“My Partner’s Perfect, Except…”

Trying to evaluate if your current partner has long-term potential? Here’s what you need to know.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

nitially, your guy or girl seemed like a great match. But now that things are getting a little more serious, you’ve got a nagging feeling that maybe everything’s not so rosy. Usually, the issues new couples experience fall into a few familiar
Sometimes, little things can drive you crazy.
categories. Here, we take a closer look at them, and explain how you can figure out if the issues are insurmountable or inconsequential.

Annoying habits
Sometimes, little things can drive you crazy. But are they enough to warrant breaking up? Maybe not, if you and your partner can work out a deal. “For instance, if you hate the way he or she drives, don’t lie about it; say, ‘Look, I’m really not comfortable with the way you drive, but I love the rest of you. I want to do the driving when we’re together,’” advises L.A.-based relationship expert April Masini. “Offer to let him or her pick something you can do — or not do — in exchange. The idea is to acknowledge your differences and make a deal.” No deal? No date night.

Career conflict
Does your partner respect and value your ambitious goals? Or do you end up feeling guilty when you focus on your business or career? Or, at the other end of the spectrum, do you feel as if your partner is so career-centric that he or she never enjoys life? Try talking about it together in a non-judgmental, non-blaming way. Explain what your needs are and how you feel about the other person’s outlook on the topic. “These talks can be a way to deepen your relationship, and figure out how to get the support you deserve for your individual and joint professional and personal goals,” says psychologist and career advisor Debra Condren, author of Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word. “Or, your discussions may yield signs that you should move on.”

The deal-breaker debate
It’s fair to say that when someone doesn’t meet your minimum requirements, your evaluation should be easy — dump that person. “To really evaluate your partner, you need to
Your discussions may yield signs that you should move on.
really know your ‘non-negotiables,’” says Jenny Miller Pratt, Director of Remarkable Development for The Kevin Eikenberry Group in Lafayette, IN. “A non-negotiable is anything you won’t compromise over. It could be one quality or several, such as: ‘must enjoy travel, must be a non-smoker, must share my religious beliefs’ — whatever is important to you. If your beloved doesn’t meet your non-negotiables, then why are you still seeing each other? If he or she does, then what’s the problem?” Once you frame the issue this way, you should have a clearer viewpoint on your long-term compatibility.

A bonus tip…
Say you’re not having any obvious conflicts, but you still want to do a little evaluation of whether you two are meant to be. Here’s one more way to assess your date’s future fitness: consider how good a job your date does at meeting his or her goals. “Your date is likely to treat you in the future the way he or she treats him- or herself today,” says Phoenix-area intuitive consultant Andrea Hess. “If this person does not follow through on personal goals, he or she is not likely to follow through on the vision you create together. If this person neglects his or her own needs, no doubt that yours will be neglected down the road, too. However, if this individual is happy and at peace with him- or herself, you can be sure that your date will bring these qualities into the relationship.”

It’s not always easy to be objective and rational when it comes to matters of the heart. But following this advice will help you evaluate whether the person you’re with is the best person for you. If the answer is no, this information will give you great insight when choosing someone new. Either way, you’re going to be a winner.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based freelancer whose work also appears in the L.A. Business Journal and Go magazine.
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