What do I really want? | Nicole Greer | TEDxHickory
How to Find Out What You Want in a Relationship
Knowing exactly what you want out of a relationship is very difficult, especially if you're young or inexperienced. Even if you've dated many other people, every relationship is unique, and you might have different priorities now than you have had in the past. Finding out what you want in a relationship can be a laborious process, but it's worth it.
Determining the Deal-Breakers
Develop a list of non-negotiables.Sometimes, to get a better understanding of what you want in a relationship, it’s best to inform yourself on what you don’t want. Figuring out what you want can be tricky, but, usually, you know exactly what you don’t want. Sit down and put together a list of criteria that would disqualify a potential match first. Research shows that common deal-breakers for those interested in long-term relationship are:
- Having anger issues or exhibiting abusive behaviors
- Dating several people at once
- Being unworthy of trust
- Being already in a relationship or married
- Having health issues like an STD
- Having a drug or alcohol problem
- Being inattentive
- Having poor hygiene
Figure out the personal values you don’t want to compromise.You can think of your personal values as a roadmap detailing the sort of life you’d like to lead. It’s unlikely to think that a romantic partner will share all the same values as you. However, it’s important for you to know what yours are so that you can know which principles and beliefs you are not willing to compromise.
- For example, if you think honesty is really important, you are unlikely to mesh well with a partner who lies. What’s more, it’s likely to cause a rift in the relationship if your partner expects you to lie.
- Find out your core values by answering these questions and looking for reoccurring themes:
- If you could change something about the community you live in, what would it be? Why?
- Who are the two people you respect or admire the most? What traits do you admire about these people?
- If your home caught on fire and all the living beings were safely out, what three items would you choose to rescue? Why?
- Which moment in your life made you feel very satisfied? What happened to make you feel that way?
Consider any previous relationship patterns.Think back on relationships you have had in the past—whether romantic, platonic, or familial. For those relationships that ended badly, consider the factors that contributed to the relationship dissolving. What about those relationships left you dissatisfied or unhappy?
- Write down any negative patterns you can uncover from your relationships with past lovers, friends, or family members that did not fulfill you. Consider these problem areas as a foundation for what you don’t want in the future.
Think about any issues you have noticed in the relationships around you.Others’ relationships affect you, too. Surely, you have spent time with friends or family members who were in romantic relationships. Even though you were on the outside, you may have been aware of issues these individuals experienced.
- For example, maybe your sister was devastated after her boyfriend cheated. You helping her through this time made you aware of how important it is to be faithful in a relationship.
- Take note of any such red flags from others’ relationships that you don’t want to have happen in yours. Learning from the mistakes of others may help you to enjoy a more satisfying relationship in the future.
Examining Your Needs
Love yourself first.Many people wrongfully search for a romantic partner to complete them. However, your partner should only complement you—you should already be complete on your own. Feeling complete translates to having self-love that is not dependent on anyone else loving you. Show love to yourself by:
- Creating a list of your favorite qualities about yourself (e.g. friendliness, your smile, etc.)
- Speaking to yourself in a gentle, loving way as you would a friend
- Becoming aware of your inner needs and desires and living in accordance with them
- Caring for your body
- Managing stress
- Avoiding the tendency to dwell in the past—live in the now
Think about what kind of relationship you want.What are your expectations, for both your partner and yourself? Try to be as impartial about yourself as possible. This will help you identify types of people you want to stop seeing and behavioral patterns that you want to end, which will help you figure out the kind of relationship you actuallydowant.
- For example, you might think you're ready to settle down, but deep down you know you're not ready for that kind of commitment. Or conversely, you might think you just want to have some casual fun, but you know from past relationships that you get too emotionally invested.
Transform your list of deal-breakers into most important qualities.Go back to your list of deal-breakers. By knowing what you don’t want, you can now uncover some things that you do. Transform your list of deal-breakers into positive qualities that you desire in a relationship.
- For instance, if a deal-breaker for you was someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, you might transform that into “concern for physical and mental health”. You know you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who uses drugs or alcohol abusively, so you would look for someone who seems to prioritize health.
