Brought to you by ‘The Longest Ride’, in theaters April 10.
When we’re younger and more naive, we want so much to believe that love conquers all odds and obstacles. We tend to believe this until we get our hearts seriously broken for the first time. But when it comes to making a long-term relationship last, love alone is simply not enough. To make a relationship work, you must reach a careful balance of love, positive treatment, and consistency.
To find the right balance in the right person, keep three words in mind: wants, needs, and dangers.
What you want…
Any happy long-term couple will tell you that love requires a platter of sacrifices. What should you sacrifice for love? The simple answer: some of what you want. I’ve listed a few examples of the most common sacrifices it’s worth making to find and sustain love.
I want: someone who makes a lot of money. While money is undoubtedly a terrific bonus, settling down with someone who makes only a modest income is worth the sacrifice if the two of you have a meaningful connection. Money makes life easier, but studies show that it doesn’t make couples happier.
I want: someone who’s in great physical shape. While you may not be most sexually attracted to someone who is overweight, that individual could make an amazing partner if he or she is smart, funny, compassionate, or all-around awesome. (Plus, as we age, don’t we all end up kind of overweight anyhow?) Bottom line: Being with someone who’s thin or thinnish is not something you need; it’s something you want.
I want: someone who’s exciting. Gather around, people: “Exciting” is totally overrated. If this is one of the feelings you struggle with – he or she isn’t exciting enough for me – you may have too narrow a definition of what is exciting. There’s someone for everyone, and remember that a quiet reference librarian is perfectly exciting for some. And this is as it should be. Don’t pass on someone because he or she is not exciting enough. You can never underestimate the value of having someone who is kind and consistent in your life.
Above all, you can get a clear sense of the things you may want but not necessarily need in a partner. It would be ideal to find all the characteristics of your dream man or woman in your real-life partner, but most people come to accept that they’ll never find someone who has everything they want.
What you need…
In contrast to what you want in a partner, there are some things that you need in a partner. The things you need are the things you should never compromise on. Check out the examples below.
I need: someone who is reliable with their time, word, and money. If you have your you-know-what together, trying to have a relationship with someone who is flaky or irresponsible in any major area of life is going to cause you endless frustration over time. You need someone who does what they say they’ll do, and who does it when they say they’ll do it!
I need: someone who wants the same kind of relationship I want. If you’re looking for something casual, you need to find someone who wants something casual; if you want a steady partner, you need someone who is looking for a steady partner. Trying to make it work when there is a crucial difference in this department will end, at best, in tears and, at worst, in knock-down, drag-out fights.
What you can never accept in a partner (or else you’ll put yourself in danger).
When it comes to what is worth sacrificing for love and what is never worth compromising for, there are a few factors that fall into their own category: the traits or behaviors that potentially put you in danger. Take a look at the danger-inducers below and you will quickly see that these issues must be non-negotiable deal breakers as you set off looking for a partner.
I will never accept: someone who has a violent temper, who is extremely controlling, or who is physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive. If you wonder if I’m wrong, try volunteering at your local domestic violence shelter where you’ll get all the confirmation you need.
I will never accept: someone who is active in their addiction, whether it is sex, shopping, substance, gambling, or anything else. As appealing as these individuals may be – and as much as you may pity them or have a rescuer complex — you need to walk away from anyone you start dating and find that they’re active in an addiction. Whether you end up physically hurt, dead or financially broke, beginning a relationship with an active addict is one of the most self-destructive and lethal behaviors a person can pursue.
You will take the pressure off of yourself and your relationships when you accept that finding someone who meets your needs – as opposed to all your wants – is good enough because you will never, ever have it all in just one person.
The most important lesson is that you keep a clear head about what you need in a partner (honesty, reliability, and commitment) and steer clear of the traits or behaviors in a partner that can put your life and happiness in danger (terrible tempers, abuse, and addictions).
In Nicholas Sparks’ latest romance ‘The Longest Ride,’ Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood) deal with these matters of the heart, as they figure out how much they are willing to sacrifice for love.
Have you confused your wants with what you really needed in a partner?