What To Look For In A Relationship? The Ultimate List Of 15 Things

what to look for in a relationship

When you enter a relationship not knowing what your wants and needs are, or what to look for in a relationship, it’s like going to a specialty restaurant without knowing the basics of their cuisine. So if you’re going to an Italian trattoria (that’s restaurant) and you don’t know what linguini, fettucine, risotto and tiramisu are, you’ll be staring at the menu while being totally dazed, confused and not knowing what to order.

A healthy relationship differs from person to person, depending upon their needs, such as support, open and honest communication, personal space and other relationship aspects. In this article, Dr. Aman Bhonsle (Ph.D., PGDTA) who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy says, “Look for standard issues, such as integrity, patience, trust, socio-cultural background and respect.”

Going by that, a relationship that went smoothly in your teenage years may not necessarily flow as smoothly in your adult life and it could be due to various reasons. Your needs are different now, maybe your viewpoint on what you deserve from your partner has changed, or perhaps you are simply more aware and woke this time. Dr. Bhonsle shared a thought-provoking opinion which stuck with me. He said, “Eventually, each relationship is about addressing one other’s needs.” In other words, one of the more important values to look for in a relationship is how your partner caters to your needs and how you cater to theirs. 

15 Things To Look For In A Relationship

“Healthy relationship” is a broad term. What doesn’t look healthy to you could be healthy to other couples. For example, some people are firm believers of spontaneity. But would you throw yourself into a spur of the moment plan? For better or for worse, it is critical to assess all the things you look and hope for in a life partner. You need to know how to choose a life partner. Because, a commitment is strong as long as your love lasts. And you can’t love a person without knowing what they want and what they are expecting from you in this relationship.

If you are a man asking about what to look for in a relationship with a girl, here is the answer: Look for someone who will always be by your side. Not behind you, nor in front of you. No woman wants a man who expects her to take up all the kitchen duties after marriage. And likewise, no man wants a woman who wants to be the “man” in the relationship. It’s the era of equality. Difference of opinion in a relationship is inevitable and it’s fine, but discrimination and inequality is not. To give you a more in-depth and comprehensive gaze on what to look for in a relationship, here are 15 more things. Give it a read. I promise it’s quite interesting.

Related Reading: Effort In A Relationship: What It Means And 15 Ways To Show It

1. Trust

Being trustworthy is an essential quality in life itself, so when you’re in a relationship, its value only increases. Dr. Bhonsle says, “Figure out whether you are willing to trust them completely, and then win their trust. Put each other first. A very solid partner who is sure about you would never doubt your intentions.” 

Trust involves integrity and honesty. It goes way beyond your doubts of them cheating on you when the two of you are apart. It’s about feeling safe with them. It’s knowing they won’t do anything to hurt you intentionally. Be it a physical kind of ache or mental. You and your partner can try trust exercises to improve relationship. The act of giving and receiving trust is one among the list of qualities to look for in a man.

2. Acts of kindness

What do you look for in a partner if not contentment and comfort? After all, you live in a world that’s harsh and cruel. You don’t want to experience the same kind of meanness when you get back home after a hectic day. It will disrupt your mental peace and sanity if you are exposed to spiteful and mean-minded behavior even from your partner.

“Be there for each other like a rock. Build a trust that is so strong that no wind on earth can shake the roots of your relationship. Everybody deserves a partner who will treat them kindly. Random acts of kindness are what sustain the relationship,” says Dr. Bhonsle.

3. The way they treat others

They are not a good person if they treat you well but do not treat those beneath their social strata well. Do they talk rudely to waiters? That’s a big red flag. One of the examples of what to look for in a relationship is generosity and benevolence. “The opposite of all the standard issues is what you need to be running away from. Like disrespect, bullying, gaslighting and manipulation,” says Dr. Bhonsle.

These days men find it difficult to know what women want in modern relationship. If they use derogatory or abusive words, they don’t respect you and are not deserving of your respect. If they utilize cat-calling and patriarchal dominance, then this is definitely what NOT to look for in a guy for marriage. How you treat people reflects the kind of person you are.

