My name is Sheriden and I am currently 2.3 years into the healthiest relationship of my life. I worked for this love and I manifested this love and every day that passes, I am eternally grateful that we choose each other. Nothing is perfect, not even a healthy relationship, but I must say that I don’t expect perfection. I just expect effort, understanding, compassion, and stability. What I love about our story is that there are so many things that could have kept us away from each other: being long-distance, being from two different countries, and being in the middle of a pandemic, but we constantly found ways to make our love work because there was an ease (despite our circumstances) and a willingness that neither of us had ever experienced.
What drew me to my boyfriend more than the romance was how loving he was. Even though he worried about operating from a place of coldness, his vulnerability, his affirming nature, supportive ways, and warmth with his words and his actions showed me and continue to show me the opposite of that. He is like no one I've ever experienced. He reminded me of the way I treated myself and therefore I felt love in a way that I had always seen it molded for me, but not necessarily shown to me. And for that, I will always look to him with fondness.
When attracting my relationship, I leaned on a list of non-negotiables I created after reading Shan Boody’s The Game of Desire: 5 Surprising Secrets to Dating with Dominance--and Getting What You Want. What I loved about that list was it held me accountable for the qualities I was looking for in a romantic relationship, my ideal partner, and therefore my ideal partnership. This internal dialogue got me thinking about the qualities of a partner that is ideal in healthy, loving relationships but more specifically to the people taking part in the relationship. Your partner has to be the ideal partner for you, and although there might be qualities seen as universal, there are some that might rank higher in significance than others.
So, whether you are single and not ready to mingle, actively dating, or in a relationship, below are some essential qualities to look for in a partner. Feel free to add or subtract based on your own individual needs.
Someone who has empathy displays two things: that they are available to their partner emotionally and that they care about the other person's feelings as they do their own. What’s important to note here is that being empathetic isn’t the same thing as agreeing with everything that is said or expressed by a partner in a relationship. Instead, empathy looks like understanding and understanding is important in relationship-building, making the partner feel seen and heard, as well as increasing a sense of connection and cooperation. According to psychotherapist Cindy Sigal, AMFT, “Empathy bridges the divide between being separate individuals with different backgrounds, feelings, and perspectives.”
Self-awareness informs the ability to self-reflect. Through self-awareness, a person can resist the urge to blame, self-victimize, or retreat and instead own who they are, their behaviors, their values, and their responses. By doing this, a person who is self-aware can be honest with themselves and address and/or correct potentially problematic characteristics about themselves. It’s not that someone who is self-aware avoids certain arguments or disagreements, but they are able to better navigate them by not putting the responsibility of their triggers or responses onto their partner.
3. Sense of Humor
A sense of humor is essential for a good life, so there’s no wonder why it can also have such a positive effect on one’s romantic life. A crucial part of developing a bond is the ability to relate to one another and sharing a good sense of humor is an easy way to do that. Humor enhances connection and intimacy between two people. Humor can also come in handy when managing conflict effectively. Let's be real, it's hard to stay mad at someone when that inside joke they always share to relieve tension enters the conversation. Humor is a sign of playfulness and playfulness is a sign of enjoyment which ultimately leads to a more satisfying, fulfilling relationship.
Respect is considered to be the foundation of a healthy, successful relationship, and rightfully so. If there was ever any wonder of what respect is in relationships, respect is the acknowledgment and the acceptance of a person as a whole individual outside of the relationship. They have their own feelings, they have their own ideas and perspectives, they have their own experiences, and respect for them is saying that that is okay. When there's respect, two people can openly talk to each other about any and everything, lead with honesty, give space when needed, respect boundaries, listen to each other actively, and ultimately value the other person’s needs.
Openness was briefly touched on in the previous quality mentioned in this article, but it deserves a section of its own. The ability to be open goes hand in hand with effective communication. Openness is a standard of communication that creates a feeling of safety, security, validation, and depth. Instead of walking on eggshells or a feeling of keeping the peace, a partner who is open can be honest about their needs, feelings, fears, insecurities, etc. without fear of repercussion or the relationship ending. This avoids creating resentment in relationships which can often be damaging to a relationship if left unchecked.
As the bible says, "Love is patient." And there is a lot of truth to that. Trust is important and so is respect, but something a little understated to the longevity of a relationship is one's ability to be patient. According to marriage.com, patience is the opposite of aggression which means that space is created to allow for a healthy communicative approach that encourages the other person to remain open rather than shut down. It also is a quality that demonstrates one's ability to show that they value their partner beyond whatever conflict or flaws arise. It shows an uncanny ability to weather the storm without punishing the other person for what they might internalize as something being "wrong" with them.
Affection is another essential in a healthy relationship. Affection adds a layer of intimacy that isn't always as present in non-romantic relationships. As such, it is important that the person in a relationship understands that there is a degree of warmth and kindness that should be expressed in an outward way. Some forms of affection (like handholding or various forms of PDA) might be more important to some people than others, but warmth and closeness should be something expressed in a partnership, whether it's verbal, emotional, or physical acts of affection. Being open to giving and open to receiving affection in a romantic relationship adds pleasure and further connection in relationships.
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