Choosing a long term romantic partner is one of the most selfless things you’ll ever do. It costs most of your money and freedom. Paradoxically though, it’s also one of the most selfish things you’ll ever do. Your partner is also sacrificing most of their freedom and money too. If you two work well enough together, you’ll be able to grow and accomplish more together than apart. If you two don’t work well together, you’ll tear each other down, and by the time you break up you’ll both be farther behind in life than you were when you met each other. In order to find the best long term romantic partner for you, you need to be ruthlessly selfish about screening potential partners. When you find the right one, give yourself to them as completely as you would want them to give themselves to you.
Here are a few criteria you would be wise to look for when screening potential long term partners.
They’re proactively engaged in a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth.
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who actively, consciously and consistently learn new things, explore their interests and expand their horizons… and those who sit there and stagnate and become dull and flawed. If you spend your life with the first kind of person, they’ll lift you up as they lift themselves up. The latter type will drag you down like a boat anchor. Not only will they keep you from achieving your external goals, but after you spend enough years with another person you’ll adopt their personality. If that person is a dullard, you’ll become one too. Then that will be the reality you’ll experience for the rest of your life.
Facing life alone will make you a more vibrant person than living in cold comfort with a child stuck in an adult’s body. The more time you spend becoming a strong individual, the more you’ll attract similar mates. Once you find the right one, you can spend the rest of your lives moving forward together.
They’re not self-centered, demanding or judgmental
When two people share their time, resources and energy equally, they can accomplish more together than they could have alone. That’s called a symbiotic relationship. When one person takes everything the other has and barely gives anything back, that’s called a parasitic relationship, and it’s not sustainable. When one person constantly empties their bucket and never gets it replenished, they eventually run dry. Then they start acting frustrated and resentful. When the spoiled, codependent parasite doesn’t get what they want, they start throwing tantrums. It’s a vicious cycle that inevitably ends in a dramatic breakup that leaves the host broke and depressed while the parasite just moves on to the next host without learning any life lessons.
Nobody is all-good or all-bad. There are millions of self-centered, demanding, judgmental parasites out there who are smart, interesting, funny, strong, successful, attractive and moderately generous. They have enough going for them to make you consider looking past their selfishness. Maybe they do deserve a chance, but if you give it to them, proceed with caution. Self-centered people can be generous and charming when they want something from you, but their prime prerogative is themselves. Sooner or later you’re going to take a back seat to their ego, and your needs will be treated as less important than their wants. Don’t be surprised when you wake up one day and realize that your life is just an accessory to theirs.
They’re able to take criticism and accept responsibility for their actions.
You can’t become a better person if you never change. Specifically, you need to figure out what your bad habits and character flaws are, and fix them. You shouldn’t even wait for someone else to point out your flaws. You should be proactively searching yourself for them and finding ways to fix them before they bother anyone else enough to call you out. If you do that, not only will you be happier and more successful in life, but you’ll be an ideal mate. Someone would be very lucky to spend the rest of their life with you.
You don’t need luck to find the right person to spend the rest of your life with. Pay attention to your dates. If they automatically get defensive and angry every time anyone points out their flaws, then be very cautious of that person. They’re probably never going to change. They’re going to build an impenetrable wall of circular, logic-proof, self-fulfilling excuses around their ego that will protect them from ever having to accept responsibility for their actions. They’ll never grow, because they already believe they’re perfect. As they stagnate in their own ignorant arrogance, they’re going to get more toxic and more stuck in their ways.
If they’re unwilling to accept responsibility for the problems they create, they’re going to have to find someone else to blame, and it will inevitably be you. You have precious little time on this Earth to find yourself, identify your dreams and work towards achieving them. If you have to spend half your life defending yourself from irrational accusations and cleaning up someone else’s messes, you’re probably not going achieve your dreams. Even if you do make it, you’ll probably still be miserable. You’ll also find that as you grow and change while your partner stays the same, your goals will gradually become different. Eventually you’ll probably find that you’re both moving in different directions. When that happens your toxic partner will probably harass you to give up your stupid dreams. They’ll continue to make you feel bad for being yourself and hold you back from fulfilling your potential.
They think rationally.
Sanity is defined: “having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.”
A mental illness exists when “ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.”
Unreasonable people with bad judgment and no common sense are always stressed out over nothing, and they turn simple tasks into major disasters. Irrational people are effectively insane. I’m not saying they’re bad people. None of us are perfect, and we all deserve to be loved. I’m just saying, spending the rest of your life with someone who has a condition that causes them to be a danger to themselves and others and needs to be managed constantly, is a huge and costly responsibility.
