I often talk with clients about what they’re looking for in a long-term romantic partner. More often than not, they will share only a list of attributes rather than say what kind of relationship qualities they’re looking for. And these are two quite different animals.
Here’s what you might consider for attributes. You might assess the interests someone has or activities he or she enjoys: biking, reading poetry, opera, or travel. You might look for someone whose passions have a good deal of overlap with yours or prefer someone who would bring new and interesting learning into your life. Maybe you’re seeking a potential beau who enjoys exploring new countries, when the farthest you’ve ever gone is across your home state. This difference between the two of you may be a plus or a minus in your book. You certainly would want to have enough common interests to share, but you don’t each need to like and do all the same things.
You’d absolutely want to consider political and religious values, as well as lifestyle considerations such as views on money and financial security, living in the city or the country, and how moral, ethical and honest someone appears to be. You’d want your values to be similar. The more divergent they are, the more discord you’ll likely have in the relationship. You also would want to check out how your personalities mesh: introverts and extroverts can make fine companions as long as they both respect their considerable differences. Equally, two introverts or extroverts might work well together.
Once you’re finished assessing lifestyle, interests, and personality, you’re not done, as most people think they are. It is equally (if not more) important to view how well people function in an intimate relationship. For example, how or how well does he or she:
- deal with differences of opinion?
- handle being criticized?
- react to loss or serious disappointment?
- manage being open and vulnerable emotionally?
- listen to you and others attentively without interrupting or over-talking?
- exhibit optimism?
- handle being wrong, failing, and making mistakes?
- share the physical and emotional work of partnership?
- welcome talking about an issue you bring up until it’s resolved to your satisfaction?
- have a pleasant and realistic disposition?
- make you and the relationship generally more important than their family of origin, job, friends, other passions and pastimes?
I know this might seem like a long list of concerns to consider, but you’re better off focusing on them before getting deeply involved than starting to think about them when you’re already in the thick of romance.