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In this day and age of dating sites (or candy stores, as some people call them) singles have more choice in choosing a partner than ever before. Have you been caught up in the pick ‘n mix and unable to make up your mind, or been disappointed over and over again? Do you keep getting involved with the wrong partner? Or are you afraid of even going out to look in case it turns out all wrong?
Or have you ended up in a relationship with somebody simply because they were ‘there’ and available, and you were perhaps feeling lonely?
Perhaps you are waiting for a fairy tale? Do your expectations exceed what normal life is able to provide? Do you often flit from relationship to relationship because only the initial “limerance” phase is appealing to you, and once a relationship settles down to more mundane life, or you begin to see that your partner is not quite so perfect, you leave for more romantic and exciting pastures?
All of us have a notion of our value in the mating market place of romantic relationships and in sizing up potential lovers or marriage partners, while we might dream of George Clooney or Jennifer Lopez, in reality, we go for people we consider to have roughly the same attractiveness value as ourselves. In doing so, it is not only looks that are factored into the equation: personality, status and wealth also matter. We may be prepared to trade a slightly bigger belly than we might ideally want in a partner for their charm or ability to make us feel loved.
However, what men and women see as tradeable differs, and this also depends on how serious the relationship is, if two studies of 400 New Zealand students are to be believed.
Overall women placed greater importance on the warmth and trustworthiness of a potential mate, and on wealth and status. This was nine times stronger if the woman was being asked to consider the mate as marriage material rather than for a one-night stand.
On the other hand, if forced to choose between a partner who was warm but poor rather than rich and cold, both men and women were equally likely to opt for the lovable loser.
Likewise, there was no gender difference if forced to choose between ‘warm but unattractive’ versus ‘cold and stunning’. If a long-term relationship was on offer, they nearly all preferred warmth to looks but if it was a brief fling, shallow beings that we are, looks prevailed.
So how do we choose? In choosing a partner to spend our lives with, we need to take into account certain fundamentals:
Mutual Agenda – Do they want the same thing? Is it about growing old together? Is it about exciting sex? Having children? Creating wealth and security? Having fun? It may seem to you that your partner must obviously want what you do, but that simply isn’t true. It needs to be discussed and communicated so that your expectations are clearly the same. Where your mutual agenda differs, heartbreak is sure to follow in some way.
Love Language – (see above). It is vitally important that you accept your partners love language and can cope if it isn’t the same as yours. Think carefully. I am a words person – I thought I could live without them but after first two and then 22 years of feeling lonely within a relationship, I discovered I simply didn’t want to! Physical Touch is my second language and had that been adequate it may have been enough, but choosing “being there” partners was definitely not a clever move despite them being wonderful people and good company.
Class, upbringing and social status – I know it seems shallow and definitely non-pc, but I see many problems arising from differences in this area. Sooner or later the table manners, social habits, deliberately farting in company, putting the cigarette out in a coffee cup, eating habits, ………….(fill in the blank yourself) will cause a rift. Best find somebody who you feel comfortable being yourself with, and who feels comfortable being themselves with you. I know that there are some things I simply wouldn’t want to put up with (and from the list above you won’t find it difficult to know what they are!) – know what these are for you and don’t just ignore them!
Neat and tidy? Strangely this can be a real sticking point for many couples. People who are pedantic about neatness find untidiness incredibly hard to live with. When troubles hit, this is one area that gets picked on the most! Hence all the jokes about his socks being left lying around, or the toothpaste tube being squeezed in the middle! Best find somebody who doesn’t mind your untidy habits or who is as pedantic about neatness as you. Or of course you could chill out (difficult without therapy – but I could help there!), or you could learn to be pedantically neat. Or find a middle ground. It is possible. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, just one to consider carefully if it is important to you.
Other habits – it may take time to get to know what really irritates you. You can either learn to chill and become more accepting or avoid the things you know you wouldn’t want to live with. Do you watch the same sort of television shows? That’s a good sign!
Introversion / Extroversion – here I am not talking about the classic understanding of loud / quiet. I am talking about the need for ‘me’ time and the need for ‘people time’.
Of course we all need both, but if there is a misunderstanding in this area, or one of you can’t understand or accept the other’s need for ‘me’ time, a bumpy ride is ahead!
This is just a tiny bit of the huge pie that makes up the banquet of romantic relationships – but perhaps enough to get you thinking?
The mind is a wonderful slave, but a terrible master! In order to be the master of our lives and destinies, we must first become master of our own minds!