Title: "How to Choose a Partner"
Author: Susan Quilliam
Publisher: Picador Press 2016
The author is a British “relationship psychologist,” who is most famous for co-authoring “The Joy of Sex,” with Alex Comfort. With this book, she covers another important topic.
Quilliam briefly sketches the history of marriage selection. She notes that, in the past, pragmatism was most important in making a choice. Pragmatic goals included producing an heir, adding wealth or gaining politically. But, in the 20th century, romantic feelings became the imperative, and partnership became linked to love.
The author says this result has created huge challenges, because expectations are so broad and cannot realistically be met. At the same time, in seeking a potential partner, there are two fears to face: fear of making the wrong choice and fear of rejection.
She advises that we engage in reflection and self-examination. Our, and a partner’s, expectations are tied to our respective life histories. Between ages 5 and 8 we pick up “love maps” of relationships. Someone may choose us because we remind them of another who made things good for them. But, there is a need for deeper compatibility.
Quilliam notes: “Partners steer their own course by their own love maps.”
There is no correlation between being “in love” and compatibility. She suggests listing and prioritizing the qualities you seek in a partner. The top five characteristics need to be the ones you can’t do without. Next, list five things you cannot live with, things that are deal breakers. It is necessary to say no to persons not right for you, or you will not find one who is.
Finding a partner through friends, family, church or work is a traditional approach, but is not always productive. Better options are generated by particular settings, such as college. But this evaporates after graduation. The author tells us that today 33 percent of couples meet through the internet, and, by 2040, the number may reach 70 percent. However, she is no fan of online dating, regarding it as unproven. She recommends interest groups, sports activities, etc. Choose someone with similar values and goals, but perhaps a different personality from yourself.
The author also recommends considering what three values make your life worthwhile? Which three achievements in life are you most proud of? What three personality traits do you most want praise? The answers will help define your compatibility needs.
The above questions can provide an important list of what is deeply important in your life. Also, you should ask if you feel the same sense of relaxation and comfort with the partner as you do with a good friend. Further, if a partner does not inspire you to respond to their emotional needs, they are the wrong choice.
The goal is to feel that you can love and be loved in return. Look for groups in which individuals have similar values, backgrounds and outlook as you. At the same time, she cautions: “The more established we are in our world, the less flexibility we have in allowing a partner into that world.”
Being the object of desire can be seductive. However, we may ignore huge signs of incompatibility. In the end, if there any reason for doubt, Quillian would recommend you “bail out.”