Figuring out what you are looking for in a relationship or in a partner requires deep introspection. The introspection will not only help you understand what you need and want in a relationship but you will learn a lot about yourself.
Once you have determined what to look for in a relationship, it will be trial and error until you find the perfect partner. When you do find the perfect partner, you will be happy that you took the time to do the work as it will help you find a compatible, fulfilling relationship, that will be worth it in the long run!
What do you look for in a relationship? Are you so focused on looks that you don’t look out for red flags? When you don’t know what to look for in a partner, then you will either find the wrong partner or relationships that don’t work for you. If you were looking to buy a home or a car, would you not make a list of the things you want or don’t want? Why should a partner be any different?
The following worksheets will help you ask yourself “What am I looking for in a relationship?” and they will take you through each step of the process. Once you have completed them you will have your answer. You can go back to your list after a date and check where your potential partner stands.
The chances are you probably know exactly what you don’t want in a relationship but do you really know what you are looking for in a relationship? Do you know which qualities you would like your perfect partner to have? Do you know what you are prepared to compromise on and what you aren’t?
When you are looking for your soul mate or perfect partner it is important to know what you want. The chances are that you will never find someone perfect since nobody is perfect. However, we each have certain qualities, traits or characteristics that are very important to us and we don’t want to compromise on. The problem is that most people haven’t taken the time to define them. When you do the soul searching required to define what you are looking for in a relationship it will be easier to know what’s right when you meet someone and to know when to let go when you meet someone who isn’t right for you.
“What I Want in a Relationship” Workbook
Print the “What I do want in a relationship” workbook and fill out each page.
Deal Breakers or Reg Flags
Qualities and Attributes that I won’t compromise on in a Relationship
This is your list of deal-breakers or red flags. These are the things you don’t want to compromise on. They are non-negotiable elements of a relationship in your opinion. They are your true core values. If there is a core value that you would like to have but are willing to compromise on then move it to the next list (nice to have a list).
If your potential partner has any of these deal breakers then move on and don’t waste your time. If you still feel attached to them then spend time soul searching to discover if something you considered a deal-breaker is really that important. When I first started dating I had a list of deal-breakers that in time turned out to be unimportant. Only when I fell in love with someone who didn’t have some of the “essential deal breakers” that I had defined, did I realize that I needed to revise my list. Our priorities change over time. Don’t revise your list to compromise. You don’t need to compromise on things that are very important to you. Revise your list if you realize that you have placed unfair emphasis on something that is not as important as you thought it was.
Which of the following are you not prepared to compromise on?
The true core values that my partner must have are:
- Career driven
- Desire to have children
- Financial health
- Healthy lifestyle
- Religion / Religious beliefs
- Substance abuse
This is an open section since these things are very personal and your core values might not be in the list above. For example, one person will want their partner to be a smoker and others won’t date a smoker. You probably already know which things you don’t want to compromise on so write your list in this section or use the list above and add values here if necessary.
Nice to Have List
What I want in a relationship? What are the things that I want in a relationship?
Qualities and Attributes that I would like in a Relationship
Since you know what you don’t want, let’s create a list of what you do want in a relationship. This list should take your core values into account and how you want to live your life.
The list of things to look for in a relationship includes qualities, attributes, and physical and non-physical characteristics that you’d like your partner to have.
- Physical (height, weight, fitness level)
- Family status (single, divorced, widow)
- Proximity (where should this person live)
- Education (what education do you want the person to have (high school, undergraduate, graduate degree, doctorate)
- Religion (should he/she be a specific religion)
- Ethnicity and Cultural Background (do you want someone of a specific ethnic or cultural background)
- Intentions (looking for a short-term relationship, long-term relationship, or marriage)
- Commitment (looking for a relationship with/without commitment, exclusivity)
- Language (which languages are important to you)
- Values (which values are important to you? for example, fun-loving, caring, generous, funny, kind, exciting, flattering, interesting, etc)
- Financial situation (if this is important to you, would you like the person to be in the same, better, or worse financial situation)
- Family (is the person family-oriented, how does this person get along with their parents – this says a lot about a person)
- Kids (do they have kids, want kids, don’t want kids, don’t want kids)
Which of my traits would I love my partner to appreciate?
