— And how many of these are you currently striving to develop and improve in?
(*The *majority* of this post is pulled verbatim from an article on another site — PsychAlive.org — titled “Seven Qualities of an Ideal Partner” by Tamsen Firestone. I have abridged that article as well as added a few thoughts and observations of my own here and there.)
“Seven Qualities of an Ideal Partner” by Tamsen Firestone
While the reasons we fall in love are often a mystery, the reasons we stay in love are far less elusive. There may be no such thing as the perfect partner, but an ideal partner can be found. There are certain psychological characteristics both you and your partner can strive for that make the relationship much more likely for lasting success. Learn the qualities that make a person a good partner—they may not be what you expected.
1. The person has grown up.
This is crucial. One common criticism people make about their partners is that they need to “grow up.” What many of us fail to recognize is that growing up is not merely a matter of acting like an adult. To truly grow up means recognizing and resolving early childhood traumas or losses, and then understanding how these events influence our current behaviors.
An ideal partner is willing to reflect on their past. They possess a maturity that comes from being emotionally emancipated from their family of origin. They have developed a strong sense of independence and autonomy, having made the psychological shift from boy to man or girl to woman. Having broken ties to old identities and patterns, this person is more available to their partner and the new family they have created, as opposed to the one in which they were born.
Because this partner has grown up, they are less likely to re-enact childhood experiences in an intimate relationship. Because they have evolved as a person, they aren’t looking for someone to compensate for shortcomings and weaknesses. They aren’t looking for someone to complete their incompleteness. Rather this person is looking for someone in certain ways like themselves—they are looking for another adult with qualities similar to theirs, with whom they can share life in a compatible fashion.
2. The person is open and non-defensive.
The ideal partner is open and undefended, and is willing to be vulnerable. As a result, they are approachable and receptive to feedback without being overly sensitive about any topic. Discussions and disagreements are reasonable and productive, and are about what’s right, not who’s right. Their openness also enables them to be forthright in expressing feelings, thoughts, dreams and desires. It includes an interest in personal and sexual development, as well as leading an examined and intentional life.
3. The person is honest and lives with integrity.
The ideal partner realizes the importance of transparency and honesty in a close relationship. Honesty builds trust between people. Dishonesty confuses the other person, destroying their trust along with their sense of reality. Nothing has a more destructive impact on a close relationship between two people than dishonesty and deception. Even in such painful situations as infidelity, the blatant deception involved is often more hurtful than the unfaithful act itself.
The ideal partner strives to live a life of integrity so that there are no discrepancies between one’s words and actions. This goes for all levels of communication, both verbal and non-verbal.
4. The person is respectful of and sensitive to the other person having uniquely individual goals and priorities.
Ideal partners value the other’s interests separate from their own. They feel congenial toward and supportive of one another’s overall goals in life. They are sensitive to the other’s wants, desires and feelings, and place them on an equal basis with their own. Ideal partners treat each other with respect and understanding and sensitivity. They do not try to control each other with threatening or manipulative behavior. They are respectful of one another’s distinct personal boundaries while at the same time, being close physically and emotionally.
5. The person has empathy for and understanding of their partner.
The ideal partner perceives their mate on both an intellectual, observational level and an emotional, intuitive level. This partner is able to both understand and empathize with their mate.
When a couple understands each other, they become aware of the commonalities that exist between them and also recognize and appreciate the differences. When both partners are empathic, that is, capable of communicating with feeling and with respect for the other person’s wants, attitudes and values, each partner feels understood and validated.
6. The person is physically affectionate and sexually responsive.
The ideal partner is easily affectionate and responsive on many levels: physically, emotionally and verbally. They are personal, acknowledging and outwardly demonstrative of feelings of warmth and tenderness. They enjoy closeness in being sexual and are uninhibited in freely giving and accepting affection and pleasure during lovemaking.
7. The person has a sense of humor!
The ideal partner has a sense of humor. A sense of humor can be a lifesaver in a relationship. The ability to laugh at one’s self and at life’s foibles allows a person to maintain a proper perspective while dealing with sensitive issues that arise within the couple. Couples who are playful and teasing often defuse potentially volatile situations with their humor. A good sense of humor definitely eases the tense moments in a relationship.
Besides, it always feels good to have fun with someone!
* I would add to this that the ideal partner is mature enough to recognize when he or she needs to apologize and or make amends, and does so proactively and genuinely (meaning sincerely tries to change or curb the negative behavior).
And an ideal partner is one who genuinely wants to understand you more and more, and does so, bit by bit, every day. And part of doing so is reflected in how they express their love. Most people love their partner not so much as their partner wants to be loved, but as they want to be loved by their partner. But when we really love our partner, we do so in a way that is both meaningful and healthy to them, in their preferred manner or love language, not our own.