How to choose the right relationship

Translation carried out by the project Newочем


Most people thinking about choosing a car are more serious than the choice of a life partner.


When I ask couples who come to me for advice, what attracted them to each other, of the hundreds of responses the most common physical attraction and some indicators of ease, like, “we talked for hours”, “comfortable with him” or “she was cute”. And while all of this is wonderful and makes it clear that they paid attention in the first place, it is clear that very few of these people have paid more attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the partner, and not his own, and how they fit together.


Many enter into a “lifetime contract”, which is then reinforced by the appearance of children; this happens without any careful thought to the moment when the couple is already on the verge of divorce comes to advice. At this point, they usually accuse each other in the presence of negative qualities, which in fact they knew all along but refused to admit it. (By the way, therapy is much more effective when the problems begin, not when you almost lost hope.)


But often, these negative qualities are variations of those traits they originally loved each other. One of the most common types of vapor — expressive, active person and quiet partner, who looks more relaxed. An active partner like restraint and poise quiet who likes the emotion of your energetic chosen. However, over time “active” may begin to resent the indifference and indifference “quiet”, and that, in turn, feels insulted by criticism and accusations of “active”. This is just one example of millions possible.


Not that the ease and convenience with a new person is always bad, but they can also indicate something about what many people do not argue, and this is the kind of unconscious memory associated with patterns of behaviour in early childhood

Often only some time after being in a relationship, we realize that we elect and our parents have some similar traits — and often difficult to endure. They are difficult to make precisely because these traits were problematic in our relationships with parents! In the period of courtship or the beginning of a new relationship we can attract that some features are familiar, we cannot fully appreciate and anticipate the negative aspects.


They say that people are looking for something similar, but they say that opposites attract. I think both statements are true, but usually in different planes. People are often drawn to those with similar interests but also have traits that complement their own. I mean something like I described above, for example, when one person is more expressive and the other more relaxed; one is more talkative and the other is a homebody; and so on.


I believe that the importance of common interests is exaggerated. Deficiencies usually begin to blame when relationships begin to crumble, but this is rarely a major problem. And still nice to have something in common — meaning that there is enough things to enjoy together.


More significant areas to consider are personality and values, and when it comes to character traits, the key issue becomes the ability of your partner to cope with stress.


During the honeymoon, or when everything is relatively carefree, you will have a real opportunity to evaluate this point, except that the first bells. But everyone has a coping mechanism, to whom he refers under stress, and this mechanism may be unsympathetic. Accusations, insults, neglect, denial, attempts to fix or instructions on what to do, gluttony or fasting — here are just a few examples. (Of course, there are more pleasant coping mechanisms that I describe in other articles, but you don’t need to worry!)


You should know what tools your potential partner, and see how patiently you treat them. It is also useful to know your own methods, and the way your partner treats them! The best way to find out such things is to observe yourself and partner under stress and see what are your typical character traits. That’s why it’s important after the beginning of the relationship to get more experience living together before making long-term commitments. It is in order to see each other in a more realistic light.

As very wisely noted by Dan Weil (the famous American psychotherapist with 40 years of experience in counselling couples — approx. Newочем), your partner, whomever you chose, there will always be a set of points on which you do not go crazy. Nobody is perfect (even though they might look like in the period of initial attraction, or side). The trick is to figure out what you are able to tolerate better. It’s hard for me to describe here all categories and subcategories, but I will talk about some of those, which occur most often among couples who come to me. As for the rest — think for yourself what problems you would be easier or harder to live in relationships.


One of the potentially fastest methods to obtain a preliminary picture of the coping mechanisms is to ask the partner about the stressful situations in childhood — particularly up to 12-13 years — and how he overcame them. For example, if quarrels parents had stress, did he try to intervene or tried to discreetly hide and avoid everything. “Intervener” is likely to be aggressive under stress, while avoiding likely to be passive or withdrawn.


