Most people are looking for the wrong things in their partner
Do you find that you are wasting your precious time dating people who are not a good fit, and investing too much energy into relationships that all too soon end up nowhere?
Most people looking for "the one" are looking for the wrong things in a partner. Similar age, values and common interests? Same religion, same culture, anyone? Yes, we don’t deny that these factors play a role, but finding your soulmate, the one with whom you can build a happy and life-long relationship, takes more than matching age and interests.
The four things that really matter
Here’s what really matters if you want to find “the one:”
1. You have a unique idea of what love and relationships are like – your love stories. Become aware of them.
Since you’ve been growing up, you’ve been observing others and their relationships, you’ve formed your own relationships, and you’ve learned about relationships in books and in the media.
You have created your very own idea of what love is like – your own Love Stories -- that determine which potential partners you’re interested in and that shape your expectations of what a relationship should be like, how you should behave in a relationship, how you should interpret your partner’s actions, how you should interact with your partner, and so on.
To make it short – what love is to you and what is a great relationship to you – may not be the same for the people you date. In fact, because your love stories are mostly unconscious, there may be major disagreements of which you likely will not be aware.
2. Happy relationships involve matching love stories
Since people’s ideas about love and successful relationships vary so wildly, it’s important that you find someone whose ideas (that is, whose love stories!) match yours. Think about it – your relationship will be challenging if your idea of a great relationship is that you and your partner spend all your time together and share your most intimate thoughts whereas your partner dreams of a relationship that leaves much space for friends and hobbies that doesn’t include you.
There are love stories that are a great fit, and some that do not work well together. Some people also have love stories that are generally maladaptive and that lead to them ending up in the same kind of dysfunctional relationship time and time again.
You and your partner do not need to have the same dominant story (remember, you’ve got more than one story), but for a happy long-term relationship, you will need stories that are compatible with each other.
3. Recognize when your stories are mismatched
How do you know if your stories are compatible or not? That’s relatively easy to tell because the main sign of mismatched stories is miscommunication.
Consider the following:
- Do you feel like you’re talking with each other but you’re not connecting?
- Do you talk but your conversations lead nowhere?
- Do you say one thing and your partner hears another?
If that’s happening to you frequently, your stories may mismatch. If you find that’s the case, see if one or both of you can’t change your story to some extent so that you can find some common ground.
4. Your feelings need matching, too
Your love stories do not only influence your behavior and expectations. They also give rise to feelings. In particular, they determine:
- how much intimacy you want to have with each other (that is, how close, bonded, and connected you feel),
- how much passion you want to feel (that is, how much emotional and physical attraction as well as romance you have in your relationship), and
- how committed you would like to be to each other.
You’ll only be happy if you have what you want – that is, if your partner’s needs and hopes for intimacy, passion, and commitment are relatively similar to yours.
The biggest issue in finding a partner that’s a good match to you and creating a fulfilled relationship is that we often are not consciously aware of what we truly want, and where our relationship lags.
Identify what’s important to you. Does your partner want the same as you do? Identify the gaps that are obstacles to your happiness, and take action to eliminate them.
Need help? Let us know! We offer coaching for individuals and couples to help you find a great partner and build happy and fulfilling long-term relationships.
It’s not just you: New data shows more than half of young people in America don’t have a romantic partner. (2019). Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/03/21/its-not-just-you-new-data-shows-more-than-half-young-people-america-dont-have-romantic-partner/
eharmony. (2019). 70% of American Singles Are Looking for a Serious Relationship. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/70-of-american-singles-are-looking-for-a-serious-relationship-300854725.html
Sternberg, R. J. (1995). Love as a story. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(4), 541–546.
Sternberg, R. J., & Sternberg, K. (2018). The new psychology of love. Cambridge University Press.