Is finding a partner who is fun and easy-going and great in bed who like also has goals and shit in life just like SUPER FUCKING LUCKY?
Finding an ideal partner (or partners) requires a great deal of self-knowledge and a very special set of life skills. You can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills by being well-raised in a healthy family system (that would count as being super fucking lucky), or you can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills after years of trial and error, conscious effort, and personal growth.
Let me be clear: Without the necessary self-knowledge and life skills, you will always be limited in your ability to find the healthiest possible relationships. There is no such thing as winning the life partner lottery. That’s not a thing. You will inevitably wind up in relationships with people at your own level of function (or, more often, dysfunction).
It’s a sad truth that most people limp through their entire lives in functionally indistinguishable relationships built around whatever stale belief systems and immature behavior patterns they established in their teens and early twenties.
If you want to do better, you have to put in serious fucking work.
10 thoughts on “On finding an ideal partner”
So grateful for this wisdom today.
What are actionable examples of putting in the work?
Reading up on attachment styles was a good start for me.
Attachment theory is FASCINATING and also super helpful.
A good start is to look at your past relationships (friendships included) and find the patterns. It’s important to look at the ones where you were unhappy AND the ones that were really good. Then ask yourself what decisions *you* made (consciously or unconsciously) that led to those relationships building in healthy ways, deteriorating until both of you were miserable, or just fading away into nothing.
Do you “always” go for a particular trait that ends up driving you crazy, or worse? Did you choose to stay when you should have left (or vice-versa)? How have your past relationships started/ended? Can you remember when you started feeling like it was over? What was that turning point?
And, of course, you have to look at your family of origin. How did/do your parents or caregivers relate to each other and to you? How about your siblings or close cousins? Do you see reflections of those patterns in your own relationships?
This is a very short list but I’ve found these topics helpful in understanding my two other long-term relationships (one was a ten year marriage), and continuing to grow and re-pattern my relating styles within my current romantic relationship. I also spent several years alone after my divorce, examining these things (I had a couple of FWB, but was very open and honest about my unavailability for girlfriend-type things).
As an example, I learned some pretty unhealthy ways of getting the attention and affection I needed growing up and as a young adult, and it’s taken a LOT of conscious attention and humility to catch myself in those patterns, recognize I can just ask for what I want or need, and then be okay if my partners or friends choose to do something different. It helps a lot that my current partner is heavily invested in doing his own work too.
Check out the Gottman Institute too. Their stuff is pretty cisgender-heteronormative-monogamy-based, but I especially found their conflict strategies helpful.
Can you recommend any books or resources that were helpful to you in developing these skills?
These are light reads, but The Four Agreements and The Mastery of Love were great places for me to start.
I found “The 5 Love Languages” to be helpful, and read it with my wife early in the relationship.
My partner and I are both what the OP described, but we weren’t at first. You have to work your fucking ass off. Therapy, self-help shit, owning when you’re wrong. Taking responsibility for your own happiness. If you say “He doesn’t work hard enough” turn it around to yourself: “I don’t work hard enough.” Stop expecting them to do what you can’t even do yourself. Also, both people have to be committed to growth. If you’re in a thing with someone who’s not into self growth, then tell them to call you if they ever start giving a shit and maybe you’ll still be single. And if you’re currently single, get to work on self growth – you’ll have to eventually. Oh, and you can do it!!! We’re on year 8 and every day is fucking ball.