Finding a partner or spouse is not like finding the right person to help you survive a lonely summer — it means finding a person that you can see yourself growing old with and loving thirty, forty, or fifty or more years down the line. Choosing the person you want to marry or commit to forever is serious business, and it demands a lot of forethought, responsibility, and honesty. But once you’ve found that special person, all of your hard work will be worth it and you can get ready for a lifetime of happiness. If you want to know how to find the right partner or spouse, just follow these steps.
Method 1 Adjust Your Mindset
Love yourself. Seriously — loving yourself before you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is the easiest way to ensure that you’ll be committing yourself to that person for the right reasons. You don’t have to be 100% satisfied with yourself, but if you’re unhappy with who you are, you’re at risk of getting together with someone just because they make you feel better about yourself.
In a sense, yes, the person you marry should “complete you,” making you feel completely whole as a person — but you should already love who you are and feel blessed that the person you want to be with makes you feel even better!
You should be happy with who you are, what you do, and how you look — this will not only make it easier for you to attract people with your confidence, but it will make you look for an equally amazing person who will only make your life better, not the person who can fill in all of the gaps in your unsatisfactory life.
Be (reasonably) happy being alone. Let’s face it — being single when all of your friends are happily dating or married is no picnic. You may want love more than anything in the world, and it’s natural for you to feel lonely or sad if you can’t find it. But part of loving yourself is loving spending time solo, and finding ways to stay interested and excited about life without a significant other. This will make you feel even better when that special person comes along!
If you’re miserable by yourself, then you will be too easily swayed by the first person who comes along and gives you something to do. Don’t mistake companionship for love.
Get some experience. If you find your first love when you’re sixteen, then you are a rare and lucky breed. However, most people do not in fact marry their first, or second, or even their fourth partner. Dating more people lets you understand the endless ways that a relationship can work, and can make you see that there are so many forms and dynamics that a relationship can have.
Though you shouldn’t ditch the person you love just to play the field, if you think you’re just “pretty happy” with the person you’re with but have never dated anyone else, it’s better to see what’s out there than to settle.
Dating a lot of people helps you learn to compromise, and will make you even more sure that what you feel for your future spouse is truly special.
Getting some sexual experience never hurts anyone either. If you’ve had a few partners before you’ve met your special someone, you’ll be even more sure that the chemistry you share is truly special.
If you end up committing to the first person you’ve been with without being truly happy, you may spend the rest of your life wondering about what’s out there.
Don’t settle. Not settling is related to loving yourself, loving being alone, and having some experience. People settle all too often because they find someone who makes them feel less alone and loved, even if it’s not in the right way. Another reason people settle is because they’ve been with the same person for five years and realize they “might as well” get married because that’s what everyone else is doing or because they’ve been together for so long that it’s the only logical step.
You should only get married because that’s what you want, not because it’s what the other person wants, because it’s what your family wants, or because you’re too scared to say goodbye.
Method 2 Know What You Want
Consider the qualities you want in a spouse. Though you may never know exactly who is the perfect fit for you until you lock eyes with that person and your world stops, you can definitely think about the qualities that you are most looking for in your future spouse. These qualities may be so important to you that you would have a hard time even considering a person who doesn’t possess some of them. Here are some things to think about as you choose your future spouse:
Religion. If you’re Jewish and want to marry Jewish, “stick with your own kind” since not everyone who wants to marry a Jew will convert to Judaism.
Family values. Are you dying to have five kids, or do you refuse to have children under any circumstances? Though people may change their minds more than you think, this is something to consider as you look for someone who shares your ideas (though you shouldn’t talk about this right when you meet someone, obviously.)
Personality. Though you can’t predict someone’s personality in advance, there may be a few things that are a must for you. Do you have a killer sense of humor and absolutely need a person who shares your love for laughter? Are you naturally a bit nervous and need someone who is more laid-back to center you? Keep this in mind as you look for the perfect person for you.
Attitude toward relationships. Are you looking for someone who wants to spend every waking second with you, or do you want someone who really understands the meaning of “alone time”? This is more important than you think.
Social bearing. Do you want someone who is fun and has a ton of friends around, or a person who is more reserved with just a few close and loyal friends? If you’re a social butterfly and your special someone is more of a wallflower, you can bring out their social side — or it can be a problem.
Similar interests. Though the person you love probably shouldn’t share all of your interests, or maybe not even many of them, you should still have a few interests that you both can share so you can keep your relationship going. If you’re a novelist and your loved one refuses to read, or if you’re a fitness instructor and he has never seen a gym, you may run out of things to talk about. But maybe not! This one is fluid.
Consider the qualities you don’t want. The qualities you don’t want in a future spouse can be just as important and decisive as the qualities you are looking for. As you start looking for your soul mate, you can think about the things that are absolute deal breakers that will make it impossible for you to get hitched no matter what. Here are some things to consider:
Lack of attraction. Physical attraction can grow, but it is not overrated. Though you may not want to rip off your husband’s shirt fifty years — or hey, a few years — down the line, you should have a baseline of attraction that keeps things going. Even if the person fits the mold in all other aspects, sadly, you just can’t force yourself to be attracted to someone.
Lack of agreement on something that really matters to you. If you’re a die-hard tree-hugging liberal and he’s obsessed with Mitt Romney, then you may have a problem. But you never know — you can have fun disagreeing about some things. But if there’s something that defines who you are that your future spouse absolutely doesn’t understand, then you may have a problem.
