When we start looking for a long-term partner or enter into a romantic relationship, many of us do so with a predetermined set of (often unrealistic) expectations—such as how the person should look and behave, how the relationship should progress, and the roles each partner should fulfill.
These expectations may be based on your family history, influence of your peer group, your past experiences, or even ideals portrayed in movies and TV shows. Retaining many of these unrealistic expectations can make any potential partner seem inadequate and any new relationship feel disappointing.
Consider what’s really important
Distinguish between what you want and what you need in a partner. Wants are negotiable, needs are not.
Wants include things like occupation, intellect, and physical attributes such as height, weight, and hair color. Even if certain traits seem crucially important at first, over time you’ll often find that you’ve been needlessly limiting your choices. For example, it may be more important to find someone who is:
- Curious rather than extremely intelligent. Curious people tend to grow smarter over time, while those who are bright may languish intellectually if they lack curiosity.
- Sensual rather than sexy.
- Caring rather than beautiful or handsome.
- A little mysterious rather than glamorous.
- Humorous rather than wealthy.
- From a family with similar values to yours, rather than someone from a specific ethnic or social background.
Needs are different than wants in that needs are those qualities that matter to you most, such as values, ambitions, or goals in life. These are probably not the things you can find out about a person by eyeing them on the street, reading their profile on a dating site, or sharing a quick cocktail at a bar before last call.