4. Silence is comfortable

I want to share something I learnt in my former relationship. Good man, knew how to treat women and was insanely kind. In fact, I began to picture my future with him. Not one bad quality in him except that he couldn’t bear silence. Maybe it was deep rooted in him. And I was too young to have that desire to fix him. He would talk and he would force me to talk. Nothing in particular, he just hated silence. And your dear writer isn’t much of a talker. 

Having said that, it’s not a bad thing to be a prattler. By all means, I love to listen to all kinds of stories. But I guess he thought silence meant boredom, that it was killing “the spark and that’s where we cut ties off with one another. Later in life I learnt that quietness in a relationship is meant to bring you tranquility.

The stillness of being with your partner, not saying anything to each other but just being happy and peaceful in one another’s presence matters so much more than affirming the strength of a relationship based on how talkative you and your partner are.

Related Reading: Expectations In Relationships: The Right Way To Manage Them

5. The ability to compromise

The ability to compromise is a quality that makes the list when you’re wondering what to look for in a relationship. “Wherever two people in a relationship are headed, make sure that journey has pitstops for compromises. Figure out how you can stay on your toes for each other. Be in each other’s radars. When you love someone, always know how to address their needs even if it means you have to compromise on yours,” says Dr. Bhonsle.

Compromise doesn’t mean you are settling with the bare minimum or adjusting to the situation. Don’t believe your self-respect or ego will take a hit if you agree to compromise. It simply means you are in agreement to settle the situation at hand by coming to a mutual understanding. The ability to agree to disagree – this is one of the things to look for in a relationship partner.

values to look for in a relationship

6. Respect boundaries

If you’re asking the question what do you look for in a life partner, this is the answer. Someone who knows what personal space is. Among the list of qualities to look for in a man, make sure you are looking for one who knows where to draw the line. Drawing the line doesn’t mean you are cutting him off from a particular aspect of your life, it just means you are protecting your personal space and rationality. I am not just talking about physical boundaries here. I am talking about emotional boundaries in relationships. Boundaries will help you retain your identity and personal space. 

Sometimes when you are in a relationship, and by no intentional action of the other person, you start thinking like them or talking like them. It’s common. You spend so much time with them that their opinions might make a home inside you and you might feed the guests living inside that house. But that’s not you. You need to have your own opinions which are not influenced by anyone. Your thinking is yours. Nobody else has the right to change or manipulate your way of thinking. Hence it becomes very important to know where to set the boundaries.

7. Being supportive

Being supportive of your significant other is one of the things to look for in a relationship. Imagine being with someone who doesn’t support your dreams and ambitions. How disturbing is that! You love someone and they claim to love you back but they are hostile towards your success and accomplishments. 

Dr. Bhonsle says, “If they haven’t been supportive from the beginning, then those aren’t the values to look for in a relationship. But if some nuanced situations have led to an unsupportive nature in your partner, then communicate and assess the situation. At what end of the support spectrum is their behavior falling? Are they unemployed and can’t support you financially? Have they recently lost a close one and are not emotionally available to support you? Navigate why the support has retired, and what their support means to you.”

8. What to look for in a relationship? Accountability

Accountability and trust come from the same womb. Take them as siblings. Accountability isn’t just a character trait, it’s a skill one needs to learn and inculcate, and that’s why it should fall in your list of values to look for in a relationship.

There are so many signs of manipulation in a relationship. Look out for such signs. And if you confront them with this, and they take accountability of it, then it’s a good sign. Taking accountability means acknowledging and owning up to the hurt you’ve caused, be it intentionally or unintentionally. It basically means taking responsibility for your actions, words and behavior. All of these lead to a healthy foundation for trust and reliability. 

9. Capable to solve conflicts

Out of the blue, one day, my partner told me something that got me thinking. He said what he likes about me the most is how I don’t go to bed without putting an end to any argument or conflict. It shows that I want this relationship to be healthy. That I don’t want to wake up the next morning and prolong the fight.

