Updated 25 March 2013

10 essentials in a partner

You've gone out three times and you think this new person is great. these are the things you should look out for – beyond the looks, that isT


It's the second time you get asked out by the same guy and you think something may be happening. It's exciting, but before you plunge in, make sure the basic ingredients are there for a good relationship.

Flirting for a weekend and giggling about it afterwards with your friends, is a very different story from having a relationship, though. If you suspect that things are more serious three months down the line, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for – beyond the looks, that is.

Honesty. No one ever tells others everything about themselves. But if you get the feeling that your partner is lying to you about lots of other things – previous romances, money situation, friends – you may be quite within your rights to wonder what else you're not being told the truth about. Being honest is just so much simpler all round for everyone. You have a right to insist on honesty, but then you have to be beyond reproach yourself.

Respect. Are you made to feel good about yourself, your life and your choices? Or do you get ridiculed or are you made fun of? Remember teasing is just bullying with a smile. Someone who respects you will take you and your ideas seriously and will treat you well, both in private and in public. And if anyone ever hits you, you take your things and you disappear - fast. This is never acceptable under any circumstances.

Sex talk. The issue of having sex is not something that will go away if it is ignored – you have to decide together how far you want to go, where to have HIV tests done and, should you want to go ahead, what sort of contraception you want to use. If you can't talk about these things, you may not be emotionally ready for a sexual relationship.

Good sense of self. There is something very attractive about people who are quietly confident – not stridently boastful, though. If someone won't let others walk over him/her, that's good, but there is nothing attractive about people who see every social occasion as an opportunity to prove that they are better than others. Someone who feels good about themselves, can also just let other people be and doesn't feel the need to win all the time.

Meeting the parents. If your new partner has parents who live within driving range, it is odd if you haven't been introduced to them within a few months. Watch out for someone who is always involved in incredibly intricate and ongoing family dramas – if you stay involved with this person, you will most probably have to get involved as well. On a happier note – it is such a bonus if you get on with each other's parents and really does bode well for the future.

50/50 partnership. Decisions should be made jointly, not just by one person. If you feel manipulated or if decisions constantly get made for you, this may not be the right person for you. You could eventually turn into a dull, defeated character – the one who keeps on saying, "Yes, dear", just to keep the peace.

OK from friends. It's just so much easier if your friends like your new partner. If none of them like him/her, it's time for you to go back to the drawing board, because they are seeing things in this person, which you are overlooking. Most of them have your best interests at heart, and when you fall in love, you may be blinded to your partner's faults.

Money talk. Money is an essential part of life and is often an issue that can lead to break-ups if it does not get discussed openly. But this is so difficult. What sort of contribution will each person make if you go out for an evening? Who pays for what? And most importantly, what happens if one of you earns a lot more money than the other one does?

Shared values/interests. If you share basic values and interests, the relationship has a very good chance of survival. If you read all day and he never reads a thing – there are bound to be problems. If he loves music and adventure sports and you don't, there could be trouble brewing. If you think it is OK to park in a bay for the disabled, just because you are in a hurry and he doesn't think so, there could be trouble in paradise. Small things are often an indication of underlying value systems.

Sense of humour. Laugh together, and chances are you will stay together. If you find the same movies or situations or jokes funny, there is so much you actually share with each other. It means you are on the same wavelength and will never have to explain to each other why you find certain things funny. Having to do this really has a way of killing a joke.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)


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