Eight Things to Look for in a Partner

You've been single for a while, and you've finally met someone of interest. How do you know if you're destined for a successful relationship? Consider these eight qualities.

Empathy
Does your partner have the ability to recognize and respond to your feelings? If so, you know you are really being listened to and understood. Can you speak of what bothers you and can your mate listen without being defensive? Is he or she there for you when times get tough or you are depressed? Research shows that knowing how a person reacts when a partner express sadness is the most valuable quality for a lasting relationship.

Affection
Actions often speak more loudly than words alone. Is your partner comfortable touching you? Can kisses be gentle at times, passionate at others? Can your mate accept your touch and kisses? Does the tone of his or her voice and the look in his or her eyes express affection? Does your partner do thoughtful things for you? Is kidding done lovingly rather than with hostility?

Sexuality
For a man, increasing age may mean a less firm erection and a longer arousal time, and a woman may have problems with vaginal dryness. But sexual satisfaction can be obtained despite these limitations. Are your preferences and desires important to your partner? Is he or she both tender and passionate? Playful? Inventive? Can you both talk freely about sex? Can your mate accept "no" when you're not in the mood?

Reliability and Honesty Can you count on your partner? When he or she says that something will get done, does it get done promptly? A person with a passive-aggressive personality will promise to do a task, then put it off indefinitely. It is more honest to say, "I don't want to." Is your mate there for you in good times and bad? If you choose to remain together for many years, do you feel certain that he or she will care for you as you age? The answer to this last question will come to you gradually as your relationship develops. Neatness No two individuals have the same degree of neatness. As you visit each other's homes, observe how your habits differ. How critical are you of the other's habits -- and vice versa -- and how do you each respond to criticism? What accommodations can you make together? If you don't like the way he or she washes the dishes, for example, it might be best to wash them yourself. Your partner could then do another chore, thus avoiding a power struggle. The two of you can negotiate, but acceptance of each other's ways is primary. Intellectual and Social Competency When you first meet someone, it is not too difficult to know if that person is intellectually stimulating. Does he or she hold your interest during a conversation, or do you find your mind wandering? Does he or she talk too much, particularly about himself or herself? The ability to listen is important.
Also consider how well you interact with each other's family and friends. Are you proud to be with himor her? No couple is an island unto themselves. An interesting social life adds greatly to a relationship. Financial Security Finances might not be discussed early in your relationship, but it should not be too difficult to ascertain an individual's financial situation. Are you willing to accept a partner less well-off than yourself? Fairly early on, discuss how expenses for entertainment will be shared. Somewhat later, you might bring up travel and household expenses. Eventually, the question of inheritance must be examined. What will you leave to each other, and what to your children? Honest and frank discussions of this important issue are needed throughout your partnership. Acceptance of Your Children And are you comfortable with your partner's children? Getting along with each other's kids -- and their acceptance of your partnership -- is important in a successful relationship. Communicate with your children as your union develops, and arrange pleasant activities together. Do not surprise them by suddenly announcing that you are living with or marrying someone new to them. If a child does not accept your new partner at first, remember that this may take time.
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