When it comes to finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, it’s true that you can’t have it all. It may be impossible to find someone who is a good dresser, has the same musical tastes as you, is filthy rich, and is a dead ringer for your favorite movie star.
Nevertheless, there are certain key qualities you should demand in a life partner, because accepting anything less will set you up for an unhappy partnership. As follows are the essential qualities to look for in a person you’re considering settling down with.
1. Emotional availability
Emotional availability is among the most important qualities to look for in a life partner. Someone who is emotionally available is ready to commit to a relationship with you in mind, body and spirit. This person believes he is worthy of and ready for love and is thus capable of giving and receiving it. A person who is emotionally available is essentially an open book and does not “shut down” when certain subjects are broached. He/she does not frequently become distant or unreachable. And no matter how the person acts, stating or hinting that he/she fears commitment is a major red flag that the person is not emotionally available – they are literally warning you of their unavailability.
If you’re planning on spending the rest of your life with someone, it is incredibly important that your partner is a trustworthy, moral person. Integrity is difficult to gauge early on in a relationship because the person is putting their best foot forward. Listen to your gut and to watch for clues, especially if you’ve been fooled by shady mates in the past. Does this person act secretive when they receive a phone call or text? Does they have good relationships with friends and family? Does he or she ever make statements you find morally questionable or suspect to be untruthful? There’s nothing worse than walking down the aisle with someone, only to later find out you did not marry the person you thought you did.
Some people are just “takers,” or people who accept your love, affection, and even money without ever returning the favor. Another type of person may mean to do well by others, but simply lacks the ability to understand other people or put themselves in another person’s shoes. Both of these types lack empathy. When you have a conversation with this person, do you feel like they are really listening, or are they just waiting for their turn to speak? Are they kind to you when you are hurt or in pain, or do they just act annoyed that you are inconveniencing them? Are they nice to kids and animals? The answers to these questions may provide the indications you need to determine whether this person has enough empathy to be in a lifelong committed relationship.
Some signs of immaturity, like devoting many hours of the day to an empty pursuit (such as video games) or being emotionally dependent on you, can seem cute at first, but this cuteness will wear off rapidly. Other signs of immaturity are not cute at all. These include blaming others for their problems, financial irresponsibility, and generally not being able to deal with reality too well. Immature people may also erupt in angry fits when things don’t go their way or become possessive in a relationship. A mature person, in contrast, is even-tempered, has a clear-minded view of themselves and of the world around them, has enough self-control to pursue their goals and advance in life, and does not rely on others for their own happiness. A mature person is not jealous or possessive because they have self-confidence, as well as the wisdom to know that they cannot force someone to be in a relationship with them.
5. Physical attractiveness
Of course, looks aren’t everything, and many people mistake lust for love by choosing a partner who they are very physically attracted to but who lacks other important qualities. That said, you can’t completely count physical attraction out of the equation. Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship, and if you don’t enjoy sex with the person, then you are setting yourself and your partner up for an unfulfilling union.
6. Sense of humor
Much of married life consists of just passing the time with another person and enjoying – or not enjoying – their company. Marrying someone who has a sense of humor that is similar to your own and who can make you laugh will keep things from getting boring. This quality may not seem as important in the beginning of a relationship, when you are wrapped up in passion and dead-serious promises of your undying devotion, but once the honeymoon ends, you’re going to have a lot of time to kill. Thus, it is important that you genuinely enjoy your partner’s company and that you can have fun and joke around with them the same way you do with your best friends. Because what is a life partner if not a best friend?
7. Similar worldview
Like a sense of humor, worldview does not always seem to be of utmost importance at the start of a romance. “Sure, we have some differences,” you might think, “but who cares?” Well, as time passes, both of you will care more and more. A relationship with someone whose religious or political beliefs are radically different from your own will make for a very rocky partnership, especially if you have children together. No, you don’t need to agree on everything, but it’s important that you agree on things like what, if any, religion you want to raise your children as, what values you hold most dear, and what an ideal life together looks like.
In some cases, a person might have most or even all of the above characteristics, but they may not be accepting of who you are. Although no one’s perfect, if one person in a relationship is routinely focusing on and pointing out the other person’s perceived shortcomings, neither person will be happy. The most important element of a healthy relationship is for both partners to accept each other, flaws and all, giving them unconditional love and support. There should be no discussion of “I’ll only commit to you/show you affection/be completely happy with you if you change this about yourself.” True, sometimes people need to change for their own betterment, but this transformation must come about from your own desire to change, rather than from another person pressuring you. Extend this same acceptance to your partner as well.