What You Really Want in a Mate
- Grant Langston for the eHarmony Research Library
- 2002 11 Nov
One of the keys to healthy mate selection is deciding what type of person you want in your life. In order to determine who will mesh with you to create a brilliant, loving and long-term relationship, you have to spend some time examining the various human dimensions.
In his book "Finding The Love of Your Life," Dr. Neil Clark Warren has highlighted 10 dimensions for consideration. There is no "right" answer, but it is extremely important that you dedicate some time to establishing your preferences in these ten areas.
Intelligence -- There are many kinds of intelligence: book smarts, street smarts, intuitive intelligence, mechanical intelligence, etc. You may feel more comfortable with an analytical person than with someone who has a highly developed emotional intelligence.
Few people would want to date someone significantly less intelligent than they are, but people with very high IQ's often have considerable difficulty interacting socially. These are all options that must be considered when determining the type of intelligence you want in your partner.
Personality -- The key to determining the type of personality you want in a mate is "harmony." This person's tendencies should complement your own. If you are a strong decision-maker, you may need to find a person that is easy-going and feels comfortable leaving things up to you. You can start to explore your personality preferences by examining what types of friends you currently enjoy. Do you prefer quiet, introspective people or talkative, gregarious types? Do you prefer people who are intense or laid-back? These answers will steer you in the right direction.
Appearance -- Most people are pretty sure what physical traits they want in a relationship partner. But it is important to make sure that your physical requirements are your own, not just those being pushed by modern media. In addition, try not to make physical requirements "deal breakers." It may be that you prefer blond hair and Scandinavian features, but refusing to date a great person because they lack those traits may be cheating yourself out of a great relationship.
Ambition -- Dr. Warren explains it this way: "It is absolutely vital that two people have about the same amount of ambition if their marriage is to endure." You, no doubt, have opinions about what is workaholism and what is laziness. If your partner doesn't share your definitions of these terms, there almost certainly will be conflicts and frustration. Decide what your level of ambition is, and look for a partner who has a similar level.
Chemistry -- Chemistry is that overpowering, physical urge that draws two people together. Some people value chemistry immensely when making relationship decisions, while some others can create a loving, successful relationship based on a logical decision about compatibility. Spend some time examining how important chemistry is to you.
Spirituality -- Spirituality refers to internal faith and beliefs. While connected to religion, it is different. In this context, religion refers to externals: things like the church you attend, what denomination you practice, what traditions and rituals you follow. Spiritual persons can often have little to do with religion. There is a great opportunity for conflict between a person who seeks answers to problems in prayer and meditation and one that solves issues by problem-solving and logic.
Character -- A person's character gets to the very essence of his or her being. Character reflects traits like honesty, courage, and commitment, things that are absolutes when creating a relationship. The task here is not so much to decide what character traits are important, but to discern absolutely that your potential partner has a strong character and holds your values as important.
Creativity -- Are you a creative person? If so, can you imagine spending your life with a person who is extremely analytical and logical, who doesn't understand or appreciate your unique viewpoint? If you are not particularly creative, would you enjoy living with a creative person who often falls short in other areas? It is important that your partner appreciate your creative tendencies.
Parenting -- Whatever your plans and dreams regarding children, it is of paramount importance that your partner agrees with you. This is often a subject that gets ignored early in the dating process, because the mention of it tends to give a certain unfavorable impression. If you do want children at any point in the future, you should try and determine what parenting skills your potential partner has. How do they act around nieces, nephews, or young children? Are you attracted to their parenting manner? Of course, if a family life is of no interest to you, you should also make that known early to avoid any misunderstanding.
Authenticity -- Authenticity is hard for some people. They have been raised to accommodate people and avoid disagreement. But in order to share a brilliant relationship, both partners must be themselves. Of course, the authentic path is not always the most "harmonious" path. You must come to terms with the benefits of a relationship based on the emotional stability of two people who are being true to themselves.
At the end of this exercise, Dr. Warren asks that you complete one last task. Take the 10 traits discussed above and rank them in order of importance to you. It will be difficult to meet someone who is perfect for you in every single category. If you've ranked them, you will already know which are essential to you and on which you are willing to compromise.
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