When you really think about it there is only one member of your family you get to choose! You can’t select your parents or siblings or even your aunts or cousins. Which of course doesn’t mean that you can’t create a family of your friends and surround yourself with love. But whether you maintain contact with them or not your family is in some ways inescapable (like it or not). While many bemoan this fact, I’m not so sure we should. After all, it isn’t easy to find or pick family. Because here’s the thing… the only member of your family you get to pick is your life partner! And I’m sure you know, it’s tough! Not only that but it’s the single most important decision you’ll make in your life, so you need to take it very seriously! Find out how to find your life partner and how to make that lasting connection here!
How to Find Your Life Partner… NOW???
So, you might be wondering why in the world I would be writing about this during isolation! I mean, you can barely leave the house let alone date so how would you meet “the one”? Well, there are 2 reasons. First, today is my 20-year anniversary. I met my one and only over 35 years ago and I’m happier than ever and want all of you to be too! And second… did you notice that gap between when I met my hubby and when I married him? Yeah, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on yourself and your expectations before you find your person or find out someone already in your life is your person, or make a lasting connection with them! So, what better time to start than now, while you have some time to really dig in and plan!
Why do You Need a Plan?
Oftentimes people think that love is supposed to be some magical fairy tale thing. Don’t get me wrong, it kind of is but like every great thing in life it also takes some preparation and effort! Not doing the work on yourself ahead of time often leads to heartbreaking toxic relationships. And not knowing what you’re looking for leads to mismatched relationships founded on chemistry alone.
What is a Life Partner?
When you’re talking about a life partner you’re talking about life! Think about what a HUGE deal that is! Many people take their major in college more seriously than who they marry, and it shows! You can change your career many times throughout your life. You can even go back to school and get a different degree! But you can’t easily change who you’ve built a life with! You can’t change who the other parent is to your children! Oftentimes the person you choose as your life partner will be around for life, like it or not! So, you’d better choose wisely! Keep in mind that you’re likely to be with them for around 50 years. If you stay married to them (hopefully you will) you’ll live with them for longer than anyone else in your life. They’ll know you better than anyone in the world. And if you’ve done it right, they’ll be your home, source of comfort and inspiration and bring out the best in you.
Creating Your Future
This is the person you will raise children with. They will hold your hand when you walk through life’s most difficult challenges and profound crisis. You’ll have to trust one another physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. As you become older, if you’ve chosen well, they will see a greater beauty in you than ever before! They’ll hold your hand when you’re scared or sick. And you’ll be by each other’s sides through thick and thin until the end! So it’s very important to choose the right person!
How to Plan and Prepare to Find a Life Partner
Now that we’ve talked about why it’s so important to have a plan and prepare to find your life partner let’s talk about how to do that!
Who Are You?
The very first step is knowing who you are and what you want in life! You’ll need to set out on a path of self-discovery if you haven’t yet. It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses and to have a basic understanding of what you want. Visualize your future and imagine what an ideal life would look like. Would you have kids? Where would you live? What types of relationships do you have? Are there religious or culture factors you see as important in your future? Now consider the relationships you’ve witnessed. Think about what makes them work or unravels them. What examples have been set for you? Are those relationships healthy? How could they be improved upon? Sometimes a relationship situation will work for someone else that would never work for you. That’s ok. It’s a good thing to be aware of though because you’ll want to avoid it.
There’s no Right or Wrong
In the process of discovering who you are remember that there isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s ok if you discover that there are areas in which you’d like to grow. And it’s also ok if there are things about who you are that make a relationship complicated. I often say that I’m not marriage material. I’m pretty stubborn and independent. It’s difficult for me to let people in, trust them and rely on them. That said, I’m very happily married to my soul mate. And to be honest… I’m still pretty stubborn and independent and while I have grown in my ability to trust and rely on others, I’m still a tough nut. I’m sure it won’t shock you to hear that a lot of that growth came from this relationship.
