In the Fearlessly Moving Forwards Facebook Group, I asked the question above and a few ladies did not know how they wanted their future relationship to be. So, if you feel like them and you are not clear, it can feel confusing.
Firstly, to get a better understanding of what you want in a relationship, it’s best to to know what you don’t want. Figuring out what you want can be tricky, but, usually, you know exactly what you don’t want. Sit down and put together a list of criteria that would disqualify a potential match first. Research shows that common deal-breakers for those interested in long-term relationship are:
Having anger issues or exhibiting abusive behaviours
Dating several people at once
Being unworthy of trust
Being already in a relationship or married
Having health issues like an STD
Having an addiction such as a drug or alcohol problem
Having poor hygiene
The next thing is to know are your core values. I suggest that you think of your personal values as a roadmap detailing the sort of life you’d like to lead. It’s unlikely to think that a romantic partner will share all the same values as you. However, it’s important for you to know what yours are so that you can know which principles and beliefs you are not willing to compromise.
For example, if you think honesty is really important, you are unlikely to resonate with a partner who lies. What’s more, it’s likely to cause a rift in the relationship if your partner expects you to lie, because it goes against your value of honesty.
Rather than me giving you a long list of values, here is a simple way to discover your core values. Answer these questions and look for reoccurring themes:
If you could change something about the community you live in, what would it be? Why?
Who are the two people you respect or admire the most? What traits do you admire about these people?
If your home caught on fire and all the living beings were safely out, what three items would you choose to rescue? Why?
Which moment in your life made you feel very satisfied? What happened to make you feel that way?
Once you have done this, reflect back on previous relationship patterns, —whether romantic or not. For those relationships that ended badly, consider the factors that contributed to the relationship dissolving. What about those relationships left you dissatisfied or unhappy?
Write down any negative patterns you can uncover from your relationships with past lovers, friends, or family members that did not fulfil you. Consider these problem areas as a foundation for what you don’t want in the future.
Once you have completed the above, it is time to think about any issues you have noticed in the relationships around you. Others’ relationships affect you, too. From a child you have witnessed parents, grandparents and family romantic relationships. Even though you were on the outside, you may have been aware of issues these individuals experienced.
For example, maybe your mum was devastated after your dad betrayed her by cheating. You witnessing this has made you aware of how important it is to be faithful in a relationship.
Take note of any such red flags from others’ relationships that you don’t want to have happen in yours. Learning from the mistakes of others may help you to enjoy a more satisfying relationship in the future.
In the Fearlessly Moving Forwards 90 day program, I teach how to love yourself first. Many people have a belief that searching for a romantic partner will complete them. However, your partner should only enhance you. I strongly believe that you should already be complete or what I call 'whole' on your own. Feeling whole translates to having self-love that is not dependent on anyone else loving you. I go into this in much more detail in the FMF METHOD, but here are a couple of ideas...
Create a list of your favourite qualities about yourself (e.g. friendliness, your smile, etc.)
Speaking to yourself in a gentle, loving way as you would a friend
Now, take some time to think about what kind of relationship you truly wish for. What are your expectations, for both your partner and yourself? Try to be as impartial about yourself as possible. This will help you identify types of people you want to stop seeing and behavioural patterns that you want to end, which will help you figure out the kind of relationship you actually do want.
For example, you might think you're ready to settle down, but deep down you know you're not ready for that kind of commitment. Or maybe, you might think you just want to have some casual fun, but you know from past relationships that you get too emotionally invested.
It's a great idea now to go back to your list of deal-breakers. By knowing what you don’t want, you can now uncover some things that you do. Transform your list of deal-breakers into positive qualities that you desire in a relationship.
For instance, if a deal-breaker for you was someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, you might transform that into “concern for physical and mental health”. You know you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who uses drugs or alcohol abusively, so you would look for someone who seems to prioritise health.
Add more 'nice-to-have' qualities as you think of them. Be completely honest with yourself. If physical attractiveness is a deal breaker for you, put that down. But try to focus on qualities that don't have to do with looks, such as humour, kindness, intelligence, patience, and empathy. You should also think about things like religion and politics, which may or may not be relevant to you. Don't leave anything out, no matter how embarrassing or trivial it seems.