8 Non-Negotiable Things To Look For In A Relationship

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What do you look for in a partner?

Tall, dark, and handsome?

Maybe – but what about the real aspects of a relationship? You know, the things that go beyond physical attraction and ‘nice sense of humor, likes dogs, enjoys cooking’?

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of a relationship and explore the things that you should really be looking for; the bits that make good relationships great, and that help you forge lasting connections with loved ones.

1. Maintaining a level of independence.

Independence is such a key aspect of being in a healthy, functioning relationship.

It really is crucial in any relationship – you still need your own life, your own support system, your own thoughts and feelings.

Many of us feel so connected to someone (especially when we’re in the early ‘honeymoon’ phase) that we almost forget who we really are.

Stay independent and your relationship will benefit so much from it.

That means going off and doing your own thing, enjoying alone time, spending time with friends that aren’t part of your mutual friendship group, and not being scared to have time away from your partner.

This will lead to a healthy approach to the relationship and help you avoid any toxic codependency – which we’ll explain more now…

2. Forming balanced attachments and boundaries.

When we first start seeing someone, things can become very intense very quickly.

It’s worth taking a step back to consider what this means.

How are you both forming attachments to each other? Does it feel codependent or does it feel balanced and free from any kind of pressure?

When you’re considering what to look for in a relationship, you should focus on how healthy the connection between you both is.

Do you feel anxious if they don’t reply to a text straight away?

Are they pressuring you to commit after just a few dates?

It’s worth paying attention to this kind of thing when you first start seeing someone, as it often indicates how the relationship will unfold as you move forwards.

The ability to form and maintain healthy boundaries is also key, and you should feel comfortable saying no to things, and they should feel comfortable receiving that – and vice versa.

Some of the best moments in your relationship will be the times you spend apart, as backwards as they may sound right now.

Over time, you’ll come to realize just how important it is to spend time alone, to have healthy boundaries in place, and to feel comfortable enough with each other to form balanced, healthy attachments.

Always remember that you are two wholes coming together in union – you do not ‘complete’ one another.

3. Staying true to yourself.

We’ve all been there – you meet someone amazing and before you know it, your life has become all about them.

You’ve not been to your weekly yoga class for months, you’re bailing on friends to spend more time with your partner, and you might have gone against some of your principles or lifestyle choices to better fit in with them.

This is somewhat normal but it’s not very healthy, and it can quickly lead to a very intense relationship – and some resentment.

You might think you love that your life is so interlinked with theirs, but, at some point, you’ll start resenting the fact that you’re with them and their friends at the pub instead of your friends at your dance class.

If you’re looking for something meaningful in a relationship, look for the ability to stay true to yourself.

Find someone who you’re comfortable being with, as well as not being with. You should feel able to have a life outside your relationship – as should your partner.

4. Sharing the emotional load.

The ‘honeymoon’ phase with a new partner is amazing – but what happens when real life hits?

It’s great to be with someone who’s funny and exciting, but it’s important to look for someone who can support you and be there for you.

You’ll weather a lot as a couple, and you need to be with someone who can share that emotional load and be by your side.

You might have been with partners before who allow you to take on emotional burdens or stresses in your life without helping out or supporting you. This is a form of emotional neglect.

But you deserve someone who can stand with you, hold your hand, and conquer things with you – as a couple.

Whatever challenges you face as a couple should be tackled as a two – not you on your own.

We often take on more than we can handle because we worry our partner might not make the effort to help. Instead of giving them the chance to disappoint us, we go all-out on fixing things ourselves.

Your relationship should be about give and take, as well as about compromise and team-work.

You might take it in terms to deal with some heavy stuff in your partnership, which is great, provided you both pull your weight equally.

You might tackle things head-on as a couple and really come together to deal with hardships and tough times.

Either way, this needs to be something you can do with your partner, not for your partner!

5. Leaving room for growth.

When we spend a lot of time with someone we love, we can really start to see ourselves as an entity.

This is totally normal, and lovely, but you need to remember that you can still grow yourself.

Not everything you plan needs to be a plan for you as a couple – it can be a plan for you as an individual.

Being with a partner who encourages you to grow is amazing. It means that they are accepting of who you are, as well as who you want to be, and show that they support your personal progress.

It also shows that they’re not jealous or insecure in your relationship, and that they have enough faith in you to grow without outgrowing them.

Some partners get very territorial and worry that their partner’s progress will lead them away – this is really not the case!

Remember that the ability, and commitment, to bettering yourself is so attractive in a partner. Who doesn’t find ambition sexy, right?

Growing and developing shouldn’t be scary or worrying – it doesn’t mean you’re growing apart, it means you’re taking accountability and responsibility for yourself and you want to keep working on yourself.

It shows that you have high standards, which should really give your partner a boost! If your partner was happy to eat food out of the trash, you would worry that they could never really appreciate a fancy 7-course meal at a five-star restaurant.

Equally, if they’re happy to settle for ‘just okay’ in other aspects of your life, you’ll be left wondering if they’ll ever realize just how amazing you are.

If you’re wondering what to look for in a relationship, look for a partner who supports your personal growth and isn’t afraid of it.

6. Accepting (and celebrating!) your differences.

A lot of us, when asked, would say that we’d like someone who enjoys the same things as us. That makes a lot of sense, especially if we’re after someone to join us on our Sunday cycles or our wild Fridays out.

However, something great to look for in a relationship is the ability to accept each other’s differences.

Maybe they spend their weekends doing something different and can introduce you to a new hobby. Maybe they can open your mind to new opinions or whacky ideas that you’d never considered before.

This is a key strength in a relationship, and you should not only accept your differences, but celebrate them!

Your differences are what will help you become even closer, and are a key aspect of you both retaining your own personalities despite merging your lives together.

7. Staying open-minded.

Being open to new ideas and beliefs is important in any relationship, and it should be something that goes both ways.

As we mentioned above, it’s important to celebrate differences between you and your partner, but this goes beyond that.

It’s not just about enjoying having different interests, but both being open and adaptable – partly to each other’s ideas, but also to the challenges you may face together as a couple.

You might need to be open-minded about your partner choosing to study abroad for 6 months, or you might want them to be open to the idea of you starting your own business or quitting your job to freelance.

Things will happen while you’re together that neither of you could, or would, have planned for. Being open to these things and being willing to put the time and effort in to adapting to them is vital.

8. Mutual trust and respect.

There are certain expectations that people have for their relationships that are just unrealistic.

However, you should absolutely look for trust in a relationship – and that should be the bare minimum!

So many of us want constant entertainment from a funny partner who makes us laugh all the time, and who we have great, intense passion with.

We sometimes forget how important it is to feel safe and considered; respected and loved.

These are things to look for in a healthy relationship and are what will make something go from a fun fling to a long-term, caring partnership.

Look for someone who listens to you and makes you feel heard – and be ready to offer the same back.

You deserve to be with someone who trusts you and gives you the freedom to live your life without being questioned or accused – and you need to extend that same trust and respect to your partner.

So, if you were wondering what to look for in a relationship, you should have some great ideas now!

Beyond physical attraction and a similar taste in music, you need to consider the characteristics of the relationship you want – not just the person you want.

Remember your worth and keep your standards high. Nothing on this list is unusual or demanding; they’re simply real-life aspects of a relationship that delve into the realities of being with someone, and not just the romanticized idea of your dream partner.

Keep looking, stay positive, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve…

Still not sure what to look for in a relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.