How Do I Know If He or She Is the Right Partner for Me?

I often receive emails from people asking me how they can know if the person they are in relationship with is the right partner for them. They frequently say that they have made mistakes in the past, and they don't want to make a mistake again.
09/16/2012 11:16 am ET Updated Nov 16, 2012

I often receive emails from people asking me how they can know if the person they are in relationship with is the right partner for them. They frequently say that they have made mistakes in the past, and they don't want to make a mistake again.

What are the signs of a promising relationship?

• You are both open to learning.

Basic to a good relationship is a devotion to personal growth and learning. If a person is closed to learning about themselves and their partner, then there is no way to resolve conflict, which generally leads to even more unresolved conflict. Relationships become flat and empty when one or both partners are closed to learning. I tell my clients, "You need to become 'the right person' by being open to learning about loving yourself and sharing your love with your partner, and then you need to discover if your partner is also open to learning about loving him or herself and sharing their love. You may not be able to really know this until you experience conflict together. Sometimes people appear to be open, only to close down or get angry and blaming when conflict arises -- and stay that way until their feelings dissipate. When there is no open arena in which to resolve conflict, the issues fester and may create many problems."

You are both emotionally connected and you take responsibility for your own feelings, health and well being.

Again, you need to become the partner you want by learning how to take responsibility for your own feelings and wellbeing. When one partner blames the other for their own feelings, resentment builds, and eventually there is much fighting or distance.

• You each have a connection with a spiritual source of love.

Emotional connection is vital for a lasting relationship. People cannot maintain emotional connection with a partner without being emotionally connected with themselves. They will be disconnected from themselves if they are not taking responsibility for their own feelings, and they cannot fully take responsibility for their feelings without a spiritual connection with a higher part of themselves or a higher power. We all need to be able to tap into the infinite source of love in order to connect with ourselves and each other. Without this connection, we may feel empty and needy of getting love, rather than being able to share love.

• You each value kindness and caring. You are both compassionate and capable of empathy, and you both are accepting rather than judgmental.

When both partners value kindness and are capable of being empathetic, they can be there for each other -- feeling pain for the other's pain and joy for the other's joy. A healthy relationship is one of mutual giving and receiving, not of taking and caretaking -- which is a codependent relationship. Giving and receiving is very different from taking and caretaking. In a healthy relationship, you accept each other's differences and learn from them, rather than judge them.

• You have similar values about some important areas in life.

Similar values around areas such as politics, child-rearing, health and nutrition, abortion, religion or spirituality, and money are a big help in avoiding major conflicts around these important areas of life.

• You can laugh and have fun together, and you are both basically happy people.

Being able to laugh and play together is vital for a relationship, to maintain emotional connection. It is also helpful if there are things you enjoy doing together.

Happy people create happy relationships, and unhappy people create unhappy relationships. Become a happy person by learning to take responsibility for your own feelings, and you will likely attract a happy person into your life.

• You are both honest and trustworthy.

It takes time to find out if someone does what they say they will do, and tells the truth about themselves. Relationships do not thrive without this trust.

• You feel a deep emotional, spiritual and sexual connection with each other. You truly love who the other person is in their core.

Relationships are challenging, and without truly loving and feeling connected with who the other person is, beyond looks and infatuation, the relationship might not survive the challenges. Sexual passion that is there at the beginning likely won't survive if the deeper love and connection isn't there.

Before you can find the right partner, you need to become the right partner. If you focus on learning to embody the above characteristics, then you have a very good chance of attracting someone who also embodies them.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bondingᅡᆴ healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free!

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