The Perfect Relationship is Not the Perfect Person (Where Do We Go Wrong in Searching for Mates?)

Dear Valentines,

In your life, you’ll find many people—too many—who are attractive, too many who are smart, and too many who are funny. If you can’t, just go to the gym, the bookstore, or the comedy club. There’s always a surefire way to find people with a certain trait.

But in your life, you’ll find very few—too few—who understand you, accept you, click with you, inspire you, and just GET you. These special people may be found across the world or right under your nose. They may be found through your friends, in a class, at a party, in a library, or on the elevator. They may be in your life already (have you looked?) or they may be around the corner. You’ll never know when they’ll appear and you’ll certainly never guess how they look, how tall they are, how much they weigh, how they dress, what they do for fun, how they are, or WHO they are. All of these qualities may indeed help build a foundation for love, but often they are the trivialities we think we care about and that we have been programmed to look for in mates.

Resist that program. The most perfect partners cannot exist until you learn how they are when they are with you. Unlike people with a certain trait, there is no surefire way to recognize the perfect mate. Love is not one-way window-shopping. It is an interaction. It is chemistry. It is a RELATIONSHIP.

Instead of looking for someone who everyone thinks is funny, look for someone who laughs with you about the little things in life. Instead of looking for someone who is labeled smart and has a certain fancy degree, look for someone who engages you in the most interesting conversations. Instead of looking for someone who is a great dancer, look for someone who has an intimate spark with you even when your hands brush against each other. Instead of looking for someone with traits that wear off, look for someone you can trust and depend on for anything. And instead of looking for someone who society deems desirable, look for someone you would like to get stuck on an island with.

“I love us” often comes before “I love you.” Stop looking for the perfect person and start noticing the near-perfect relationship. Then hold it, develop it, and manage it. You deserve it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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