Finding your missing piece
When will you know it's the Real Thing? You could drive yourself crazy trying to answer that question.
(Michael Klein illustration for the Tribune / March 25, 2010)
•Opposites may attract but rarely work out in the long haul. Look for similarities, someone who sees the world as you do, wants the same kind of relationship as you, wants the same kind of social life as you do, has the same values and goals.
•Choose a partner with whom you can easily pass the time and who says things that you are interested in hearing. Who comes to mind when you ask yourself: Whom would I call when I'm upset? Whom would I call my soul mate? Who knows me and accepts me?
•Don't dwell on external characteristics, such as physical attributes, class, race, job or type of lifestyle. Instead, ask yourself: What does this person find funny? How does he/she respond when you confide a problem? What are his/her friendships like?
•Be wary of unbridled passion, which is usually fueled by an underlying fear that this person will ultimately be unavailable to you. Passion is good, but it should feel trusting, hopeful and excited, and not be driven by insecurity, game playing or control issues.
Anne-Renee Testa, New York psychologist and relationship coach
•Choose someone caring, empathetic, reliable, flexible and open-minded, who carries his or her weight in the relationship and, importantly, makes you feel as though you're first. Look at how you communicate: It should be honest, clear, kind and respectful.
• Understand you're buying a commodity. Look at the things he or she doesn't have, and think about how much you value the things that are missing. Don't expect to change anyone.
•Beware that you're not marrying the unfinished business of your childhood. For example, when you're with a guy who is emotionally unavailable, and you think of Dad, avoid the impulse to fix him.
•Listen to your gut. "If it doesn't feel good in your gut, don't walk away," Testa said. "Run away."