Each person has unique traits. The best relationship, in my opinion, will be one where your partner recognizes and loves these traits. When I was married, my ex-husband hated the qualities I love about myself. He didn’t like my creativity and my ambitions bothered him. He would have preferred a housewife with no ambitions who would stay home and clean the house all day and welcome him with dinner in the evening. That isn’t the person I am. If my partner doesn’t accept or like who I am then the relationship will not work. I then had a relationship for a few months with someone who liked these qualities about me but was very into how I looked and dressed all the time. He loved high heels and would have loved me to wear make-up and look my best 24/7. That isn’t who I am either. I like to look as good as I can when I go out but when I am at home I want to feel at home. I want to be comfortable even if I don’t look my best. He clearly wasn’t a good match for me either. So, this section is the place to write the things that you want to bring to a relationship and your specific traits that you don’t want to change.
My Unique Traits
- My sense of humor
- My creativity
- My ability to cook well
- My intelligence
- I am a morning person
- How do you like to spend your time?
Go over the list of things to look for in a partner, that you wrote above. Which of these qualities do you have or don’t have? Do you live up to you own standards? If not, what can you do to become that person?
Envision the life and relationship you want
What do you want in a relationship? What kind of a relationship are you looking for? How would you define your dream life? How would you define your ideal relationship?
If you are looking for someone who wants to travel the world with you then you won’t want to date someone who hates traveling. If you are looking to settle down and have kids then you won’t want to date someone who is scared of commitment.
If you are looking to retire with someone you don’t want someone who plans to work for the rest of their lives.
Things I want in a relationship
Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Find someone to start a family with or are you looking for a casual relationship?
- Have deep conversations with someone or prefer a fun relationship with not too much communication
- Exercise together
- Set goals together
- Eat out
- Go to movies
- Go to clubs
- Travel together
- Retire together
- Live a healthy lifestyle
- What is important to you to do for fun?
- Do you want to live with someone or do you prefer not to?
- Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you prefer someone who goes to sleep early or late?
- Are you outgoing or shy?
- Do you prefer to be physically active or rest on weekends?
- Do you prefer dates with your partner or going out in a group or a combination?
- Do you prefer to eat at home or eat out?
- How do you want to feel in a relationship?
- Which needs do you want a relationship to fulfill for you?
- Are you looking for companionship?
- What kind of communication are you looking for?
- Do you need emotional support?
- Are you looking for someone to help you financially?
How do you fill out the relationship inventory?
Sit down somewhere quiet and take the time to give each question and answer enough thought. You can put relaxing music on in the background and even sip of glass of wine. Use this “me time” to focus on who you are and what you want.
If you are not sure how to answer any of the questions ask a close friend or a family member what they think. Sometimes, people know us better than we know ourselves.
Think about previous relationships. Why did they end? What was missing? What would have made them work for you?
What are your needs in a relationship? In a good relationship, your partner will meet your needs and you will meet your partner’s needs. Both of your needs are equally important. Many years ago, a woman was required to put her partner first. There will be situations when you need to put your partner first (if he is sick or going through a rough time or needs support). However, those are the exceptions and the rule is that both sides of a relationship have needs and both sides’ needs are equally important. Sometimes, in relationships people don’t even ask if they are happy. They are only concerned if their partner is happy. You cannot expect your partner to fulfill your needs if you don’t know how to define them.
After putting thought into making these lists, you should be in a great place to understand what you want in a relationship. Once you know what you want you will be ready to find your perfect partner who will give you what you want in a relationship and you will not compromise on things that are important to you or things that make you who you are.
It is important to understand that there are some needs that only we can fulfill ourselves and we should not look for a partner to fulfill them. Your partner cannot make you feel happy, worthy of love, or complete. These are things that you have to find within. If you are looking for someone to fulfill these needs then you need to work on yourself before you start dating.
How do you know if someone is a good match?
Once you start dating a person you need to look for the traits on your must-have list and look out for the ones on your red flag list. Many people are so infatuated at the beginning that they don’t bother checking these things.
Many things are impossible to see in the beginning. You need to see your partner in different situations and with different people. Some people can put on an act in the beginning but find it more difficult to keep it up over time. For all these reasons, once you have been dating for a few months you need to go over your list again. Ask yourself: Do they really have the moral values I thought they had? Have any red flags appeared in the last few months? Are they who I thought they were?
Journal about each date. Take note of how you spotted the existence or lack of specific traits. Journaling is a great way to get to know ourselves and to process information.