If this is something you need to work on but don’t know where to start check out How to Find Yourself.
There’s an old saying that you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself. A lot of people struggle with self-esteem and self-love and still care for their children and make loving companions. That is very true! But that doesn’t mean they are the healthiest companions or that they’re enriched by or enriching the relationship. Whoa! Deep concept, I know!
Here’s the thing… you can certainly love someone without loving yourself but it’s a different kind of love. You come into that relationship in a place of need. Need for connection or for fulfillment. Or maybe need for validation and reassurance. This causes you to withhold parts of yourself that you are insecure about. And withholding is not the same as loving whole heartedly. Oftentimes love in these situations is also conditional. If your need isn’t being met, you don’t love the other person, fall out of love or simply lose interest.
While we can all use some growth in the self-love category because it’s definitely a process, you need to have a basic foundation of self-love and acceptance to be ready to enter into a healthy life partnership. If this is an area in which you need to grow check out How to Love Yourself.
What are You Looking for?
Now that you know who you are, and you also know that you deserve a lifetime of happiness start thinking about what you’re looking for in a partner. It can be very helpful to create a list. You may want to first consider what you most value in life. What really matters to you. What type of lifestyle do you want?
For this section I’m going to highly advise you to avoid temporary items. Consider that if you’re with a person for 50 years their appearance and status may change through no fault of their own. Rather than saying “attractive and fit” you might want to go with “health oriented”. And rather than “financially stable” you may want to choose “good financial sense”. Anything can happen over the course of 50 years. Just in the past 20 since my husband and I married I’ve developed an autoimmune thyroid condition that makes it difficult to maintain my weight, both of our hair has greyed and the housing crisis happened throwing our financial security into turmoil. It’s a good thing that we’re both health minded and have good financial sense. These bumps in the road are cataclysmic for many but to us it’s no big deal!
Get busy working on your list now!
Some of the things on your list might be “nice to have’s”, some might be “important”, and some might be absolute essentials. It’s nice for me to have a husband who doesn’t mind my weird sleep schedule. It’s nice for him to have a wife who loves cooking. Intelligence is very important to both of us. But it’s a must for both of us to want children and marry within our faith.
Those “musts” are deal breakers. These are things that you know you aren’t comfortable with in a relationship. No matter how great the person is you can’t have a future if you don’t see eye to eye on these items. Every person has dealbreakers and they don’t have to be the same as your potential partners. Try to identify yours. Again, there is no right or wrong here! To make that point abundantly clear I’m going to share mine.
My Deal Breakers
- Must want children.
- No history of or inclination towards addiction of any kind or a criminal history
- Must not travel for work
- Must not intend to move out of Michigan (this one I discovered the hard way)
I know… some of these might offend you. They might even sound bigoted. Some are based on personal preferences and my vision for my future life and some are due to past trauma. I’m sure that there are plenty of amazing people out there who were eliminated from my relationship consideration because they didn’t comply with one of these. I just know that I’m not a good match for anyone who has one of these factors. I want children, I want to raise them Christian, I have severe anxiety about addiction, criminal situations and travel for work. I’m not judging anything as bad or good. I have profound respect for all people but that doesn’t mean we’d be a good match!
Write your deal-breakers! Remember that these are non-negotiables! You won’t make an exception so be sure that you feel so strongly about them that if you met someone who checked off every thing on your ideal mate list except one of your deal breakers it would still be a no go!
Just because something isn’t a deal breaker doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Your deal breaker list helps you eliminate people you know you can’t build a future with. The important list will keep you from settling. It’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for in a life partner and what would make you most compatible. Things like “strong work ethic but not a workaholic”, “committed to health”, “financially responsible” or even “great sense of humor”. Might go on this list. You should also consider items like kind, compassionate and trustworthy. Really think about what types of behaviors indicate these traits so you can be on the lookout for them.