- Add more 'nice-to-have' qualities as you think of them. Be completely honest with yourself. If physical attractiveness is a deal breaker for you, put that down. But try to focus on qualities that don't have to do with looks, such as intelligence, patience, and empathy. You should also think about things like religion and politics, which may or may not be relevant to you. Don't leave anything out, no matter how embarrassing or trivial it seems.
Be the person you want to date.One way to maximize on the process of discovering your ideal partner is to embody the traits you yourself are looking for. This method allows you to check whether your expectations are realistic and it also gives you a chance to assess what you are willing to give in a relationship.It’s unreasonable to have a list of demands without making any changes on your own. But, personifying the traits you desire makes you an attractive partner that will likely attract someone like you.
- For example, if physical health and well-being is an important quality you are asking for in a partner, strive to spend a month focusing wholeheartedly on your own health—eating well, exercising, fighting stress, and getting sleep. Keep up the good habits after the month ends.
- Let’s say you listed “be rich” as a quality you wish for. If you yourself will have trouble becoming rich out of the blue, then you may want to relax this quality to something like “is financially stable.”
Go out with a few people with no strings attached.You can make lists and look at your past relationships for signposts, but the very best way to figure out what you want in a relationship is to start dating casually. Go out for coffee, ice cream, or drinks with a few people who seem to meet your standards.
- Know your limitations before you step into this domain, however. You may not want to become physically intimate with several people at the same time.
- Also, it’s wise to make sure you communicate that you are dating casually to prevent hurt feelings. Set a timeline for when you should stop seeing someone if you don’t feel a natural connection. If someone seems to become serious, or you start feeling more attracted to one person over another, cut ties with everyone else and follow your instinct.
Evaluate your compatibility with different suitors.As you casually date a few potential suitors, consider how well each individuals matches up with your personal values, goals and dreams. Check to be sure no one is representing qualities from your deal-breakers list. As you come to get to know this person, don’t forget about your own wants and needs.
- At this point, you may naturally feel a better connection or more aligned with one person over any others. Now is the time to cut off any ties with other suitors so that you can focus on strengthening the relationship you have with this person and maintain fidelity.
Visualize the relationship beyond the honeymoon phase.Every short-term relationship starts off by seeing your partner through rose-colored glasses. Everything the other person says or does is absolutely charming. In time, the perfect aura around this person starts to fade. Prepare yourself for this eventuality and start looking beyond the crazy-in-love phase to how things will be in several months or years.
- You must consider whether the seemingly small things that annoy you about your partner will be magnified as the rose-colored glasses come off. Return to your list and make sure that you haven’t been overlooking any important values or qualities due to being head-over-heels.
- For example, if cleanliness was important for you at the onset, are you going to be able to ignore how your girlfriend piles dishes in the sink for days on end?
- Before you break up with the person for any perceived slight, consider that you are bound to dislike to some small quirk of your partner. Just make sure you aren’t overlooking any non-negotiables.
Communicate with your partner.If you come to find that you and your partner are quite compatible—sharing similar values, goals, interests, and outlooks on life, then it may be time to have a candid talk about where you stand.Once you feel sure that this person embodies what you want in a relationship, you need to make sure he or she feels the same.
- Be straightforward about your feelings. If your partner is not interested in a long-term relationship, it’s better to know that early on. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can change his or her mind one way or another.
- Ask your mate for some quiet time and express your feelings about this relationship. You might say “I have really enjoyed getting to know you over the past few months. I wanted to see how you felt about our connection and where we stand?” It’s significant to find out whether your partner sees the long-term for the two of you and whether he or she is ready to become mutually exclusive.
QuestionMy girlfriend asked me what I want in our relationship and where I see us in five months time. I couldn't answer her because we have issues. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk her the same question and tell her you value her opinion. Add that you hope your relationship is stronger by then, and that you'd like to work on your issues together with open and honest communication. Tell her anything else you deem important related to the specifics of your situation.Thanks!
QuestionWhy am I so picky with people?Vicki The AwesomeCommunity AnswerThat’s normal. It’s normal to know what you want. However, you should give people a chance. You never know who will make a perfect partner.Thanks!
My friend asked me what my long term goals are for our potential relationship. How can I figure that out?
How do I dial down a deal breaker list?
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