How to find a partner for a lifetime?

Is it even possible to find a partner for the long-term? Does this only exist in the fairy tales and the Hollywood movies? I don't think so.

Online dating is convenient but fundamentally flawed. It is convenient because you can do it from the comfort of your own home while avoiding the feeling of being rejected after walking up to another person. That being said, it's fundamentally flawed as it is practically always based on a physical attraction rather than something more meaningful.

Dating applications like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Happn promote the idea of picking our partner based on the physical characteristics rather than a deeper understanding of what makes the other person tick. While appearance is important, more often than not it is not enough to build a lasting relationship. By the time we swipe, like and fall for someone while texting it is already too late as we have given in the excitement of someone new and we start adjusting and adapting our criteria. Unfortunately this same criteria is not something that can be so easily changed as much as we wish it could.

Finding a partner is not very different from hiring for a job. If you think about it, you are looking for someone to fill a certain role in your life (minus the monetary payment hopefully). Some of you may want a partner to start a family, have babies, grow old while others may just want to have someone to spend some fun times with - each to their own.

The common mistake we often make is to completely ignore the questions that will give us the answers to whether the candidate is a good fit. It is important to understand that even if you match with someone you like, the following questions need to be at the forefront of your communication and the challenge here is whether the potential partner is also looking for the same answers and not just telling you what you would like to hear. The following questions are part of every recruitment process and there is a reason for that.

1. Can they do the job?

Your purpose is to assess the candidate and their ability to perform in the role you are looking to fill. Can they be a mother or a father? Will they be a responsible parent? Are they ready financially? Have they done it before? Have they tried? Have they been avoiding in it in previous relationships? Of course, all of this is subjective and it is for you to establish their suitability and the actual ability to perform the role but these should get you started.

Assuming you can stay level-headed, your gut is a pretty good compass when assessing the questions above. If you know this is not the case and in your past you have pursued relationships for which your gut was telling you it was a bad idea and yet you still went for it, I would strongly discourage you from pursuing a relationship at this time as you are most certainly doing it from a place of need, not from a desire to give. This means you were missing something, rather than looking to share your life with someone. A relationship should be a place you go to give, not get. Receiving is not a problem, but getting should not be the main driver.

Part of the challenge here for you is to picture what the role you are looking to fill looks like. The clearer you are about what you are after the easier the process is. Do not be afraid to raise your standards for yourself.

2. Will they do the job well in the long-term?

Now that you have established that they can perform the role you need to understand if they will do it well in the long-term. I know this sounds more difficult to establish but allow me to guide you with 2 sub-questions to help you answer Question 2:

2.1 Are their goals aligned with the job?

If I received a penny every time I saw a female dating profile in which the word 'travel' and 'food' were present I would be a millionaire. If their goals are to travel the world, and be free and live joyfully with as little responsibility as possible you might want to reconsider the candidate if you are looking to settle down or to find the future mother of your children. On the contrary if you are looking for a partner with whom you plan on having fun and enjoying life with as little responsibility as possible then they will be a great fit.

Can you imagine hiring someone whose ambitions are to conquer the world for a secretary role in your company? How long do you think they will last? How is that different from choosing your partner?

Also note that goals, by definition, are to be achieved by a certain time. What happens once they have been achieved? You may have witnessed families struggling to find common ground once their children grow up and leave the home. This is often the result of having the same single goal to have children. Strive to find your purpose and live it. While doing so, you will come across people who have a similar purpose and this is something that does not have an expiration date. In this way you have something bigger than you two that unites you.

Their goals are an indication of what they value and you should not bound them to a role that does not match that. Again, this may sound obvious and you may already do this but remember that the stricter you are during the admission process the more likely you are to build a lasting relationship with strong foundations.

2.2 Is their nature reinforced by the job?

This is an important point and may take longer to establish. You have to understand what is the candidate about and how they have been living their life up to now. A red flag would be someone who states they are 'looking for something serious / long-term' and they have absolutely nothing prepared to bring to the table or have led an opposing lifestyle up to now.

