Let’s be honest, when a relationship comes to an end, it’s way too often that we find ourselves looking back at all the red flags that we overlooked in the name of “love.” By focusing on the qualities to look for in a man, we can become a magnet for those top qualities that can predict a healthy relationship.
What you aim at determines what you see.Jordan Peterson
Years pass, relationships end, and friendships fade, but a few key factors remain when pursuing a healthy relationship. So often, we look back on situations when relationships end and think, “how did I not see that earlier?” And I get it. We’ve all been in crappy relationships, made less than ideal judgment calls, and put trust in people who weren’t deserving. So rather than looking back on our relationships and thinking, “how did I not see that?” I’ve put together a list of things to actively look for so that you can be more aware of what healthy looks like when it presents itself.
- They are consistent
I listed this one first for a reason. Consistency is your “letter of recommendation.”
If someone has a reputation for being flighty, aggressive, mean, or unfaithful, do not ignore this, no matter how much we want to “give the benefit of the doubt.” Or if one day, she is happy and cheerful, and the next she’s depressed and angry, that’s cause for concern. Don’t ignore that.
What someone does consistently says more about who they are as a person than anything they do temporarily.
Unpredictability in a partner leads to fear and is a breeding ground for feelings of distrust and discomfort. Most of us crave safety, trust, ease, and comfort in our relationships, which cannot be achieved without consistency.
- They know how to communicate their needs assertively (rather than aggressively or passive-aggressively)
While the word “assertive” might have a negative sting, if you’ve been on the receiving end of either alternative, it’s evident that assertive is actually kind.
The ability to communicate assertively shows emotional maturity because it means that a person knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to advocate for himself in a way that isn’t blaming others. It means he isn’t projecting unmet needs on those around them, and it shows that he isn’t expecting you to be a mind reader.
- They are self-aware & understand their feelings.
In a society that places so much value on men being void of emotion, this trait is a blessing. When a man comes into your life and is self-aware and able to identify his frustrations and feelings and communicate those productively, you have found a gem. People who understand their feelings are better equipped to understand yours. It is too often that we want men to understand our feelings who have never explored their own, making it exponentially more difficult for them to have empathy for you.
A partner who is in touch with his feelings is a peaceful person. Find a partner who knows how to label more feelings than the basics like angry, sad, and mad.
- They are confident, stable, and secure with themselves.
Insecurity is never attractive and is a recipe for disaster in relationships, so do yourself a favor and seek out stable and secure people before shacking up with them. The repercussions of getting into a relationship with someone who hasn’t taken the necessary measures to gain confidence, stability, and security within themselves are that they will expect you to be the means by which they gain these qualities. When a partner puts that kind of expectation on the other person, the relationship is destined for disappointment, drama, and turmoil because it is unrealistic for anyone other than yourself to create these qualities.
- They understand how to listen well.
Actively listening to understand is different than just listening to a person. You want your partner to listen to you because that is how a connection grows. When listening to you, he is asking questions, leaning into uncomfortable feelings, and opening space for you to be vulnerable. By listening, he’s saying, “I got you. I see you. It’s ok to show me the real you.
- They take time to understand your needs (and their own).
Even the most sensitive, compassionate partner needs to make an effort to understand your needs because everyone is so drastically different. Understanding your needs is necessary for any relationship because what you need is most often going to be different than what I need, and assuming leads to confusion and frustration. The book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is a book I often recommend to couples struggling with this because it walks you through the steps necessary to identify your needs.
- They aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.
The ability to be vulnerable is necessary if you ever want to cultivate a connection. There is no way around this. So if you are in a relationship with someone who always plays it safe, never opens up, never puts his guard down, or dismisses his feelings, that’s an indication that you may feel alone down the road. When our barriers are set so high to protect ourselves from getting hurt, we create barriers to connection and love. Don’t forget this when searching for a partner.
- They take accountability for themselves.
Do you know what the opposite of accountability is? It’s blaming, victimizing, shaming, justifying, and judging. Lack of accountability is where many relationships go array. But, I’m telling you, being responsible for what you bring to the table creates a healthy environment for love and compassion to flourish. Without accountability, it is impossible to cultivate connection. Impossible. Because instead of taking ownership of ourselves and our emotions, we are too busy blaming others for introspection. I don’t think our society talks enough about the importance of accountability and what it looks like in “real life” because we perpetually want to blame others for our pain and suffering. That’s easier, of course, but it causes relationships to end in devastation in the long run.
- They are in pursuit of becoming a better person.
Never settling for complacency is a critical factor in achieving extraordinary relationships. Most things we want in life take effort, and extraordinary relationships are no exception. When we take an active interest in bettering ourselves, we strengthen our relationships. Behind every good relationship are two individuals who are always in pursuit of becoming their best. Seek people who strive to be better, and your relationships will be better.
- They are individuals first.
Even though it might seem like you want to be the center of his universe, you don’t. Trust me. It’s weird.
The second you start relying on someone else for your happiness is when you lose touch with your individuality and what makes you unique and special. It’s a hefty responsibility for a partner to take on the obligation to complete your life. This isn’t what healthy relationships look like.
Each of you must have a life separate from one another and take time to have hobbies and friends that are your own. It’s equally as important for you to be allowed and encouraged to pursue goals and ambitions that are your own.
In healthy relationships, partners don’t feel the need to be together all the time. Instead, your partner should encourage you to do things independently and see the value in self-reflection and discovery for personal growth. It is imperative to have a life outside your relationship if you want it to thrive.
- They are easygoing, and you enjoy their company. (We added an extra one)
Your relationship should be fun. You should enjoy the company of the person you’re with. Nobody wants to be around someone they feel intimidated by or insecure around. Instead, talking should come with ease, hobbies should be similar, and life should be easy. You should be able to be honest with one another and feel safe with your partner. And you’ve got to laugh together! When life gets difficult, having a partner that you enjoy being around can carry you through trying times.
I could list about 100 qualities contributing to a successful, healthy relationship. Still, the truth is that if you find a partner that possesses these ten qualities, odds are that they are a good human, your relationship will thrive, and you’re going to be okay. On the contrary, if some of these are lacking, that’s a good indication that your relationship may suffer down the road, and there’s nothing worse than looking back and wondering why you ignored the red flags.