How To Find A Partner Who Meets Your Needs

Yes, you CAN find a partner who meets your needs! You don't have to feel unappreciated, ignored, or disrespected. Click through for a script that will help! //

I’m bringing back the Dear Dude column! Your questions, answered by a real, live dude. This dude happens to be my very own divorced, Phd-having manslice.

Dear Dude:

I am totally ready to get more from dating and to have a long-term meaningful relationship. I have my act together and I know my standards: he must be cute, funny, smart and interesting. But I can’t seem to get more than six months in before one of us becomes unhappy and the whole thing falls apart. Can you help a lady out?


Dear Lady,

Cute. Funny. Smart. Interesting. Why does that sound so familiar? Hmmm.

Oh wait, I know why! Because I was married to that, and my ex-wife may have thought she was married to that too. And do you know what? We were terrible for each other! Super common.

Good looks, intelligence, a sense of humor, and being interesting are dime-a-dozen traits. Click To Tweet

I note you don’t seem to have had any problem finding them yourself. But something hasn’t worked. So what is it? Aside from timing, circumstances, and the billion other things not in our control, I’d guess it’s that while those four traits may be enough to get you started, there are other things you need that you have not been getting.

Permit a personal example, just to get you started. Sure, my ex-wife probably thought I was cute, smart, funny and interesting. But those traits were not enough to make her feel appreciated, or validated, and did not stop me from somehow escalating her anxieties. And all the things that had attracted me to her did nothing to help me when I felt sad about something she said. Her cuteness, interesting-ness, funny-ness never forgave me and they never apologized.

We both spent a lot of time feeling crappy around each other, because what we really needed were all those things I just named (and others–many, many others!). It turns out that without them, all the cute, smart, funny, and interesting in the world didn’t matter. The best thing I got from our separation and divorce was a firm understanding of what else I needed.

So I say, keep your bedrock standards, but improve upon them, and add to them. Think about what else you need. Maybe start with something that hasn’t worked for you, and then what would have worked better.

When could you have used some reassurance but didn’t get it? Are there situations that heightened your insecurities? When have you felt lonely in a relationship, and what would its opposite have been like?

Here is a template that links your feelings in a given situation to what you wished would have happened, and what you will be requiring in the future.

I felt [negative adjective(s)]______when [Name] ______ [verb phrase]___________. It would have felt so much better if______ and/or______. So therefore I am looking for someone who _____ and_____.

Assuming the basic parts are all there, make whatever modifications you need to, and do it over and over as many times as you wish. Here’s an example:

I felt unimportant and isolated when Stanley ignored me in social settings. It would have felt so much better if he could have shown even the smallest amount of affection. Therefore, I am looking for someone who will be excited to have me around his friends and is proud to be with me.

Whatever you come up with, add your new need(s) to your list of must-haves, and start looking for signals that potential partners will or will not be able to meet your newly improved standards!

I think this will get you closer to what you want, and will also prevent you from investing six months with another cute, funny, smart, and interesting guy who will never offer you what you need.

Well, those are my thoughts, but I’d love to know what you guys think about finding the right person!

P.S. If you have a habit of dating people who DON’T meet your needs, this might help. And it’s free!

Photo by Matt McK on Unsplash

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  1. Jen

    This is very good advice. But I think we have to be careful about expecting too much from our partners. We all want to feel loved, appreciated, etc but we also have to be emotionally self-reliant. It is our responsibility to make ourselves happy. Other people can add to our happiness but it's not their responsibility to make us happy.

    • Kenny Blumenfeld

      I agree, Jen, that a sturdy me-foundation is vital, but sometimes it seems like people expect too much of themselves also. I have not seen a lot of people succeed in relationships with partners who do not support their emotional needs. When you have that support, you are like an optimized version of yourself, and you can pay that awesomeness right back into the relationship. I think that's a lot more difficult do that when you don't have that support.

    • Jen

      Very true. How do you find that balance of expecting enough but not too much? Maybe when you're with the right person it just feels right? I am endlessly fascinated by people and their relationships.

  2. Sarah Bishop

    Back when I made a list. 20 or so things I either really did, or really did not want in a partner. I moved to a new state and within a week had stumbled into a guy who met 3/4 of my list. The 1/4 he didn't meet was sort of unimportant post move.

    While it wasn't a permanent relationship it was definitely long term (2+ yrs). We are still friendly now so I call that a success.

    But my list has kept me on task on knowing what I want and where I'm willing to compromise. The first 4 are the only ones I will not compromise on (available, over 30, employed, likes girls) as that seems to wade out a lot of chaff right off the bat. It's to the point where those 4 are a bit of joke amongst my friends. We laugh but really knowing what's important can help you know yourself and therefore making you a better partner.

    • Kenny Blumenfeld

      Ha, I totally agree…great strategy!

  3. Rachel

    I want to add that (duh) relationships are a two-way street, and with that in mind, it could be good to do the template exercise for yourself as well (i.e. from the perspective of an ex). Stepping back and looking at your own social weaknesses/challenges can help you become an even better partner for Future Manslice.

    ALSO! I think that when you meet someone who is a TRULY good match, you feel it. You feel all shaky in your bones and you can't think about anything else and it's totally wild and you don't need to check any sort of list. No matter what, don't even THINK about wasting 6 months on someone without the initial shaky crazies.

    • Kenny Blumenfeld

      Hi Rachel, I agree with your first paragraph and really like your idea that the shaky-crazies are a good baseline/must-have!

  4. Rachel

    Insightful babe alert of a boyfriend! Well done Sarah.

  5. Robyn Petrik

    I remember making my first 'list' when I was 17, and oh goodness was it ever specific and shallow. In my early twenties, I learned more mature things I should be looking for, but like Kenny mentioned, I really figured out what I wanted and needed after I went through a divorce. I also learned a ton of things about myself and how I can be a better partner too!

  6. Carla

    I did rhe exercise, turns out I can add: “Who is not affraid of connection and who is there for me when things get hard” to my list. I like it. It sounds good. Thanis for tge exercise. I also feel like it is important to give yourself the tgings you are looking for in a partner. So hereby i’m also telling my own emotional self/inner child that I will not shy away ftom connection and I will be here for ger when things get hard

  7. Carla

    Sorry for typos!

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