I was having a chat with one of my friends one day. At the time, she had recently started dating someone. He’s a really nice guy with several commendable qualities. However, she would frequently reach out to me with concerns that he doesn’t fit “what she imagined” for herself.
But when it comes to what to look for in a partner, is what we imagine for ourselves actually what we need in life? What is it that we are imagining anyway? Are we really thinking about someone who will support us, uplift us, and treat us well? Or are we just fantasizing about someone who fits our picture of whatever an ideal man looks like, dresses like, walks like, talks like, and/or the career he may have. I think for many people, it’s the latter. And as I was explaining to my friend, all of that is just icing.
Icing is fragile; it’s sticky; it melts under stressful conditions, and too much of it will make you ill.
Basically, the “icing” is the superficial layer of someone that we see on the surface. It doesn’t speak to character, integrity or personality.
So Then, What To Look For In a Partner?
What you want is the cake (made from all the essential ingredients).
So what ingredients, so to speak, should we be looking for in a partner? For example, someone who’s nice, well mannered, respectful, supports your career goals (hello, this is a big one), will be willing to change a few diapers should the need arise, and care for you fully if you get sick. In effect, you want a life partner who will do these things because you know you’ll do the same in return.
Don’t get me wrong you may not find someone who matches everything, but you do want someone who is compatible. Their ideals are parallel to yours; their goals are similar to yours; their views are in sync with yours.
That is the cake.
What We Look For Won’t Be the Same
We all want different things
When it comes to what to look for in a partner, we all have different tastes. Everyone’s “cake” is going to be a little different. Each of us has something different we are looking for, and has a standard that we set for ourselves, or has one that has been set for us by our family, either for cultural or religious reasons.
For instance, given my demanding career, I would like someone with a similar line of work. For me, I think that someone in the same field, or who works as much I do, will only then be able to understand my own crazy schedule, and hopefully be more accepting of it. (I’ve tried dating outside of this and in my case, it just hasn’t worked out—that’s not to say it can’t, I’m just speaking for myself in this instance).
Of course, you should be attracted to your partner; but the reminder here is that looks fade and body types are transient. Instead, when you sit down to consider what to look for in a partner, you want to think about your own ideals. Know who you are first, what you want out of life, from your partner, from yourself, from your career. Then, look for someone who’s goals, ideals, views on life match up.
In the case of physicality, I look for people who have the same health goals that I do and those that prioritize a healthy lifestyle because that’s what is important to me as well.
This isn’t something that many people consider in what to look for in a partner, however, money is an important reason people get together or fall apart. From what I’ve seen, money has a tendency to become an issue, especially as more and more women are earning and earning well. I speak from my own experiences when I say that it can get sticky when guys realize how much money I make.
All I can say is this: you can’t change someone’s outlook on money and finances. How and where we choose to spend our money is framed by many things. You have to find someone whose outlook matches yours if not makes it better and helps you improve.
Having a conversation about spending habits sooner rather than later, I think, can save you a lot of time, and help make sure you are with the right person for you.
I’m going to misquote this, but I’ve seen some sayings floating around that go something like this:
find someone who’s weird matches your weird
We all have quirks and characteristics that make us uniquely us. Those quirks may help determine what you find attractive or desirable in a partner. Trust those instincts and look for what you know will work for you, whatever that may mean.
Another point of view for this is to figure out things about yourself that make you who you are. Then find people who love that part of you; that are attracted to it and respect it.
As an example, I’m the kind of person who goes likes to go off the beaten path. If there’s more than one way to do something, I tend to choose the way that few people have done. I like doing things that are different because that’s how I like to set myself apart. A lot of my life decisions have been made based on this trait. It’s a huge part of who I am. So, I need someone who recognizes this characteristic and loves it.
These are just a few examples of what to look for in a partner. Of course there is much more that goes into that important decision. Only time spent together can tell you whether or not something will work. These points are just meant to remind everyone that what we may think we want may not be the best for us; what we like superficially may not be the lasting traits to keep a relationship together.
What you like or who you like is all up to you. Just remember that while a shitty cake with a lot of icing can still be great…it only lasts up to a point.
A shitty guy with all the polish may LOOK like the man of your dreams. But when it comes down to it, all that polish won’t take care of you at the end of the day. The icing will melt. All you’ll have left is something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
So don’t get caught up in your imagined icing; instead, when it comes to what to look for in a partner, look for qualities that last and focus on traits that match up with what you value and are in sync with who you are.
Because you deserve it.
Images courtesy of unsplash.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice and a platform to express themselves. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.