Get Some Help
It can be very helpful as you’re going through this process to ask trusted friends and relatives who have good relationships what they think would make someone compatible to you. Maybe they have advice about things to avoid or dealbreakers you might want to consider. And, they’ll likely have some insight into your previous relationships and what may have made you incompatible.
Checking in with other’s can be very beneficial but do it LAST! You, and only you, really know the depths of yourself. Their impressions may be inaccurate or reflect their own perspectives and situations. That’s why it’s important to have done all of the above work BEFORE asking for their insights. While they might be beneficial, or enlightening take them with a grain of salt. Remember, you’re the expert on yourself!
Create Your Own Space
Knowing how to live on your own and take care of yourself lays the best foundation for any relationship. You should only be with someone else because you want to, not because you need to. Oftentimes when we haven’t lived on our own, deep down we don’t know if we can. This can create the feeling of being trapped in even the best relationship. Now I’m not saying you have to have your own place but what I am saying is it’s best to pay your own bills and live outside of a caregiver’s home. Your parents, aunt or sister who is 15 years older than you are not roommates. If anyone else is paying the bills and / or managing the household responsibilities it doesn’t count. You can certainly have roommates; you can divide the chores and costs but it’s very important that you know that you can manage a household and take care of yourself.
It’s also important to consider this as an important factor in compatibility. You should consider whether your soon to be significant other knows how to stick to a budget and do their own laundry. If not, they may end up feeling trapped and you may end up taking on these duties solo! Do you want to be in a relationship with someone who relies on you like a parent or in an equal partnership?
Now You’re Ready to Get Out There!
Yippie! You’ve done the work and you’re ready to start actively looking for a life partner! Don’t worry, you’ve got this!!!
Take a Second Look at Your Friend Group
Hear me out on this! Whether you start as friends or not the foundation of the greatest relationships is friendship. Your life partner will be your very best friend (hopefully)! So, why not consider someone who already fits in the friend category? You already know them; you have a good foundation and you know you’re compatible and enjoy spending time with them. It’s possible that before you did this self-work you didn’t even notice them. If you didn’t know and love yourself, hadn’t figured out what you were looking for or weren’t ready for something more serious they may have flown under the radar.
If any of your friends have potential and are single start spending more time with them. Make an effort to hang out one on one more often and see if there’s more to it. I’m assuming that since this person is your friend there’s already a level of trust and communication there. So, don’t be so worried about “ruining the friendship”. If it doesn’t work out you can talk about it and find your way back. If you can’t the relationship probably isn’t very healthy to begin with.
You aren’t going to meet your life partner by sitting at home binging Netflix alone! You have to get out there! There are so many options for dating now it’s almost overwhelming! Pick one or a few and get to it! If you’re nervous about it create a dating challenge for yourself… Starting next month you’ll go on 10 dates a month (including coffee, brunch and lunch dates).
Some of your dates will be fun, some boring, some amazing and some terrible but they should all be safe! If you aren’t going out with a friend you already know and trust be sure to meet somewhere in public and let someone know where you are and who you’re with! Whether you’re male or female… safety first! If your date won’t comply with these terms, bail out. That’s a hugered flag!
Check out 13 Relationship Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore to learn more about this important topic.
Some dates are better than others! Ideal dates give you the opportunity to talk and get to know each other. They’re quiet and distractions are minimized. When you’re just getting to know someone lean towards coffee and lunch dates. This allows you to get to know each other, minimizes the likelihood of drinking and takes the intimacy pressure off.
Netflix & Chill?
Take a pass on this one! Neflix & chill has been around for much longer than Netflix! If you watch Gilmore Girls you might know that it could’ve been “can you come help me find my chick”. Or more often it was, “do you want to study / work on a project together”. I’m not saying that you can’t Netflix & chill on your first or second date, I’m just saying this doesn’t typically result in a long-term relationship.
It’s very important when looking for a life partner to prioritize emotional intimacy above physical intimacy. Getting into a sexual relationship too quickly can easily distract from creating the connection you’re longing for. Sex is not a way to connect with someone, it’s a way to enrich an already deep connection. Don’t rush into it and don’t allow it to become the central feature of your relationship. It’s important but with good communication and connection even the most sexually incompatible can create passion. That isn’t true in reverse!
