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An ideal partner can come in all shapes and sizes. We all look for something different and we’re all willing to deal with different things in relationships.
If you’d have asked me what I thought an idealpartner would look like years ago, it would have been someone who lets me get on with my own stuff and supports me. It would have been someone I could have fun with and someone who had a good relationship with my family.
Me and Sean broke up last year for a few months. Was that because there was a lack of support? No, but when your relationship starts to break down, it makes sense that you stop bringing positive aspects (such as support) into your relationship.
I started my first business when I was 15 and by the time I realised it was a viable money maker, I had people discouraging me and over the last few years I have had different men (partners and strangers) discouraging me from pursuing my goal of working for myself.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have it all. I refuse to choose between a career and family. Why can’t I have both? The thing that’s always got to me however is how men look for a strong independent woman until it means she doesn’t rely on him. Once they know she isn’t dependant on them, they turn and sometimes it’s in a very toxic way which is not okay. Society still tells us that men have to be bread winners and provide for their families. In what world is that set in stone?
One thing I appreciated about Sean from the time we started dating was just how supportive he is and has been of my dreams. Granted, he doesn’t have a business mind and has no interest in blogging so there are things he simply doesn’t get but never once as he used that to belittle my vision.
The longer we’ve been together and the more we’ve gone through life, the more I’ve realised that to me, a supportive partner is someone who doesn’t live by the construct of gender stereotypes because for me, that’s where half the problems come. Between me being a woman, an African woman and an African woman who grew up in western culture, my cultures have a lot of clashes when you put them side by side. In African culture, you normally don’t live with a partner until you’re married, they don’t meet your parents until you’re engaged (I have a blog here on how to introduce your non-black boyfriend to African parents) and when you finally do live together, the mans focus is normally on his work whilst the woman has to work, have kids whom she needs to look after and she has to keep the house looking perfect. That’s not me…
I have a lot of respect for my culture and my parents but ultimately, I believe the final say is mine because there aren’t many women around me in my position that want a life the way I do. For me to have the freedom to choose when and where to work, to have the freedom to choose when we have kids and be comfortable enough to know that I can provide for my family whilst having a spotless house (one day) means doing things differently to most women. To find a man that is genuinely comfortable in one day not being the breadwinner is actually quite the novelty.
So, what does a supportive partner look like to me now? It is still someone comfortable enough in them self to let me do me. It’s being with someone strong enough to tell me when I’m wrong because he knows I’m stubborn. It’s being with someone who appreciates and respects my culture, my family and my goals but this year especially, it is has been someone to help pick me up when I’m at my lowest mentally, someone who hears (not just listens) me and someone who reciprocates the energy I give them. A supportive partner is someone who understands that we come from two different families with two different sets of norms and rules but knowing that we can mix the best of both to create a happy, fun and fulfilling life together.
I’m not saying Sean is some amazing new-age man who gets it all because he isn’t. Getting him to clean is a pain, he’s crap with money management, he’s not always great at expressing his feelings and he can never find his own stuff. He’s an actual melter but he’s a melter with a heart of gold and someone I know I could say absolutely anything to without being judged.
It would be silly of me to live my life thinking we could both do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted because that’s not how a relationship works but one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how different you are as people or how different your goals and dreams, you have to work together and push each other. This time last year we weren’t together and now we’re happier than we’ve ever been after a very tough year for both of us personally.
Don’t lose your values and don’t settle for crap because when you’re on the same page, you can work with your partner to achieving anything. That for me may only be Sean cooking and posting my desserts whilst I get on with other work, but it allows me to focus on other things which I appreciate more than I could ever express so I repay that with making sure he knows I always have his back.
What does an ideal partner look like to you?
Dating, the search of a significant other is an undoubtedly major part of almost everyone’s life. Since everyone has different tastes and preferences, they tend to look for different personal qualities in a partner. But what lead people to prefer some traits over the others? Evolutionary psychologists argue that humans have evolved to place value on certain traits because of their benefits to procreation and protection. There are many examples for such attributes. However, since I can’t speak for everyone, I will define my own ideal partner and how his personal attributes may be connected to culture or evolution.
The first thing I look in a potential dating partner is honesty. Any successful relationship must be based on good communication and mutual trust. Since that cannot happen if one person lies or tends to “omit the truth”, a partner who is not honest is not something I would consider.
A second extremely important quality is maturity. If I am looking for a serious, long-term relationship and the person I’m considering starting it with is immature, does not know how to deal with people in a professional manner and has not accepted the fact that he has to take responsibility for his actions, I will definitely not take him seriously and start a relationship with him.
Another attribute an ideal dating partner should have is ambition. If a person does not have goals that he wants to reach or any dreams that he wants to pursue, it means that he is not going to further his life and is stuck in a dead end. Ambition is what helps a person grow and improve, while standing in one place in life leads to dissatisfaction and depression. Also, since I am very ambitious myself, a partner that is content with what he has might hold me back. That’s why this quality is extremely important to me.
It would be hypocritical to deny that good looks play an important part in the start of any relationship. That’s the attribute that draws a person in and makes everything possible in the first place. Being pretty or handsome also helps you advance in life, which ties in well with the above discussed ambition. That’s why my ideal partner should be good looking and take care of himself.
The final quality that is necessary for a perfect relationship is loyalty. It’s connected to honesty, since they can’t exist without each other. Loyalty means staying true to your partner in all ways imaginable. There is nothing I can’t stand more than cheating, doing that would damage the relationship in a critical way and there would be no repairing it. That’s why loyalty is of the upmost importance to me.
But all these attributes may seem completely incomprehensible for someone brought up in a different culture. For example, a man who has lived with numerous wives all his life and was brought up to think that women are only here to please men may laugh at the notion of honesty and ambition being qualities that a woman should have. Other cultures may not place such value on loyalty. It’s no secret that a person’s values depend on the way they were raised, and culture plays a large role in their upbringing. That is also why I think that a lot of my peers would mention the same qualities, maybe excluding good looks, as they were thought that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”. But these are definitely common attributes that a lot of North Americans and Europeans look for in their partners.
Finally, let’s look at this from an evolutionary perspective. Loyalty, honesty and maturity are qualities that did not have much value until humans began forming advanced societies. But good looks, for example, always played an important part in choosing a partner. Big breasts and wide hips were always seen as desirable as they made childbearing and birth easier and usually meant a healthy offspring. Slender bodies meant they were healthy and thus were preferable to fat ones. The other quality that might have served an evolutionary purpose is ambition. People who wanted to do well, to reach something usually achieved more than their peers. For example, they killed more birds, they caught more fish, they learned new skills, they wanted to explore more. While that may have gotten them killed sometimes, the ambitious people urged humanity forward and maybe that’s why people nowadays value that trait.
To sum up, some of these attributes might have served an evolutionary purpose, others may have not. What we look for in an ideal partner depends on our upbringing and our culture. That’s people value different things and why everyone has a chance at finding an ideal partner.
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