3 Essential Signs of a Good Partner

3 Essential Signs of a Good Partner

“Every choice before you represents the universe inviting you to remember who you are and what you want.” – Alan Cohen

I used to have a list. He had to be tall. He definitely had to be smart. He had to have brown hair and blue eyes, hmmm.. I guess dark eyes are also OK. The list went on and on. I had many relationships where I tried to stick as close as possible to this list, most of which didn’t last for more than a few months. But then, I seemed to hit the jackpot.

This man satisfied every requirement I had ever had to the ‘T’. He was tall, exceptionally smart, had the same religious background as me, and spoke all the same languages. To top it all off, he had those sparking, deep blue eyes. I was certain that I had found my life partner.

I was very confused when only three weeks into the relationship, things weren’t going well. Instead of happiness and bliss, there was frustration, anger and constant arguments. But I couldn’t let this one go. It took me so long to find someone who satisfied all of my requirements! We had to work this out. And so, I tried. I tried as hard as I could to work things out – for three long, dreadful years.

I don’t want to blame him for everything. But, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, within days, we would return to a state of chaos. It was constant drama. Arguments, frustration, tears, all mixed in with a sense of hopelessness.

To make a long story short, the relationship left a deep imprint on my health and self-esteem. When we final broke up, I felt as if a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I was free. I could breathe.

At that point, I resolved to never let this happen again. I threw away my list.

Several weeks later, I had a conversation with my sister. As part of that, she told me that, “A healthy relationship isn’t so much about the specifics of who you’re with, as it is about how they make you feel.”

I took her advice to heart.

This new perspective radically changed who I was interested in. Within a few short months, I started dating a man who would shortly after become my husband. He was, and still is, handsome and smart. Five years after our wedding day, he is still is the most wonderful man I have ever met. But, he would have never made it past my “list,” with all of its superficial requirements. I am so glad that I threw it away.

So, I would like to share with you signs of a good partner. Instead of basing it on superficial qualities, the focus is on how they make you feel.

Take some time alone so you can get in touch with your own emotions, uncluttered by anyone else’s needs and opinions. Focus within, and above all, be honest with yourself.

How hard is it to make things work

I know that relationships take work. But, it also shouldn’t feel like hauling bricks. Most of the time, the relationship should feel easy.

This is especially true in the early stages of a relationship. If either of you has to work hard to convince the other to be together, then it might not be worth it. If you feel that either of you needs to make radical changes to make the relationship work, or if having a good time seems to require an inordinate amount of effort, then it might not be worth your time.

At the early stages, a relationship shouldn’t require any fixing. If you are in a long term relationship that’s in trouble, read how to repair a relationship.

When two compatible people come together, neither of them has to work very hard to make the relationship work – that is, no one does more than they want to. Both partners enjoy each others’ company, be it a fancy night out or just laying together on the couch. The best relationships progress without strain or force from either party.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. In long term relationships, rough patches are inevitable. It isn’t always going to be easy. Don’t walk away the instant that the going gets rough. But these rough patches should be few and far between. Most of the time, the relationship should make you feel good.

Life is hard enough. Your relationship shouldn’t make it harder.

How you feel about yourself

How you feel about yourself when you are in the relationship is perhaps the strongest predictor of whether you should stay in it. How we feel about ourselves affects every aspect of our lives. Self-confidence is the key ingredient to success. A good partner is one who contributes positively to your confidence and sense of self.

No matter how much we try to avoid it, we care about what others think of us – especially those who are close to us. So, how your partner sees you will end up affecting how you see yourself.

The effect can be striking when considered over the long term. I have seen successful people crumble to nothing after marrying someone who constantly puts them down. I have also seen people blossom with the support of an encouraging spouse. If you are currently in a relationship, consider how confident you are now compared to how you felt before this relationship.

Be with someone who makes you feel good about who you are. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Day-to-day life with a good partner

Psychologists define happiness based on the number of times we experience positive moments as opposed to negative ones. It follows that a healthy relationship, one that positively contributes to your overall well-being, needs to consist of primarily good moments, and have few bad ones.

It really is very simple. If being together primarily makes you feel good, and rarely makes you feel bad, then “you got yourself a keeper.”

Look at your life as a whole. Since you started this relationship, have you experienced more positive moments than before it began, and fewer negative ones? This is the quickest way to decide whether your relationship is good for you.

* * *

You have the basic tools to identify a good partner – one who is good for you. You deserve to be happy. Ultimately, you have the power to make the life you want. Nothing, and no one, should have the power to take away your right to a healthy relationship.

