General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What are the most important characteristics to consider when choosing a significant other?

Asked by nikipedia (27497points) July 11th, 2009

And do the characteristics change if you’re looking for something long term vs. something permanent?

I think what I’m really curious about is: from the perspective of people who have had an awful lot of experience with life, was there anything you wish you’d considered about the people you chose to be with that you didn’t think of at the time?

Is it most important to have someone who’s clever, who’s kind, who’s thoughtful, who’s attractive, who’s devoted, with whom you have an immediate connection, with whom you have a growing connection, something else?

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56 Answers

Darwin's avatar

Kind and thoughtful are important, and a sense of humor is a very good thing, especially if you are considering having babies or being together for fifty years. An immediate connection is what tells you this is a candidate for permanency, but your connection should continue to grow throughout your lives together.

While physical attractiveness is nice, remember that it never lasts. Eventually, everyone gets gray and wrinkled, with saggy bits. However, if you find the other person’s typical response to life to be attractive, then that indicates a keeper.

Loyalty is also important.

casheroo's avatar

I think, looking at my past…to me those relationships were so insignificant. I had no clue what to really look for in a man, for the man I would want to spend the rest of my life with. I think when I was younger it was more an instant attraction and physical.
My relationship with my husband, when we met and started wasn’t the healthiest, but I think what is most important is how a relationship grows. Will it make it? Or will it burnout?
I think if I were to have to start all over, god forbid, I think the most important aspects I would want in a man are trustworthiness, loyalty, honesty, someone who loves me and accepts me for all my faults and quirks. Immediate connection means nothing in the long term….an instant connection doesn’t help you when your relationship is going through the hard times.
Also, I like men who share similar interests…I know people like it when they’re complete opposites, but I prefer having a lot in common with my partner, so we go on trips that we both love, or see movies we both enjoy. Like, my husband and I have pretty much the exact same taste in movies and music (give or take a little) it makes life so much easier and more enjoyable in my opinion. I also like hardworking men, and family men. I don’t think I could ever be with someone that didn’t want or already have children.

Facade's avatar

The most important thing is making sure you’re both on the same page about the major issues:

After that, being involved with a person who truly has a good heart and having similar interests

If all of that is in line, I don’t think you can go wrong.

edit How could I forget physical attraction?! That’s up there with the major issues :)

casheroo's avatar

@Facade can you elaborate on what you mean by money?

cyn's avatar

Respect, loving, intelligence, of course physical attraction, sense of humor….

Facade's avatar

@casheroo Either/all of these:
Both agreeing that money is of little importance
Both agreeing that money is very important
Both agreeing on whether one of them or both will work
Both agreeing on how they will handle bills
Both agreeing on whether a pre-nup will be involved
(stuff like that)

whitenoise's avatar

As above… children, ethics, religion, general attitude towards other people.

More important though: know yourself and make sure that your potential partner will nourish you as you are. Do not set of with someone thinking that you’ll change him or her into someone you like or that you suspect is out to change you. Also realize that most if not all relationships will run into stressful times anyway, so you are likely best of to not invest in relationships that start of with trouble.

The best indicator for future sustainability of any relationship is respect. So choose one you feel you can continue to respect and will continue to respect you as well.

tinyfaery's avatar

I married for love, plain and simple. With that love came a best friend, someone I always want to be with, someone I can talk to, someone who thinks I’m the cat’s meow even when I feel like the hairball that got thrown up.

Even through the harder times, it’s my love for her that has kept us going. No matter what occurs, the love between us will never disappear.

But I do not recommend this for everyone.

eponymoushipster's avatar

honesty, loyalty, sense of humor.

Jude's avatar

Honesty, stability (emotional) would be nice, independent, sense of humor and there just has to be “that something” there.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

At different points in my life, I was content with different things in a partner…when I met my first husband, I was quite young, quite inexperienced…I saw in him what I didn’t have in myself – more knowledge…later on when I gained the knowledge he had and more through my own education and life experience and he remained woefully stagnant, I left him…but certainly learned what I don’t want…and what I didn’t want is someone who didn’t constantly want to learn, who wasn’t passionate and who HAD to be exclusive…in my next relationships, I looked for intelligence above all else, I looked for complexity, for depth and for yearning…my current husband embodies all that and more…he’s shown me that I needed much more than I thought I did…I have given up on so many aspects, in many ways, started to depend on myself and no one else…he taught me that it’s okay to depend on him, to let him steer our life as well…to me trust is very important, as well and we had a bump when it came to that not long ago but I forgave and we’re moving on…I helped him with an issue I wasn’t expecting but that’s what I’m learning, there are things in relationships sometimes that you don’t expect, even after you get married and it’s a growth process you go through together…there is also an indescribable connection that we have, as if our souls know each other, we are part of each other…humor, too, is very important as is a tremendous sex life…someone that always wants to be better, read more..someone that inspires me continuously is what I want…I know that’s a tall order but so far my partner has done all that I wanted…all that I wished for in a partner

