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Looking for Love? How to Choose Smart!

Mar 14, 2008
I can't tell you how many times dismayed lovers have said to me: "I just couldn't help it! I fell in love and I just stayed too long. I knew s/he wasn't the one... we had so many problems! But I just couldn't help it!"

The frequency of that statement leads me to believe that when it comes to love, too many of us listen with our hearts rather than our heads. Think about it. We comparison shop and investigate schools for our children, the car offering the best value and gas mileage, and we squeeze the tomatoes for ripeness.

But when it comes to choosing a mate, too many of us repeatedly make the wrong choices by settling for any person that comes along and shows the slightest interest. Approach your next committed relationship with a clearer idea of who is right and who is just for right now by utilizing a few of these tips!

Hold Off On Commitment.
I recently received an advice request letter from a woman who had been "seeing" a man for 8 months. Their relationship was maintained largely via telephone, as they spoke on the phone a mere 2-3 times per month. He lived a few states away, and traveled to her region of the country every 4-6 weeks. Her question: "How should I approach him about a commitment?"

Thinking about a commitment in this situation made absolutely no sense. Dating seriously and seeing each other at least twice a week for 6-9 months might work. But if you argue and fight all the time, WATCH OUT! Breakup to makeup could be establishing a pattern that is likely to continue once you are serious or married.

Alternatively, if you DO have a serious committed relationship but have postponed taking it to the next level for years, you need to closely examine your motives for stalling. Are you hanging onto your independence due to fear?

Look For The Similarities.
Numerous surveys demonstrate that people have a tendency to marry those who are like them. Yes, some "opposites attract" marriages do work, but living together under the same roof without a lot of upset is much easier for couples that have similar interests, values and attitudes. Couples that are closer in age tend to do better as well.

Sexual and Emotional Compatibility Counts.
Sex is a pleasurable experience, which helps a couple to openly share feelings and emotions in the most intimate way. However, if your feelings about sex are very different from your partner's, sex will not be the binding glue that should be, and these differences may cause frustration and resentment.

Sexual compatibility is not just a matter of technique, because that is something that the two of you can learn as you grow together. Instead, you and your partner need to be truly attracted to one another and demonstrate this attraction with touches, caresses, kisses and creative lovemaking.

An emotionally cold person usually finds it hard to give or accept physical affection. These people are risky prospects for a deep, rich and fulfilling relationship.

Emotional Maturity Counts Even More!
Some personality traits or behaviors are just plain bad news for long-term relationships. My Dad told me to watch how a man reacts when he is angry; that observation would tell me a lot about how he handles frustration and disappointment.

Does your guy handle anger reasonably and appropriately, or does he take it out on you? Does she accept responsibility for negative outcomes, or does she usually blame someone else? Domineering, aggressive or critically sarcastic people are destructive to a loving union.

Immaturity and low self-esteem also spell trouble. Emotionally immaturity is usually demonstrated in jealous behavior, a noted lack of trust, and a need for constant reassurance. An overly dependent whiner makes a mature relationship impossible to achieve.

Flexibility And Willingness To Compromise.
Compromise is not one of my favorite words, but compromise, along with a willingness to change are two of the most important attributes to look for in a partner. Nothing stays the same.

A mate that finds it difficult or impossible to compromise will be challenged by the adjustments and negotiations required to maintain a successful long-term partnership. If you have doubts about the relationship, don't fool yourself into ignoring your uncertainties and believing that your partner will magically change "later after we're married."

If you find yourself hoping that he or she will be less moody, less extravagant, less angry, less violently jealous, more affectionate, more attentive, more sexual - you are running a considerable risk by ignoring these feelings. If the potential for change and a willingness to freely adjust to change is important to you, look for a flexible partner BEFORE you commit yourself to the relationship, not after.

The primary ingredient for lasting success in a relationship is this one thing: your absolute certainty that this is the right person, and your unwavering determination to make it work. If you have reservations, doubts or concerns, they'll prevent you from giving your relationship the 100% commitment it needs to survive and thrive.
About the Author
Deborrah has authored dozens of relationship articles and writes a weekly advice column using the pen name "Ms. HeartBeat." Her work appears on the website Ask HeartBeat!, which focuses on modern relationships of both teens and adults. Her dating guide Sucka Free Love! provides witty, street-smart and hilarious insight into the toughest issues facing singles today. Order your copy today!
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