The #1 Thing Everyone Should Look For In A Relationship

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist By John Kim, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the moniker The Angry Therapist.

In coaching thousands of people over the years, I’ve learned that most don’t think about what they really want in their relationships. They just go with who they’re attracted to, and then eventually fall into dynamics that can be unhealthy or short-lived.

As a result, these individuals often then get buried in an avalanche of discouragement, overwhelmed by the feeling that there’s no one out there. Or they start to internalize their doubt, and start to believe there’s something wrong with them for not finding "the one."

Well, one thing is for sure: this a cycle that needs to stop, or else looking for love will feel like hell on earth. And the good news is that you can stop this cycle.

The first step is to know what to look for in a relationship, not just what you gravitate toward at the initial stages. Because let's face it: sometimes what we gravitate toward can be an unhealthy dynamic, based on our story and patterns.

Of course we have to be attracted to the person. But that’s obvious, and it's also not enough if you’re interested in building something lasting. Now, for the fun part: how do we know what to look for?

Everyone has preferences. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The deeper question here is this: what are you willing (and not willing) to negotiate?

Preferences are like options or settings on a car, not the engine itself — the thing that allows the machine to function. Thinking about what you're willing and not willing to negotiate in relationships is hard, often uncomfortable work.

But working with these questions is what will empower you to sketch out the mechanics that will exist under the hood in your relationship. This is what will allow the relationship to keep on moving, functionally, when sh*t gets sticky.

So ... how do you know what your non-negotiables are?

  1. Think about your past. Based on your previous experiences in relationships, you know what worked and what didn’t. You also know the results of some of the things you have negotiated. Maybe not then but you do now. You also know by negotiating these things, how it made you feel in the relationship.
  2. Be flexible, and know that your non-negotiables can change. What you were once willing to negotiate, you no longer are. Or what you once were not willing to negotiate, you are now. Hopefully, it’s because you’re at a different place and your wants have changed. Not because you are compromising self.

I know what you’re thinking. Can you give us some examples of non-negotiables? The truth is, I have many. But I can give you the one that’s pinned to the top. This is the number one thing I believe everyone should look for in a successful relationship: You need to see home in your partner's eyes.

Let me explain this. There are many people you may want to sleep with. There are many that you may find interesting, intelligent, funny, and sexy. But out of those, how many do you actually picture yourself coming home to when you’ve had a shitty day and don’t want to face tomorrow? How many of them are titanium safe?

How many have the ability to create such a space that no matter what happens out there, you know when you get home everything’s going be okay. Not because they say so but because they make you feel it. There’s a difference between someone being supportive through dialogue and someone making you feel invincible and beautiful. Supportive-on-paper is not home. Being at home is a feeling.

Home is someone who pulls you out of yesterday and gives you tomorrow. Yes, there are also the pillow fights, ice cream and fries in bed, reading next to each other on a Friday night, pajamas and bedhead, knowing there is no one better for your children. But more than that, there's a trust so strong you prefer to live emotionally naked. To me, that’s “home." And you need to see it in your partner's eyes.

There’s a magical wash that happens when you find someone that provides that kind of space, and there’s no other word for it.

So if you’re dating someone, ask yourself if you see home in his or her eyes. Or if you’re positioning yourself to attract someone in your life, put it on your list of non-negotiables. It’s time to relate better to each other.

I will be doing a FREE Q & A webinar about relationships on August 13th at 5pm PST.

John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the...
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John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and...
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