Dog's avatar

My spouse is my soul mate. We have trust and passion and even though it is a lot of work to keep a marriage going we keep at it. I think a huge sign is being able to talk to your spouse about anything. Complete open communication and mutual respect.

jamielynn2328's avatar

Kindness and Optimism is the most important thing to me as I move forward in this life. My husband and I have so many problems, but my biggest issue is that he is not kind in nature. And he always thinks of the worst first. He was sweet and thoughtful when I met him, but in the 10 years I have know him, he has become jaded. I don’t know why, I love to grow old, I love the wisdom I feel with each passing year. I love to learn and grow. But for some reason, he has just grown the opposite way.

augustlan's avatar

Find someone you love with all your heart… exactly as he is. Make sure he feels the same about you. That way, neither of you expects more than the other is happy to give. This has worked beautifully in my second marriage (so far).

Jack79's avatar

I think there was a joke about it once, but I have said it in all seriousness and I’ll say it again: tits. No, really. I’ve had some 20-odd girlfriends in the last 2 decades of my life, plus a wife. Smart ones, stupid ones, tall and short, young and old, rich and poor, of all sorts of nationalities, backgrounds and traits. The one I got along most was the one with the biggest boobs. She was also the one that lasted the longest and treated me nicer than all the others, and we’re still friends after all these years.

So that’s what I look for in a woman (and the fact that my last gf was completely flat-chested does not change this, it’s just that sometimes you don’t really get to pick).

Aethelwine's avatar

Someone who is kind, honest and has similar interests (music, recreation and politics).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 maybe it was the ring, not the tits…sounds just as plausible, doesn’t it? is sort of off putting is it not to think that someone ‘lasted the longest’ not because of WHO they are but WHAT they have for mammary glands…I wish you’d look for more in a person…for your own sake and for theirs

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Jack79 hrm, the bigger the jangly bobs, the deeper the love? my god man, that’s damn near flawless science!

jamielynn2328's avatar

I don’t think that people are nicer compared to breast size. I’m very large, and quite a controlling bitch.

Facade's avatar

Flat chested girls are mean because they have no tits. Top heavy girls are mean because they have too much tit.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Facade that can’t be, because how can someone have too much titty?~

jeanna's avatar

Wow. Some responses on this question are…rather shallow.

None of the people I’ve been involved with favored each other physically. I don’t really care about looks (yes, I mean that, and if you actually knew me…well, you’d know it was true). I look for someone who inspires me to be/do all the things I want to be/do. Someone who makes me laugh more than cry. Someone who appreciates my brutal honesty and is able to provide the same back.

If they have the above traits, then usually anything else I prefer falls into place. Luckily, I met that person.

Facade's avatar

@eponymoushipster Trust me it’s possible

Jack79's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir don’t worry, I’d never pick you anyway.

@eponymoushipster even though my opinion is based on empirical evidence, there is scientific (hormonal) evidence to suggest that there is a relation between people’s characters and body types, especially when we’re talking about things such as breasts in a woman. It is obviously not the only characteristic to affect someone’s personality, and I know that it’s a generalisation to start with, but hey, picking someone because they’re “intelligent” or “tidy” is no better way of finding the right match either. So yes, I could meet some girl called Simone and realise what a wonderful person she is, what a great sense of humour she has or how nice she’s been to me, and perhaps discover that she is even intelligent despite appearances. And maybe she’s even a great cook or good in bed, who knows?

But you know what? My experience so far says that you can never know how a relationship will work out beforehand. You could even meet a person with all the “right” characteristics you’ve always been looking for, and realise the spark is simply not there. I married a woman thinking she’d be the best mother for our children and it was the one area where she failed the most. So call me shallow, miss Jeanna, but for my money I’d rather have stayed with the one with the big tits.

And I don’t know what’s the matter over there in America, but it seems to me people have gotten edgy in the last couple of days. I’d like to think it’s the weather. Go get yourselves some ice tea.

jeanna's avatar

@Jack79 I didn’t specify anyone in my comment. However, plenty of people are shallow. The ones who claim to be something else (fake people) have the real issue. If you can see your shallowness, great. Maybe one day you’ll grow out of it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 strange, because I have really large breasts…c’est la vie

Jack79's avatar

@jeanna yup, it’s the fakeness I’m talking about too. And no, I don’t think I’m shallow at all. In fact, nobody who has ever met me would say I’m shallow, and all of my ex girlfriends speak highly of me and many of them are still friends with me even though we’re not together anymore. Funnily enough, it’s only people who have never met me in person that come to these conclusions. I wonder why that is… ;)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir yeah well luckily for both of us, it’s not the only thing I look for. And believe it or not, I prefer to date girls that don’t constantly insult me for no reason.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir you must be a charming lady…lol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 I didn’t mean to insult you. And that’s the truth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@eponymoushipster I definitely think the term ‘lady’ doesn’t apply to me and amen for that..otherwise, when I need to be and with people that deserve it, I’m quite charming…if you’ll care to find out, you’ll find it to be true

Jack79's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir ok well in that case perhaps I’m the one who needs the ice tea I guess. I’ll take your word for it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 you should. my word is solid, always. have a good evening.

casheroo's avatar

@Jack79 I’m fascinated with your boob comment. So, is there a cup size requirement? Does it matter what type of body the woman has? I have a small frame, so a big B cup on me looks big…make that a C and they look gigantic. a C cup on a bigger girl probably doesn’t look as big, right? I need some boobage information. lol

nikipedia's avatar

Play nice, kids.

