What to Look for in a Relationship, According to Experts

What qualities are you looking for in a partner?
on March 06, 2024
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

In the quest for love, we often dream of finding that one person who makes our hearts sing and our spirits soar. 

Even though we often can’t escape discussions about Prince Charmings or soulmates, how do you really know what to look for in a relationship? When looking for a long-term partner, it’s not just about the butterflies or starry-eyed glances (even though that’s a bonus), it’s about finding someone with whom you can share laughter, dreams, and life's little adventures. 

With all the conflicting rumors around finding your partner in your best friend, or even the eternally debated theory that opposites attract, it can be hard to figure out what you want from a romantic relationship.

Let's embark on a journey with the experts to uncover the secrets to finding your happily ever after, exploring the essential characteristics that transform a simple romance into a timeless love story. So, when you decide to find the love story of your dreams, these are the ultimate things to look for in a relationship… or at least, it’s a very good place to start! 

How do you know what to look for in a relationship? 

The quest for the perfect partner can be a long road, with many hiccups and heartbreaks along the way. Even though we all dream of a successful relationship, sometimes we don’t stop considering what that means to us. 

While we all say that we want to find the ‘right person’, that can mean very different things to different people! So, before you get swept away solely by the concept of true love, there are a few important things to consider in a potential partner to ensure that the relationship works long-term. 

So, how do you know what to look for in a healthy relationship? 

Strong relationships are built on open communication, mutual respect, trust, and sharing similar values. While these things should be non-negotiable, there are likely a few other factors that go into choosing your ideal partner — centered around compatibility and other personal preferences! 

What do most people look for in a relationship?

Most people look for their happy ending in a partner, with their significant other making them feel safe, secure, and respected in a romantic relationship. 

These key factors should not be up for debate. When talking about respect or core values, you’re not being too picky, especially when you’re looking for a life partner. So what does a healthy relationship look like? 

When you’re embarking on a new relationship, think of this checklist before getting in too deep. (Think of it kind of like a reverse red flag spotting!) 

Things you should look for in every relationship

Mutual respect: Mutual respect is the cornerstone of any strong relationship. It means valuing each other's opinions, feelings, and boundaries as much as your own. In a relationship grounded in mutual respect, both partners acknowledge and appreciate their differences and similarities, celebrate each other's successes, and support one another in challenges.
Trust: Without trust, there is no point in being in a relationship at all! If a relationship is anchored in trust, it allows both partners to feel secure, reducing fears and insecurities, and enabling a deep emotional connection. Trust encourages openness, strengthening the bond between partners as they share their lives fully and without reservation!
Honest communication: Honest communication is the lifeline of a healthy relationship. Being able to express your feelings without fear of judgment is a vital experience in any relationship, and helps partners navigate through both good times and conflicts with clarity and compassion.
Core values: While it's natural and healthy for partners to have individual interests and perspectives, having similar core values ensures that you’re both heading in the same direction. It facilitates a natural compatibility between you, as at your core, your beliefs align.
Security: Feeling secure means knowing that your relationship is a safe haven where you can be your true self, without fear of abandonment or judgment. While physical safety should always be a priority, it’s about feeling comfortable enough to be your authentic self every step of the way!

What do I seek in a relationship?

Before you enter a relationship, it’s important to consider what you’re actually looking for from your potential partner. While people usually focus on their dealbreakers, it’s also important to consider how you hope to receive and express love in your relationship. 

Start by asking yourself a few questions to narrow down your thoughts and feelings around long-term relationships. 

  • What do you think makes a good partner? 

  • What kind of relationship do you want? 

  • What are the most important things to you in a relationship? 

  • What things from past relationships do you not want to repeat? 

These are very big questions to ask yourself and it’s completely okay if you don’t have an answer to everything — we’re always learning and growing in every relationship. The things that you look for in a relationship are totally personal to you, but narrowing down the list can be a very helpful place to start. 

To get you one step closer to that lasting relationship of your dreams, we’ve come up with some personality traits and ideas that you might look for in a partner!

