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How do you figure out who would make a good partner for you?
Do you look for physical chemistry?
Is it about shared values and goals?
Do you look for someone who is similar to you or is it true that opposites attract?
Last week my new husband and I had some photos taken of us on our honeymoon. The photos were taken a week into our 12-day trip. After spending 12 days with someone 24/7, here are my takeaways of what contributes to a compatible relationship.
>> A growth mindset. This is important not only in your partner but in you too. Are you set in your ways or are you willing to try new things? Are you open to someone who likes different things than you do? A cornerstone of our relationship is introducing each other to new experiences. I’ve learned to love unique travel accommodations and my husband has found an appreciation for 5-star hotels.
>> A willingness to let things go. What you don’t know is that an hour before we met with the photographer we had a minor disagreement where we were both annoyed with the other person. One thing that we strive to do in our relationship is to let stuff go; if we have a conflict, we resolve it and we move on. It’s not brought back up into conversation and we don’t hold grudges. We accept that we both make mistakes and will mess up from time to time, we accept that and we don’t hold those mistakes against the other person.
>> The importance of being equal partners. Our relationship started off from the beginning with financial equality. Even early on we both paid for dates and throughout our relationship, we’ve shared paying for the things we like to do. I’m not suggesting that great relationships can’t happen when the man pays, but what I do want to express is that in a true partnership both people are willing to give to the relationship.
There is no mental list of who has done what, who has paid, who does more. We both have a daily goal of trying to make the other person’s life better and there are no presumptions about our roles due to our gender. We are not just a man and a woman with preconceived ideas about who should do what. We are two people sharing our lives together and both want to be seen as equals in all areas of life.
>> What about chemistry? Chemistry is important. My ex-husband and I didn’t have great physical chemistry and eventually, that part of our marriage fizzled and we became co-parents more than partners. At the same time, I think that good chemistry is a slow burn rather than immediate fireworks. My partner may not have turned my head walking down the street before we met, but the more I got to know him, the more our physical attraction has grown.
>> Don’t forget to laugh. A great partner is someone you can have fun with. When I got back the photos I noticed that in almost all of them at least one of us is laughing. Part of why I love the photos so much is because of how much we were laughing and how much fun we were having. As we walked along the pier we joked that he better not push me into the water.
Other times I’m laughing in the photo after the photographer told him to tell me an inside joke or to say something inappropriate. The result is that the photos are representative of our genuine relationship, they are not posed. This is who we are together. We laugh together more than anything and make sure not to take ourselves too seriously.
This list looks different than many must-have or deal-breaker lists that I’ve made in the past. He had my must-haves: he is an involved parent, and he is kind and honest. When we met, he also, on paper, had some qualities that might have crossed him off as a potential had I created a long list of must-haves and deal-breakers.
It’s not easy to figure out who you are compatible with—as a divorced woman I know how easy it is to get it wrong. This list, however, is a great place to start.