What Are You Looking For in a Relationship? Defining Your Non-Negotiables


Entering any romantic partnership with clarity on your core needs and dealbreakers is key to long-term fulfillment and success. Before coupling up, get clear within yourself on the qualities and characteristics that truly matter in a mate.

Beyond just feeling an initial spark or attraction, ask yourself: What makes a relationship work for who I am and the life I want to build?

Below, we’ll explore key elements to reflect on as you define your relationship as must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Understanding these core compatibility components helps you pick a partner who can go the distance and build a beautiful life together.

Character: Integrity, Work Ethics and Values

Integrity, Work Ethics and Values

A person’s innermost character – who they are at their core – determines their shared values and the moral fabric of their relationship.

Integrity. Do they act according to sound principles? Are they honest, ethical, and accountable? Do they take responsibility for mistakes and treat people fairly even when it is difficult? This reveals if you have common values.

Work ethic. Do they work hard and show perseverance or regularly take shortcuts? Look at their education, career, and how they care for their home and finances. You want a similar drive.

Moral values. Consider their beliefs and causes. Are they aligned with principles of kindness, justice, and human dignity? Do you share a common worldview and vision for contributing to society?

Self-awareness. Have they done self-reflection to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and impact on others? Humbly accepting feedback to improve is key.

A person’s character predicts how they will respond when life gets challenging, and their true colors show. Choose someone who remains steady and principled.

Emotional Intelligence: Communication Skills and Maturity

Emotional Intelligence: Communication Skills and Maturity

Can this person articulate their inner world and respond to yours with care and understanding? Signs of emotional intelligence:

Communication style. Do they listen well and express themselves calmly, honestly, and respectfully, even when upset? Can you resolve conflict constructively together?

Empathy. Do they ask about your feelings and experiences? Can they see things from your perspective? Do they offer comfort and reassurance when needed?

Self-regulation. How do they manage stress, anger, disappointment, and setbacks? Do they have emotional maturity or lash out with blame or passive aggression?

Insight. Are they self-reflective? Do they take accountability for their impact on you rather than just blaming others? Do they seek to grow?

You need someone who can communicate sensitively, regulate their own emotions, and understand yours. This facilitates conflict resolution and caretaking as life brings storms.

Shared Interests and Compatible Lifestyles

Shared Interests and Compatible Lifestyles

Having some overlapping interests, passions, and hopes creates built-in bonding experiences and makes a relationship more enjoyable in the long term.

Interests. Do you both like outdoor adventures, travel, music, sports, reading, dancing, trying new restaurants, or other activities? Shared interests become time together you both look forward to.

Sense of humor. Do you laugh at the same things? Can you be playful and silly together? Humor is a huge relationship-bonding tool. Find someone who “gets” you.

Social style. Do you both like hosting friends or keeping just to yourselves? Are you homebodies or adventurers? Similar social preferences prevent friction.

Future dreams. Do you share visions for where you want to live, if you want a family, how you want to spend vacations, causes you want to support? Discuss aspirations.

Don’t force a relationship if your lifestyles and visions for the future fundamentally conflict. Embrace similarities that provide built-in togetherness.

Physical Connection

Physical Connection

While not the most important part of a relationship, physical and Intimacy compatibility helps bond partners and enhances couples’ joy.

Mutual attraction. Make sure you’re both genuinely attracted to and interested in one another physically. Don’t ignore the lack of chemistry.

Intimacy compatibility. Do you both equally value physical affection? Are your desires and preferences in sync regarding the frequency and activities you enjoy? Discuss openly.

Similar energy levels. Do you complement each other in terms of pacing and activity levels? Too much mismatch leads to frustration.

Shared approach to health. Do you have similar habits around food, exercise, sleep, mental health, and substance use? Mismatched priorities strain relationships.

Consider your whole beings – not just values and minds but bodies too. Seek compatibility here as well for holistic bonding.

Personal Responsibility: Financial/Home/Health

Personal Responsibility FinancialHomeHealth

A partner who takes responsibility for themself in practical life areas means less burden on you.

Financial responsibility. Do they live within their means? Pay bills on time? Avoid reckless decisions? Manage debt wisely? You want similar fiscal maturity.

Domestic competence. Do they know how to cook, clean, do laundry, pay bills, manage a home, etc? Adult self-sufficiency is attractive.

Health habits. Do they make smart choices regarding diet, exercise, sleep, substances, medical care, and managing stress? Lifestyle impacts you both.

Career/education. Do they work hard and aspire to learn and improve continually? Shared diligence prevents future money issues.

While you don’t want a dependent partner you have to take care of, look for responsible maturity in areas that lead to real-world stability.

Key Compatibility Questions to Ask Yourself

Key Compatibility Questions to Ask Yourself
  • Are this person’s core values and life priorities compatible with mine?
  • Do they have integrity and demonstrate care/concern for others through their actions?
  • How do they handle disagreements and conflict? Can we communicate through issues constructively?
  • Do they accept me and celebrate me for who I am? Do I provide the same gift in return?
  • Do we respect each other’s differences while enjoying common interests and bonding experiences?
  • Does our chemistry and energy for one another feel mutual, natural, and supportive of intimacy?
  • Are we equally committed to growth – as individuals and as a couple through intentionality and counseling when needed?
  • Do we share a vision for the life we want to build together, from holidays to family planning? Does this vision get us both excited?
  • Will we bring out the best in each other? Will this person be my cheerleader in pursuing my dreams?

Asking yourself these questions helps assess if a partnership stands to go the distance while honoring your core needs and nurturing your soul. Don’t ignore red flags because you “really like” someone and fear being alone. Wait for someone who fulfills your highest standards across the board. You deserve nothing less.

Prioritize what matters – character, emotional intelligence, responsibility, shared dreams, communication, maturity, chemistry, and compassion. With the right match, you’ll be unstoppable together!

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