Regardless of how hard we try, some level of compatibility is necessary. If a relationship fails the above criteria early on, it’s better to move on. Any relationship we are in will eventually require work, but some drain all of our energy.

Sometimes, all it takes is knowing what you want, and rearranging your priorities accordingly. When you know what you want, you are in a much better position to get it. When you know that you want a partner who makes you feel good about who you are, and who positively contributes to your daily happiness, you are a lot more likely to find such a partner.

When you have a healthy relationship, be it now, or sometime in the future, cherish it! Healthy partnerships are one of the greatest gifts in life.

To your happiness!

Photo by Demi-Brooke

Margareta Ackerman

Margareta Ackerman, PhD. is a granddaughter of Holocaust survivor Srulik Ackerman and author of Running from Giants: The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child. She also authored over a dozen academic publications, including research on applications of traditional Jewish study methodology to the modern classroom. In addition to her academic career, Margareta is also a semi-professional singer. Born in Belarus, Margareta spent much of her childhood in Israel. She lives with her husband and son in San Jose, California.

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21 Comments

  1. It’s so true. It’s funny about 3 months before I met my now husband I decided I had 3 things I didn’t want in any guy I was going to date:

    Not over 30 (I was 24 at the time)
    Never been married
    No kids

    Guess what? I then met this guy who had all 3 and it was a hard road ahead because of 2 of those things. But we’re going on 10 years together in February and he was definitely the right choice. He makes me feel loved, wants me to be me and makes me laugh every single day, he’s my best friend.

    Reply
    • Hi Robin,

      It’s amazing how things can turn out. Sometimes what we think we don’t want can work out so well.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring. Too often, people can miss the love of their life because they are too busy focusing on things that don’t matter. Stories like yours remind us of what really matters.

      - Maya

      Reply
    • thank you for this. i’ve been with my bf for a 1.5. in the beginning really great. first meaningful relationship after my divorce. living together now – with my two children. things are really tough right now. my ex and i fight – he doesn’t pay child support as ordered and the house is full of stress now. he hasn’t kids. he’s great with them, but i do all the rule setting. in our early days i was living on a divorce settlement and we ate, drank, went to movies, etc. all fun. money is gone – and i’m panicked. started taking classes to apply to grad school and the wheel have completely fallen off. i’m cranky stressed and completely overwhelmed.

      our trouble – we both drink too much. for me it’s a huge stress reliever but it’s excessive and getting worse. we talk about toning it down but we never see to be able to do it.

      anyway, can this be saved. we have mean to each other. picking and passive agressively acting out with mean words.

      i feel sad, i love him. but our life cannot continue like this. i’m a single mom with two kids to take care of.

      help.

      Reply
      • Hi Marnie,

        This is indeed a difficult situation. I went through a rough patch with my husband last year. I was completely devastated. Eventually, I found some helpful information and our relationship was saved.

        What I learned is that every single couple goes through very difficult times, and there are some tested ways to fix relationships. One of the key ideas is to become less dependent on each other, in every sense of the word, even emotionally. I have a few articles about it on my blog where I get into a lot of detail on how to fix a relationship. I hope you find them helpful.

        http://www.greatlivingnow.com/2012/08/21/how-to-repair-a-relationship/
        (this article also has some good references at the back)

        http://www.greatlivingnow.com/2012/12/03/expert-advice-on-how-to-save-your-marriage/

        All the best to you,
        Maya

        Reply
  2. Honesty and stability are on the top of my list.

    Reply
    • Hi Dan,

      You bring up an important point. Some qualities, such as honesty and emotional stability really do matter. Such things will effect how you feel when you around your partner, and greatly impact your daily life.

      Thanks for sharing!

      - Maya

      Reply
  3. Certainly, feeling protected in someone’s company is far important than looks and a number of listed items once I had too.. relationship is all about feeling good and comfortable in his/her company. Life is hard and in a rigid crowd there must be some one to rely on and laugh with on small jokes :)

    Reply
    • Hi Clara,

      Absolutely! Coming home to someone with whom you are comfortable and can relax makes such an enormous difference.

      Thanks for the great comment!
      - Maya

      Reply
  4. You’re so right, Maya, because a great relationship makes you feel great. I know, nothing makes us feel great every second forever, but I’d sure like to feel great more than not. My wife and I knew almost instantly that we make each other feel great. We say that we are soul teammates, and we are!

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      I like how you put it: “A great relationship makes you feel great.”

      Your comment bring to mind the definition of happiness used by psychologists. They define happiness based on the number of positive moments compared with negative ones. Then it makes perfect sense to find someone with whom you have many great seconds.

      Great to hear you found your “soul teammate”! What a great expression!

