by Nancy Travers,LCSW

Experience is a harsh lesson in love relationships. But don’t give up! In order to attract and hang on to someone with whom you will ultimately have a flourishing relationship, your selection may need to be outside of the swift and shallow characterization of the “perfect mate” as dictated by today’s society. A successful marriage begins with healthy, positive dating patterns. Added to this, a logical, systematic plan must be employed in order to find the right partner for a lasting, happy marriage. The people most successful at dating assess the facts about a person and a potential relationship impartially and then decide if their date is right for them.

Although you’re preprogrammed, subconsciously, to select or reject certain characteristics, you can consciously change your preferences and dating habits and change the type you are attracted to in order to fall in love with the right partner. This person will be good to you and for you. Initially, you must get rid of your negative habits and replace them with positive ones. This means changing your attraction and selection patterns so you can avoid repeating the same mistakes you made in the past. In order to reverse unhappy patterns, you must develop new, positive ones. According to Andrea Syrtash, one way to do this is to date outside your normal “type.”

You want to fall in love with someone for all the right reasons, someone a lot like you, with some, if not many, of your most preferred traits. First, you must know yourself. Self awareness is a key to knowing what and who you want. Then, you must decide on the important traits you are looking for. Emotional and spiritual health is a good place to start. Religion (or at least spirituality), family life and work ethic are important common values to share. Other desirable characteristics may include level of ambition and energy, intimacy level, interests, strength of character, definition of household roles, personal habits, dependability, financial responsibility and security, views on having children and parenting, social and political views, personality, intelligence, intelligence/education, chemistry and appearance.

Choosing the right partner means you both have each other’s best interests at heart. But together, you want to move in the same direction. It’s important for you and your partner to collaborate on developing mutual goals to maintain or improve your relationship. This helps develop mutual respect and camaraderie, while defining issues in the relationship which are important to you both.

Five important topics to discuss when developing goals are:

  1. Commitment ? Commitment is the foundation of intimacy. Intimacy cannot develop without a feeling of safety, which results from a clear commitment to the relationship. Examples include spending quality time together and making decisions that show that your partner is your number one priority.
  2. Interests and Activities ? Participating in activities you both enjoy, especially when done together, can go a long way to cementing a relationship. It may ensure long-term benefits and ultimate success.
  3. Love and Affection ? Two people can express their emotions and affection in very different ways. These may be overt using loving words or caresses, or covert using special, private looks or gestures that only you two share. Finding creative ways to regularly demonstrate your feelings for each other can help deepen intimacy.
  4. Domestic duties ? A division of labor that is equitable and agreeable to both partners is important when a couple shares a household. The responsibility of daily living duties, such as shopping, cooking and cleaning, yard work and automobile maintenance among others, must be discussed and negotiated.
  5. Communication ? Becoming a better listener can go a long way to improving communication. Asking questions and not interrupting during the answers are important steps in developing this skill. Discussing your expectations of each other can prevent misunderstandings in the future. If your expectations are very different, you may be in the wrong relationship.

It’s important that you don’t create goals for your partner. Each of you should establish goals for yourselves and then generate shared goals.

Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.