As a relationship therapist, I can't help but notice a few skills and personality traits that can make or break a relationship. No, this isn't going to be an article about how to find a rich guy who enjoys spooning or a hot girl who enjoys watching football. Regardless of their superficial characteristics, these ten skills are what make couples feel satisfied, connected, and happy with each other. If you have a partner who can do all ten of these things (and you can as well), you will have a very satisfying relationship:
1. Date someone who is able to postpone gratification
In other words, the ability to do something unpleasant instead of something enjoyable in order to achieve a more important benefit. Being in a healthy relationship entails being able to suck it up and deal with all sorts of unpleasant things (embarrassment, vulnerability, taking out the trash, resisting acting on angry impulses, actively listening instead of playing video games, running a boring errand, and so on) for the sake of the other person and the relationship.
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2. Go on a date with someone who can be present
Relationships suffer when one or both partners are unable to engage with the other person in the present moment. Of course, we're all busy and can't exactly sit around quietly staring at our partners all day, but the ability to genuinely listen to and focus on the other person at least a few times a week is essential. If your significant other is unable to unplug, disconnect from distraction, and interact with you, it may lead to loneliness in the future. Also, people who can be present and attentive to one thing are excellent listeners because they are simply focused on what the other person is saying at the time.
3. Choose a partner who makes you feel emotionally safe
Being “emotionally safe” with your significant other entails feeling at ease being vulnerable, making direct requests, and being yourself in his/her presence. If you have a partner who criticizes, is defensive, talks you out of your feelings (is invalidating), or is frequently annoyed or condescending toward you, you will eventually develop a sense of “emotional safety” in that relationship. Partners who are emotionally unsafe feel disconnected and powerless at best, and depressed and unhappy at worst. If your partner is open to hearing what you have to say (even if he or she does not agree), does not act defensive or critical of you, believes your emotions are understandable, and considers your requests and desires, he or she has the ability to make you feel emotionally safe.
4. Date someone who can put up with not being in charge
A healthy, happy relationship is made up of two people who can tolerate not feeling in control every now and then. This ability is required in a variety of situations, from allowing someone else to choose the paint color for the bathroom to allowing someone else to openly share feelings that cannot be “fixed.”
5. Date someone who can assert authority when necessary
Some people struggle with accepting responsibility for their decisions and actions. The ability to be “in charge” and “proactive” in a partner is a positive quality in a partner, whether it is calling the plumber when the sink leaks or resisting buying a new sofa because it is not in the budget.
6. Date someone who understands and expresses his or her emotions appropriately
Emotionally aware partners can identify when they are being disrespected, ignored, or lonely rather than simply fleeing in a reactive, non-constructive rage. It is a good sign for your relationship if your partner is emotionally aware enough to understand his or her own feelings.
7. Date someone who understands and communicates his or her needs
This is a great sign if your partner can directly request his or her needs without criticism, yelling, passivity, aggression, or passive-aggression. If your partner makes specific requests for you to change a behavior while remaining calm and without making you feel inadequate or inferior, you've probably got a keeper on your hands.
8. Find a date who is humble
Humility is required both when forgiving someone else for their mistakes and when asking for forgiveness from someone else. In a happy, healthy relationship, both partners can let go of their egos and pride when necessary.
9. Date someone who can handle emotional intimacy and closeness
In a happy, healthy relationship, both partners are at ease sharing their emotions, thoughts, and needs. If a problem arises, they are willing to discuss it rather than avoiding it and pretending it does not exist. They are open about their vulnerabilities, fears, successes, and life goals.
10. Find a partner who can put up with your solitude
The ability to tolerate separateness indicates that he or she is at ease doing things on his or her own. And when you're on your own, he or she isn't constantly texting or calling you. Being able to be on your own without feeling anxious is a sign of security and trust.
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