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10 Things to Look for in a Partner

7. Someone who shows up.

Jessica Lewis Creative/Pexels
Source: Jessica Lewis Creative/Pexels

Are you looking for a lifelong partner or wondering if your current relationship will last? There is no definitive way to know how things will work out but there are some things to look for that can help you identify the right partner or maintain a happy relationship. (You can also use this list to work on yourself and become a better partner in your own relationship.)

  1. Someone who is an open communicator. It’s important for open communication to be present in healthy relationships. By open communication, I mean that someone can share their feelings and needs with you. When you build connection, being open is an important part of what helps you get to know each other and feel known by each other. It can also help you get through conflict easier and in a more productive way. If you or your partner are closed off, the other is always left wondering or attempting to mind-read, and things will become difficult.
  2. Someone who values honesty and trust. In most couples therapy research we find that honesty is an important part of a relationship because it helps to build and maintain trust. Trust is foundational in a good relationship: It creates security and safety. Without those things, it would be hard to build connection and show vulnerability. Getting through conflict would be much harder and you may never really feel fully committed.
  3. Someone who can take responsibility. It’s important that both partners can validate each other’s feelings and accept responsibility. When your partner is upset, you should be able to understand why they feel that way and at least accept some part of the responsibility. If someone can’t take ownership of their contribution to conflict it will be hard to find a resolution as no conflict is completely one-sided.
  4. Someone who expresses love and appreciation to you. Telling your partner or showing your partner that you love them is important for feeling connected. Expressing to a partner what we appreciate about them builds connection and balances out negative interactions. It's important to express love verbally but also to recognize that love can be expressed in many other ways. It’s important to identify what makes your partner feel most loved and incorporate that into how you express it.
  5. Someone you can have fun with. Having fun together is the foundation of friendship in romantic relationships. You don’t have to enjoy the same hobbies — your interests can even be opposites — but you still have to find ways to have fun together. Laughter boosts connection, date nights are very important for quality time, and experiencing new things together creates positive experiences.
  6. Someone who accepts influence. Accepting influence from each other is an important factor in navigating conflict. It can help you understand where your partner is coming from and be willing to find a compromise. Being able to consider your partner's thoughts and feelings helps you make decisions that impact your relationship in a positive way.
  7. Someone who shows up. Everyone goes through hard times but having a partner who can be there for you can make those hard times easier. Equally important is someone who will be there for the good times as well. Having someone who will celebrate your wins is also a way to show support.
  8. Someone who shares your basic values. Though you don’t have to agree on everything, it is important that you share basic values. The things in life you find important should be respected and valued by your partner as well. You don’t have to agree on every detail but the core of it needs to be shared to some degree. Sometimes the influence we accept can shape these values but you shouldn’t give up something to please someone else.
  9. Someone who speaks positively about you to others. Even when times are tough, it is important not to talk negatively about your partner to friends or family. For one thing, they may have trouble seeing the positive if you never talk about it, but also, it’s an important part of respect.
  10. Someone who supports and challenges you. A good partner supports you, your hopes, and your dreams. They also should challenge you in a way that encourages you to be a better version of yourself. A benefit of being in a relationship is having someone who holds you accountable and doesn’t let you get away with the bare minimum.

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More from Kari Rusnak, MA, LPC,CMHC
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