How to pick a partner

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There are many strategies that can help you pick a partner for life.

You could pick based on bodies. Do they have a good one? Physical attraction has its place.

You could pick based on brains. Surely respecting a partner’s intellect will help a relationship last?

I recommend that you keep your Heart in Mind when you consider whether a person has the potential to be a life partner. Bodies and minds change over time, and not always for the best. Heart level functioning underwrites the longevity of any romantic partnership more so than physical and mind matching. So how do you assess the Heart of a relationship?

You can assess whether or not there is a Heart level match by asking these simple questions of a potential partner:

“Does s/he like me?”

“Does s/he get me?”

“Does s/he set me free?”

The first response is about connection and valuing. This isn’t to be confused, but so often is, with wanting to have sex. It is about rapport, connection, respect…. love. This love and respect isn’t independent of the second question.

If the prospective partner loves ME, then they would have to understand the ME that they declare love for. But who is that? All identities are built on values. People are defined by the values that they pursue. Who we are as people is defined, says Charles Taylor1, by what is important to us. So before we get into any relationship we must be able to say what these things are, and any potential partner must know and respect what these things are. If you are both heading in the same direction this will help you both to stay connected. Your ability to be yourself is contingent upon the third question.

Every person needs freedom. When we are controlled, trust and safety decay. To be “dominated” is to be bullied and this will dismantle any sense that you’re allowed to be yourself when you are around that person.

Connection, identity, freedom. They’re co-dependent. When you can tick them all off, your relationship will have a fullness at a Heart level that you and your partner will find deeply satisfying.

Dr Jonathan Andrews MAPS

Clinical Psychologist

  1. Taylor, C. (1992). Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge University Press.
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