Having a list of qualities you need in a partner keeps you from being blinded by chemistry — because let’s be honest, just because someone buckles your knees doesn’t mean you should enter into a relationship with him.
However, in over a decade of working with single people, I’ve seen hundreds of lists and not one of them included what I believe are the three most important qualities lovers need to build a healthy, sustainable relationship. Here’s what both you and your partner need to make a relationship work.
1. Seriously, you both really need to be ready to commit.
If I had a dollar for every client who told me that they dated someone for months, only to find out they weren’t ready or willing to commit, I’d be a rich man. Being ready means being totally done with any past lovers in your life in every emotional, physical and legal way. Don’t look for loopholes in this. Even if someone is single, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to commit. A person is “ready” when their heart is wide open, completely free of any attachment or aversion towards their former lovers:
• If they’re separated and not officially divorced, they’re not ready.
• If they’re involved with an ex financially or logistically (e.g. owning property, businesses, cars, insurance policies, etc.) other than child support or alimony, they’re not ready.
• If they harbor resentment toward their ex, blaming, criticizing and hating them, they’re not ready.
2. You also need to be willing to commit.
Being “ready” is about ones emotional availability, but being “willing” is different. It’s about one’s aspiration: Do they want a long-term, exclusive relationship? Because, while you can be ready for a relationship, it doesn’t mean you’re willing to be in one. How can you tell if a person is willing to commit? Well, you have to ask them and I know people can lie about their intentions. So keep this in mind: People who tell the truth use very few words and make direct eye contact as they speak. However, those who are hiding their true feelings do the opposite. Ask something like, “Do you want to be married, have a family, white-picket fence, that sort of thing?” (This kind of question might not be appropriate on a first date, but by the third, it most certainly is.)
3. You have to actually like the opposite s*x—and that’s not as simple as it sounds.
This is a lot different than being attracted to the opposite s*x. You can want to rip a man’s clothes off but hate him for otherwise, well, acting like a man, and vice versa. Many men don’t actually like women, and vice versa: Men can dislike femininity and women can dislike masculinity. Rather than discuss the reasons for this, it’s more valuable to talk about how to tell if someone truly likes the opposite s*x—or not. There are two primary signs:
Men need to be in touch with their feminine sides, to their feeling and emotions. Be careful of the guy who’s wrapped up in his macho-man, tough-guy bullshit. He doesn’t like his feminine side and he won’t like yours either. You also need to be aware of how he responds to your feminine side: Does he stay present with you when you’re expressing your emotions or does he discount your feelings and tell you to go talk to your girlfriends?
Conversely, and so that we don’t fall into man-bashing, be careful of a woman who scoffs and sneers at a man’s inclination to problem-solve, achieve and compete. It can mean she’s uncomfortable with her masculine side and she won’t like his either. Additionally, if she rebels at a man’s tendency to do rather than talk, it’s another indication that she may not like masculinity. So the second thing on your list of desired qualities should be to find a partner who likes the opposite s*x or the opposite s*xual energy. (And, again, you don’t get off the hook here. Do you like the opposite s*x?)
4. Be open to relationship coaching and counseling.
The third item on your list of desired qualities should be to find someone willing to be coached or counseled. Why? Because even the best relationships go through tough times! No matter how much chemistry and compatibility you share, no matter how good your communication is and no matter how spiritually aligned you are, you will get stuck. So you better choose a partner who is open to getting outside help: Most couples can’t solve their own problems because they’re simply too close to them. How can you tell if someone is open to coaching? Well, if they are, they’ve either been coached in the past or are being coached now—in business, finance, fitness, or even in a sport like golf or tennis. In other words, they have a history of working with someone to help them get unstuck, succeed or make some sort of positive change in their life. Beware of the know-it-all, lone-ranger type, someone who’s too private and proud to seek outside help. (And by the way, it’s not always the man.) When your relationship hits the inevitable rough spot, how will you work through it if either of you refuses to open themselves to outside insight and feedback?
These are the most important, and most overlooked, qualities in a life partner. Ignore them at your peril. But if you put them on your list and if they’re true in your life, then you’re ready to attract lasting love.