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Common attributes that come to mind include intelligence, kindness, sense of humor, attractiveness, or reliability. We may think we are looking for a partner who complements us only in positive ways, but on an unconscious level, we are frequently drawn to people who complement us in negative ways as well. What this means is that we tend to pick partners who fit in with our existing emotional baggage.


Dating can be completely frustrating to begin with, but it's even harder when you don't know what you're looking for. Worse is when you have the slightest idea of what you want, but you feel too guilty asking for it. In a recent Bustle survey, almost 20 percent of participants who said they're single and dating said their biggest dating goal is to figure out exactly what it is they're looking for in a partner — but that's often easier said than done.

And, if you're naturally not assertive, it's difficult to suddenly start demanding your needs overnight. Irwin tells Bustle.

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When men are perceived as too pushy or demanding, they are called names like arrogant or 'a-hole' but women are called much more demeaning names. How many times have you been told to give someone who you knew was wrong for you another chance? Or that you were being too picky? If you've ever continued to date someone you were on the fence about, in hopes you'd eventually come around to liking them because they're someone you "should" be with, there's a good reason why. There is no need to feel guilty when you are personally clear about the kind of person with whom you are looking to connect.

So, in order to get past these hurdles and find clarity in exactly what you're looking for, here are 17 ways to figure out what your exact needs in dating are, according to experts. As psychotherapist Alison Pelz tells Bustle, women who ask for what they want are often labeled as abrasive in our culture. But holding back can be detrimental to your dating life. And why? What do I like to spend my time and energy on? Does this partner or date respect how I like to spend my time and energy? How do I handle conflict? If you avoid conflict, get some help with this from a therapist in order to get good at setting boundaries and asking what you need in a relationship.

Once you learn how you handle conflict, looking for a partner that is good at navigating conflict is key. While we often look at bad dates as material for funny stories to tell friends over brunch, there's actually another bright side — they can reveal exactly what we don't want in a partner. But after experiencing a few of Looking for in a partner, you'll learn to recognize traits and behaviors that you're not interested in — making them a lot easier to spot and avoid in the future.

If you're ever unsure whether someone's a good match for you or not, think about these two questions. Do I feel better about myself when I am with this person? The first question deals with the practicality of the relationship," psychotherapist Arlene B. Here's another important question to ask yourself. She says it eliminates the focus on factors that really aren't important to a relationship, like someone's height or profession.

What [are they] doing? How [do they] respond when I do things? Where are we going?

A therapist shares 8 things to look for in a life partner.

What are we talking about? How does [this person] look at me? If you're feeling appreciated, valued, respected, stimulated, interested in [them] and other desirable traits, you're with someone you're looking for who is also looking for you," Sedacca says.

Relationship coach and expert, Jenna Ponamanagrees. Once you have done that, ask yourself: what are the things that I do to accomplish this feeling? What kind of person would I want to attract that would generate this feeling within me? Whether it's jotting down the details of a date or taking notes about the traits you value in a partner, experts say journaling can be key in the process of determining what you want.

Over time, your journal will become a fascinating blueprint that may reveal exactly what you're looking for. Self-care coach Carley Schweet says journaling also comes in handy when figuring out your values and dealbreakers. I've found it's best to do this exercise in a calm and relaxed Looking for in a partner of mind. From there, you might begin to see a pattern or two emerge within your answers. Then, take some words that come to mind when looking at your thoughts and create a 'non-negotiable' list, one that you can reference when starting to date someone new.

Revisit and adjust as you continue to grow. If you're struggling to think of what qualities are important to you or who you'd be compatible with, try an online quiz to kick things off. Several experts say that identifying your values — the core things that are most important to you — is the perfect place to start figuring out what you need in a relationship. EdS, tells Bustle. Family, spirituality, or a healthy lifestyle perhaps? Look for someone with similar values and interests. There is no amount of work or communication that can overcome being with someone who simply does not want what you want.

If you or your [partner] has to 'change' your core being in order to make a relationship 'work,' you're probably with the wrong person! Most people want to be loved and appreciated for who they are. There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships.

We either get what we want, or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them as is or move on. The choice is up to us. One way to start identifying your values is by thinking about your lifestyle. Do you enjoy dinner with your family at least once a week? When you are meeting people, see if they value the same things that you do. Struggling to figure out your core values? Try the reverse to guide you: what do you not want in a partner?

If you're dating an individual and you see items on your NO NO list appear, then you know that it's time to check out. That is, these cannot be negotiated because they speak to your values. Sexologist and coach Noelle Cordeaux echoes the idea of coming up with a non-negotiables list — and this time taking into your values.

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Think about how [you] want to live and what [you] want to do with [your] time. It is way too easy to lose sight of your own goals and adapt to the needs of one's partner. She suggests starting off with these questions: "What level of financial health is important to you in a partner? Do you want kids? Do you like to be social?

17 ways to figure out exactly what you want in a partner — and feel confident asking for it

How about travel? How important if at all is religion to you? How important is it to you to have a prospective partner be connected to your family?

Or you to [theirs]? Are you looking for for marriage? Are you dating with the expectation of exclusivity? It is super important to get answers to these kinds of questions up front and stick to your guns," Cordeaux says. Just like you'd talk to someone who has the career you want to pick their brain, it may be helpful to talk to someone who has a healthy relationship you admire. To get a clear picture of your dating goals, Ponaman suggests making a vision board. You've probably heard mixed messages about having lists when dating — some people may tell you to write down everything you're looking for, while others say throw out your list entirely.

But relationship expert Elayen Fluker has an idea for a different kind of list she says she's even practiced personally. Two sides, single spaced if you have to! Then take a long look at your list and ask yourself how many qualities you embody on that list. Do you have expectations for your partner to meet standards you don't even meet yourself?

If so, become your list, and you will have a better chance of attracting someone on the same wavelength. As celebrity dating coach Laurel House says, it's crucial to make sure your feelings match your words and actions. Strip all of that off, strip down naked to your core — to your confidently vulnerable needs.

Drop your shoulders," House says. Stop thinking. Stop trying. Stop doing.

Just… be. Be present in this moment. And think, but more than think feel the question: what do I need? Once you know what you need, then have integrity to your needs. Because once you have integrity, once you stand for something, once you assert your needs

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A strong sense of character.


If you are looking for a long-term relationship, it might help if your potential partner has certain desirable qualities that you admire.


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Finding lasting, true love doesn't come from saying the right things or having money or looks or whatever.