Relationship column: How to choose a good companion
January 11, 2014
Editor's note: This is the second column in a two-part series. Visit http://www.vaildaily.com to read the first installment.
The following is a continuation of how to choose a mate in the second half of life — and how to decide whom not to choose:
How emotionally open is your romantic partner? Relationships require us to open up and actually reveal ourselves. We can't remain emotionally hidden or private, and we can't keep things on a superficial basis if we want a deeper relationship to develop. So how cautious, held back or reserved is s/he? (You don't want someone to be playing it too emotionally safe, because falling in love requires that you take emotional risks.)
How pessimistic, cynical or jaded is he or she?
Is your potential romantic partner jealous or very possessive of your time? Is s/he quick to accuse you of wrong doing? Is s/he controlling or manipulative? Does s/he want to control the money, who you are with, what you do, what you say or what you feel?
How insecure is your partner? Is s/he defensive? Does s/he have a hard time owning up to a mistake or accepting accountability for wrong-doing or poor decisions? Does s/he get argumentative or belligerent when confronted?
How compassionate and empathetic is your partner?
When tension starts to build between the two of you, is your partner able to talk about what is troubling him/her and identify what she or he needs?
Generally, how comfortable and satisfied are you with the way anger is expressed in the relationship, or with how disagreements are handled? How effectively does s/he work through disagreements and conflicts without destroying love, trust and good will?
What activities, behaviors, stress reducers or substances is s/he addicted to? (You might as well know now what you're going to be dealing with later on.)
What priority does your partner put on your relationship? Is s/he available to you emotionally, physically and time-wise?
Have you been with the other person when s/he was sick, in a bad mood, depressed, discouraged, hurt, anxious and angry? Don't kid yourself, all of those will eventually happen.
How responsive is he/she to what you say is important to you?
How well does your partner blend with you? Your lifestyle, your family and friends, the realities of your career and income, your children/grandchildren and your dreams?
Are you good playmates? Do you have fun together?
How important is neatness, cleanliness, appearance and personal hygiene to you? Does your partner meet these standards?
What assists you in feeling close, connected, loved, valued and cared for within the relationship? How does your romantic partner do in these areas?
How well does your partner communicate? How well does s/he express feelings and handle other people's feelings?
What dreams or goals are the two of you shooting for together? Is there an agreement about what your priorities are for life?
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 21st year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: http://www.heartrelationships.com. He is not able to respond individually to queries.