~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #179
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The desire to share our lives with a partner can be a different vision in each of our minds, but at the core of a strong, healthy, worthwhile relationship is something that is often dismissed as important, but not vital. Too often we are looking in the wrong place, seeking out the wrong traits and even presenting a false self in order to be chosen or to choose a person to potentially be our partner.
With the inspiration of Susan Quilliam’s book How to Choose a Partner, we dive into to part deux today (check out part une here) regarding how to choose a partner. Sometimes, at least for me, it feels as though there are a multitude of mixed messages of what should or should not be considered when choosing a partner. And as I shared with an acquaintance recently, I can honestly say, the individuals I have had the opportunity to get to know and consider as potential partners continue to be more impressive people, but at the same time, I am more and more aware of what I need and what I can be flexible about. Now the benefit of this reality is that the decision is easier, but the saying goodbye (or no to an intimate relationship, but perhaps still acquaintances) is difficult initially.
However, upon reading Quilliam’s book, she shares clearly how to live and welcome a partner into your life that will elevate both of your lives and leave no doubt (even when situations down the road aren’t perfect) that you are indeed with the right person.
1.The ideal everyday
Living simply luxuriously is ultimately about elevating the everyday and create the extraordinary. An extraordinary that a passerby without deeper insight may not observe, but we, the person living the life we’ve created savor with deep appreciation each and everyday.
While it is important to understand what your dealbreakers are and what you most desire in a partner, a simple check is to “imagine the rest of the day —not special, not peak experience, just normal, solid and satisfying”. Since I have a feeling many long-time readers/listeners of TSLL/podcast have constructed and curated everyday lives they love (find out how to do so here and here) already, imagine how a partnership exists within your ideal everdyday. Can you see that person (whomever it may be that you are involved with or considering dating) intertwining well with your ideal everyday? Would you interwine well into their ideal everyday?
And perhaps you are still cultivating your ideal everyday, which is most likely the case, even for me. I am always striving, adjusting, improving, learning, and yes, I would love to share my everydays with a partner. So a better question to ask is “could this person help us create the daily life that we want forever?” If you are shaking your yes, even if ever-so gradually, continue to get know the person you are thinking about at this very moment.
2. The truth about chemistry
“Perhaps the only thing that chemistry guarnatees is chemistry. If so, then maybe instead of demanding it as a prerequisite for a relationship, we ought to be seeing it as a distracting delusion.”
Sometimes you just wish you’d been given certain advice when you were young and had it tattooed on your palm to read again and again until you understood its truth. Such is the case with #3. Case in point to what I shared in the introduction, I have had dear friends tell me that “chemistry must be there . . . I don’t care what anyone else says.” And to be clear, we’re talking a physical attraction when we say chemistry. But after nearly twenty years of dating, I want to say for the record that I know this to be false. This is not to say I haven’t had good chemistry with individuals who I have been in healthy relationships, but it wasn’t always the case. And case in point on the flipside, I have walked away from individuals after one or two dates because I felt no chemistry who, upon reflection, were lovely people and possessed the crucial detail I will mention below.
The key with chemistry is that it isn’t bad, but it shouldn’t be the only thing, let alone the most important factor, when choosing a partner. Knowing what is going on within our bodies and why when chemistry occurs is important. However, it is important to note that research even finds it diffcult to “pin down what exactly chemistry is, let alone what causes it.” So for us, mere humans, to say without chemistry a partnership cannot occur, is a logical fallacy.
3. Knowing our comfort level
The debate about whether it is best to choose someone who is similar to us or to choose someone who meshes well with us or someone who is polar opposite will forever continue as each human being has a different level of comfort with similarities and differences. The key is to know your comfort level, know what you need and what you can be flexible with and be clear. In other words, knowing thyself is vital.
4. The truth about the differences between men and women
Culture has nurtured individuals within a society to ascribe with certain stereotypes regarding men and women, but the truth is, as biology has proven, “men and women are actually quite similar”. The skills each of us learn as we grow up can be attributed to nurture, and thus we can change, we can adapt, we can reflect on what works for us and what does not, and if we choose, step away from from hindering behaviors and thought defaults.
