Based on how dating websites/apps are driven or the mental wish list and criteria many of us have, you’d be forgiven for having personality traits, interests, hobbies, profession, height, how much they earn, their level of education, which religion or beliefs they claim, and more, on your list of musts for a romantic partner.

Billions of us, myself included, have made our minds up in advance about what’s attractive to us. Our criteria include what we, on some level, believe makes a person more likely to be or not be certain things we value or fear. We think we can just list off info about ourselves on a profile or to someone and, shazam, job done. Instead, we struggle to make these relationships work despite our attraction and how someone might tick our or society’s boxes. It baffles us that we’re grappling with emotional unavailability, commitment resistance, or struggling to be on the same page.

You might wonder, ‘Well, what do I need to look for in someone if I want a loving relationship? How do I know if somebody has the potential to be a loving partner?’

In truth, what makes a loving partner, you know, one with whom you can create, forge and sustain a mutually fulfilling relationship with love, care, trust and respect, is that they have commitment to self, are emotionally available, they practise ownership (responsibility, integrity and maturity), and they have a positive outlook. These are the four qualities of a loving partner.

No one can say they’re these things, indicate it with one factor, or present an image of it. If they attempt to, that’s intensity, not intimacy. They can only show it, which takes time, experience and vulnerability.

Yes, romantic relationships need attraction, but the people you’re drawn to might be a pattern. There is such a thing, also, as destabilising chemistry and straight-up lack of discernment. If you want to be in a mutually fulfilling loving relationship, instead of flailing around in unfulfillment, emotional unavailability and shady malarkey, you must be and seek the four qualities of a loving partner.

For more on authentic, loving relationships, check out my book Love, Care, Trust and Respect.

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