If you love someone, you wouldn’t want to keep the fight going. You fight, you resolve, you go on loving each other. That’s the circle of love. And that’s one of the things to look for in a relationship.

Related Reading: Push Pull Relationship – 9 Ways To Overcome It

10. Being goofy together

“If you don’t know what to look for in a relationship, then start with playfulness and lightheartedness. Not every moment in life has to be serious and revolutionary. Some moments can be fun and playful. Where the two of you can share a good laugh, pull each other’s legs, go on an adventure together and other such little things in life,” says Dr. Bhonsle. 

Life gets difficult sometimes and being with the person you love, finding reasons to be silly and giggling with each other, always makes things better. It helps in stress management, boosts one’s ability to be creative and promotes mental peace. One of the examples of what to look for in a relationship is finding someone who can make you laugh.

11. Understand each other’s love language

One of the most important things I’ve learnt recently is this — just because a person isn’t loving you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Each one has a different way of expressing love. Your love language could differ from your partner’s. Connect with your partner on a deeper level and try to understand their way of showing love.

Allow me to pen a personal example. My way of showing love is words of affirmation. I will tell you how much I love you in poetry, prose and song lyrics. But that isn’t how my partner shows love. His way of loving is by making me laugh, by being helpful. He helps me out in whatever I do. Never lets me feel alone. Whether it’s household chores or going to get groceries, he is always there.

values to look for in a relationship
Understand each other’s love language

12. Curiosity

Curiosity won’t kill the cat in this instance. It’s good to be curious. Curiosity is one of the things to look for in a relationship. It is in fact a key trait of a healthy and long-term relationship. “Know what their values are. Be curious. Ask questions about their family, their long lost friends and childhood stories. Figure out whether they are equally willing to know about you and your interests,” says Dr. Bhonsle.

Being curious doesn’t mean prying or being nosey. It just means you are interested in their thoughts and life goals. It’s one of the essential building blocks of any intimate relationship. It’s a strong desire to get to know your partner’s thoughts and feelings.

13. Physical and emotional intimacy

There are two kinds of intimacy. Physical and emotional. Physical is where you both address each other’s sexual needs and fulfill them. Emotional is the act of trusting your partner so much that you can share all your weaknesses and vulnerabilities with them without fear of being judged. You can also ask questions to build emotional intimacy. These two qualities are what you need to look for in a relationship partner. 

If you share your darkest secrets and they fully accept you as you are, and don’t accuse you of being a bad person, then that’s what to look for in a relationship with a girl. Physical intimacy is not just sex, but also the gentle acts of complimenting one another, hugging, planting kisses on the forehead, cuddling and holding hands. These little acts of affection, warmth and endearment are what to look for in a guy for marriage.

Related Reading: Obsessive Love And Clingy Affairs – Early Signs And Dealing With It

14. Teamwork makes the dream work

Being a team player in a relationship is one of the crucial aspects when wondering what to look for in a relationship. Elements such as healthy communication, compromising without guilt-tripping your significant other, being helpful and putting in an to make the relationship work is what it means to have teamwork.

Never be selfish and focus on yourself. Always think for the two of you before making any decision. Share all the responsibilities, acknowledge each other’s strengths and use it to build a stronger foundation. They say teamwork is working together even when you are apart. 

15. They are consistent

One of the most honest values to look for in a relationship is consistency. Are they different from when you met them for the first time? Their consistency in being available for you or helping you out shouldn’t change if the relationship has come a long way. When your partner is consistent, it means they are dependable and reliable.

If you have had a fall out with your partner, then being consistent in your efforts to make amends will help you build that bond again. It’s not going to be easy, but consistency will pave the way. Be there for your partner, be romantic, flirt with each other even if your relationship is 20 years old. It doesn’t matter. The older the relationship, the more love there should be in it.

As Dr. Bhonsle puts it, “The things to look for in a relationship are the things you would look for in a shirt – comfort, quality and durability.” These are some of the examples of what to look for in a relationship. You can fight all you want, but as long as you resolve it, compromise, spend quality time with each other and are honest, your relationship will have depth and will be less stressful.

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