Sometimes the less obvious things are most important.
I have a great friend who is a very successful businessman. One of the his most interesting pieces of advice is:
If you want to be successful in business, you should NOT pursue the glamorous things.
Instead, look at the things that people need on a regular basis. A lot of high-revenue businesses aren’t aesthetically pleasing or “sexy,” because they offer a necessity or more utilitarian product or service.
Construction companies, manufacturing plants for consumables, supplying people with daily necessities, rather than things they would gaze at longingly through a window on 5th Avenue.
I once heard that one of the most profitable businesses in the state of New Hampshire was the company that makes grocery bags.
It sounds silly at first, until you think about the millions (billions?) of grocery bags needed on a regular basis.
Necessity makes a business sustainable and profitable. The shiny object may keep [most] people happy for awhile, but it’s not something they can realistically purchase new all the time, and, at the end of the day…we can go without the luxuries if we need to.
Alright, what does this have to do with relationships?
When we chase after the pretty things, we often lose sight of the less exciting traits of a person that will actually make a relationship work.
The needs. The necessities. The nitty-gritty of daily life and what is going to sustain a partnership over time.
We often focus on honesty, trust, or mutual respect — but in this article I want to pay homage to the less sexy, but more essential qualities of a great romantic partner.
1: They are reliable.
Reliability, how boring. Reliability is the reason you buy a Toyota Corolla, not excitement (sorry, Toyota). It’s not glamorous or sexy or particularly interesting — but you know what? When you walk outside in the morning and turn the key you know that sucker is going to start up without hesitation no matter how much it has been through.
A great romantic partner is someone you can count on without having to worry about it. You know they are going to be there for you when you need them. You know they are going to stand behind you when you need support, beside you when you need a teammate, and in front of you when you need protection. You don’t have to wonder if they are going to do what they said they are going to do or if they are going to flake out on you last minute, because they are reliable.
I took a little jab at Toyota there but a friend of mine purchased a very expensive British car recently, and had a ton of reliability issues with it. Guess what he did?
Traded in for a car manufactured by Honda.
Take a wild guess of what the top priority for the next car was?
You guessed it — reliability, because no matter how fantastic other qualities are, they’re all useless if the thing itself doesn’t work, or isn’t there.
2: They are genuinely goodhearted.
How is this person with children? With pets? With their family? Intense chemistry in the throes of passion, the willingness to go on adventures, being passionate about you and about their life, these things are all important to take into consideration…but in the long run they are bonus features, they are not the foundation.
When you strip away all of the extras. Take away the hours in the gym, the designer clothes, the fancy car or the nice condo in the city…what you are left with is the core of the person you are committing yourself to.
Is this somebody you can actually see yourself waking up to in 5, 10, 20 years from now?
Are they kind? To you, and to others?
A beautiful face will someday become wrinkled, a great body will someday age, but a good heart will always remain a good heart.
3: They are patient.
Patience is an essential trait in someone we hope to build a strong relationship with. It takes patience to learn about each other and our personality differences. It takes patience to adjust, and to remain kind while they adjust. It takes patience to have productive discussions rather than arguments.
Life is a series of learning experiences, and we all move at different paces. We come from different backgrounds and different starting points. We have different opinions, worldviews, and expectations.
As we merge two lives together, we must practice patience as we grow as one.
And perhaps, someday, there will be a challenge you face together, or one you face alone while they are there to support you. Their level of patience will tell the story of how well they’ll be your safety net during these times, it plays a role in how you raise children together. It shows how they’ll handle aging family members, or conflict, or stress.
Patience is something that only we can feel — others may notice it, but if you do it right, nobody will actually know you are even being patient because you remain so calm and collected the entire time.
Take a deep breath, and allow life to unfold as it should.
4: They are compassionate.
When you truly love a person, you link your emotions to theirs. Their happiness becomes your happiness, and you lend them your strength to cope with their pain. “Me and you” becomes “us,” and laughter and tears are shared together.
Life will lead us in unexpected directions at times, both good and bad. Having the caring and support of our partner by our side makes things easier — but only if they are compassionate. If they are cold or seem to pull away from you during your times of need, it will increase the intensity of life’s challenges and put a strain on your relationship over time.
Compassion pulls people together while lack thereof pushes them apart. Lack of compassion can make someone feel even more alone in a relationship than if they were single.
5: They are thoughtful.
In relationships and in life, I believe many of us overlook the importance of thoughtfulness. Life moves quickly and we often get so wrapped up in our day-to-day routines that we lose sight of how important it is to work to make our significant other happy as well.
This includes learning one another’s likes and dislikes, supporting each other during difficult times, and encouraging each other during the good times.
It means paying attention to small details and doing special things accordingly that we know each other will like. Being thoughtful helps us live, connect, and love more deeply.
Attraction, excitement, adventure, and many other higher profile qualities are still of course important to the success of a relationship — but those things are not what are going to allow you to sleep soundly next to someone at night. They are not going to be the things that you crave when you are holding hands in your rocking chairs on the porch decades from now. They are not going to make someone a good parent, a good spouse, or a good teammate in life.
They may make someone fun to be around and keep us with them for awhile, but they are no guarantee of a goodhearted person or a healthy relationship. For that, we need to look deeper into someone’s heart for the things that truly matter in the long run. If the fun and attraction is what you desire, one need only consider that if a person is willing to put in thought and effort for you, this will extend to all areas of your relationship, as it is in their nature.
Satisfaction and fulfillment in a relationship can only come from forging a strong bond with another. When your hearts beat in unison at night and your thoughts transfer through a simple glance across the room. When you find that, you will understand these often overlooked qualities are the most important ones of all.
Joseph A. Cornacchia