Job Description for the Perfect Partner

Last time I addressed the pressure we feel to find our soul mate (http://www.balancedfamily.com/).  I examined the issue in terms of how this “happily ever after” concept is presented to us in movies, books, and fairy tales.  We are led to believe there is only one true love and circumstances must be just right if we are to have that perfect relationship.  What many of us never learn is that many people can fill the role of “the one”.  What is really necessary is a clear and well defined understanding of what makes a certain person a candidate to be our perfect life partner.  It is as if we need to write a job description for our soul mate and then we must sift through potential candidates to find the right match.  This is the purpose of dating.

Why dating is important

Dating is the process most of us go through to identify what is important to us both in a partner and in a relationship.  It is a winnowing out of those things that we don’t like and an understanding of what we feel is essential.  Most of us have met someone we find really attractive physically but after one or two dates that person is eliminated from contention as a life partner.  His/her life values, goals, or behaviors do not match our own, and we know there is no potential for a successful future together.  If we are just looking for a good time and this person is fun to be with, we may continue seeing him/her.  If our goal is to form a lasting relationship, it is not in our best interests to prolong the time we interact with this person.  Most of us will say “nice meeting you” and move on.  We need not consider this association a waste of time.  What we need to do is tease out what was good about the relationship and add those qualities to our list of things we want in the future.  We also need to identify what we didn’t like and take steps to eliminate those characteristics from potential candidates.

It is essential to undergo this process with each successive interaction to define our perfect partner so dating can be productive.  If one is continually frustrated with the dating experience, more than likely this analysis is not happening.  If we are to find the right partner, not just settle for an okay one, we need to be able to reevaluate our criteria continually.  We need to be open to new experiences and be able to let go of unproductive expectations.  We also need to know what is really important to us.

Planning your relationship

Lori’s friends were getting married now and she was beginning to feel like an extra wheel at all their gatherings.  Lori was starting to wonder if she would ever find the right guy.  Then she met Mike.  On the surface he had all the qualities she dreamed of in a husband.  He was nice looking, educated and had a good job.  Lori started to plan her life around him in hopes she would finally be married like her friends.  She went to NASCAR races, watched action movies, and never complained when he would cancel a date with her at the last minute to hang out with his friends.  It bothered her that he would never watch the movies she liked or participate in things she liked to do.  Though Lori did things to meet Mike’s needs and make his life happy, she never seemed to feel he cared about her the same way.  He would never hold her hand or tell her he loved her.  A year after they married Lori filed for divorce.  She didn’t understand why things hadn’t worked out.

Lori had planned for her career very well.  In college she discovered a fascination with numbers and decided to be a CPA.  She investigated what credentials she would need and what she would need to do to get them.  Lori devised a plan that would get her to her goal and followed it.  Unfortunately, she, like many people, did not take the same approach to her relationships.  She never truly identified what she wanted her marriage to look like.  She didn’t define what qualities she needed in a life partner so she wasn’t able to distinguish between good candidates and poor ones.  If Lori had used the same approach in finding a mate that she used for establishing a career, her marriage might have been a success.

Most of us have established criteria about what kind of job we would like to have.  We know we won’t like every aspect of our dream job but we try to find a job that meets most of our needs.  There are things we know we don’t want to do or for which we are not qualified so we don’t apply for those jobs.  If we would only use the same sort of criteria in finding a partner, we would substantially increase our success at long-term relationships.

To comment on this article or to inquire about other topics, please send e-mail to lesli@balancedfamily.com

© 2008 Cary Home Times

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