What do you want in a romantic partner?
If a definitive answer came to mind, kudos — you’re a step ahead of most. Many of us don’t know how to answer that question. We’ll rattle off common vague attributes such as someone loving and caring. But those are relative terms. What one may consider loving may not resonate with the next person as such.
Other times, we think we know what we want but then get it and realize it’s not what we desire at all. An example that comes to mind here is when one claims to want a person who’s all about them, worships them in a sense — then, once in a relationship with said person they feel smothered.
Often, we think we know what we want but have no idea.
It’s a difficult question to answer because most times we don’t know what’s missing until we’ve found it. We don’t know what we’re looking for in a significant other until someone shows us. They give us things we never knew we needed.
After much dating experience and discovering ourselves, we start to understand what we like and don’t like — what we find essential in a partner and what we can do without. We learn what’s most important. This is why I’ve come to believe that a conclusive answer to the question, “what do you want?” can be found in the sum of previous partners and experiences. Take a little from each.
An ideal partner is one who encompasses the best parts of others.
I’ve never liked every single thing about any guy that I’ve dated. But each offered things that I loved about him and added value to the relationship.
One guy introduced me to tons of new music. Every week he’d make a playlist of artists I hadn’t yet discovered. Some of my favorite musicians today I’d never heard of until he came into my life. To a music and art enthusiast seemingly always in search of an outlet for expression, this was everything. Not to mention the thoughtfulness it took for him to create the playlist and then send it over for my listening pleasure every Monday morning, like clockwork.
Another man I dated was my biggest supporter. He purchased items from an online store I had at the time and read the books I’d written — without me having to ask. He took me to concerts and painted artwork that I could hang in my home. He nurtured my interests and desires. He nurtured me.
I’ve also dated someone protective — an experience that has severely lacked throughout my life. He made me realize how much I longed for it. I felt small at the right times and vulnerable in all the right ways.
Once, we were driving around and I got hungry. But it was freezing outside and I didn’t want to get out of the car. So, my solution was to wait until we came to a restaurant with a drive-thru window or returned home. But it was late and most places were closed. He insisted that I call in a takeout order from a bar that was in sight, with the disclaimer that he’d go in and claim it. This may seem like a small gesture to some but in that moment I felt taken care of.
One guy was very attentive and went above and beyond to spend time with me. Another was a superb lover, the best I’d ever had. Sadly, I can’t think of much else that made us compatible.
These are the elements that would construct my perfect guy.
And that’s the caveat. No one is perfect. There were other aspects of those relationships that drove us apart. But if I could take just those aforementioned elements and mix them to create one person, I’d have the one.
Unless you’re abnormally lucky, no person will embody every single characteristic that you cherished in previous partners — can’t have everything. So, you have to narrow it down.
Even the worst person you’ve been with had traits that you liked, or you wouldn’t have been with them.
Decide which of those qualities matter most. Determine which parts of your previous relationships made you feel most alive.
Which had the most significant positive impact on your well-being? What made you feel the most loved, supported, and safe? What added to your life, instead of took away?
That’s what matters — and these components comprise your ideal mate. Knowing what you’re looking for is half the journey to finding it.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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