I can confidently reassure you that the majority of people who state they want 'something long-term / serious' in a dating profile actually have nothing to bring to the table for 2 reasons: a) most often than not they say that because they have had short-term encounters with people who did not satisfy their needs; b) they have done little to nothing to make themselves ready for a serious relationship.

Look for patterns of behavior and understand why they have made the choices they have up to now. When the candidate has stated that they are after a serious relationship, it is better if they had been in a long-term relationship that finished recently over being single for a long time. The question you have to ask then is: Why now?

3. Are they a good team fit?

Whenever two people come together a third world is formed. The key to know if you are a good team fit is if you have the same needs in common. Under Human Needs Psychology, there are 6 human needs that we all have and that we need to satisfy to different degrees:
1. Certainty / Security / Comfort
2. Uncertainty / Variety
3. Significance
4. Connection / Love
5. Growth
6. Contribution
To be fulfilled, we must consistently meet these six human needs but each of us has one or two that will be at the forefront and they will be our driving force in life. It is important to understand which of these are the key ones for your potential partner as they will violate their values (read principles) to meet their needs.

Matching a person who is driven by certainty and comfort with a person primarily driven by variety, new experiences and uncertainty would not be a very successful match as the more any of the two are experienced in the relationship the more the other partner will feel unsatisfied.

Similarly, a person driven by growth will have little in common with a person driven by comfort or variety (new experiences). Back to our hiring metaphor, can an introvert be in a sales position? Can they do the job? Sure. Long-term? Very unlikely.

What we tend to see is people seeking people with similar goals. Note that goals are just about meeting needs, just like rock n' roll is a vehicle to meet a need. It's important to understand what their need structure is - how they prioritise the 6 human needs - as well as the vehicles they use to meet them. For some to be significant is to be constantly growing and adding value to another group of people, while to others it is to earn more money and buy more toys. Don't assume that if a word resonates with both of you, you would be a great match. Instead, go deeper and understand what each of these are to your potential partner.

To be able to answer this question you first need to explore and bring awareness into your own driving force, your need structure and the vehicles you use to meet these needs. If there is anything you love doing and you could do it for hours that others may find difficult it is because this activity meets all of your needs at a high level. If you find vehicles that meet all 6, you will find yourself full of drive and knowledge on how to achieve your goals. And it all starts with awareness into why you are doing what you are doing. The more you know yourself, the easier it will be to find someone who resonates with you.

You can take the 6 Human Needs quiz and understand you driving force here.

As you can see from these questions you need to understand yourself first before you can find a partner for a lifetime. Sometimes we think that if we find someone else it will be better and different than our previous relationship - the only problem with this is that when you leave the current or previous relationship you take yourself with you.

For those of you reading this, who are already in a relationship and currently question if the person with you is the right one, I would recommend asking yourself the questions above because if the answer is no to any of them then you should reconsider the partner. This may sound harsh or difficult to do but remember that life is very short and you do not want waste your time or your partner's time.

If you are wondering where to find that perfect partner for you if it is not the online dating arena, the answer is much simpler than you think. Look for them in your natural habitat. If you are someone who lives for the adrenaline find other people who also look for the same. What is a better place than where you go to experience that? If you are career-oriented and look to climb the corporate ladder, do you not think this is the best place to come across someone just like you? Online dating tends to get us out of our natural habitat and put us before people with whom we have little to nothing in common.

I hope you have found this helpful and in my final thoughts I would give you one last tip. Often we are advised to list the qualities of the person who we would like to meet. This is absolutely normal and necessary but remember that if you are looking for someone outgoing, spontaneous, caring and funny you should have all of these qualities to begin with. Someone outgoing, spontaneous, caring and funny would not like dating a boring, cold-hearted hermit who lives by the calendar.

Remember that we attract who we are not what we want. Opposites attract each other in the short term as one may be attracted or want to possess the qualities in the other person but the similarities are what builds a lasting connection. Differences create passion, excitement and friction while similarities bring connection, intimacy and love. There is a fine balance between the two that you want to find.

Don't stress if you haven't found the one yet, have faith and believe that it will happen when the time is right.

Good luck!
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