Sometimes people will ask me what things they should be looking for in a potential marriage partner. Unfortunately, most people believe they should look for common interests or physical attraction as an indicator of compatibility. Here are the things I believe to be important to look for in a partner.
Is there something you feel I left out or forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.
Something I have been hearing lots of stories about lately has been the experience of getting into a relationship when you aren't actually ready to see it through to the end. Let me explain.
I have seen people who are not emotionally, mentally, spiritually or financially ready to get married. But they REALLY want to get married and/or date someone because, gosh darn it, it feels good to be wanted (and often people believe that someone wanting them tells them more about their value than their own life does). So they start dating someone, or continue to date someone who is in a place to move forward in a relationship (or at least say they are ready).
The one not ready will often say, I'm not ready to date or be in a serious relationship. They know they have stuff to work on to be a stable person for a healthy relationship. The problem is that they stay emotionally and physically in the relationship.
This looks like continuing to text them even though you aren't in person dating. It looks like continuing to date just brushing it off as "just friends." It looks like continuing to engage in physical intimacies (kissing, making out, sex) with someone all the while saying, "I told you I'm not looking for serious dating." The actions do not align with what their words are saying.
So if you are the person on the receiving end of this from someone you are attempting to date, please take the person at their word. They aren't ready and you need to stop engaging in the relationship with them hoping that they will change their mind. Very often it is not about you, and in fact it really is about them. Respect yourself and them enough to stop interacting until they are ready.
If you are the the person doing this to someone, please respect those whom you might date enough to actually step back the relationship. The time and energy that you would put into "not dating" someone is better used to get therapy and deal with whatever prevents you from healthy dating.
I know on both sides of this, people fear losing a relationship, which is what keeps them going in this unhealthy pattern. The ironic thing is that staying in this pattern can actually implode an otherwise good dating match. Do yourself and others a favor by waiting until you are ready to actually be in a relationship so you can engage in a healthy way. You may be surprised how easy it is to move a relationship to exclusive dating and then to marriage when you do.
Emotion regulation in relationships is really the key to healthy connection. We have all sorts of old experiences that pop up for us when we interact with others. We need to become aware of what is happening in the present vs what happened in the past. I took the picture for this post a few weeks ago to remind me of the stillness and calmness that I am striving for. What things do you use to help you stay present in relationships?
I don't think that people get into relationships intending to hurt others. I also don't think that most people are jerks as a general personality trait. And there are far fewer narcissists than people believe their ex to be. :) What I do believe is that good people, in trying to be "nice" or avoid conflict, absolutely become a jerk. Here are a few examples of how it works.
Jen has many years of working with singles after receiving training as an MFT and seeing that many married couples problems start while they are dating. She wants to change marriage by helping singles date better so they marry better.