What do you look for in a relationship partner

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Posted February 25, Reviewed by Jessica Schrader. Most of us have a long list of attributes that describe our perfect mate, from general traits — smart, kind, funny, adventurous, understanding — to specific skills and interests — good cook, loves baseball, politically active, likes to travel. So what are the most important things to prioritize if you want to have a happy and successful relationship?

Decades of research into relationship satisfaction and longevity points to several key qualities you may be able to spot early on:. Research I described in detail in an earlier post found that those whose partners meet their ideals in terms of warmth and loyalty are more satisfied with their relationships. Having a partner who meets one's ideals in terms of physical attractiveness, excitement, status, and wealth, on the other hand, is much less correlated with overall satisfaction. This research also found that having a partner who fell short on attractiveness, status, and excitement did not affect satisfaction if that partner was also highly warm, kind, and loyal.

In other words, those more "superficial' traits were not important at all for those whose partners were kind, understanding, and loyal. You should seek someone who is similar to you. A large body of research shows that we are attracted to people who are similar to us, especially those who share our attitudes and values. And, in fact, similar couples are happier. Research has shown that couples who share tastes, interests, and expectations tend to encounter fewer conflicts. There is also evidence that spouses who start out more similar in terms of educational attainment, age, and desired of children are less likely to get divorced.

In addition, seeking a mate who is similar to you may sometimes have you searching for traits that are more idiosyncratic — improving your chances of landing someone who has those qualities. Almost everyone wants a mate who is kind and good-looking, so kind and good-looking people are going to be in high demand on the dating market.

But if you really want someone who shares your passion for ballroom dancing or your obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer , the competition is likely to be less intense. Conscientiousness is about being reliable, practical, rule-following, and organized. People who are conscientious tend to bring that trait into their relationships and are more dependable and trustworthy. That unpopular kid in high school who always got his or her homework done and followed all the rules could make a more trustworthy and dependable spouse in the future. The personality trait that affects our relationships most is emotional stability.

Those high in neuroticism the opposite of emotional stability are much more likely to have negative and argumentative interactions with others, including their partners. But you can get a sense of how hard they will work to maintain a happy relationship and resolve conflicts. You need to understand their general philosophy about relationships. Researchers have identified two primary sets of beliefs about relationships — growth beliefs and destiny beliefs.

They believe that once two soul mates unite, everything will be perfect — when a relationship is meant to be, everything will just work out. In contrast, those with growth beliefs think that relationships take hard work and that a strong relationship is something that you develop over time. They believe that all relationships inevitably encounter problems and that having a stronger relationship means working hard to cope with difficulties that arise.

These different attitudes toward relationships have major implications for how people cope with relationship difficulties. When people with destiny beliefs hit a bump, they assume it's a that their relationship is doomed. So they tend to avoid conflicts and become angry if they must acknowledge their partner's faults — because that would mean the relationship is not meant to be. And when the going gets tough, they give up, rather than working to repair the damage. In contrast, those with growth beliefs are more open to discussing problems, and respond positively to challenges in the relationship by working to resolve them.

These are just a few qualities that you can look out for early in a relationship. This is not an exhaustive list; there are other qualities also associated with relationship success. Certainly not: That sort of thinking is a destiny belief! But all of these factors have been shown to be associated with having happier relationships. And they are things that you can figure out pretty quickly as you get to know a new partner.

So keep them in mind the next time you consider entering into a new relationship. Preferences in human mate selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50 , Hadden, B. Not all ideals are equal: Intrinsic and extrinsic ideals in relationships. Personal Relationships, 22 ,— Similarity of outcomes, interdependence, and conflict in dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59 , The psychological infrastructure of courtship and marriage: The role of personality and compatibility in romantic relationships.

Bradbury Ed. New York: Cambridge University Press. Spousal dissimilarity, race, and marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69 , — Are you in a healthy relationship? Linking conscientiousness to health via implementing and immunizing behaviors. Journal of Personality, 82 , — The Five-Factor Model of personality and relationship satisfaction of intimate partners: A meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 44 , Personality and conflict communication patterns in cohabiting couples. Journal of Research in Personality, 40 , The daily life of the garden-variety neurotic: Reactivity, stressor exposure, mood spillover, and maladaptive coping.

Journal of Personality, 73 , Personality, birth order and attachment styles as related to various types of jealousy. Personality and Individual Differences, 23 , — Wood, L. Personality predictors of levels of forgiveness two and a half years after the transgression. Journal of Research in Personality, 42 , The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, methods, and research. Psychological Bulletin, , Implicit theories of relationships: Destiny and growth beliefs. Campbell Eds. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph. Worry is driven by mood, not logic. Anxiety holds your deepest yearnings. And you can subdue it for good. Three experts turn everything you know about anxiety inside out. Gwendolyn Seidman Ph. Close Encounters. Key points Kindness and understanding in a mate bring more satisfaction than physical attractiveness or status. A partner similar to you may mean less conflict down the road. Certain personality traits make for more stable mates.

References 1 Buss, D. About the Author. Online: Web at Albright College , Twitter. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Personality Passive Aggression Personality Shyness. Family Life Child Development Parenting. View Help Index. Do I Need Help? Back Magazine. September A Sigh of Relief Worry is driven by mood, not logic.

What do you look for in a relationship partner

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