What qualities matter most to you in a partner?
What blows my mind is that if you stopped random people on the street to ask them that question, most people would respond one of a few answers. In fact, when researchers asked what women and men wanted most in a partner, they listed similar qualities like kindness, intelligence, and attractiveness.
Those are all great, but I’ve come to realize that the qualities that make for exceptional, stand-the-test-of-time partners are incredibly overlooked. So much so that I worry they wouldn’t even rank in people’s top 5.
So I want to bring these qualities to the forefront. I want to put them in the beaming, warm spotlight they deserve. Because finding a life partner is complicated, you can’t possibly know what you want until you experience it.
But you can be more aware of what to look — qualities that stand to make for the most fulfilling relationship you’ve ever been in.
Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is the biggest quality I didn’t realize I needed from someone until I had it.
EQ is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. It’s also the ability to realize your impact on others. Instead of bottling up or being completely unaware of what you’re feeling, you have the words and awareness to express your emotions.
Some people have a challenging time putting into words what they’re feeling. Maybe it’s due to a lack of showing emotion in their family. Perhaps they were even ordered to turn off their feelings.
But luckily for all those people, it’s possible to increase your EQ.
And finding a partner with a high EQ or willingness to increase theirs is like winning the lottery. Life is a long journey, with ups and downs. Having a partner that can communicate their feelings and express appreciation for you will make for a relationship that can withstand plenty.
There’s nothing worse than lying in your bed at night, worrying about what your partner is up to. Whether your worry is well-founded or not, that distress is caused by a lack of something that every healthy relationship needs: trust.
Think of trust as the glue that keeps a relationship together. Without it, you can’t traverse the emotional and vulnerable depths that make a relationship so fulfilling. You’ll always have part of your guard up.
I’ve been in one too many relationships lacking trust on my end. Now that I’m with someone who has my complete trust (because he earned it), I know that this is a quality in a relationship that can’t be missing.
A Growth Mindset
How would you describe the person you were five years ago? Now I want you to describe the person you are today. Compare your two answers. How different are they? How much have you changed?
Chances are a lot. If you’re someone who clicked on an article like this, you’re interested in improving and growing in your life. And that’s an admirable quality to have. There’s room to grow throughout our lives.
Now I want you to consider what life would be like with someone who doesn’t value growth. They never admit they’re wrong. They’re not interested in working on the relationship. They don’t value pursuing new goals and dreams.
It would make you feel stuck, wouldn’t it? That’s why it’s important to find someone who values change in their life and doesn’t fear it.
A Similar Sense of Humor
You’ve probably never considered humor beyond whether someone has it or not. But just because someone is “funny” doesn’t mean you find them funny.
I’d know because I spent a year of my life dating a man who thought jokes that demeaned women criticized me or had underlying racist tones were the best kind. Not only did I not laugh as much as I’d like to, but I also spent a lot of time acting like his jokes didn’t deeply offend me.
That’s why having a similar sense of humor is important. If you’re the kind of person who likes light-heartedly poking fun at your partner, don’t date someone who hates that. Simple as that. Life is too short not to laugh your way through it with the person you love.
The best kinds of relationships are ones where you act the same with your partner vs. how you’d act when you’re alone. I realized this in a beautiful way when the love between my boyfriend and I unfolded.
For example, I love to sing. And not just sing to songs; I’m talking musical-style singing where I create sounds out of everything I do throughout my day. I’ve always been well aware this could be an annoying trait to some people.
But surprisingly early on in my relationship with my current boo, I started sing-narrating things we’d do. My initial shock was how comfortable I felt doing this early in the relationship. The second shock came when my boyfriend didn't even blink an eye at my melodic habit.
A relationship should be a safe space where you’re not judged. If you’re going to spend your life with someone, at least have it be a person who loves your authentic self.
I hesitated using this word for what I’m trying to describe. “Comfortable,” when used in relationships, seems to connote settling down, which is ridden with all sorts of negative stigmas.
But hear me out… when I used the word comfortability, I mean your partner making you feel like you can be your authentic self.
I didn’t even know this was a thing until I started dating my new boyfriend. I walk down the street dancing and singing, doing whatever I want because I know he loves me for all of it. I can talk about my dreams of one day owning a coffee shop in a quaint little down. I can also talk about the fact that our Mediterranian dinner made me gassy AF.
Through this feeling of being loved and accepted, I realize more and more of my authentic self I’ve hidden away.
And whatever you would call that quality — comfortability or something else — it’s something I cherish in my partner; it’s something I hope everyone finds.
These qualities might be harder to spot in a person, but when you come across them, I implore you to appreciate them for what they’re worth.
Who we date in life and choose to spend our time with is a big but fulfilling decision; that is, if we can pay attention to certain overlooked qualities.