What to Look for in a Partner: You’re not going to get everything you want in one person – and if you do, you won the relationship lottery.
Mr/Ms Right on paper Vs Mr/Ms Right in reality
Feb 2016: A Jewish atheist and a Christian theologian walk into a bar… and walk out holding hands after much talking, laughing and smooching. Who’d have thunk it! I’m about 6 weeks into an intriguing new relationship. (What was that I said just 7 weeks ago about it always being ‘darkest before the dawn’, and why you should never, ever, give up? If you’re feeling a little ‘ho-hum, I can’t be bothered with this dating thing’, you might want to go read that.) I very rarely meet someone who excites me (in a potential husband kind of way) and even more rarely meet someone whom I excite in return (in a potential wife kind of way), so it’s all very exciting.
He couldn’t be more different to my most recent ex-boyfriend. In fact, pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they’re both really nice guys. But that’s where the similarities end. Naturally, as my ex is my ex, my current beau and I have much more going for us as a couple (as far as I’m aware at this early stage), and the future looks bright. But is he the kind of guy I’d always pictured myself with? In some ways, yes. In many ways, hell no! And I’m not quite the girl he pictured himself with. And you know what? That’s okay.
If you won’t accept anything less than a perfect relationship, you’ll probably end up with no relationship at all
If you find yourself single anytime from about age 35 and beyond, you should have woken up to the fact that you’re probably not going to get absolutely everything you want in one partner, and they’re probably not going to get absolutely everything they want in you. And if you do, you simply won the relationship lottery. Holding out for a perfect 10 relationship, or at least a 9.7 relationship, might very well keep you single for the rest of your life. An 8/10 relationship is not only a good relationship, but a far more realistic and achievable goal to strive for. It will give you love, stability, companionship, physical affection (and, hopefully, regular sex!), a family (whether or not that includes children – two equals a family in my book) and more happiness over 40-odd years than you probably would have had chasing the elusive 9.7 – 10 relationship.
The important distinction between compromising and settling
‘But, Elly, surely you’re not asking me to settle?’ Surely not! I couldn’t think of anything worse than settling – not my style at all. If it were, I would have been married a long time ago. My dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, whose epic course, Love U, I took last year, makes a clever distinction between compromising and settling: ‘You compromise your way into happiness. You settle your way into misery.’ You know you’ve compromised if the trade-off was worth it and, ultimately, you’re happy. You know you’ve settled when you’re bitter, resentful and, ultimately, miserable. Sometimes, compromising can feel like settling, which is why this fine line can be so tricky.
The mistake most people make when choosing a life partner
So, what constitutes an 8/10 relationship? Great question! Because I think most people, when dating, place too much emphasis on the wrong qualities (physical attraction, emotional connection, common interests and the like) and not enough emphasis on the right qualities (character, communication, how you treat each other and the like). When I say to strive for an 8/10 relationship, I don’t mean it’s okay for someone to be an asshole or a bitch 20% of the time. Again, as my dating coach, Evan (who exclusively coaches women), would say, ‘That’s 20% too much asshole.’ It just means that if, say, they’re not the best looking person you’ve ever dated, if it’s not the hottest sex you’ve ever had in your life, if it’s not the strongest ‘bond’ you’ve ever felt, if they don’t enjoy stamp-collecting as much as you do… that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling relationship. So, here’s what to look for in a partner: You need at least a 9/10 on the important qualities, in which case you can have a 7/10 on the not-so-important qualities, which will average you out at 8/10 for a truly great relationship. I also think you can kick an 8/10 relationship up to a 9/10 relationship with two willing participants, time, empathy, communication and proactivity. In short, the stronger your relationship skills, the greater your chances are of having a high-quality relationship.
Why you should never compare your relationship to other couple’s relationships
Do I know some couples with a 9.7 – 10 relationship? Yes. At least I think I do. But not many. And do I envy them? A little. But no more than I’d envy someone who won the lottery. Their windfall doesn’t mean I can’t be happy with what I have. And while they might have had a windfall in the relationship department, their lives may be troubled in other areas, such as career, money, family, friends or health. In any case, what’s the point in comparing your life to someone else’s? Your life is your life. Their life is their life. They’re mutually exclusive. Your job is to make your life as great as possible in whatever way ‘great’ means to you. If you have a windfall along the way, fabulous! If you don’t, that doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom. It’s an Olympic year this year. When you watch those eight finalists compete in Rio – whether it’s the 100m sprint or the 1500m freestyle or whatever – only one gets to take home a gold medal. Would the other seven like to have taken home the gold medal? Of course! They wouldn’t be in the race if they didn’t. They’ve done nothing but train for years, if not decades, in the hope of winning Olympic gold. But are they happy they won a silver, bronze, made it to the final or are simply able to call themselves an ‘Olympian’ for the rest of their lives? I’m sure they are.
As for my new beau and I, we dig each other. So far, we have three of the four Cs: chemistry, compatibility and communication (the most important one!). Over time, we’ll see if the fourth C falls into place: commitment. Naturally, the four Cs aren’t perfect for either of us but, so far, they’re pretty damn good. I’m stoked!
Unromantic? I think not!
While I’m sure you’ll agree this post made good sense, sometimes good sense can come off as a little clinical and unromantic. So, before I wrap this up, let me have a bit of a ravey-poo about my new fella so you can see just how special he is to me (and we are to each other):
My Lil Rock Star,
You are wonderfully intelligent, deep, passionate, outgoing, fun, funny, entrepreneurial, musically talented (I can’t believe you never pursued it professionally – weirdo), truly unique and ‘dead sexy’ in more ways than I could have hoped for. We can talk the leg off a chair, sing the roof off a house, watch movies, TV, comedy and live shows together like a boss, and party like it’s 1999. Most importantly, you’re the best communicator I’ve ever dated, although you’d have to be – you certainly have some… err… interesting points of view to get across sometimes (wink, wink). I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, and seeing where this journey takes us.
Hugs & kisses,
Your Lil Groupie
Further info from two gurus
Still want to know what to look for in a partner? Still confused as to what are important qualities Vs not-so-important qualities, or the difference between compromising and settling? My dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, does a great job of explaining it here, especially towards the end. It’s only a 6min video, so it’s worth watching. I also liked what matchmaker Kate Edwards said about Mr/Ms Right rarely coming in the package you’d expected.
What are you looking for in a partner? What are the best qualities about your partner (that perhaps differ to previous partners)? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!