5. The most important must-have
“Emotional responsiveness— a partner’s ability to pay loving attention to our emotional needs, and our ability to pay attention to theirs. Note the reciprocity. As well as needing to choose a partner who values our feelings, we need to choose a partner who motivates us to value theirs.”
No matter how compatible on paper two individuals may be. No matter how electric the chemistry, Quilliam argues that a relationship without emotional responsiveness is not a relationship you want to be in. A few weeks ago I wrote about the truth regarding compatibility, and shared a list of components that are part of being emotional responsive. The underlying detail is that we have to want to be emotionally invested, we have to want to step forward and love in a way we may have never loved before and on the flipside, we need to see and feel our partner doing the same.
6. Discuss love languages with your partner
In Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages, he shares the primary five ways each of us may feel loved by someone else. Just as with any new language, it is something we have to learn about our partner. How do they feel loved? What actions, when I partake in them, communicate my deep affection for them, and which do not? I broke down these five langauges in episode #87 of the podcast, and I encourage you to take a look because as important as it is to know the love language of our partner, it is just as important to know our own love language. And to know how to communicate what we need to our partner.
7. Understand attachment tendencies
It is human nature to have any one of the four attachment tendencies throughout the duration of our days and lives and thus with our partner as our relationship is growing. Introduced by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth as they studied child development, time has also revealed we carry attachment tendencies with us into adulthood as well, and it makes sense. We are looking for connection, security, love.
What are the four attachment tendencies? Secure, Anxious, Avoidant, Attacking. Examine yourself and see where you fall primarily, and then examine when or if you fall into the other categories. Ask yourself, what occurs to make me feel anxious, avoidant or the need to attack? The ideal as you might have already guessed, is to feel secure and to find someone else who is also secure, which leads me to #8.
8. The ideal: Tranquility and Simplicity
Quilliam pointed out that we rarely see a “secure” attachment in the dramas or comedies we view on television, read in books or see on stage. Why? As critics would say, it would be boring. No drama. To me, that sounds perfect, and it truly is what we should aspire to in order to be a good partner and what to seek in a good partner.
The outcome of two individuals who are primarily secure individuals with regards to attachment (admittedly, life has its unexpected moments when we stagger and fall back into one of the other three), is a feeling of calm. And this is where some of us mistake our potential partner who makes us feel calm, as boring and not right. This would be a mistake, as Quilliam points out. Calm is secure and content. A turbulent, up and down relationship is not healthy or foundation building that will last. Seek out the calm and be the calm, and you will have a beautiful partnership.
9. The importance of self-love along with loving our partner
In points #8, #6, #3 and #1, a primary and thus necessary component is knowledge of oneself. And along with this self-knowledge is the knowledge of how to love ourselves. How to be kind and gentle with ourselves, how to eradicate the negative voice, to refuse to let others bring us down and respect the boundaries we need in our lives. As Quilliam shares the insight from relationship psychologist David Schnarch “We need to feel ‘at home’ in ourselves in order to have ‘a good place to invite a spouse to visit'”. In other words, finding the right partner begins with understanding and then loving ourselves because when we embody love for the life we live, we are then truly able to give it sincerely to others.
We may not know when we will meet the right partner or potential right partner, the good news is there are plenty opportunities to do so should we choose to live in accordance with our unique compass and temperament. Quilliam does go into great depth about how to meet potential partners that are best suited for us, and if this is interests you, I would encourage you to pick up her book.
Largely, why I enjoyed the book so much was that the truth is if we have the wrong map, we’ll never find what we’re looking for. And her book is a simple, direct road map that is full of common sense if you are looking for a partner that you want to enjoy your everydays with and build a life together in which both individuals are respected, loved and supported.
~View Part Une (one) of this series – Choosing a Partner here.
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~Mark your calendars Foodies & Francophiles! World renowned chef and top food blogger and cookbook author David Leibovitz is stopping by The Simple Sophisticate on Monday November 6th (episode #182) to talk about his new book: L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home. I am so excited I am pinching myself!!!
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