Must-Have’s In A Relationship

Marriage Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft

When you go shopping for anything from a new car to your dream home, you probably make a list of all the things you’re looking for. With a car, it might be everything from stylish wheels to that brand’s reputation for reliability and safety. So here’s a funny question: Why should it be so different when you’re thinking about a long-term relationship with a romantic partner? If you ask that question in the right spirit — after all, people and relationships are the most complicated things most of us will ever deal with— then it at least gets you thinking about your values and priorities.

A happy young couple

Kari Rusnak, writing for Psychology Today, broaches the subject by saying, “There is no definitive way to know how things will work out but there are some things to look for that can help you identify the right partner or maintain a happy relationship.” She then follows with a list 10 attributes she identifies as being fundamental to a deep relationship, including:

Someone who is an open communicator.

There might be nothing more frustrating in a relationship than trying to guess what you’re partner is thinking, especially if you’re working through an issue. It’s hard enough to figure out what you’re feeling without the added burden of guessing what your partner is feeling. “If you or your partner are closed off,” writes Rusnak, “the other is always left wondering or attempting to mind-read, and things will become difficult.” True, true.

Someone who values honesty and trust.

Honesty and trust go hand in hand, and trust is one of the building blocks of a lasting relationship. In couples therapy, we see broken trust — in an affair or even in less dramatic ways — as an issue that can completely destroy a relationship. These are values to not only look for in another but to cultivate in yourself, which may sound easier than it actually is.

Someone you can have fun with.

Let’s face it — life is tough. We need to have fun and find joy wherever we can to maintain a healthy balance in our lives. The more you have fun with your partner the more they become a friend as well as a lover. Rusnak sums it by saying, “Laughter boosts connection, date nights are very important for quality time, and experiencing new things together creates positive experiences.”

Someone who shares your basic values.

Any list like this is inevitably hard to put in order of priority, but if there was one attribute that might deserve to be number one, shared values is it. You devote time to what you value, you may passionately argue in favor of what you value (think politics) and the list goes on. You can disagree with your partner about everything from your favorite dessert to the best vacation spot and life goes on. But it’s tough to disagree about a core belief and just blithely carry on.

Someone who supports and challenges you.

Wisdom, we might hope, involves personal growth. And personal growth is typically a result of facing if not overcoming challenges. A good partner will support you when you face a challenge from without — and even be the one who challenges you when necessary.

If this list intrigues you, try adding to it with your top priorities or have some fun and ask your partner what their priorities are. See the rest of Rusnak’s list here.