Without them, research shows, commitment may be too risky.
Most people’s standards in choosing a partner is not too high. Some people worry that if they are too picky, they would stay single forever.
According to Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, there are two qualities that make a great partner.
If I had to summarize over 60 years of excellent relationship research in just one sentence, that sentence would be:
If you can find and be someone kind and respectful, your relationship will probably work; and if you can’t, it won’t.
In practical terms, this means no haters. Research clearly shows that relationships can’t survive happily without kindness. Kindness sets down deep roots to keep love alive even when winter comes; but every season is bleak without it.
Kind people treat others well regardless of what type of day they are having, or whether they’re falling behind at work, etc. They don’t need an excuse to be kind, and they don’t take bad times as excuses not to be. They are kind as a matter of course, because it is part of their ethical or moral code to be that way—not because they are feeling good at that moment, and not because other people do or don’t make them happy. For them, kindness is a lifestyle, a way of being.
They avoid being mean-spirited even when they are interacting with people they don’t necessarily like or agree with. They might disagree agreeably, or choose to set boundaries so they’re not around those folks too often; but when they must be in their presence, kind people are careful, not cruel. Successful relationships require a lot of self-control, and kind people practice it.
Embracing these two standards also means no chronic criticizers. Again, decades of research underscore that getting and giving basic respect is a necessity, not a nicety. Respect can create love where there was none, but habitual character assassination will eventually kill even the most fervent romance.
As with kindness, you should look for and require a partner who is respectful toward everyone—not just you. Such people affirm others’ worth in words and deeds even when things don’t go their way. They speak well of others, and when that’s not possible, they either say nothing, or speak their truth without hate.