Most single people have a list of qualities they want in a life partner. Perhaps it’s an actual written list or a vision board or even a silent, heart-felt prayer. Whatever form it takes, most people have a specific idea of what they want and don’t want in a partner.
However, in all my years as a relationship coach, every list I’ve ever seen overlooks the three most critical, most essential qualities needed to build a healthy, sustainable relationship.
Based on my experience with hundreds of clients, as well as my personal journey in attracting my own ideal partner, if you overlook these three qualities in a potential partner’s life (and in yours too—you’re not getting off the hook here!) you will never have a long-lasting, fulfilling intimate relationship.
1. ARE THEY “READY” & “WILLING” TO MAKE A COMMITMENT?
While this might seem obvious, most people have no idea how to determine whether a potential partner is ready and willing to make a commitment. If I had a nickel for every client who told me that they dated someone for months, only to find out they were neither ready and/or willing to commit, I’d be a rich man.
Let’s talk about being “ready” and “willing” separately.
I define being “ready” as being complete with all former relationships. In other words, a person is ready for commitment when they’re not attached to someone else in any sort of emotional, physical or legal way.
Let me be very direct on this because chemistry clouds our judgment, causing us to ignore “red flags.” In my view, a person is not “ready”…
- …if they’re separated and not officially divorced.
- …if they’ve been divorced or widowed in the last year.
- …if they were living with or in long-term relationship that ended less than a year ago.
- …if they occasionally date or hook up with an ex.
- …if they’ve had a “friends with benefits” relationship within the last year.
- …if they’re involved with an ex financially (e.g. owning property, businesses, insurance policies, etc.) other than child support or alimony.
- …if they are angry and bitter toward their ex, blaming, criticizing and hating the “bitch” or “bastard” for what they did to them.
In other words, just because someone is single does NOT mean they’re ready for commitment. A person is “ready” when their heart is wide-open, completely free of any attachment or aversion towards their former lovers.
(But this goes for you too. Do you still want to kiss or kill an ex? If so, you may not be ready for commitment either. Being incomplete is one of the most common ways people sabotage their love lives. If you need to let go of someone, reach out to me, because being incomplete is killing your love life.)
It is harder to tell if a person is willing to commit than it is to tell if they’re ready to commit. Being “ready” is about ones availability, but being “willing” is about one’s aspiration—and that’s more difficult to discern. A person might be ready to make a commitment but they may not be willing to. How can you tell?
Well, for starters, early in the dating process and certainly before you have sex, you have to tell the other person the kind of relationship you’re interested in and ask if they want the same thing.
Having said that, I realize that there are “players” who will mislead you and not tell the truth. But if you’re listening, you can discern a person’s aspiration by the way in which they talk about this subject.
People who are telling the truth usually use very few words and make direct eye contact as they speak. They don’t hem and haw, make jokes or change the subject. They answer with straightforward simplicity. However, those who are hiding their true feelings do the opposite.
Let me give you an example. Feel the difference to the following two answers in response to a direct question like, “Where do you see yourself in the next couple years? Do you want to be married, have a family, white-picket fence, that sort of thing?” (This kind of question might not be appropriate on a first date, but after a few dates it most certainly is.)
“Damn! I forgot to bring the ring (patting his pockets, laughing). Well, uh, if it was the right situation (coughing, looking away), um, I think that could be a good thing. I haven’t really given it a lot of thought. I’ve been focused on my career. But, uh (looking away again), if I met the right person, I think it might be nice to have a person to hang out with all the time. So, ya, I guess I’m open to getting married some day. So, do you follow the news? What do you think of Obamacare?”
“Definitely (looking straight at you). I’ve done the bachelor (or bachelorette) thing and it’s been fun. But I’m ready to start a new phase of my life and I’d love to be in a lasting relationship (still looking at you). How about you?”
The difference is obvious, right? Even though both technically answered “yes,” person A is a screaming “NO!
At the top of your list of ideal qualities, make sure the first item says, “My partner is ready and willing to make a commitment.” And be sure YOU are ready and willing too.