      Reply
  5. Thank-you for this post. My life mate, Martin, and I are celebrating our thirty-seventh year together this month! I too had a list at one time, and married my list! That one didn’t ‘ last a year!!! I threw that list out, and never thought about it again. Martin and I started by sharing an orange together, and we keep smiling every time there is an orange as garnish on our plates. We are still in love, and each day I know that I am who I am because of who he is. The sense of vulnerability I was feeling in my first marriage, the fear to trust someone, and to see myself changing into someone I really wasn’t liking made me realize that I had made a huge error. It isn’t about anything more than what you share, having an honest, trusting relationship,that you are willing to invest your whole life in, and receiving that in return – that is the beautiful gift I am given each day!

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa,

      I love your story about the orange! What a beautiful way to start a life together.

      It’s amazing just how destructive these lists can be. Only when we throw them away do we open the door for the right person to walk through.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      Reply
  6. I can tell a strangely similar story. It wasn’t until I swore off “finding” a match and decided I was perfectly happy on my own that my husband walked into my life. Sounds so cliche but the connection and compatibility and friendship was instant. I never would have dated him – in fact resisted, despite the clear connection – because to do so would break all my “rules” about guys who were younger, shorter, co-workers, etc. The most unlikely of candidates has turned out to be the most wonderful friend, husband, father, and partner. Your signs are right-on. Great article!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much fo sharing your beautiful story!

      Sometimes the best happens when we least expect it. It can be so difficult to find a good match when we are limited by artificial requirements, that it takes “giving up” before we can see what was right in front of us all along!

      One thing that I didn’t mention in the article was that I actually knew my husband for several years before we started dating. So often it’s not about finding the right person, but simply recognizing that they were there all along.

      Thanks again for the great comment!

      Reply
      • I love that Maya – finally seeing what was right in front of you. For us, it was a bit more like a refusal to admit that we were actually dating when we inssited we weren’t. Everyone around us saw but us. Makes for a good story now!

        Reply
  7. Although I’ve had my share of bad experiences with regard to the whole list experience, I can’t help it: I still have a list. This one is shorter than the previous ones, has more “realistic” requirements. The list a safeguard, a way of making sure that I don’t leave everything to the unknown and that I’m not going to settle down like most people for and in loveless marriages. I grew up in a culture where it’s more important to be married or at least be divorced, than being single. So people settle in every sense of the word so the list is a reminded to not be satisfied with less than what you really want or are worth. However, my past experiences have taught me to be careful about what I wish for. So in spite of the list, I know that my ultimate criteria in committing to a relationship will be: “Does he get on my nerves?” and “Can I be myself around him?”. If the answers to these questions are YES, I’ll go for it because there are the 2 things that override the list.

    Reply
    • Sorry about the typos: not only English isn’t my mother tongue but I hit the “submit” button too fast without even proofreading what I wrote.

      Reply
    • Hi Anna,

      Thanks for sharing with us! Cultural influences play such an important role in our choice of partner, and the pressure to get married quickly can be both stressful and harmful.

      Many of us do have some idea of what we want. In the end of the day, it all comes down to priorities. I really like your two questions: “Does he get on my nerves?” and “Can I find myself around him?” These questions would help anyone stay on the right track – and would have certainly prevented me from making some serious mistakes!

      Reply
  8. Hi Maya,

    Great article! So true that a healthy partnership is truly what we benefit from. Being happy within yourself is paramount, too.

    While driving my mother to the airport 3 years ago, she said to me “Honey, I hope you are happier the next time I see you.”

    I was shocked and puzzled at the same time. I am the happiest I have ever been and it took me a few moments to figure out what she meant.

    Her viewpoint is that a woman without a man cannot truly be happy, so therefore I wasn’t happy.

    For me the reality was that my happiness within myself enabled me to attract my perfect partner.

    It’s been almost 3 years and we have a wonderful partnership!

    Reply
    • Hi Wendy!

      Thank you so much for sharing this important message.

      I couldn’t agree more. We don’t need a partner to be happy. Furthermore, if we choose to have a partner, it is essential to learn how to be happy alone.

      Being happy on your own is also essential while in a relationship. Feeling good about yourself, and having your own fulfilling life outside the relationship is essential not only for our own well being, but also for maintaining a healthy relationship.

      Without being happy on our own, people become overly dependent on each other, and that eventually leads to the break down of relationships. So when a relationship goes through a rough patch, the first thing to do is to refocus on yourself and your own happiness as a separate individual.

      Thanks for bringing up this important topics, and for sharing your story with us.

      - Maya

      Reply
  9. like your comments.. i think its too hard to find a good partner and live in a stable way!

    Reply

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