Jack79's avatar

@casheroo no, and as I said, my last girlfriend was completely flat-chested. But she was wonderful, intelligent, loving, and stood by me through thick and thin. The only reason we’re no longer together is that we live so far apart (and neither of us can move). So yes, I’d gladly date someone with no breasts at all, just as all these people saying “intelligence matters” would probably date someone gorgeous but stupid. And I know I’ve dated all kinds in the past. I’m just saying that for starters it’s as good an indicator as any, and ideally I’d like my next girlfriend to have big breasts, though that’s what I said before I met the last one.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@casheroo don’t worry, you look friendly….;)

Darwin's avatar

@eponymoushipster and @Jack79 – Haven’t you ever heard that anything over a mouthful is wasted?

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Darwin haven’t you noticed: i have a big mouth? ;)

Darwin's avatar


eponymoushipster's avatar

i kid. im not even concerned that much with breast size. i’m all about from the neck up and the waist down.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

I haven’t read everything, but am just gonna add this (so forgive me if it’s been said already):

How about somebody who just wants to help you become the best version of who you are?

Once you have that, I think everything will fall in place so much more easily.

Of course, that’s only half the battle won. You must also be wanting to help him/her become the best version of who he/she is

Jack79's avatar

@Saturated_Brain yeah, that would be me: I’ll pay for the boob job lol (ok that was a joke, don’t start a new round of Jack-bashing, ok?)

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@Jack79 No thanks darling. I don’t need it. =)

rooeytoo's avatar

If women chose and judged men based on the size of their manhood, there would be a fair number of single men around (based on my somewhat limited experience).

Does the fact that most women don’t use that as the measure, mean women are less shallow?

whitenoise's avatar

@rooeytoo ??? Then…. how do women choose? You have me confused, now!

janbb's avatar

I think it’s really important to be with someone who really understands who you are, accepts you and sees and values your strengths while understanding your vulnerabilities. It’s really important not to feel put down by or competitive with your partner.

I agree with Saturated Brain that being with someone who helps you to be the best person you can be (self-actualization) is crucial.

And it’s helpful if you enjoy talking to each other because over a lifetime you do a lot of talking!

hearkat's avatar

@Darwin: I’ve heard that more than a handful is a waste—so I’ve always joked that I need to date basketball players who can palm the ball!

nebule's avatar

what they are like with you when you have done something that has really pissed them off!! Everyone can be wonderful when things are going good… but the measure of a man is how he deals with you at your worst or vice versa etc

Hambayuti's avatar

My mom used to tell me: when picking a husband (a better half, significant other or what-have-you), aside from the usual “good traits” that needs to be looked out for (like being responsible, loving, understanding, etc), I should also see how he treats his family, particularly his parents, because it would show how he is as a person.

i should have listened to her earlier though. it could have saved me a lot of heartaches

Darwin's avatar

You might want to find out if they eat a lot of beans before you commit to sharing a room, too.

nebule's avatar

…oh and if they are a bloke… if they have a good relationship with their mum… in my experience blokes that do not have a good relationship with their mums…are a little dodgy to say the least… but I’m sure someone will object to this outrageous generalisation ;-)

(edit: just read post above… slightly different but on the same lines!)

Jack79's avatar

@lynneblundell most of my female friends (well at least my southern European female friends, and geography is important here) seem to think the exact opposite: it’s usually the oedipus complex and men too attached to their mother’s skirt that they’re fighting against. One friend actually said once that one of the requirements the man of her dreams should meet would be to have no mother at all! I guess it depends on whether the mother-in-law ends up interfering with your relationship though.

nebule's avatar

hmmm.yes…I can see how women would think that… but then you see… I’m thinking that the man of my dreams would have a really lovely mum…and would welcome me as I am… forever the perfectionist that i am!

Jack79's avatar

ah well, that’s me crossed off that list then…my mum can be called a lot of things, but certainly not “lovely” lol (she’s the only person I know who could probably outstare Margaret Thatcher)

CMaz's avatar

The desire. The true desire to want to be with one another.
Beside all the above, like Money and such. Good sex, good conversation and the understanding that it is ok now and then to agree to disagree.

Your soul mate is what you work together to become.

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