Friday, 4 May 2012


There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for granted relationship.”  -Iris Murdoch.
Choosing a mate may be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Yet, on what basis will you do it? Will you leave it to destiny? Will you leave it to chance? Will you settle for less than you want because you believe that what you want is not readily available?

Making an active choice
Choosing a mate is so vitally important to your level of happiness and success and yet people often pay it less attention than choosing a home or a car. People prefer to attribute it to some mystical force of the universe, some divine power, and hope for the best. Given the high rate of divorce in the Western world, it seems clear that this method of choosing your life partner just is not working.

Is it destiny? Is it all beyond your control? I submit that while destiny certainly has a role to play you have an even greater role to play in the choice.

Over the course of your life, you will date and even fall in love with, many people. However, who you choose to spend the rest of your life with should have as much to do with making an intelligent informed decision as with falling in love. The most critical information you need to know is what you want in a mate.

Consider for instance how you go about buying a refrigerator. You first determine your requirements. How large should the fridge be to accommodate your groceries? What about the door? Would you prefer a single door or a double door? If the latter, should they be side-by-side or top and bottom? Should the freezer be on top or below? Do you need ice in the door? Should the vegetables have separate temperature controls? How many shelves do you need? Glass or plastic shelving? You spend a reasonable amount of time determining your needs and specifications when it comes to a refrigerator – an item that you will dispose of in a few years. Does not your choice of a life partner deserve at least the same effort and thought?

Determine your needs
The first step you need to take in choosing the perfect mate is to determine your requirements in a mate. I suggest you consider all the possible attributes that are important to you. The major ones as well as the seemingly unimportant ones. There are several different kinds of attributes and this can seem like an overwhelming task at first. If you break it down into distinct areas identifying the characteristics of your ideal mate will become a more manageable project. Some categories to consider include Physical attributes, Career, Health, Finance, Family, Religion, Background, and most importantly, Personal Character and Values.

Use these characteristics to define your ideal mate. Is he tall, athletically built, sensitive, affectionate, stockbroker, Democrat, Catholic, from an old Irish family? Is she full-bodied, gentle, artist, empathetic, atheist? When choosing a mate, it is often difficult to identify your requirements down to this level. You may need to identify which of the general categories are of importance to you at all. For example, you may have no view on Religion, either good or bad. You may feel equally comfortable with someone who has an active religious life as with one who has none. However Finance may be of supreme importance to you and you could not consider someone who did not view it as seriously.

Career is often a fluid category that most people do not have rigid requirements for their mate. After all, how many people do you know who say, “I am looking for a mechanic – if he is not a mechanic I can’t possibly live with him? However depending on your personal convictions there may be significant difficulty in associating with people of particular careers. For example, if you are an animal rights activist, you may find it a challenge to respect a butcher or a fur coat manufacturer!

Analyze past relationships
One technique which you can use when choosing the characteristics of your ideal mate is to consider your past relationships. Consider which characteristics of your ex-partners that you truly enjoyed and which sent your blood pressure spiraling upwards. What attracted you to them in the first place? What caused the relationship to end? In order to move forward it is very important to learn from the past. Did you feel completely contented and satisfied when your ex-partner hugged you or held your hand? Then affection may be one of your requirements. Did you feel frustrated by your ex-partner’s lack of willingness to engage in a lively debate? Then conversation may be one of your needs.

Analyze people you admire
Another technique which may help you in determining the characteristics of your ideal mate is to consider people that you admire or dislike. These may be people that you know personally or even celebrities and people in the news. What characteristic is it that you admire about them? Their love for humanity? Their empathy with those who have made mistakes? Their perseverance? Their strength? Their resilience? What characteristic is it that you dislike? Their single-mindedness? Their lifestyle? Their family background?

Personal Character and Values
Personal character is probably the most important area when considering what you want in a mate and it is often the area that gets the least attention. Most other attributes of a person flow out of their character and values. A person who is hard working and persistent is likely to be financially well off or well on their way to it. A person who has strong moral values is likely to be spiritual. A person who is dogmatic and traditional may be religious.

In identifying the qualities of your ideal mate pay the most attention to identifying the characteristics and values your ideal mate would have. What qualities must your mate display? Persistence? Industriousness? Compassion? Affection? Determination? Honesty? High Integrity? Sensuality? Sexuality? Self-discipline? Vivaciousness? Out-going? Intelligence? Wit? Worldliness? Knowledge? Conversant? Sociable? Entertaining? Loyal? This list can be quite long. But it is critical that you identify the characteristics that are of essential importance to you.

If you are finding it difficult to determine the importance of a particular characteristic, simply imagine being in a relationship with a person who does not have it. You will know immediately how important that characteristic is to you. Consider being in a relationship with a dishonest person who will not tell you where she has been and what she has been doing. Does this thought really upset you?  Or is it just mildly irritating?

Consider the flip side of this as well. What qualities must your mate absolutely NOT have? Dishonesty? Lack of integrity? Laziness? Social ineptitude? And so on.

Take your time
This is not a process to be rushed. It can take a week or several months. You will most likely fine-tune it as you date different people and discover additional characteristics that you like or dislike. You will realize that some characteristics are more important to you than you previously thought and others are less important. It is critical to remember that you are seeking to identify the characteristics of your perfect mate whom you expect to spend a lifetime with, so it is perfectly okay if it takes you a few months to figure out your requirements.

Trust your judgment
Do not be concerned about whether your desires and needs are right or shallow or unpopular. You are choosing YOUR perfect mate, not what society dictates to be your perfect mate. So if you absolutely must be with a blond, then nothing short of this could truly result in your happiness. However, do keep in mind that all characteristics will not be equally important to you. I will discuss this further in the next article.

For now, trust your own judgment. Resist the urge to judge your needs. Your needs are your needs and you will not likely be happy with anything less. So be honest with yourself. Do not concern yourself with what you think you should want. Concern yourself only with what you actually do want and need.

Once you have identified the characteristics and values which define your ideal mate, you must separate these into two categories essentials and optionals.


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