As you get older, the things you are looking for in a partner tend to change.
I used to think that if a guy had tattoos, hated me, and wasn't looking for anything serious, I absolutely should never let him go. That was a relationship worth working for! He'd come around! Husband material!
But after a lot of failed relationships and a lot of unnecessary heartache and crazy behavior (read: me driving by my ex's house in the middle of the night to see if he was cheating on me), I realized it was time to change both who I was in relationships and who I was looking for.
After years of what I like to refer to as bad dating, sometimes, it can be difficult to figure out what qualities you actually should be looking for in a partner.
I asked Heather Kristian Strang, a spiritual matchmaker and intuitive (I adore everything new age, literally bathe me in crystals), and Alessandra Conti, matchmaker and dating expert at Matchmakers In The City, the special qualities a partner may have that mean you should never let him go.
Inconsistent men are my trigger. When I can't predict a man's behavior, or he is constantly hot and cold, it drives me insane. It's the worst. Katy Perry has sung about it.
So it makes sense that consistent men — the ones I'm programmed to think are boring because I'm so used to chaos — are the ones worth keeping.
Conti says consistency is the "most vital" quality of a long-term partner:
There are plenty of men who can play the part of being boyfriend material, but what really sets a man apart from the pack is his ability to be consistent in his communication, reliability, and interest in you. When a man is consistent in small elements of your relationship (texting you regularly, not flaking on plans), he will be a strong and stable long-term partner.
Does he need to be Mr. Big? No, but he should be safe and ambitious in his career.
Conti explains, "As a personal matchmaker working with the girl bosses of the world, it is so imperative for me to match my bachelorettes with men who are successful in their own right."
"If a man is in a place where he is successful in his job, he is much more likely to be ready to enter into a healthy relationship. If a guy is struggling with his career or unhappy in his chosen profession, he will find it difficult to fully prioritize a relationship," she continues.
I had this happen with my ex, who had recently quit a job and was extremely unemployed just as I got hired for a great new position, and it ended up dissolving our relationship.
"Men are compartmentalized creatures. If they are still finding their place in this world career-wise, it will be a lot more difficult for them to take a relationship seriously," Conti says.
If he's generous, then he could be the one.
Strang says, "A partner who loves to give to you and is kind and generous to those around him is a partner for life. Why? Some of the biggest areas of discord in relationships [are] anchored to one or both partners being overly self-focused."
Generosity doesn't have to mean jewelry, vacations, or concert tickets. It can also mean thoughtfulness and being generous with one's time.
According to Strang, being a selfish partner won't work in the long run:
While it's important to have balanced self-care and positive self-regard, if all you ever think about is yourself, it's going to be really difficult to partner and serve something bigger than you, namely your partnership. When your man understands that giving to you is really giving to him and to your partnership, you have the opportunity to go the distance together.
If your guy is loyal, stick with him. Relationships are work, and you have to be with someone who is willing to put in the effort.
"Loyalty, i.e. 'stick-to-it-ive-ness' means having a partner who has the same value of eternal love as you do and will be loyal and in service to your partnership no matter what life brings," Strang says. "This will allow you to navigate the storms that naturally come to any life and partnership. Your partner should be your biggest fan, believe in you fully, and his loyalty will always be to you and your partnership."
A good match "expresses his love in a way that is compatible with the way you receive love," Strang explains.
Do you have the same love language? If you communicate similarly, it's a good sign. She continues,
Both of you must be willing to show your partner love in the way that he/she most resonates with. If you most feel loved by being told how beautiful you are and that he loves you, but he most often gives love by getting you gifts, you're both going to be frustrated. You want a partner who is willing to learn about your true needs and how you prefer to be loved and then love you in that way.
Or, as Strang puts it, an "abundant/prosperity mindset."
What does that mean? "When your man views life through the lens of abundance and prosperity, he knows that there's a silver lining to every unfolding that will lead you to abundance and he knows that together with creativity you can both live a life that truly thrives in every way," Strang explains.
She continues, "He desires a life that is full and filled with all of the gifts that life has to offer. This will make your life together not only more joyful and fun, but it will also allow you to really experience all that life has to offer you."
Sounds very good to me. So instead of a couch potato who is playing his 15th hour of video games on his day off, maybe opt for that optimistic, adventurous man who knows how to manifest the best out of any situation.
"He actually wants to be in a relationship," Conti says.
According to her, if a guy says he's not "looking for anything serious," he probably means it:
Relationships are 80 percent about timing: If a guy is not finished with the phase in his life where he is going out, dating different women, and playing the field, he will be an awful long-term partner. But once a guy is in a place where he is tired of the dating game and wants to find something genuine, he is like a ripe banana… time to take a bite!
Is your guy a ripe banana? If so, unpeel him, baby!
This doesn't mean he has to go to church every Sunday, but this does mean he should have good ethics and a strong moral compass.
A man who is connected spiritually in some way is a man who is living life at a frequency that is above and beyond merely his own interests and needs. He understands there is something greater for him to be in service to, and so he is then open to not only living his life with meaning and purpose, but connecting with you at a deeper level beyond seeing you as a trophy on his arm or someone to satiate his basic needs.
And according to her, the sex may even be better with a spiritually-connected man: "When your man knows there is something greater to this life than what meets the eye, it enriches everything that you two experience, including love-making."
Listen, if spirituality helps improve the love-making, then I am all for it.
Strang concludes with a critical reminder: "It's also important to note that while all of the above qualities make a man a 'keeper,' you would be well served to embody all of these qualities yourself!"