I really have not had as much girl time as I would like lately. One of the topics my friends and I always used to discuss is relationships. Whether you have or don’t have a partner, we always think about our romantic relationships. Our partnerships. Our companions… There are times when I have had to convince my girlfriends that having a partner is a good idea, and there are times when I have had to do a reality-check on what they should be looking for in a partner. I am not even mentioning the times when we talk about our husbands.
When I was single, I remember my friends telling me that I needed to put together a list of what I want in a partner, and that it would help me attract the right person. Instead, I made a list of what I want out of life. One of those things on my list was a partner I can share the rest of my life with, a second chance. (Yes, I said second. More on that another day.)
With time and experience, I learned the 30-60-90 day rule. You watch someone for 30 days, 60 days, and then 90 days, and observe how they act, react, and change. In addition to this general rule which also applies to all types of relationships, here are the qualities I think are most important in looking for and finding your partner:
First things first. He can be the most good looking guy on earth. If he is not a good kisser, and you felt nothing when he kissed you, you might as well call it a day and say your goodbyes. That’s just the way it is. If you do not have that initial chemistry with the person, either due to his brains, his looks, his presence, etc, then you most likely have work to do. Now, we can sit here and say “oh no I was friends with my husband first, and then we kissed and lived happily ever after”. Well, you kissed him, right? If it had felt like you kissed your friend, then you probably wouldn’t have married the guy. You had chemistry. Period. Chemistry may not last forever, but if it is not there, to begin with, you might as well scrap the list below.
How many of you had a man who told you he would call or text or take you on vacation, and never came through? Promises, promises, promises. Well, if a man (or whomever your preference may be) is not consistent in his actions, and you feel like it is “all talk and no action”, run for the door. There is a great saying that I have learned from one of my best friend’s and her mother “How it starts is how it goes.” This is such a true comment. Yes, things can change and improve, but be very cautious if you see a lot of red flags in this area in the beginning. Apply my 30-60-90 rule, and see how consistent they are.
Character and Confidence
If you are an independent person, you need a partner with a strong character (maybe even stronger than yours) who can handle you and not be intimidated by who you are. You need someone who will allow you to grow in your career, and pursue your goals. Someone who will not be jealous of your success. You also need someone you can trust, someone who exudes confidence. I used to ask myself if I would trust x person to get me out of a building when there is a fire or earthquake or be the leader of the pack in case of an emergency. Would you trust your partner to do that? How would they handle emergencies (run for the door or make sure to save others before they leave.) Think about that.
This almost goes without saying, but many of us have been or been around narcissists and sometimes forget the importance of respect. Do not tolerate people who are disrespectful to you, your job, your family, your values, your friends, and anything related to you. If they disrespect those aspects of your life now, they will likely do that in the future. Why would they stop?
One of the most important qualities you can find in a partner is being selfless. A person who is not self-centered. Best way to figure this out is to look around the person you are interested in. His/her friends, the relationships he has built over the years, and who he has helped. I remember I had to break up with a boyfriend one time because all he did was talk about himself, his social media, and how he wanted to make more money every day. That was a “no” for me.
Work Ethic and Professional Goals
I name this quality “work ethic and professional goals” as opposed to “money” because no matter how much money a person may have or made or inherited, if your partner does not have good work ethic or professional goals, you will likely not be happy together in the long run. Throughout my life, I have met many people who have “more money than God”, but are also so stingy and self-centered. Ultimately, it will not matter how much money your partner has, you just need to make sure they have a strong character, work ethic, and professional goals. If they have those qualities, they probably know how to manage and appreciate money too.
Sharing Interests and Values
I remember I met an older couple one time, and I asked them what their secret was to a long and happy marriage. I ask this question all the time when I meet people who have been married for 30-40 years. One of the lessons he taught me was -how it is so important to find someone who you share at least some interests with. You cannot be with someone who loves to ski, and you love the beach. The guy will want to go skiing every vacation while you want to chill at the beach and sip on pina coladas. It will be a problem sooner or later. In terms of values, I cannot say this enough. If you do not share a similar perspective on values, and beliefs on fundamental issues around marriage, raising kids, business, budgeting/saving, credit scores, and maybe even politics, this will be a problem at some point, especially if you plan to raise a child together.
Communication is key. If you are with someone who does not communicate on issues that bother them or issues they are happy about, that is an issue. I sometimes meet couples who tell us they never argue or disagree on anything. Justin and I look at each other and think “how is that even possible”? You almost want to make sure you’ve had a few arguments together so you see how they handle conflict or disagreements. You definitely want someone you can talk to, but also someone who gives you enough comfort and peace that you can sit in a room together, in silence, while you are both working.
Age difference is not a big deal as long as you are on a similar path in life. If one is getting ready to retire, and the other still works and needs to work for many more years, that may be an issue. If one has a very successful career, and the other is still in school or trying to get his/her life together, that may mean you have to pay for everything and be very patient. It all depends on what you are ready for, but these are factors to consider in thinking about age difference.
Going back to my 30-60-90 day rule, it is important to spend enough time with your partner so you know their “moods”. Let’s face it. We all have different moods. It is important, however, to know if you can handle the different personalities you may face throughout the day from your partner.
Family is very important. How can I say this? We all hear the horrific in-law stories. Especially if you live in the same city, you better make sure you like the family of your partner for three reasons. One is the holidays, two is the weekends, and three is kids. You will be with them forever.
And last but not least. Stop looking for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. It just does not exist. And I have news for you. We are not perfect either! You just have to find the match that has most of these qualities. Do you have any you would like to share?