Photo by Demi-Brooke
“Every choice before you represents the universe inviting you to remember who you are and what you want.” ~ Alan Cohen
I used to have a list. He had to be tall. He definitely had to be smart. He had to have brown hair and blue eyes, hmmm.. I guess dark eyes are also OK. The list went on and on. I had many relationships where I tried to stick as close as possible to this list, most of which didn’t last for more than a few months. But then, I seemed to hit the jackpot.
This man satisfied every requirement I had ever had to the ‘T’. He was tall, exceptionally smart, had the same religious background as me, and spoke all the same languages. To top it all off, he had those sparking, deep blue eyes. I was certain that I had found my life partner.
I was very confused when only three weeks into the relationship, things weren’t going well. Instead of happiness and bliss, there was frustration, anger and constant arguments. But I couldn’t let this one go. It took me so long to find someone who satisfied all of my requirements! We had to work this out. And so, I tried. I tried as hard as I could to work things out – for three long, dreadful years.
I don’t want to blame him for everything. But, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, within days, we would return to a state of chaos. It was constant drama. Arguments, frustration, tears, all mixed in with a sense of hopelessness.
To make a long story short, the relationship left a deep imprint on my health and self-esteem. When we final broke up, I felt as if a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I was free. I could breathe.
At that point, I resolved to never let this happen again. I threw away my list.
Several weeks later, I had a conversation with my sister. As part of that, she told me that, “A healthy relationship isn’t so much about the specifics of who you’re with, as it is about how they make you feel.”
I took her advice to heart.
This new perspective radically changed who I was interested in. Within a few short months, I started dating a man who would shortly after become my husband. He was, and still is, handsome and smart. Five years after our wedding day, he is still is the most wonderful man I have ever met. But, he would have never made it past my “list,” with all of its superficial requirements. I am so glad that I threw it away.
So, I would like to share with you signs of a good partner. Instead of basing it on superficial qualities, the focus is on how they make you feel.
Take some time alone so you can get in touch with your own emotions, uncluttered by anyone else’s needs and opinions. Focus within, and above all, be honest with yourself.
How hard is it to make things work
I know that relationships take work. But, it also shouldn’t feel like hauling bricks. Most of the time, the relationship should feel easy.
This is especially true in the early stages of a relationship. If either of you has to work hard to convince the other to be together, then it might not be worth it. If you feel that either of you needs to make radical changes to make the relationship work, or if having a good time seems to require an inordinate amount of effort, then it might not be worth your time.
At the early stages, a relationship shouldn’t require any fixing. If you are in a long term relationship that’s in trouble, read how to repair a relationship.
When two compatible people come together, neither of them has to work very hard to make the relationship work – that is, no one does more than they want to. Both partners enjoy each others’ company, be it a fancy night out or just laying together on the couch. The best relationships progress without strain or force from either party.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. In long term relationships, rough patches are inevitable. It isn’t always going to be easy. Don’t walk away the instant that the going gets rough. But these rough patches should be few and far between. Most of the time, the relationship should make you feel good.
Life is hard enough. Your relationship shouldn’t make it harder.
How you feel about yourself
How you feel about yourself when you are in the relationship is perhaps the strongest predictor of whether you should stay in it. How we feel about ourselves affects every aspect of our lives. Self-confidence is the key ingredient to success. A good partner is one who contributes positively to your confidence and sense of self.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, we care about what others think of us – especially those who are close to us. So, how your partner sees you will end up affecting how you see yourself.
The effect can be striking when considered over the long term. I have seen successful people crumble to nothing after marrying someone who constantly puts them down. I have also seen people blossom with the support of an encouraging spouse. If you are currently in a relationship, consider how confident you are now compared to how you felt before this relationship.
Be with someone who makes you feel good about who you are. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Day-to-day life with a good partner
Psychologists define happiness based on the number of times we experience positive moments as opposed to negative ones. It follows that a healthy relationship, one that positively contributes to your overall well-being, needs to consist of primarily good moments, and have few bad ones.
It really is very simple. If being together primarily makes you feel good, and rarely makes you feel bad, then “you got yourself a keeper.”
Look at your life as a whole. Since you started this relationship, have you experienced more positive moments than before it began, and fewer negative ones? This is the quickest way to decide whether your relationship is good for you.
* * *
You have the basic tools to identify a good partner – one who is good for you. You deserve to be happy. Ultimately, you have the power to make the life you want. Nothing, and no one, should have the power to take away your right to a healthy relationship.
Regardless of how hard we try, some level of compatibility is necessary. If a relationship fails the above criteria early on, it’s better to move on. Any relationship we are in will eventually require work, but some drain all of our energy.
Sometimes, all it takes is knowing what you want, and rearranging your priorities accordingly. When you know what you want, you are in a much better position to get it. When you know that you want a partner who makes you feel good about who you are, and who positively contributes to your daily happiness, you are a lot more likely to find such a partner.
When you have a healthy relationship, be it now, or sometime in the future, cherish it! Healthy partnerships are one of the greatest gifts in life.
To your happiness!