In my private work, I have the privilege of talking to a lot of people about their relationships, their experiences with love, what they are looking for in a partner and where we all can tend to get stuck..
It is also a topic I have been fascinated by and have studied fairly deeply over the years, both intellectually and interpersonally.
These are a few observations, some of which apply to the search for a partner, and some of which apply to the process of relationship unfoldment:
Though many of us don’t take the time to get specific (perhaps because we think it is somehow unromantic to do so) really considering your priorities, deal-breakers, and must-haves can be super helpful in determining if someone you are dating is just tickling your fancy, plugging in to your “fatal attraction” unconscious psychology, or might truly be a potentially fulfilling life partner.
I find it helpful to ask people to consider 5 categories:
1) Aesthetics/Chemistry —how important is it to you, and what are the aspects that really get your attention?
2) Shared Interests/Activities —how important is this to you, and which of these simply have to be there for you to be happy?
3) Values/Beliefs —how important is it to you that your partner have similar politics, dietary habits, spiritual orientation, sense of what is meaningful about life?
4) Life Vision/Goals —what do you envision for your future, and are you seeking a partner who has similar ambitions, goals and a desire to create that vision alongside you?
5) Psychological/Communication Tool Set and Conception of Relationship —when the rubber meets the road and you’re past the first 18 months of pursuit, passion and intrigue, is it important to you that your partner have a similar concept and capability to you regarding how to communicate, understand and support one another, problem solve, and keep growing together in intimacy, self-awareness and mutual healing?
Everyone will have different priorities in terms of how highly they rate each of these categories, and what they feel they need/want to experience, explore and express with a partner —but reflecting on these areas can be very clarifying!
Personally I think all of the above is valid and important, but for people in our community, the shared sense of relationship as a mutually supportive arena of growth and healing, along with a willingness to practice productive, empathic, respectful communication can turn out to be indispensable.
I subscribe to the psychological perspective that in many ways, we are unconsciously seeking to resolve, heal and master dynamics, feelings and needs from past romantic relationships, and more significantly from our family of origin experience —and so inevitably, we will come to a point in relationships where power struggles, blame and projection, fear and mistrust, resentment and conflict around unmet needs, unseen feelings, and unresolved traumas emerge and ask to be understood, loved and healed.
The attitude that this is natural and essentially presents an opportunity for deepening love and intimacy seems to me to make all the difference between either breaking up, staying together in a resigned and shut-down state, or truly blossoming into our shared human potential.
These are my thoughts, offered sincerely, and hopefully without too much preachiness!
Wishing you love and happiness,