long run. And I would also be very careful of assuming that someone will change, or they will not treat you in the way they treat other people. If someone is cruel to others, it is likely they will be cruel to you.

 

Finding the strength to let go of something that we know deep down is not good for us can be hard when we would love to be in a relationship. But giving our energy to something that is not right for us will take the energy we need to find what is right.


Life Partner

Top dating tips:

  • Do I find them somewhat physically attractive?

  • Does their value system fit with my value system?  Are they compassionate and thoughtful or critical and unkind?

  • Do they enjoy discussing the same things I enjoy?

  • Do they like doing at least some of the things I enjoy?

  • If I want children, do they also want children?

  • Can we have fun together?

  • Do they make me feel good about myself?

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