I have noticed that when it comes to picking a partner, many people manage to miss certain key traits or tendencies that might suggest that one day their chosen mate might abandon them. First, many people fail to ask questions about the prospective partner’s relationship history—a huge mistake. Second, they ignore or give little credence to an individual’s pattern of behavior. Many people have told me that they avoid asking questions because they do not want to scare a potential mate away. Others have confessed that if something was wrong they didn’t want to know about it. I take this as a strong need to keep their fantasy intact; so much for premarital counseling. Nevertheless, to help my readers choose someone who can make a commitment, I offer the following 7 tips:
1. Choose someone with a good relationship-credit-rating: The time a candidate has committed to past relationships can give you an indication of the individual’s staying power; treat it like the individual’s relationship-credit-rating. If, for example, the prospective candidate has had several exclusive, relatively stable relationships of two or more years, this bodes well for his or her capacity to make a commitment. On the other hand, someone who has a history of unstable, short-term relationships should be perceived as a risk even if he or she offers what may seem to be legitimate excuses. It simply cannot always be everybody else’s fault.
2. Choose someone with solid role models: Choosing someone from a broken home, for example, is no disgrace. But you may want to find out how the individual processed this trauma. Some have learned the best way to problem-solve is to give up. Hopefully the individual has differentiated enough from his or her parent’s mistakes and is capable of a different outcome.
3. Choose someone who can handle stress: People who can handle stress appropriately will be better able to stick by your side when times get tough. These individuals understand the concept of commitment, loyalty, and teamwork. Overly anxious people can be particularly scary because of a tendency to perceive a stressful situation as far worse than it may really be. This in turn, may lead them to prematurely jump ship.
4. Choose an empathic individual: A person who understands your pain and attempts to sooth you will not be the type of individual who will readily abandon you when you are down. Pick a kind and generous person; one who has a heart, and isn’t afraid to open it.
5. Choose a good communicator: Trust me, it is far safer to be with someone who is outspoken than one who is passive-aggressive. One of the scariest situations to be in is not knowing what is on your partner’s mind. People who will not be assertive with you may be brewing up quite a storm and that storm might blow one day without you even knowing why; you may very well be blindsided. I have heard of people arriving home from work only to find that their house had been cleaned out and their partner gone.
6. Choose an individual who wants to be close to you, physically and emotionally: Distancers are more comfortable alone and may be more than willing to end up that way. Pick someone who likes physical contact; someone who will put an arm around you or hold your hand; someone who likes to kiss you. Touch can do wonders for a relationship. And choose someone who seems to enjoy conversing with you. When you are with someone, you should not feel alone.
7. Choose someone who has similar interests and values: You may find this rather shallow, but someone who isn’t interested in what you enjoy may end up bored. In turn, they may eventually look for someone with more in common with. If you are a runner, find a runner; if you play an instrument, find someone who is interested in music; if you ski, choose someone who enjoys skiing; if you like to go to church, find someone likewise.
Following my advice is not a full-proof way to avoid abandonment. You will obviously have to include a few more things to prevent this such as, be nice to your partner, be respectful, and check in often to see if there is anything that merits addressing. After all this is accounted for the rest is like my father use to say: “luck.”