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The 11 Most Desirable Qualities of Successful Partners

The attitudes and behaviors of people who succeed in long-term relationships.

RANDI GUNTHER Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Counselor

Throughout my long career as a psychologist and marriage counselor, I have carefully observed the attitudes and behaviors of people who consistently succeed in their long-term intimate relationships.

Some of those qualities are evident in a new relationship but are often much less important in the long run. Here are some gender-free, common examples:

  • “I need to feel that chemistry between him and me.”

  • “I’m only interested in a woman who can pay her own way.”

  • “I can’t handle men who are insecure or too needy.”

  • “I like women who are confident.”

  • “He has to tell me the truth about who he is and what he’s done.”

  • “She needs to feel the same way about things that are important to me.”

  • “He needs to treat me like I’m really special and important.”

  • “She has to know how to communicate.”

Though these are all important requirements most people look for in new relationships, they are, in reality, driven by the personal qualities that lie beneath them, and those characteristics are not always sustainable over time.

But there are some personal qualities that are guaranteed to sustain and deepen love and commitment over time that are often not as evident early in new relationships. They show up over time and are driven by the core beliefs and personal philosophies of those who are determined to live a meaningful life in whatever endeavors they participate in.

These are the 11 qualities that fall into that category.

1. Humility

A very wise person once said that the roots of humility and humiliation are the same: being on your knees. If you get pushed into that position, you will feel humiliated. It is so much easier to simply stay humble, deeply grateful for the capacity to be in awe and wonderment of the experiences that keep us worshipping the blessings of life.

2. Fairness

Agreements and the rules that define them are mutually chosen by both individuals in an intimate partnership. Fairness is the commitment to either live by those sacred alliances or to opt for renegotiation if they no longer support the relationship’s ideals and principles. When there is mutual fairness, score-keeping does not exist.

3. Translucence

Honesty, authenticity, and transparency are the bedrock of trust. They predict whether your partners will be who they say they are. Gaslighting and ghosting do not exist in these relationships. The people in these partnerships make mutual decisions based on reality rather than assumptions made in confusion and conflict.

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4. Courage

It is often scary to take the risks needed to challenge oneself and others in a long-term relationship when the consequences might be hard to bear. Yet, thoughts, beliefs, and actions withheld to maintain a questionable harmony often backfire when those pent-up behaviors erupt. When a couple helps one another stay current and real, they can better face the truth of what is.

5. Interested and Interesting

Long-term relationships too often fall prey to the same-old predictable interactions. Though it is often comforting and more secure to know what your partner might or might not do, it is never as compelling as new thoughts and personal transformations. Couples who balance commitment to their relationship with continuing personal transformation are the most likely to keep each other engaged.

6. Resilience

There will always be challenges in every relationship, both from within and from without, and some couples have more than their share of losses. Yet, staying broken and buried by those legitimate heartbreaks is likely to steal time and energy from recuperation. Though some people are just born with more capacity to rebound, resilience can also be learned. The past is for lessons, not for rehashing or reasons to helplessly go down again in defeat. The present is for debriefing what went on, what was learned, and what can be done differently in the future.

7. Accountability

No relationship can survive an unequal responsibility for the things that go wrong. Nor can it tolerate promises for change that never materialize. Accountability can only serve its purpose if behavior change follows the recognition of contribution. Some behaviors are much harder to change and attachments that can get in the way, but being aware, open, and honest about one’s own foibles goes a long way when repairing is necessary.

8. Humor

Seeing the lightness in things when they get too heavy. Relieving tension in self and others. Laughing at yourself. Making others feel better. Shaking off your own sadness. These are crucial reasons for humor being a wonderful quality that often helps a situation heal. But it is also true that humor can also be used as a weapon of wounding. When humor is used as sarcasm, mocking, or teasing, or an attempt to get out of accountability, it is not a healthy relationship behavior.

9. Nurturing

We are always all the ages we’ve ever been, and there are times when the child in us desperately needs a safe haven to feel, to cry, to complain, and even to rant powerlessly. The nurturing that is necessary for any intimate relationship to thrive is the easy comfort of a pseudo-parent-child interaction without judgment. Being able to crawl into the haven of loving arms not only can heal the moment but also heal the trauma that may have driven it.

10. Chivalry

Almost all relationships are, for the most part, transactional. We strive to keep our commitments but, of course, reasonably expect reciprocity when we need it in return. But the fairness that drives those agreements sometimes must be upended by an unexpected crisis that requires giving beyond the fairness that is normally present. Chivalry is an act of selflessness that comes from a different part of the self. It is a non-conflicted act of giving without any expectation of getting.

11. Comfort With Self

Those fortunate souls who know who they are, what they can give, what they need in return, and who live life synonymous with what they expect of others are people who have suffered their losses and reveled in their joys. They have found ways to integrate the totality of their life experiences in a composite of quiet confidence. They are comfortable with believing what they currently know and are still open to changing their perspective as new experiences enter their lives.

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