04/14/2015 11:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why You'll Never Find the ‘Perfect' Partner

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If you think you have met Mr. Perfect, then you need to slap yourself in the face or take a cold shower, because you are mesmerized. The 100 percent candidate doesn't exist. That's right; the perfect fit is a myth right up there with painless dentistry and painless waxing. If you really believe there's a perfect fit, then you're probably still checking your messages for that guy you met at a club last year who promised he'd call. If you think you've found the perfect man, don't shout it from the rooftops. Go home, settle down and take it as a sign that love is blind, and you are kidding yourself.

What I'm telling you is that instead of wasting time searching for an exact match, look for the guy who is free of your deal breakers and has 80 percent of what you do want in a partner. The other 20 percent you can grow. If the guy has 80 percent of what you want and potential to grow the extra 20 percent, you need to bag up that boy because he is good to go. Do not walk past him while you're looking for Mr. 100 Percent, because somebody else is going to marry Mr. 80 Percent, and you are going to be standing there 60 percent sad and 40 percent frustrated.

I've counseled many couples, and I've been friends with many couples and I will tell you that in all my years as a friend, therapist and human being interacting in the world, I have yet to run across the "perfect couple." That perfect couple is a myth, so do not waste your time trying to become the first. Am I telling you to compromise? Yes, of course I am. Life is a compromise. Relationships are a compromise. Does that mean you should give up on the 20 percent you don't like? No way. You work on it. And if all you ever get is 80 percent of that missing 20 percent, take my word, you are going to be married and happy for a long time.

Ultimately it comes down to the difference between the people who are serious about commitment and the people who are out chasing a fantasy — the former will gladly overlook the imperfections of an 80 percent partner for the time being, whereas the latter will keep on searching until they figure out that a 100 percent match is about as real as a $100 Rolex.

Modified excerpt from Love Smart: Find The One You Want, Fix The One You Got by Dr. Phil McGraw (Free Press).

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