Hunky meat head studs and ditzy blonde bimbos make great one night stands (if you use a condom), but they make bad life-partners, because they’re better at ignoring and creating problems than solving them. Improving your quality of life depends on solving the problems that make your life suck. So if you want to be happy and secure in your old age (when you and your partner’s looks have faded) then marry Sherlock Holmes.
They have the same or compatible domestic goals/standards.
You’re going to spend most of your life either at work or at home. When you look back at life on your death bed, about half of what you see will be your house. It’s half of your reality. It’s half of your universe. Spending that much time in the same environment will shape who you are and how you feel. So it’s vitally important that your home fits you. The decorations, cost, noise-level, pace, cleaning schedule, etc. should fit your personality. If your environment fits you like a glove, you’re going to find it pretty easy to be happy. If your environment doesn’t fit you at all, you’re going to find it pretty hard to be happy.
When you move in with another person, you have to share your environment. So it’s equally important that both of you fit your environment. If your partner is stifled by your environment, then they’ll get frustrated and stressed. Then you’ll have to live with a frustrated, stressed person, and that will frustrate and stress you out. The cycle can escalate quickly and lead to new problems.
Obviously, people who share a house will have to make compromises, and couples who communicate rationally will be able to find common ground peacefully. But the more you have to compromise, the less often both people get what they want. If nobody ever really gets what they want, you have to wonder why you’re together when you could just as easily be with someone else who wants to live the same way you do.
They have the same or compatible interests and passions.
If you have no personality, interests, hobbies, ambition or style then you’ll be happiest living with another blank person. Ideally, you have found some topic or hobby that you’re so passionate about that you clear your schedule to make time for it. That will give your life meaning and direction, which will make you a healthy life-partner. If you’re going to share a house with another person for the rest of your life, you should pick someone else who has a passion of their own. It’ll keep them growing and glowing, which will make them a positive force in your life.
If your partner discourages you from doing the thing that defines you and gives you joy then they either don’t understand or care about you. You’re not going to be happy if you spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t understand and care about you. If your partner loved you, they would encourage your hobby. If your passion is bowling, then you should find someone who will buy you bowling-related gifts on your birthday and won’t mind coming to watch you bowl. You might also strongly consider finding someone who enjoys bowling as much as you do. Then neither of you will have to take time out of your schedule to support the other’s passion. Plus, sharing your passion is a profound connection for you to bond over.
They have the same or compatible philosophies on life.
No two people are going to see eye to eye on everything. So finding the perfect person for you isn’t a matter of finding someone who always agrees with you. You can be perfectly happy with someone who doesn’t even believe in the same religion as you. The thing about that is, your belief system guides your actions. People with the same belief system as you are likely to have compatible domestic and long term goals as you. Plus, sharing similar beliefs is a huge bond you share. You don’t have to share that bond, but it’s nice if you can get it… and with over 7 billion people in the world, you can find it if you look hard enough.
They’re financially responsible.
When most people move in with a long term partner, they do it for love, not because it’s a cold, calculated business decision. Little did you know, moving in with someone is the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make in your life. Live with someone long enough, and all of your finances will become tied together.
In a world that revolves around finance, you can’t live a decent quality of life without money. Housing, food, clothes, and free time all cost money. Nothing is more expensive than retirement, and that takes a lifetime of financial responsibility to save up for. You might find temporary happiness with a poor, charming, irresponsible job-hopper, but they’re not going to help you build a secure life for you and your children. They’re going to bleed you into perpetual poverty. Since one of the biggest causes of divorce is financial problems, your relationship probably isn’t going to last forever anyway. It’ll just hold you back for a while.
They treat you with kindness.
There’s no point being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you with kindness. That’s half the point of being with someone: they treat you well, and your life is better with them than without them. Even if you’re patient enough to put up with an unkind lover (which is an oxymoron), they’re going to empty your bucket sooner rather than later, and the longer you stay with them, the more miserable you’re going to be. There’s no point being with someone who isn’t kind. Even if they’re a good provider, they’re just helping you survive to be miserable another day. You should spend the rest of your life with someone who regularly goes out of their way to say and do little things to make you smile and feel good about yourself. That’s a person worth waking up next to everyday for the rest of your life.
They build you up.
When assessing potential long term romantic partners, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Do they build me up, or tear me down?” The more they build you up, the more seriously you should consider spending more time with them. The more they tear you down, the quicker you should untether your life from theirs.
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