Are you just unlucky in love, or attracting the wrong partners?
If you’re often single or have just been unlucky in love, you may wonder what are the qualities to look for in a long-term romantic partner.
There are three essential qualities to look for when you choose a long-term romantic partner. These three essential qualities carry different weights for different people and their pull changes over time—the initial attraction between two people becomes less important over time because other things, like pair-bonding and stability, become more important.
Humans also couple up often, because it’s mostly fun and provides some kind of security in a scary world.
Read on for the main points and keep them in mind on your next blind date.
1. Physical compatibility
In other words: sexual attraction. If this is not there at the beginning, it likely never will be. No matter how much you’re attracted to someone’s mind or bank account, if you don’t find them physically attractive it’s not going to work out for long. Sexual excitement and desire with a new partner last for ten to fourteen months, and after that it plateaus or decreases. For long-time couples, sex once a week is considered necessary to keep the relationship alive. So if you feel little to no desire at the outset, what hope is there for a long-term pairing?
But as the relationship progresses, how strongly you are attracted to your partner matters less than it did at the beginning. Other aspects become more important, not least of all the security of a routine. Does this sound totally dull to all you singles? Consider it a possible alternative to STIs and credit card debt.
When all else is removed (wealth, status, education), people of similar attractiveness tend to pair off. There’s some evidence that in a mismatched pair, a better-looking wife will be more supportive of her husband in a social situation than the other way around. This comes from a 2008 study by James McNulty. Husbands whose looks outshine their wives’ are less helpful in social settings and less satisfied with their marriages.
2. Character and substance
Before you commit to someone for anything beyond a first date, study their character, the way they are under the surface. Luxury cars, Armani suits, sexy hair, and advanced degrees are just expensive ornaments, totally unconnected to a person’s actual soul. If you enter a relationship with someone because they have a country estate you’d like to live in, you invite a lot of trouble into your life, and your partner’s. The only winners in these situations are the divorce attorneys.
People may come together because of wealth, looks, or social pressure, but they don’t stay together for those reasons. Is your potential new mate kind and compassionate or cold and self-absorbed?
But humans do judge each other on social rank and even character. If you look at your partner and decide he or she is somehow beneath you in character or status, the relationship may go off the rails. You’ve set up a superior/inferior drama, one of several billion currently playing out across the planet.
Feeling contempt for your spouse is a predictable forerunner to divorce. And how does your spouse feel, knowing you find them inferior? How can you stand to even sit down to dinner together? Actual romantic love, mutual respect, and something real at the centre of the relationship will keep it going.
3. How this person compliments you
Even if you admire (and desire) someone from afar, this is no guarantee a relationship with him is going to work. Anyone can hide bad qualities for a while. And a lot of things have to happen for a long-term relationship to thrive: mutual love that’s continually nurtured, support for each other through the lousy times, generosity and forgiveness, on and on.
If you and your partner can’t seem to blend your energies so that you both come to flourish, the relationship may stagger on, but in a depleted, exhausted state.
A marriage may last for fifty years but destroy both people and injure anyone hanging around the perimeter. It’s hard to call that a success. In a long-term relationship, both partners have to be well suited to each other and share at least some mutual interests and a desire to want to know each other better.
While there are many other qualities you may look for in a potential mate, use these as a starting point. It’s true, there are a lot of fish in the sea, so using some filters in your search will make it easier to get the catch you want.
Do you need relationship help?
If you need relationship help, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on (02) 8968 9323 or book your free phone consult online.
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.