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Author Topic: How to Choose Your Life Partner  (Read 1128 times)
Gail Brenner, Ph.D.
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« on: August 20, 2011, 05:19:10 PM »

Hi all!

If you are like me, no one ever sat you down and instructed you on how to choose a life partner.  Yet, this is one of the most critical decisions we will ever make in life – with potentially huge repercussions for a less-than-ideal choice.  A long-term relationship can be one of the most joyous and fulfilling experiences life has to offer.  Although you may not have learned it from your mother, here is what you may need to know to choose the life partner who is right for you.

What do you think?


Consider qualities that are important to you

First, become familiar with the qualities that you desire in a partner.  It doesn’t matter what they are – what matters is that you are consciously aware of what is important to you.  Take some time to reflect, write a list if it helps you, and keep at it until you are clear about what you want.  Two qualities you might seriously consider are honesty and openness/flexibility.  You need to be able to trust your partner to be straight up with you – about money, preferences, things they are doing, people they are spending time with.  In addition, you will want to choose someone who is open to examining themselves, willing to take responsibility for their own behavior, and able to move with the ebbs and flows of life.

Remember these qualities when you are dating

Now that you have developed a list, have the wisdom to use it.  We all know how easily we are sidetracked by sexual attraction, the blush of a new romance, relationship melodrama.  If what you want is a partner for life, forget romance and be logical and realistic.  As you are getting to know your potential partner, take some time to sit by yourself and determine if he or she possesses the qualities you desire.  If so, happily continue dating.  If not, find the strength within yourself to stay aligned with what you really want, say a kind goodbye, and move on.  Abandon hope that things will change in the future.  Base your decision on what you are certain of, which is what you know to be true now.

Discuss the big issues

I find myself in disbelief when I hear of newly married couples discovering monumental differences on some of the most essential life choices.  Spare yourself this challenge by initiating open discussions about children (if, when, how many), child-rearing, money, work, religion, where to live, and relationships with extended family.  The purpose of these discussions is to uncover any fundamental differences between you so you can decide if you want to continue the relationship.  :)o the research thoroughly, but also realize that priorities and preferences have a way of changing over time.  This is why openness and flexibility are important.  Learn all you can about your potential mate, and have the courage to walk away if the fit is not right for you.

Find a good friend

Sharing your life with the right partner is a joy.  The intensity of the initial attraction will subside, so make sure that the friendship is strong.  :)o you have common interests?  Is your conversation enjoyable and stimulating?  Would you choose to spend a free day with this person?  If your answer is “yes” to these questions, you have in place an important element that can make your relationship stand the test of time.

Find a lover

You really want the sexual part of your relationship to work, as stumbling in this area can cause great conflict and dissatisfaction.  Appetites will change – often once children arrive or hormones begin to dwindle.  Start off with sexual compatibility, and you are building a strong foundation now and for the future.

Don’t think that love, or sexual attraction, is enough

How often have you heard, “But I love him?”  A long-term relationship involves so much more than love.  A successful relationship requires communication and problem-solving skills, the ability to manage your own emotions, patience, selflessness.  You end up dealing with child-rearing, balance between work and home life, crises that inevitably arise.  Love and sexual attraction are beautiful expressions, but they are not enough for choosing a life partner.

Determine if you can solve problems together

Notice how you disagree, and how you recover from disagreements.  If you or your partner defend your own positions, you will have difficulty coming to a resolution.  The need to be right limits good communication.  Look for, and be, someone who speaks respectfully and is open to other points of view.

Decide if you can accept your potential partner’s idiosyncrasies

We all have them.  Ways of being, things we do, that are our personalities and quirks.  Take the blinders off, and see with your eyes wide open to determine if the person you are considering is someone you can actually live with on a daily basis.  Reflect on their energy level, preference for time alone, desire for social interaction, ways of handling stress, and level of cleanliness.  :)on’t be caught by the trap of hoping they will change, and don’t fool yourself into believing that something that bothers you now won’t continue to fester over time.  People do change, but there is no guarantee.  Contemplate within yourself to see if you can accept your potential mate as is.

Know your dealbreakers

Only you can know your bottom line.  You deserve to be with someone who is truly interested in making your relationship thrive.  If you are mistreated or disrespected in any way, think twice before moving forward.  Take very seriously problems such as addiction, large debt, uncontrollable emotions, or severe mental illness.  You can have tremendous compassion for people with these issues, but the likelihood of being in a satisfying relationship with them is negligible.

Be an amazing partner

While you are looking, use your time wisely.  Reflect within yourself to become aware of the difficulties you might contribute to a relationship.  Are you too clingy or afraid of getting close?  Are you overly passive or controlling?  :)o you need to get your own life on track in some important way?  Are you attracting, and choosing, people who aren’t right for you?  :)o you have annoying habits?  Are you a grownup, able to make your relationship with a partner a priority over your immediate family?  Be happy in your own life, and you will effortlessly bring happiness to others.

