When we were in our 20s, chemistry and beauty were what mattered most in the people we dated. Now that we've matured, we realize there are other, more important qualities we should look for in a potential mate.
Making a brief written list will help us focus on the qualities that will work best for us. While everyone's needs and priorities differ, here are 11 questions you might include on your list:
1. Will I be top priority? My partner can have kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and friends by the truckload, but if he or she considers them first, and I'm at priority level seven, I'll go elsewhere.
2. Do I feel natural? Nobody should have to walk on eggshells. If the relationship requires too much effort, it won't work.
3. Is this person positive and appreciative? Saying "thank you" goes a long way in every household.
4. Does he or she carry excess baggage? We all have baggage -- it accompanies life's trip. But if my partner is stuck in the past, he or she can't live in the present.
5. How's this person's self-esteem? Does my partner trust me, or is there jealousy and insecurity? No one should be under a microscope.
6. Is this person considerate and unselfish? If there's too much of "me-me-me," there won't be enough of "us-us-us."
7. Does this person laugh and enjoy life? There's enough bad news in the world to drag us down. I want someone positive.8. Do we agree on finances? If my partner's financial house isn't in order, there will be more than just money problems.9. Does this person give me freedom and space to pursue dreams, goals and hobbies, or is he or she demanding, smothering or controlling? People need to be loved freely.10. Am I respected? I want to be with someone who wants to be with me.11. Is there an attraction? If not, the other qualities won't matter. Chemistry is not as important as when we were younger, but it's still critical.Use a list only as a guideline. Don't be so inflexible that you automatically dismiss someone who comes along but doesn't fit perfectly. And keep in mind: What we demand in a mate, we must give in return. No ego trips -- relationships must be balanced.A list won't make finding a mate easier. It will, however, improve your chances of selecting a compatible mate, and of making the relationship a success.Tom Blake is the author of Middle Aged and Dating Again (Tooter's, 1997).