We all find ourselves longing for a relationship for different reasons.
One of the biggest reasons why people yearn for a relationship is that they simply want to feel loved. They’re unhappy in their personal lives, unhappy with themselves, and they need someone else to feel worthwhile.
Of course, this is the worst reason to jump into a relationship — and if you’re launching yourself into dating (especially with the intention of settling down), then it’s a good idea to know what you want in a partner and a relationship.
If you’re single and you think you’re ready to start a relationship, it’s worth figuring out what you’re really looking for from a partner first before you start dating for the sake of dating (or to get your mum to stop asking about your love life, or to plaster up the looming existential crisis that is turning 30 this year).
So if you’re unsure what you really want from a relationship, it might be worth first considering the following:
Do you love yourself?
We’re often told to love ourselves. Countless advice columns and self-help books implore us to love ourselves, especially when we’re single, but what does it really mean? In short: do you care for yourself in the way that you deserve to be cared for?
This isn’t about being selfish — far from it. It’s simply about ensuring your own needs are met. No-one else in the world will look after you like you can, so be good to yourself.
When you love yourself, you can love another without relying on them for your own self-worth. You enter the relationship as equals, secure in yourself but ready to share that with another person.
Of course, loving yourself is easier said than done. It takes time and requires a concerted effort to overcome the critical voice in your head.
Does your prospective partner share your views?
Variety is the spice of life. And variety is especially important in relationships. It’s what keeps things fresh, challenging our own views and opening us up to new ideas and experiences.
Having different tastes in music or film adds a little excitement to a relationship, with each partner taking delight in sharing their own tastes with their beau. But sometimes, too much variety can spell disaster for relationships.
For instance, let’s say you’re a left-leaning vegetarian with strong views about animal rights. Partnering with someone who eats meat and thinks nothing of vivisection spells trouble for a prospective relationship.
In some cases, our views are irreconcilable with those of our partner. If a compromise is impossible, then move on and find someone you can achieve it with.
What are the values that matter most to you?
In the same vein as the above, some of us might not even know what our values are. We take them for granted, and so don’t see them as values. Instead, they are simply part of the furniture of our personalities.
Take some time to identify your values. What matters to you? What do you care about? What hill would you proverbially die on? These might include:
These are often the things that we refuse to compromise on. They form an integral part of your personality, shaping the essence of who you are.
While compromising on some aspects of your personality is a necessity of relationships, compromising on the very crux of what makes you who you are should never be on the table. That’s why it’s so important to find someone whose beliefs and values align with yours — especially if you see your relationship lasting for a long time.
What did you learn from your bad dates?
Bad dates — we’ve all had them. The constant phone-checker, the one who negs you, the one who clearly wants to be somewhere else — it’s a fact of dating.
But while these bad dates offer good fodder for funny anecdotes to tell friends later, they also provide an opportunity for you to identify what you don’t want in a prospective partner.
Look at your previous bad dates and identify what exactly you didn’t like about them. Maybe they complained about their ex too much, or they lacked any real ambition. Highlight the red flags and then use that to create a template of what you do want in a potential partner.
Sure, dating is something of a baptism by fire. But a few bad dates will help you better understand what you want — expect, even — from your next date.
What do you think and feel?
Whether you’re dating, thinking about dating or enjoying the single life, you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself and what you feel.
Rather than keeping these thoughts in your head, write them down. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. It’s important to make these as immediate and impulsive as possible — scribble your thoughts down when they’re fresh and save analysing your musings for later.
Putting pen to paper and expressing your thoughts in writing helps give you an outside perspective on them. It lets you turn introspection into actionable steps that help you decide what you want from life — and a partner.
The search for a partner is no easy task. There are a lot of people in the world, and finding the right one for you is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But by better understanding yourself, who you are and what you want, you give yourself more control in that search.
Bear in mind the tips above as you figure out what you really want in a partner and find the person who is best suited to take that valuable role in your life.