Personal things people might look for in a relationship

Sense of humor: This is such a classic answer, but humor really means a lot when you’re looking for someone you can spend your life with! It’s all about understanding each other's wit and finding humor in the ups and downs of life together. There are going to be tough times in any relationship, it’s just about who can make you laugh through it all!
Physical attraction: While we’re not superficial, it’s super important to be attracted to the person you’re with! A mutual physical pull towards each other that goes beyond just looks, encompassing a deep attraction to the other’s presence, touch, and essence, making one feel drawn and connected.
Emotional maturity: Some individuals prefer to date someone older than them, in the hope that they will be more emotionally mature. It’s about handling emotions responsibly and empathetically, acknowledging one's feelings as well as the partner's, and navigating conflicts without resorting to hurtfulness.
Good listener: Everyone wants their loved one to make them feel heard, understood and appreciated. As well as someone who will listen to their long stories about things they’re passionate about — whether that’s a Swiftie monologue or an in-depth look into their grocery list.
Intellectual compatibility: Sharing a similar level of interest in engaging in discussions, ideas, and learning. It’s not about looking for someone with a master’s degree, it’s about stimulating each other’s minds and having meaningful conversations! While you may not share the exact same interests, it can be so enriching to have a partner that exposes you to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Supportive nature: You should be your partner’s biggest cheerleader, and they should be yours! Being able to make your partner feel supported and loved is such a blessing in any relationship! It’s about being there for each other, offering encouragement, understanding, and help in times of need.
Adventurous spirit: If you want to go out and travel the world, and your partner doesn’t, this could cause conflict down the road. To find a compatible match for you, try looking for someone who has an innate willingness to try new things, explore new places, and step out of their comfort zone!
Emotional support: Every good relationship has two partners who can lean on each other in times of need, not one where silent treatment is the favored coping mechanism! For the sake of your own mental health and well-being, your partner should be able to offer you empathy, compassion, and comfort in times of sorrow or stress, understanding each other's emotional needs, and being a source of strength.
Ambition and drive: This is a key point when it comes to compatibility. Do you share mutual goals? It isn’t that you need to be headed in exactly the same direction, but ultimately, drive and determination can be very attractive in a relationship. If you’re a very driven person, it’s important to have someone by your side who is going to motivate you along the way and inspire each other to grow personally and professionally.
Respect for independence: While relationships are all about having someone in your corner, there should always be the freedom to grow as individuals. It’s important to look for this in a partner early on, so it doesn’t cause conflict later on.
Financial compatibility: This isn’t about looking for a wealthy millionaire, it’s about finding someone who you’re happy to openly discuss and plan with from a financial perspective! Sharing similar attitudes towards money, spending, and saving, helps in planning a future together without constant conflicts over finances.
Family values: Having compatible views on family involvement, dynamics, and the role of family in one’s life, is crucial for long-term planning and harmony. For example, if you’re very close to your family members, it’s a good sign if your partner shares this affinity for family life.
Life goals alignment: Sharing a common vision for the future, whether it’s about career paths, where to live, or whether to have children, ensures you’re moving in the same direction.
Patience: Patience really is a virtue, and it can be a very important aspect of a relationship. Whether it’s patiently dealing with your grumpy head in the morning, or having the patience to see through disagreements in a mature way — it can be a crucial quality in a partner.
Reliability: You want to have someone who is going to show up for you no matter what! Being dependable and consistent in actions and support creates a sense of security and trustworthiness within the relationship.
Sexual compatibility: While some people downplay a sexual connection, it can be a very important factor in a relationship. For example, if you have mismatched libidos or sexual preferences, it could lead to a decline in relationship satisfaction down the line.
Creativity: This isn’t about looking for an artist (even though that can’t hurt!) It’s about a partner who can bring imaginative and inventive elements into the relationship, whether through problem-solving, hobbies, or playful activities, keeping the spark alive!
Open-mindedness: Alongside creativity, you might look for someone receptive to new ideas, perspectives, and changes. This quality allows partners to grow together, exploring life’s possibilities without prejudice or undue resistance, fostering a dynamic and evolving relationship.
Conflict resolution skills: To prevent unnecessary fights or breakups, a person who is open to healthy conflict resolution is key. This includes being able to compromise, apologize, and forgive, ensuring that conflicts lead to growth rather than resentment.
Humility: Everyone makes mistakes in a relationship and that’s okay — we’re all human! It’s about finding a partner that has the ability to admit their mistakes and learn from them. It’s about recognizing that being right is less important than being kind, allowing for mutual respect and admiration to flourish.
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