Have you ever tried to make yourself likeable and to impress your date with your accomplishments? I have. Certainly, in an imperceptible way, but still, my goal was to make the guy like me. Normal, some might say. Pathetic, some might think. But a reality nonetheless. An exhausting reality, if I may add.
With time, it has become much more apparent to me the importance of spending my time and energy in connecting with the other and trying to know him better, rather than to impress. I don’t think about how much he likes me anymore, but rather about how much I like him and to which degree our values overlap. I go into love with a different intentionality and I value relationship competences more than ever.
Looking back at myself and what I’ve learned from my past relationships, I have been re-evaluating what is essential to me in a partner and, nowadays, I value someone who knows and understands:
- That we are both going to be learning from one another and, for that, we need to stay curious and with a constant student mindset.
- That empathy, kindness, consistency and reliability are things that will sustain the relationship on long term.
- That any change should come naturally, from an internal desire.
- That we might sometimes be emotionally disconnected and that’s alright.
- That we should use that awfully unwieldy thing called language in order to communicate our needs or discontentment. Otherwise, misunderstandings and frustrations can (and most probably will) arise.
- That we are going to argue at some point, but how we do it is important, as a true partnership is based on two people who are humble enough to own their mistakes and to accept that there are areas that they need to improve.
- That we shouldn’t expect our partner to make us happy or fix our issues.
- That basing our love and actions on feelings can be risky and limiting. Feelings can change. Mature love is a choice that you make every single day.
- That attraction is necessary, but what’s truly important is to listen. Someone who listens will know what your needs are and what brings you joy.
- That we shouldn’t take each other for granted. That we don’t own anyone and anything and, as someone once said, at best we can have someone “on rent with the option to renew”. And this should come with a deep sense of appreciation toward the other.
- That love does not conquer all. That, if we want a solid relationship, we both need to be ready to invest in it. It takes work. It takes commitment. It takes the willingness to show up. That’s a true team mate.
And even though there is a general assumption that compatibility is a requirement for love, I prefer Alain de Botton’s take on the topic: “Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition”. In other words, if your relationship works out, it probably has less to do with having found a better person and more to do with having become a better self.