Talk About the Real Stuff
It’s reasonable on the first couple dates to focus more on small talk and getting to know each other. As you date for longer though it’s important for the conversations to get deeper and more meaningful. Find out how they grew up, how they see the world, what’s important to them and what they want in the future. Asking questions and sharing information like this is a great way to create intimacy in your relationship! It’s also a great way to find out if you’re compatible or if there’s a deal breaker at work here.
Before becoming physically intimate with someone it’s important to know if they even have life partner potential so you’ll need to know about those deal breakers. If you don’t think you’ve been seeing each other for long enough to ask if they see kids in their future, you should seriously reconsider whether you should be sexually intimate.
If you find that you are incompatible it’s time to move on! Don’t drag it out. The longer you stay engaged in a relationship with someone you know you don’t have a future with the deeper the heartbreak will be. If it seems like a good match continue on and increase the depth of conversation and start to change up your dates.
Adventure & Challenges
Once you’ve gotten to know each other a bit better try to enjoy some adventures and challenges together. This can help to quickly build trust and give you some insight into how they handle pressure and varying circumstances. All of life will be facing new challenges and sometimes facing the scary unknown. Trying something new will give you both important insight about how you cope with being outside your comfort zone!
Finding out how well you work together and adapt to difficult circumstances can be very helpful. That’s why it’s always jokingly suggested that couples build a piece of Ikea furniture together before making a serious commitment. Take on some sort of challenge or project together! Work as a team to get it done. Don’t expect it to go perfectly the first time, just keep an eye out for temperament and resilience. This can give you a little insight into what may happen when you’re working through other challenges in life together.
These types of dates also assist in creating vulnerability and deepening communication! This is a step in the right direction toward creating deep emotional intimacy!
Someone is going to have to say it first! No one is psychic and it’s unfair to put all of the pressure on the man. Hopefully as you’ve been dating there have been some indications that you’re both ready to take it to the next level. But it’s sill going to need to be discussed. The best way to do this is to share how you’re feeling and take the next logical step. You’re not jumping right from dating to marriage or living together. So, talk about making the relationship exclusive and what that looks like. Talk about the possibility of a future together.
I understand that it’s difficult and feels risky. They might not feel the same way. But if you’re not rushing in and you feel a connection it’s likely they do too. If someone doesn’t make the first move here, I guarantee you won’t get your happily ever after. So, don’t be afraid to go there! You have way more to gain than to lose. If they don’t feel the same it may be time to move on, they might not be the one for you or maybe they need more time to be sure. Since you have a great communication foundation built you can talk about this! If you’re planning to spend your life with someone, you’ll need to get used to talking to them openly and vulnerably anyway… so start NOW!
Trust Your Instincts
Once you’ve discovered who you are and love yourself and you’ve learned about your potential life partner it really all boils down to instinct. When you find the one it’s something you just know. You feel it deep down. It seems like the most obvious thing to you! So, if you’ve been in a relationship with someone for over a year and you still aren’t sure if they’re the one, chances are, they aren’t.
It isn’t that everything is perfect, and you never disagree. Things may sometimes be incredibly difficult, and you might have to overcome obstacles and challenges. You may even have to compromise and be flexible in ways you never imagined (but not on deal breakers). But no matter what you know that this person is home and you just can’t imagine life without them. You know like you know the sun will rise tomorrow! You just know! Trust that feeling!
Don’t give up! I know it sounds corney but true love does exist! People find it every day and you can too! You deserve love and connection in your life! Only you can make it happen so GET TO WORK!
This is a “those who care, share” post! Share this to encourage and inspire others to find love in their lives!
And… if you’re with your “one” too and read this out of curiosity PLEASE leave a comment or advice to encourage all the single folks out there!!! Let them know I’m not the only one and they can find love too!