I recently read an article in Psychology Today called "10 Tips to Help You Pick a Good Partner'' by Dr. Barton Goldsmith. What really jumped out at me was this line: "Picking the right person for the right reasons at the right time is an art form." I cannot think of a more accurate statement in one sentence that sums up dating. With the divorce rates as high as they are, it makes sense that it takes the right person, right time and right reasons to make a fulfilling and strong relationship. I love Dr. Goldsmith's tips, and as a nice complement, I wanted to write my own:
1. Don't make choices out of fear: So many times people either choose a partner or stay with someone in an unhappy relationship predominantly out of some kind of fear. Usually that fear is being alone but fears can vary widely from person to person. It's often better to be alone and wait for the right person than to make a decision out of fear. Making decisions out of fear leads to confusion, anxiety and a general feeling of something being amiss.
2. Be careful of jumping into a committed relationship right off the bat: It can be tempting to jump into a committed relationship quickly when you find someone you have a fiery connection with. However, you don't really know that person yet and you're getting emotionally invested in someone that you don't know much about. As time progresses, you may find out things that you really don't like or that you're truly not compatible with this person. Because you invested so much emotional energy quickly, this can hurt a lot more than it would have if you had taken time to get to know the person before putting your whole heart in to the relationship. When we're in the "romantic" stages of the beginning of a relationship, we are often making choices out of lust and fantasy-like projections instead of reality and logic. It's important to remain grounded and patient when deciding to be seriously committed to someone.
3. Give people a chance that you normally wouldn't give a chance to: If I had a dime for every time someone told me they weren't going to go out with someone because they weren't their "type," I'd be a rich woman! Remember attraction can grow the more you get to know a person and their personality. Some people also take a lot of time to get to know and don't wear their heart on their sleeves. Still waters run deep and you may not get a chance to find that out if you don't take the time to get to know someone.
4. Throw out your checklist: Many people have extensive lists of what qualities and traits their ideal partner has to have. If you box yourself in to a checklist you may miss out on some great matches for you. It's almost impossible to find a perfect checklist partner, and when we think we have found it we throw all caution to the wind and disregard some not so desirable qualities. A great relationship has emotional compatibility. How does the person make you feel as opposed to what does this person look like on paper?
5. Look for qualities that are the foundation of a good partnership, throw the tiny details out: The qualities of a person that help to build the foundation of a good partnership are: Empathy, integrity, honesty, reliability, kindness and emotional generosity. If you find these qualities in someone, be curious about pursuing it further, even if they may not seem like your type on the surface. Other criteria, like "sense of humor," "world traveler," and "good dancer" are nice-to-haves but don't necessarily have to be there for you to be happy in your relationship.
6. Don't let lust be your guide: People have a tendency to put up with a lot of crap from someone they are dating when they feel a magnetic chemistry with them. Magnetic chemistry has a strong power because it isn't something that happens often. When we find someone we have magnetic chemistry with, not only is it an aphrodisiac that we can't get enough of but we also confuse it with the right person (e.g., "this must be right if I feel this strongly!"). Magnetic chemistry is great but don't excuse bad behavior because of it.
7. Don't confuse an "emotional roller coaster" with being crazy about someone: When someone isn't fully emotionally available to us or we don't know where they stand, it creates a type of anxiety. The anxiety has a way of taking over our brains to the point where our thoughts are all consumed by this person. We're constantly thinking about where they are and what they are doing. Before we know it, we start planning our lives around them. Maybe you decide to keep your calendar open just so you don't miss an opportunity to see this person. When the person validates and affirms you, it feels great! On the flip side, when they remove themselves emotionally, ignore, manipulate or berate, it feels like the worst thing in the world. Soon the relationship has turned into a see-saw of high-highs and low-lows, which can make us feel a bit crazy or out of our element. Don't confuse these type of feelings with love.
8. Find someone you can be yourself around: This may sound cliched but it's true. Picking a partner where you feel like you can be 100 percent yourself with no judgment and complete acceptance is a wonderful and liberating feeling. In life it can be difficult to find venues where you can truly be yourself. A relationship should be your safe and comfortable place where you don't have to keep a mask on.
9. Don't keep waiting for something to change that obviously won't: The longer you stay in a situation that you know is ultimately doomed or doesn't align with your personal values, the more you block yourself from having the opportunity to meet the right person. Be clear with yourself about what you will and won't accept and know what your deal-breakers are. Once you become clear on those things, it is easier to make a decision about the fate of a relationship.
10. Have fun! The less pressure you put on yourself, the happier you are with yourself, and the more at ease you are will create a space to attract the right kind of people to you. Sometimes it takes seeing a lot of what you don't want to figure out what you do want. Enjoy yourself!
This article originally appeared on Pamela's Punch.