Choosing a romantic partner is one of life's biggest adventures. But despite all our swiping, speed dating and writing of endless dating profiles, finding your soul mate has never felt so challenging.
Here's some words of wisdom from Susan Quilliam, author of How to Choose a Partner, on finding the right partner for you.
Are you ready for love?
‘Do we actually have room in our lives right now to hold down a committed relationship? . . . For love may be wonderful, but it demands time, space, energy and a willingness to accommodate.’
‘However long it is since our last relationship, if we still grieve that story, if we secretly hope to open up its pages again, we can’t move on to our life’s next volume.’
‘Have any of your intimate relationships been 100 per cent predetermined and predicted? Probably not. Start to gauge the extent to which you’re comfortable with serendipity and you may feel more inclined to accept it as another tool in your decision-making kit.’
Meet new people
‘Don’t get trapped in a social life where you see the same people over and over again. Instead, put your energy into groups which offer a steady and regular through-flow of different individuals, in situations where there’s opportunity to mingle, meet, chat and bond.’
Rethink the checklist
‘Write down all the elements which for you headline your ideal mate. Gender, age, appearance, cultural background, religious belief, lifestyle, career, earnings, leisure patterns, hobbies, interests, location . . . Then prioritize in order of importance; you can’t have everything, so your top five at least need to be the things you couldn’t live without.’
‘List the things you couldn’t live with, your deal-breakers. This part of the process aims to make sure we don’t find ourselves involved with (worse, married to) someone utterly unsuitable.’
‘What if you woke up one weekday morning five years in the future, having made the perfect choice. Imagine the rest of the day – not special, not peak experience, just normal, solid and satisfying.
What might be your plan for this ‘normal, happy day’? In what location would you see yourself? What would you do? How would you spend time – with your partner? By yourself? Who else might be there? What sort of lifestyle would you have? How would you feel? Above all, what would be especially rewarding about the relationship you’d created?’
‘In terms of choosing a partner, what to look for is someone largely honest and direct, who communicates clearly and is not into game-playing. Someone who is aware of emotion, not afraid of intimacy and is open to the possibility of commitment. In other words, human, but largely sorted.’
‘If we choose a partner who complements us, who completes our jigsaw and adds their skills and strengths to the ones we lack, we’ll live a more effective but also a more contented life.’
Don’t leave it to destiny
‘The destiny assumption may not survive the cold light of real-life daily commitment.’
‘Those who believe in destiny are likely, if things go wrong… to exit relationships lightly, move on quickly to their next ‘destiny’’
‘Belief in fate-determined love may add breathless magic to romance… but belief in growth-based love might mean the difference between a ruby wedding anniversary and being left at the altar.’
Keep your chin up
‘You are not alone. There are literally many millions of people out there who, like you, are looking for a deep connection. Like you, they have previously made the best decisions they could, given their circumstances and resources. Like you, they have sometimes suffered regrets and disappointment but are now once again wanting to love and to be loved. There are many options out there when you are ready.’
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