In this edition, I explore something more personal than the other topics I usually write about here- I’m going to talk to you about what I learned on finding the right partner. The right partner always complements personal growth and sharing your life with a partner you have a strong bond with adds more meaning to your days.
But I also believe that most of us don’t have the right idea about love and relationships, influenced by depictions in pop culture and novels since the time we’re very young. It takes a lot of time (and failed relationships) to unlearn it all and build the foundations for a meaningful, stable relationship that adds much more to your life than it takes away.
Here’s what I learned to look for in a partner, and I hope that it helps you too:
1️⃣ A Great Breakup
I think it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when it feels like we might have a future with someone while the relationship is great. Still, it is essential for me that in the event of a breakup, this person is just as kind, considerate, and level-headed as during the relationship. We don’t need to be friends, but we should have the closure to look eye-to-eye and behave like mature adults about our separate futures.
It is incredibly stressful to manage complicated emotions if you have a bad breakup, and it is easier to end things well and get the closure both of you need, sooner rather than later.
It isn’t enough for me to have a great relationship with this person, it is also important for me to have a great breakup if it becomes clear that we cannot move forward. While choosing a partner, I always ask myself: Can this person give me the dignity of a graceful breakup?
While it isn’t always clear how this person might behave when things aren’t as rosy, and you might not know precisely how they would handle a breakup, there are always signs of how a person acts under stress or duress. Do they snap at those around them when they’re anxious? How do they treat those who aren’t their friends or family when they’re in a bad mood? Do they talk ill of people behind their backs?
All these are signs of the person’s usual behavior outside of your relationship. Use these markers to evaluate them as a person. Always remember that the way they treat you when you’ve just entered their life is not a default expectation you can have from them. If you want a future with this partner, be very sure of what you’re signing up for and that they will give you what you need.
2️⃣ Friendship and Respect
I’ll go ahead and say it: I think romance is overrated.
If you’re looking for companionship, look for friendship instead.
If you’re looking for a partner you can share your life with, you want someone who shares your joy on good days and someone who has your back during difficult times. You want someone you can laugh with, weep with, share your hopes of the future with, and then share that future with.
The thing is, what I’ve just described is a best friend. If you’ve had a friend who stuck with you through the years, you’ll know how you had fun doing things you loved and supported each other during times of need. You learned to reach out to them when you needed to talk to someone, and you were always excited to call them to share a piece of exciting news. You witnessed each other grow during the years you’ve known each other, and you’re happy for their wins.
You know them extremely well, you know all their quirks, you know what they love, and you know what they struggle with, and yet you accept them as they are. You’re always happy when you’re in their company, and while you might have had your share of trouble in your friendship, you always learned to overcome it and mend your relationship.
I find that relationships with a partner that are built on the foundation of a strong friendship endure the test of time much better than any other relationship. Identifying your partner as your best friend is the easiest way to come back home to them at the end of every day, even when there is a wedge between you.
Your best friend is who you have fun with, share your hopes and dreams with, go through difficult times with, and experience safety and comfort with. Make sure your partner is your best friend.
3️⃣ Don’t Fill a Void
All the fairytales of our childhood do us a great injustice by distorting the ideas of a “perfect” relationship. Our protagonist is always in pain, suffering silently until the handsome Prince swoops in to save her from her tragic life. These stories not only teach us to make us look for a hero to save us when we’re going through a hard time, but when we do find someone who helps, we latch on to them in unhealthy ways because we expect to share a “happily ever after” with them. These narratives also build a Savior Complex in those who identify as the Prince Charming who always has to save the day.
The truth is, suffering is a natural part of life. And it is always up to us to fight our battles ourselves. When the going gets tough, our default response cannot be to look for external sources of help. We need to learn to fight our monsters on our own and not wait for some hero to save us.
You’re always your own Prince Charming.
Co-dependency is a state where two partners in a relationship rely on each other too much to function independently on their own. While we should always reach out for help from those we trust, we should remember to taper it with gratitude for having support in our lives and not let it rise to unhealthy levels of co-dependency.
How do you make sure your relationship with your partner is healthy? Always ask yourself why you’re with your partner. What happens if this person is not in your life tomorrow? Will you absolutely shatter and become dysfunctional, on a spree of self-destructive behavior? It’s hard to imagine such a hypothetical, so instead, look at why you got together in the first place.
Is it because this person helped you through a rough patch, and you now feel indebted to them? Is it because you rely on them to function normally? Is it because they stuck with you for a long time, and you’re scared to imagine your life without them, so you’re continuing to be with them?
All these are bad reasons to be in a relationship.
I learned that when you build a relationship with someone who fills a void in you, it is always a recipe for disaster. You never learn to close the void, and you never learn how to function without this person because you rely on them. So when the relationship turns sour, the reasons you come back to each other are unhealthy, and the relationship quickly turns bitter and unhealthy for both of you.
What I know is that you should never have a partner to fill a void in you, no matter how small it is. It is not fair to you nor your partner. Instead, you should be in such a good place in life that you’re overflowing with positivity, and it’s only natural to want to share it with someone.
So if you’re not truly happy in your current life, you’re not ready for a relationship. Invest your time and energy in making improvements to your life until you’re in an exceptionally happy place where you’re ready to share some of the joy with someone, knowing fully well that only you are responsible for your happiness and wellbeing.
This edition has been different from my usual ones and has been a new experience to write. I’d love to hear from you your thoughts on relationships and partners. How did you choose yours, and what are the lessons you learned?
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