Coping mechanisms developed at an early age, tend to persist throughout life, unless people apply significant effort to work on oneself to change it, but even in this case, it becomes more a matter of containment, not eradication


Some will respond that they have not really had any stress. Sometimes it’s really true. But sometimes it can be a sign of your denial a coping mechanism, because these people actually had some stress from which they fence off their consciousness to avoid feelings that may them to pounce. In addition, some stress — like indifference, or just a low level of emotional expression in General — can be subtle and indistinguishable by themselves.


So, it is important to remember the variability of the individual, but another extremely important object of attention when choosing a partner are of value. I wrote in more detail about the values in many of his articles (e.g. Cut to the Chase — “to the point”), but the clarification of their values on key issues will definitely justify itself. Make sure you agree in most of them, and that the existing differences are not quite opposite. The main topics are those that are constantly mentioned in the press, and those about which people argue, for example, money, sex, housework and extended family (e.g. brothers-in-law!). In each of these categories the person is leaning to one side, and best of all, if you and your partner will be on the same side.


For example, money is usually “spend” or “save”. Some are Thrifty and want to save for later, others do not want to think about tomorrow and live in the moment. With regard to the education of children, the most common conflict — freedom vs discipline. Sex are two planes: the intensity of the desire (which essentially means frequency), and recency against tedium (or spontaneity against zaplanirovanno).


There are several organizing principles that unite all categories, and they are even more blend in factors of character traits. I just mentioned one of them: novelty/stability. Some more are open for new experiences: seeking new sources of excitement, adventure and so on. Others put the main value of safety and caution, which is reflected in the desires of such things as routine, planning, organization and safety. This plane describes another common pairing of individuals, which in General may correspond to the combination of energetic and calm, which I mentioned at the beginning, or may take other forms. These forms can vary according to the context, but people in General tend to lean to one side or the other. A man whose character is more focused on the security, in most cases it will be more economical in the sphere of money, will prefer predictable sex, and perhaps more organized household.


With all these oppositions of values do not forget that neither of the two extremes is not good or bad, both are useful, and it is primarily a question of balance and harmony between the partners.


Another basic principle — unity/independence. Some people crave closeness (emotional and/or physical) and want to be with each other a lot of time, while others need more time to themselves, they appreciate the opportunity to make independent decisions. Again, people tend to find a couple that balances them in this spectrum, but the farther you are from each other, the more you have to work to cope with these opposites.


Perhaps one of the most significant planes is a phenomenon that John Gottman (Professor of psychology at the University of Washington, an internationally known psychologist, has won recognition works about the stability of marriage and probability of divorce — approx. Newочем) call meta-emotion, or what you feel about emotion. The main difference is, do you believe that emotions should pay attention and discuss them, or not. If one partner is a follower of the camp discussing emotions and the other not, the situation worsens. Don’t forget that those people who do not value emotions, are less likely to support the idea of joint consultations, if things take a sharp turn.


You can learn a lot by exploring and observing the cultures of your families, as it is from there that the majority of these values. People usually adopt the values of their native family (family, where you grew up), or rise up against them, and sometimes personal values are a mixture of accepted and rejected. And even some of the high-level values related to character traits, such as stability/novelty, can be a mix of purchased assets (education) and temperament (nature). Genetics and the atmosphere inside the home — all this has a certain impact and influence they can to a different extent. For example, genetic ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder — approx. Newочем) + adventurous parents = reckless, risky, and otherwise genetic shyness + adventurous parents = slightly risky.


In General, the most suitable for the relationship partners will come from healthy families where people may have disagreements, but they treat each other with respect and kindness. in addition, there is an open and clear affection for each other and there is no significant dependency or abuse (especially by parents). If these things are missing, the relationship may need more work or therapy. By the way, emotion and desire — strong things, but they rarely are the most important criteria for the second half and often only involve in trouble. They start because distract you from truly important things.


If you have already chosen a relationship where you are more differences on some of these planes, and the position is difficult, you have two options. You can grow as a person, develop skills to take your partner and work on the mixing of opposites, or to abandon all and find other relationships that would be more appropriate. Therapy can help with any of the options.