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How You Can Become an Ideal Love Partner

Understanding time perspectives can help you and your partner spark romance.

Key points

  • Understanding how we view time perspectives can help us let go of past and present negative experiences and behaviors.
  • When our time perspectives lean toward the negative, not only are we affected, but so are those we know and love.
  • By helping a significant other, we can also help ourselves.

Is it possible for you to help your lover – or yourself – overcome negative experiences and behaviors, pave the way for more positive present and future sexual encounters, and be a better partner? It sure is.

It all starts by understanding how we view time.

How our view of time perspectives affects us, negatively and positively

When our time perspectives are skewed, usually in the negative zone, not only are we affected, but our family, friends, co-workers and those we encounter can be affected as well. For instance, a person may be stuck between traumatic past experiences (“past negatives”) and a hopeless present (“present fatalism”). If they think about the future, it’s usually negative. We know how to help you change all that. Time Perspective Therapy (TPT) enables you to balance past negative thoughts with positive memories of the past, and present fatalism with some present hedonistic enjoyment, all while making plans for a bright, positive future.

You may recognize yourself—or your significant other—in the following examples of how TPT might work in a romantic relationship.

The Past Negative Lover

Past Negative partners hold themselves back in some way due to issues such as past abuse, neglect, or betrayal; religious upbringing; poor parental role models; narcissistic parents; divorced parents. If your partner—or you—is stuck in the past, they may be incapable of feeling pleasure or enjoyment from sex or any intimate relationships. They may keep others at a distance—emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Here’s how to help:

  • Problem: Your partner may feel they do not deserve to be loved.
  • Solution: When the time feels right, sincerely tell your partner that you love them; expound on their loveable aspects. Make this a subtle but regular practice.
  • Problem: Your partner may think something bad will happen if they feel pleasure or "let go." They may feel uncomfortable sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with you.
  • Solution: This situation requires trust, which takes time. Assure your partner that you are trustworthy through word and deed. Do not judge them; use compassion and patience. Make clear that you understand it will take some time for the two of you to be able to openly share stuff that has been private and hidden, but that the wait is worth it.
  • Problem: In order to be intimate, your partner may believe that drugs or alcohol are needed.
  • Solution: If you feel the relationship is worth working toward or saving, have a heartfelt conversation with your partner and urge them to seek outside help. Also, make clear that self-medication never solves any problem; it only suppresses it and creates its own new problems.

The Past Positive Lover

Past Positive partners have many pleasant memories from the past. They may feel they’ve been lucky with love. They may be widowed or divorced; they had a great relationship with their former spouse and are basically optimistic about finding love again. Here’s how to help them realize this hope:

  • Problem: Your potential partner may be afraid they won't be able to have another special connection with someone since their partner passed away, or after separation or divorce. They may feel like being with someone new would betray the memory of their loved one and feel guilt over moving on. They may be shy about putting themselves “out there."
  • Solution: This will take some time and understanding on your part, as well as the development of trust on the part of your partner. It’s important not to represent yourself as a replacement; no one can replace their previous partner. But you can be an important part of the new chapter in this person's life, adding depth to their story without replacing those former good old days.

The Present Fatalistic Lover

Present Fatalist partners believe that whatever is meant to happen will happen. In other words, they think that if they're destined to find “The One,” that imagined partner will magically appear or find them. Since they expect fate to dictate their future, not their actions, they have a difficult time making decisions. Being passive, they sometimes let ideal people pass through their lives, believing that the timing wasn’t right. Here’s how to help:

  • Problem: Your partner is wishy-washy about whether you are "The One," though you make clear that you are confident that with a little work, the two of you would make a great couple.
  • Solution: Rather than bombard your Present Fatalistic partner with reasons why you are "The One," wait for appropriate circumstances to present those instances of positive connection, and insert well-thought out reasons why you two are fundamentally a good match. If your Present Fatalistic partner brings up failed past relationships, you can lend a sympathetic ear followed by encouragement of the strong points you both share.
  • Problem: Your partner has difficulty making decisions—where to dine, which bill to pay, what movie to watch, what to wear, and more.
  • Solution: If you are a strong "Type A" personality, this situation may be perfect for you, as he or she leaves all the decision making up to you. But if you’d like to help your partner strengthen their own decision-making abilities, help them lessen the number of choices.

The Present Hedonistic Lover

The Present Hedonist lover may not be good partnership material, since they are likely looking for brief hook-ups or one-night stands. They live in the moment, seeking different sensations and pleasures, living more in their bodies than their minds. They may not want the responsibility or aren't mature enough to handle long-term relationships.

The Future Oriented Lover

Future Oriented lovers often find healthy, long-lasting intimate relationships. They often lose their virginity later than those in the other categories and are often more mindful about having protected sex. The negative side is that they often put social relationships and sexual experiences off in favor of other professional goals. Workaholics often fall into this category. Here’s how to help them:

  • Problem: During relaxing, romantic, intimate times, your Future Oriented partner doesn’t seem to be in the present moment; they're easily distracted.
  • Solution: You become the distraction by playfully engaging your lover. For example, when your partner starts to wander off emotionally, and then physically, nothing is more attention-getting than being physically touched. A gentle touch followed by a kiss might work to enable them to fully enjoy the pleasures of the moment.
  • Problem: Your partner is a workaholic who seems to be putting career before your relationship.
  • Solution: This is a difficult conundrum: Workaholism is a tough habit to break. You can help your partner by insisting on setting aside time to be alone together. Make it crystal clear that this special time is to be respected and honored—and that they need it as much as you do.

We hope that our advice is timely for you, so that you and your partner can start working toward an ideal brighter future in the delightful Now.

NOTE: The personality types listed above are extreme and stereotypical. Most people are a combination of time perspectives. Past Negative and Present Fatalist perspectives may require more help than Past Positives, while extreme Present Hedonistic personality types are likely not in the market for ongoing relationships, and Future Oriented lovers may want to be your long-term partner but will need to be reminded of your importance in their lives.


Zimbardo, P., & Sword, R. (2017). Living & Loving Better. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

Zimbardo, P., Sword, R.M., & Sword, R.K.M. (2012) The Time Cure. San Francisco, CA: Wiley Publishing.

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