In choosing your partner, I’m inviting you to use your head as well as your heart.  When you do, you are opening yourself to the possibility for the deepest intimacy and celebration of life.  Allow your heart to expand in every direction, and enjoy the journey!

What have you learned about choosing a life partner?  I’d love to hear your reactions and experiences.


This website is designed to support, not to replace, the relationship between patient and their physician.
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 06:03:53 PM »

Thanks Want2know

I love this! Something I've been thinking is that there is no hurry. I've been out of my BPD relationship 10 months now, was in the relationship 10 months, prior to that I've been thinking about the relationship with my children's father (13 years) and the one following that (18 months), both with addicts, in both I was codependent. They weren't obvious addicts and my codependency was more subtle.

Looking at this list is so helpful to keep in mind as I look toward a possible relationship in the future.

I've joined some dating websites BUT I'm not doing lots of dating. I don't really want to. I'm chatting here and there to people and going for the odd meet up. I've had one where I was worried I was really going to fall for the guy and I wasn't sure I was ready. There was no attraction at all in real life. What is really useful for me at this point is to expose myself to many different types, many different men, even if it's just in reading profiles and the odd chat. Prior to BPD ex and, in fact, prior to last short r/s, I was looking for something, somebody. Now I'm more enjoying exploring what's out there without jumping into anything.

I'm still returning back to me. I want to keep this list uppermost rather than the fact that I want a relationship uppermost. Keep myself solid rather than falling for somebody idealising me. I can see exactly where my previous relationships have fallen down with the above list.

You know the weird thing though? If BPD ex didn't have attachment issues we actually ticked the boxes in that list together more than any other relationship! Funny though that it doesn't matter now, I've let that go I think and I know the attachment disorder is him so it's not like that can be pulled away and everything would be OK.

Anyway- I like this list and I like where I am with myself right now - thank you  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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Relationship status: Living apart over a year.
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 12:00:01 PM »

Thanks for the bump!

Things that resonated with me/were difficult for me in the past:

"First, become familiar with the qualities that you desire in a partner.  It doesn’t matter what they are – what matters is that you are consciously aware of what is important to you."

":)etermine if you can solve problems together"

":)on’t be caught by the trap of hoping they will change, and don’t fool yourself into believing that something that bothers you now won’t continue to fester over time."

"Be an amazing partner".

I was constantly negotiating away my priorities in order to stay with someone - a person who did have great qualities - but maybe wasn't 100% for me.  I believed there was no such thing as having someone meet all these qualifications on this list.  I thought having a relationship required I compromise on some of the points in this post.  The result: I didn't think I owed it to the person to be an amazing partner.  Then I acted in ways I wasn't always 100% proud of. 

Result: needing to rebuild that lost integrity from misbehaving and poor mate selection and resulting loss of self-esteem via self-care and self-love and acceptance.  Doing exactly what it says here: identifying (and accepting! and demanding! I actually remember these qualities while dating).  That was soo hard to do!  The next steps seemed to come easier once I did those first two. 

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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 10:44:18 PM »

Considering that a BPD is going to be mirroring whatever you present . . . I dunno that any of the starting post makes a lot of sense . . . .

Just saying.

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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 10:51:05 PM »

Thank you for sharing Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 06:21:32 AM »

Considering that a BPD is going to be mirroring whatever you present . . . I dunno that any of the starting post makes a lot of sense . . . .

Just saying.

I can see this point if you are choosing your life partner based upon the first 3 months of the r/s, however, I don't think that's what this thread is implying.  It takes time and honestly assessing the qualities of the other person after that first period of the initial attraction phase starts settling. 

I think most of us can admit that we noticed some of the red flags that are mentioned in the original post, but we ignored them, for whatever reason.  Or in some cases, it is a matter of not being clear on what it is that you want in a partner.

Personally, I now know much more clearly what I want, and am more discerning regarding another's core qualities.  One of the 'biggies' that Gail talks about is not letting that initial sexual attraction side track you.  Many of us fell into that 'trap'.  There is so much more to a lasting r/s than sex.

One of the key things she mentions that I really find useful is finding a good friend.  I remember saying a number of times when my BPD r/s was failing exactly what she writes 'but I love him'.  I have to admit that I may have loved him, but honestly, I didn't like him, as I would a friend.

“The path to heaven doesn't lie down in flat miles. It's in the imagination with which you perceive this world, and the gestures with which you honor it." ~ Mary Oliver
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 07:25:46 AM »

Great list, I'll definitely bookmark this for regular reference.

My addition would be:

"Your life partner is someone you are completely at ease with, with whom you can be yourself openly and honestly and who you are not afraid of sharing your feelings and thoughts with. You don't have to pretend to be someone else when you're with your life partner."
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