2. DO THEY LIKE THE OPPOSITE SEX?
This question/quality might be confusing. Most people think that if someone is dating, they like the opposite sex.” But that’s not true. It’s not even close to being true. Allow me to let you in on a dirty little secret.
Many men don’t like women and many women don’t like men.
Yes, we are physically attracted to one another, and we want to have sex with one another, but that’s a very different thing from someone admiring and appreciating the opposite sexual energy. Many men hate femininity; many women hate masculinity.
There are some fairly complex reasons for this. As for women, because of centuries of abusive, absent and often alcoholic fathers and male partners, women can harbor hatred toward masculinity in general.
And many men have been taught, both directly by older men and by our culture, that femininity is a pain in the ass (to put it mildly). There’s often a subtle (or not so subtle) anti-femininity message in everything from locker rooms to rap music to church pews.
So if you want to be in a sustainable intimate relationship, find someone who likes the opposite sex. And again, that leads to the question: How can you tell if a person likes the opposite sex or not?
Well, you could look at their relationship with their opposite sex parent but I wouldn’t look only at that, for some parents are morons. I also wouldn’t oversimplify it by looking for women who like sports or men who like “chick-flicks.”
There are three deep signs that a man or a woman likes the opposite sex.
Let’s start with men.
First, how does a man relate to his own feminine side? Femininity is about feeling and connection. So if a guy likes his feminine side, and feminine energy in general, he’ll recognize his feelings and be open to expressing them. Be careful of the guy who’s all wrapped up in his macho-man bullshit. He doesn’t like his feminine side and he won’t like yours either.
Secondly, how does he react to your feminine expression and traits? Does he smile at your woman-ness or does he scoff at it? Does he stay present with you when you’re emoting or does he discount your feelings and tell you to go talk to your girl friends?
Thirdly, does he have women friends? If a guy’s attraction to women is purely sexual, then he won’t want to spend time with women he’s not going to have sex with. The feminine way annoys him. Why would he hang out with people he can’t stand?
Now, let’s apply these same three signs to women.
First, how does a woman relate to her own masculine side? Masculine energy is about directionality and mission. So if a woman likes her masculine side, and masculine energy in general, she’ll appreciate her directional instincts and goal-orientation. Be careful of a woman who scoffs at competition and values feeling over doing. She doesn’t like her masculine side and she won’t like yours either.
Secondly, does she like the masculine tendency to “fix,” or to decide a course of action in the midst of chaos and confusion? If a woman doesn’t like, value and appreciate these qualities, she probably doesn’t like masculinity.
Finally, does she have male friends? When women resent men, they complain and sneer about masculine attitudes and actions, and they don’t hang around them voluntarily.
3. ARE THEY OPEN TO COACHING OR COUNSELING?
People don’t always live happily ever after. (Damn, this is a gloomy article!) There are bumps along the way, even in the most conscious of relationships. In other words, no matter how compatible you are with your partner, no matter how deep your chemistry, no matter how similar your goals, no matter how spiritually aligned you are, you will hit rough spots in your relationship.
So knowing that, you better choose a partner who is open to getting outside help.
I just don’t know how your relationship survives and thrives over time if you both aren’t willing to be coached or counseled when you hit the inevitable rough spot.
So how can you tell if someone is open to coaching? Well, if they’re open to it, they’re probably being coached right now—in business, finance, fitness, or even in a sport like golf or tennis. In other words, they’re currently demonstrating their openness to hiring someone to help them get unstuck, succeed or make a positive change.
However, if a person is a know-it-all, lone-ranger type, too private and proud to seek coaching or counseling, you’ll see that trait being exhibited in their life now and my best advice to you would be to run—not walk—away. It’s a major red flag.
So there you have it. These are the most important, and overlooked, qualities in a life partner. Ignore them at your peril. If you want to discuss this or any other topic impacting your ability to attract lasting love, please reach out to me.
Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach, a TV personality in Orlando, Florida, and the author of two books, the latest of which is the #1 best-seller, Attracting Lasting Love: Breaking Free of the 7 Barriers that Keep You Single. For the past 10 years, Roy’s mission has been supporting single people in the art of attracting and creating conscious, lasting relationships. He offers a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in working with him. You can learn more about him by visiting, www.coachingwithroy.com.