According to relationship experts, your dating rut may be due to your inability to hone in on traits that predict a successful partnership, even once you've entered the IRL portion of the courtship. Height, sports team affiliation, and workout preferences seem important, but a love for the Yankees or CrossFit (you prefer spin) might not, in fact, be dealbreakers.
Now, of course there is a certain inexplicability to why a romantic pairing works or doesn't, but these tips—provided by experienced matchmakers—may help you to be less scattered in your search. Because knowing what to look for is half the battle.
Keep reading to find out which traits you should be looking for in a partner.
First and foremost, kindness is king. (Fun fact: The first thing Meghan Markle wanted to know about Prince Harry was whether he was kind.) "Kindness—and we mean genuine kindness—is not a trait that all people have, and it's probably the most singularly-important quality that our members look for," says Greta Tufvesson, co-founder of the matchmaking firm The BEVY. "Because we are so picky about who we take into our membership, we will not work with anyone we don’t deem a genuinely kind soul."
Indeed, altruistic behaviors have been scientifically-proven to make people appear more attractive to the opposite sex, which is why it's not a bad idea to start by cultivating kindness in yourself, first.
2. Relatable life experiences
"It helps to come from similar types of families and have common experiences or upbringings," says matchmaking company Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein. "Someone who grew up close with their family is going to be more receptive to and better understand someone who would choose family over everything, for example." On the flip side, she says, if a person grew up facing hardships, it’s often easier for them to relate to a partner who also lived through difficult times and was forced to overcome adversity. "Common experiences help bond people together," she explains.
3. Compatible core values and goals
"At the end of the day, a law degree is just a law degree and tennis is just tennis," says Goldstein. "Steer clear of picking someone based on career or hobbies—these things, for better or for worse, come and go." Instead, she advises seeking a partner who shares your core values. "These values dictate the way you live your life, and they're the things that will keep you both grounded when times are tough," she says. In fact, Goldstein believes these to be so important that she suggests picking three core values and putting them on your do-not-compromise list. "[With those in place], you can then leave the rest of your checklist—e.g. height—behind," she says.
Nikki Lewis, The BEVY's other co-founder, recommends checking in on a potential partner's aspirations, too. "If your goal is to get married and start a family, we would introduce you to someone who wants the same," she says. "Once you start on that foot, you’re already 50 percent of the way to success by sheer virtue of meeting someone who is aligned similarly."
4. A yin to your yang
Balance between two people, says Goldstein, is key. And she believes that finding it requires self-awareness. "I love the 'rock-star' analogy. In every relationship, there’s a rock and there’s a star," she says. "The rock is stable, steady, even, and might let the star 'shine,' whereas the star is the attention-grabber.' Figuring out which you are in this scenario can help you to narrow down the dating pool.
5. Similar travel preferences
Your first trip together has long been considered the true test of a young relationship. Does a few days in close quarters bring you closer together—or does it make you want to pull out your hair? And according to Goldstein, you can gauge compatibility without packing a single bag simply by asking about your new bae's dream vacation. "I'm a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they like to travel," she says.
What type of accommodations do they prefer? Do they like to dine at Michelin-star restaurants or bop into locals-only spots? Is an itinerary non-negotiable, or do they prefer spontaneity? "The answers tell you a lot about how someone lives their life outside of the 9-to-5," Goldstein says.
6. A passion
Trying to connect with someone who doesn't have passion in their life can make you feel a bit like a ship that can't anchor; however, it's important to keep in mind that enthusiasm isn't always career-related. "Not everyone is passionate about their job, and maybe it's just a stepping stone to bigger dreams," Tufvesson says. When evaluating a potential partner, ask yourself—or, better yet, ask them!—what drives them or gets them out of bed everyday. If they're not sure, they might not yet be ready for a relationship.
Originally published February 14, 2018; updated August 21, 2018.
Need help figuring out which core values matter most to you? Well+Good council member Kelsey Patel has you covered. Plus, this unexpected successful-relationship saboteur might surprise you.
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