The older you get, the more you experience. At least that’s the hope for mankind. The older I've gotten the more I've realized certain things only dawn on you after you’ve experienced them more than a few times. There are many lessons we have to learn the hard way, especially when it comes to relationships. Relationships are one of the most important things in our lives, yet also one of the most difficult.
It's almost like poking a fork into a wall socket as a child. You might say, "Damn, I'm never gonna do that again" but you might try it again with a plastic one... because "hey this one isn't quite the same, maybe it will be okay." And we obviously can't wait to keep experimenting with "poking."
After many dates and a few failed relationships I learned that they all had been important and had a purpose. Without them I could never have realized what I actually needed for myself. Certain things started to repeat themselves but in different ways. I realized those things were the reason I continued to be unhappy.
I know it’s impossible to have a set standard of “This makes me happy so it should make you happy too” but this is my list of what seems to keep me happy in a potential partner:
Emotional Intelligence – This is more important than IQ. The ability to express and control our emotions is essential but the ability to understand, interpret and respond to the emotions of others is even more important. Understanding and picking up on subtleties in the person you are dating or attempting to date is non-negotiable. I myself, am misinterpreted on a regular basis. When I realize someone is noticing how I feel based purely on body language or other things I haven't yet said, I see high value in that. This is when you realize someone cares enough and is intelligent enough to understand you without words. They want to prevent small problems from turning into bigger problems. This skill may be mostly innate, but a lot of it can also be learned. This is a skill many people want, they just don't know that there's a name for it.
Patience - To realize that things don't always work out the way you want it to every minute of every day is to truly understand life. Try not to be too emotional or cause stress in the other person's life just because they too have a life. Don't forget they have a life too, if they want to do one thing without you, do not take it personally. Know that they will want to spend time with you later and move on. It takes a lot of maturity, but it can give you both a less stressful life if you learn to practice patience. For example, if you're running late and are upset the other is taking so long, think long-term for a second. Does being a few minutes late to an event really mean that much in the grand scheme of life?
Confidence - You have to have confidence. Who doesn't like people who are confident about just being themselves? Try to forget thinking about what people might be thinking of you and just do whatever you want. I know you can't do this every moment of every day but you can definitely try. The more you do this the more confident you will become. Whenever you stop caring about what others think, the confidence shows. And that's attractive.
Give and Take - One person can't be doing all the giving, and vice versa. This will only be sustainable for so long. You could be crazy in love with someone, but if they don't eventually show you they are returning the favor you won’t be happy.
Same sleep schedule - I never thought this would be an issue. I am a hopeless romantic and I like to try to make this variable work but if you can't spend quality time together, and you have to deal with hearing their alarm every day... yikes. Them constantly waking you up won't end well, you wind up being more agitated, and they're not around to fix the situation. The excitement of the relationship will fade and your health and well-being will begin to take priority instead.
Decisiveness - A bad decision is better than no decision. A tentative plan shows you that they at least thought about you, and it also helps prevent the dreaded "hangry." When it comes to the beastly “what should we get to eat” question, no one is happy after 58 minutes of not deciding. This can wind up being difficult when you spend a lot of time together because it can feel like you've exhausted your options. Choosing something you've already done rather than saying "I dunno" at least gives the other person a feel for what you're thinking. If they don't want what you've suggested at least they can respond quicker, and the issue is then resolved quicker. Both people spend less time being annoyed or hungry and more time happy and in love.
Alone time – It’s okay to not be together 24/7. Don’t let FOMO get the best of you; make sure you’re both taking some time for yourself. You need time to do your own thing and you need to make sure the other person is mature enough to give that to you without making you feel bad about it. Alone time for your favorite hobby, to get things done, or just to relax by yourself is healthy. You shouldn't rely on just one thing to make you feel happy. Feeling like only one thing or one person can make you happy is not healthy, and it almost immediately sets your relationship up for failure. Also, If you need to go solo again you are already in tune with taking care of yourself independently and know you’re strong enough to do so.
Life goals - Know what your goal/s in life are. Life is all about inspiring moments that take your breath away. If you don’t have goals to accomplish, you’re missing out on feeling great once you finally hit them. Knowing what you’d like to be doing and either doing it, or taking steps to get there, is an important part of life. Instead of always complaining about things you can’t do, go out there and at least try to do it! No one likes a complainer who doesn’t try. Having goals should also motivate your partner, if you’re the competitive type it could be fun.
Active listening - Having someone not just listen to you but also ask you lots of questions makes it feel like they care. It also really helps you hash out your own issues. Hearing your own thoughts out loud may seem silly, but it’s actually really important. If they’re doing this, you’re learning how to better do this with others as well as discovering yourself at a deeper level. The best part is, you’re doing it together.
The right reasons - We’ve all been there before. Someone wants to be in a relationship with you before they hardly know you. Sometimes, the best relationships come out of situations where there are no expectations in place. If the right reasons show up, and a relationship feels right, then be in a relationship. Never agree to just be in a relationship with someone just to be with someone. Be as secure alone as you are in a relationship. If they are afraid to be alone, it’s not time for another person to jump into a relationship with, it’s time to stop expecting someone else to make you happy. Fix yourself before you have someone else's feelings to worry about.
The desire to learn new things - If you have a hobby and the other person doesn’t share that same hobby, that is okay. But having the desire to try to learn something new is sexy. There are so many things we humans know, but take for granted. We think everyone else probably knows or can figure out what we already know. But they can't without help. Why would we deny the joy of finding out how to do new things? This is what life is all about. Hopefully, they have such a strong desire to know more that they not only appreciate your hobby, but they also have enough of their own to show you some cool new things as well.
Asking for help - Don’t be too stubborn. Regardless of the situation, asking for people’s help or opinion not only helps establish a bond or deeper connection, but makes the other party feel useful. People love feeling helpful. There’s no better way to show someone that their opinion matters to you than by asking them for help.
Control over negative emotions - Having a lot of emotion is fine, but making sure you have control over your emotions is also important. Avoid situations where you let your emotions get the best of you. Controlling “stupid” jealousy, irrational fears and obsessive thoughts is critical. Don't let a momentary outburst ruin things for the long run.
Respect - Know your value and why you’re important. Know when someone might not be appreciating the greatness that you are. Be aware that there is someone out there who will show you the respect you deserve to make you feel amazing. Having standards isn’t high maintenance, it’s you knowing what’s good for you and what makes you happy. Why go without things that you know are going to make you happy?