Geographical incompatibility. You may have found the love of your life, but they may live in Hawaii. If you literally live a world apart and neither of you will move under any circumstances, it won’t work.
Get ready to compromise (on some things). Though making a list of all the things you want and don’t want can help you have a better sense of what will truly make you happy, the truth is that you won’t ever be able to find the person who satisfies all of your needs — and that’s OK. The right person for you will be the one that makes you the most happy, and that person may even fulfill some needs that you didn’t know you had.
Don’t turn a person down because they don’t meet all of your needs. This is unrealistic and being too picky won’t get you very far.
Don’t stay with a person if you know they don’t meet the needs that really matter to you. Though you should be flexible, don’t stay with a person if you know they won’t give you what you want in the end.
Find a balance between finding a person that really makes you happy without sacrificing the things that really matter to you.
Method 3 Look in the Right Places
Ask your friends. Many couples meet because of mutual friends. Though it may seem unlikely, you may end up married to your friend’s cousin or former roommate. You can be open to being set up by your friends, who will know your personality as well as the personality of the person they want to set you up with. Or you can just go to a gathering with one of your friends, who may have an idea of a certain single person there that would be perfect for you.
Don’t be shy — your friends know what makes you happy and can help you find that perfect person without being too obvious about it.
Find someone who shares your interests. Common interests can make a relationship thrive, so look out for any special people who share your interests, whether you lock eyes with a cute guy in your yoga class, notice someone cute reading your favorite book in a coffee shop, or if you really click with that student in your grad school class. The common interest can be a launching point for an exciting relationship.
The common interest will also give you an easy opening for a fun first date; if you’re both into something, you can just do that thing together and see where it goes.
Find someone at work — without breaking any rules. It’s a known fact that more people meet at work than they would admit. It makes sense: in a given day, you may spend more time with your coworkers than anyone else, and if you love what you do, then you and that person may have similar interests.
Though you shouldn’t actively pursue your coworkers because that could be breaking your company code, if you really feel an attraction to someone in your workplace, be open to the possibility that this person could end up being really special — as long as you follow company policy.
Find someone online. Online dating has become one of the easiest ways to meet your future spouse. Online dating sites help you narrow down your choices based on common interests and other important qualities, and people who join online dating sites tend to be more serious about committing for life. About 20% of current relationships started online, so don’t be shy about joining the trend.
Even if you’re squeamish about this option, just give it a chance. You can always end your membership if it doesn’t work out.
Be open wherever you go. It’s true: you really can meet your future spouse at a loud, smelly, bar. Though it’s less likely, the perfect person can come up to you at any time at all, so don’t put your blinders up at the wrong time. Though you shouldn’t be looking for your future spouse at a company meeting or at a funeral, you should be open to the possibility that love can strike at almost any time. If you’re receptive, then more people will be receptive to wanting to get to know you.
Method 4 Make Sure it Works
Make sure you’re compatible. Compatibility is incredibly important. That special person may pass every future-spouse test with flying colors, but when you’re together, you may find that there’s just a lack of…something. Maybe you just don’t really “get” each other; maybe you always end up bickering; maybe you just can’t talk without running out of things to say after a few minutes. If you’re not compatible, you’re not compatible, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
Sexual attraction is different than compatibility — it wears off. Compatibility means that your personalities really work well together, and that things just click for you more often than not.
Give it time. Though you may have been wanting to get married for twenty years, you shouldn’t start running down the aisle after two weeks with the person you think is Mr. Right. Even if you just have “that feeling,” it’s very risky to marry someone you’ve known for just a few months, or even just a year. Give the relationship enough time to know that your feelings aren’t just based on attraction, that you can get through some ups and downs together, and that you can really truly see a lifetime of happiness with that person.
You may think that you’re absolutely sure after just a few months, but this won’t give you enough time to test the relationship.
Make sure it’s mutual. You may be absolutely gaga for your special someone, but you need to have the sense that they’re feeling it too. Or — you need to make sure that they are not crazy about you, while you’re just feeling “pretty happy.” Both of you shouldn’t be crazy about each other and completely excited for the rest of your lives together to move on.
Make sure you can be yourself. Though marriage will naturally change two people as they become bonded more closely, make sure that the person you want to be with lets you truly be yourself instead of trying to be some ideal person. If your friends or family tell you you’re not being yourself around that person, it’s a bad sign. But you will know if you really can’t be who you are around that person, because you’ll feel yourself holding back.
Share the same long-term goals. You may love being with that person for a year or two, but you should make sure that you have the same vision of the future — whether it’s settling down in a nice house with two kids, or traveling the world and being nomads together. Though life is unpredictable and neither of you will be able to do exactly what you want, your visions of the future shouldn’t be wildly different or you’ll run into a lot of trouble.
Picture that person in your future. If you’ve really found your spouse, then you should be able to imagine being with that person for the rest of your life. That is probably a very long time, so make sure that you really mean that you want to see that person grow old, to have kids with that person (if that’s what you both want), to support each other’s careers or other pursuits, and to truly become life partners. “I do” means “I do want to be with you forever,” not “I do want to be with you for a while.”
If you really cannot imagine the rest of your life without that person, then congratulations — you have found the right partner or spouse. Now have an incredible journey!
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