Let’s face it: There’s really no such thing as THE perfect partner. Quite the downer sentiment, we know, but looking for perfection while dating can actually be unhelpful, unrealistic, and extremely frustrating.
However, your ideal partner can be found in someone that possesses a few characteristics that are essential to you. While this varies greatly from person to person, there are some common qualities that relationship professionals agree that you should look for. Below we get into the top five qualities to look for in a partner.
An immediate indicator of a good partner is how well someone cares for him- or herself. Generally, this means physically and emotionally, but could also lend itself to areas such as finances and spirituality. While the specifics vary, according to Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, author of “Marriage and the Law of Attraction: The Secret to Creating Your Perfect Relationship”, and host of The Love Psychologist Podcast, this is one of the more common qualities to keep top of mind. This is likely because taking great care of one’s self is an indicator that someone generally has their life together and is ready to enter a relationship.
When looking for a partner, it’s only natural to seek someone who will fit into your life and treat you well (as you should). Remember, though, that each person you date is just that—a complete person. Before asking yourself how they’d get along with your friends and family, pay attention to how they care for and support themselves. Some things will be evident without having to bring it up (yes, we’re talking personal hygiene), but others, such as lifestyle and finances, may take more conversation or direct questioning.
Don’t get us wrong, you and your partner don’t need to think identically on everything. Remember, opposites attract as well. In fact, it may be healthy for you and your life partner to differ and be opposites in some areas. That being said, your partner should have at least similar core values and life priorities to yours—think religion, political views, financial priorities, and future planning (what their ideal life blueprint is). “These are values and priorities that define a person’s character and perspective on life,” says Lisa Bahar, marriage and family therapist and adjunct faculty for Pepperdine University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program. She further explains that, even if we aren’t aware of it, people often look for partners that are similar in these ways in order to click. While this is comforting and reassuring in the short-term, it can also be the start of a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.
One of the pillars of a successful relationship is good communication. Finding someone who is able to communicate their needs, desires, worries, and fears to you without getting upset or defensive is a huge asset in a partner, notes Bahar. However, communication isn’t one-sided. While they should speak to you in a respectful and emotionally mature way, they should also be receptive and responsive. We’re not talking about how quickly they answer a text. What we mean is that they should be able to listen to you when you speak, ask questions to further understand, and confirm that they hear you and do understand. Both sides of healthy communication are especially needed during emotional situations and hard times, as many couples have been facing this year. If someone can communicate with you on a mature, honest, and open level, they’ll be able to work with you as a team.
Without exception, your ideal partner (or, really, even a decent romantic partner) should always treat you with respect. Much like their own wants, needs, and feelings, they will recognize your own and place them on equal ground with theirs. They’ll respect your boundaries, while still finding ways to be there for you physically and emotionally. They won’t attempt to control or belittle you with manipulative behavior. Although you’re looking for someone to bond and form a team with, you’re your own person. If you want to achieve a healthy relationship, any potential partner should treat you as such.
This, of course, extends towards your friends and family. These are important people who you want to get along with any future significant other. While this probably isn’t something you’ll be able to figure out in the first phase of dating, you can observe how respectful someone is with people in general. His or her general demeanor towards other people is a great reflection of how he or she will treat you and your loved ones.
Simply put, nobody’s perfect, not even your future spouse. While we’re fully aware that we’re talking about ideal qualities here, we also know that everyone has areas that they can improve on. Something you should always be on the lookout for in a partner is someone who recognizes this and is not only willing to listen to criticism, but also work to be better. If someone is able to put the effort in for themself, it’s likely that he or she will do the same for your relationship. “If you connect with someone who has also invested in developing [him- or herself], your relationship will feel really good—regardless of the specific personality characteristics [that] you’re each bringing to the table,” says Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, marriage and family therapist, author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love”, and host of the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast. Realistically, successful long-term relationships without conflict don’t exist. If you’re willing to work on and fight for it, your partner should too.
Each of these traits are a great find and are top qualities to look for in a partner. However, it’s equally important that, while dating, you look inward, too. “Instead of getting fixated on the qualities of the partner [that] you’d like to have, it may be more productive to consider what kind of partner you’d like to be, as well as the kind of long-term life and relationship goals you have,” Dr. Bobby tells us. “When you focus on developing your own emotional intelligence, communication skills, a healthy foundation of self-respect, and get clarity about your values and long-term goals, it becomes much easier to identify potential partners.”
When looking for a prospective spouse, it's important to know what kind of partner you want in the future. Whether it be personality traits or their affection, knowing exactly what you want will give you a sense of security, and will help you find the right person.