What are the most important things to look for when selecting a potential partner? I have done a lot of reading on relationships and although I am no expert, I do think that I have learned a lot from experts and understand a bit of psychology. I am currently single and taking an intellectual approach to selecting the right person while also trying to remember that love is never supposed to be a business transaction. Relationships are transactional as there is always a give & take but they also need to be approached with emotion and tenderness. We all want to find someone who can meet us where we are at and where the energy exchange is equal. In the past I have given too much to men and have been taken advantage of or treated poorly. Now I am wise enough to know that how a man treats you in the beginning is how he will always treat you and there is no purpose trying to make something work with anyone who doesn’t meet your basic needs. Through trial and error, and a great deal of self reflection, I have found the most important pillars to building a solid relationship are:
Compatibility, Chemistry, Connection & Communication
To be compatible with someone means you are in similar places in life, want similar things and are going the same direction. This to me is the first barrier to get past and if this doesn’t line up there really is no point in moving forward. It takes time to really grasp whether your long term vision aligns with someone. However there are a few basic things to look for to determine whether their life is similar to yours. Do they work days, weekends or nights and does that align with your schedule? What do they do for fun and how do they spend their free time? Do they drink, smoke or have certain habits that don’t align with you? Do they have a job that can afford them the same luxuries that are important to you? Compatibility is more about day to day life habits rather than your favorite movie, band or ice cream flavor. That is all surface stuff and you have to get a little deeper.
Chemistry is all about how you feel when you are with someone. Do you feel like you are being yourself or putting up a front? Does the conversation flow easily or does it feel forced? Can you be alone together without distractions and still enjoy each other’s company? Are you agreeable and do things to appease them at the expense of yourself or are you able to speak up about your wants and needs? Does it feel good when they touch you, kiss you and are near you? For me, I need to have a spark with someone when they touch me. It has to feel natural and exhilarating. I have also noticed the way a man smells is important to me. I want him to smell good and have good hygiene, however I also want to know and love his natural pheromones. Too much cologne is not attractive to me and if they have bad breath or body odor then they’re not getting anywhere near me sexually. I actually broke up with a very nice man in the past because I didn’t like the way he smelled. I don’t feel bad about this because in the animal kingdom where they don’t use body sprays and perfumes the way they determine a mate is based on smell. This is how you know if you are a genetic match. People who overuse perfumes to cover their natural smell are often misleading their potential mates.
Connection is the HARDEST thing to find in a potential partner. I have only felt it twice. I felt a spark with all of the men I seriously dated but in retrospect the connection was never real. It was either puppy love, infatuation, admiration or lust. When things got hard they ran away or I shut down. I’ve never been able to get over the 8 month marker and still stay with a man because as the honeymoon phase ended and reality came into play I discovered things that didn’t fully match up between us. The only person in my life that I made a lasting connection with was my ex-husband. We were friends for over a year before we got together so there was already a level of love and respect for him. However once we came together we were bonded. It was rocky in the beginning and we even broke up for a while, then broke up again, but I always knew in my heart that we were meant to be together. I knew that we had that rare connection and that is something you can not make or break. It just *IS*. No matter how much time or space is between you there is always a familiarity when you come back together as if there was never distance. It sometimes happens in friendships too. My best friend of 23 years is a shining example of what I mean by “connection”. We have known each other for so long but sometimes we come together and sometimes we drift apart. We have always been linked spiritually and I consider her my star sister. We met in middle school and became instant best friends. We hung out every day and over the summers. Then in high school we had a mutual friend who put a wedge between us and we didn’t talk and actively disliked each other for about a year. Then one day we just re-connected and became instant best friends again. We couldn’t even remember what exactly happened to make us stop talking(?) Since then we’ve gone through different phases of life but somehow the Universe just kept crossing our paths. She got pregnant within 6 months of me so our kids have known each other their whole lives. Her parents love me so they’ve always invited me to their family celebrations. Since I didn’t have a solid family life growing up they became my family. The craziest part of our alignment is that her older sister met my uncle on a dating website and now they are now married… so we actually ARE family, by law. As for my co-parent, I still have a connection with him because it can never be destroyed but it has transformed into something different. We still have a great deal of respect for each other. We say I love you but not romantically. He has just always been there for me and we both know you can never stop loving someone when it’s unconditional. I believe in my heart that we were meant to find each other at a young age to help us grow up and become adults. We both had Jehovah’s Witnesses as parents and we both dropped out of high school to work. We were forced to grow up fast and we needed each other at that time of our lives. Our children were also meant to be brought into this world and that is the best thing to come from our union. Just because we grew apart does not mean that we still aren’t friends who care about each other. I didn’t know myself when we were married and it took me a long time to learn who I was and what I wanted in a partner. Now that I know what I want I understand that “connection” is the pillar that is the most important in partner selection, while also being the most difficult to find.
While connection is the most rare, communication is key to maintaining the connection because there can and will be breakdowns that need to be navigated through to insure the relationship stays intact. The best relationships and friendships need to be fostered and nurtured and laying a foundation is important. I like to communicate with my partner almost daily to check in and let them know I am thinking of them. I appreciate when the exchange is equal so that I am not the only one initiating conversation and to know they are thinking of me. I don’t need to text all day long, rather I like to have an ongoing dialogue. I like to stay close to the people I care about and usually like to see someone I am dating once a week. However my life is busy and assuming they will have life obligations, time doesn’t always permit a weekly visit. In which case I think an occasional phone call to hear their voice is important to stay connected. I have never tried a long distance relationship and wonder how that works but I feel once you have laid the foundation and know your place in a relationship then I’m more interested in quality time than quantity. When in a partnership time should flow freely and we should just ride the wave. I need a level of freedom to feel comfortable and want a person who also values their freedom and independence. I also need someone who is emotionally intelligent and can verbalize their feelings. It’s sometimes easier for me to write out my feelings to organize my thoughts and the person I am meant to be with will know how to accept my deep, raw and unfiltered emotions without getting scared or offended by them. I need a safe space to express myself and be accepted at my most vulnerable. I also need my man to be willing to work through our disagreements and understand that disagreements are normal but disrespect is not.
Conclusion… I have not found all 4 pillars in one person but I’m hopeful. Even when I was married we were missing the communication aspect and a lot of that was due to being so young. It takes time to learn how to express yourself and hear other people. It takes courage to be honest & vulnerable. Many times people avoid tough conversations out of fear that they won’t be accepted or that they’ll lose their love. Many people settle for comfort because they don’t want to be alone. Unfortunately when you settle, you are dismissing the possibility of finding the *right* partner, for you. I’m not looking for perfection but I have settled before not understanding what builds a solid relationship and this time I know what I’m looking for and I will keep myself open until he finds me.