What You SHOULD Be Looking For in a Partner

I was on the phone last week with Laura.

Like most of my clients (and probably, like you), she’s quite a catch. Blonde, great smile, looks amazing for her age, creative and fulfilling career…and still, no guy.

For a long time, love wasn’t a priority, but as she got into her mid-40’s and achieved all the work success that she’d ever sought, she felt a deep yearning.

It’s not that she regretted the opportunities that passed her by in the past – it’s that she made a strong determination in 2010 that she didn’t want to be alone any more.

But she didn’t know where to begin.

She knows herself well – driven by success, fiery, opinionated.

She knows what kind of men she’s been drawn to – more successful, more fiery, more opinionated.

And yet, nothing has stuck. The most attractive men seem to be the worst partners.

Have you ever thought the same thing?

More pointedly, have you ever realized these men aren’t a good fit and STILL gone for the next attractive man who seemed more successful, more fiery, and more opinionated than you?

Of course you have.

You want what you want.

You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to.

But really, what you’re doing is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. And even three-year-olds realize that this is an impossible (and thankless) task.

You need to try a DIFFERENT method to get a DIFFERENT result.

You may THINK that the only person you can be happily married to is the man who is six feet tall, Ivy-League educated, makes $300,000/yr, and has the same religion and political leanings, but that’s just a restriction that you have imposed.

I don’t blame you – my ideal woman looks a lot like that, too! But you’ve created a definition of your perfect man in your head – and when each new man doesn’t fit into that box – you get rid of him.

To be clear, I don’t mean that your Mr. Right is short, fat, bald, poor and stupid.

I only mean that if the man whom you THINK is Mr. Right never turns out to BE Mr. Right, it’s probably time to alter your image of Mr. Right.


You need to try a DIFFERENT method to get a DIFFERENT result.

So, if your idea of Mr. Right isn’t really Mr. Right, what you SHOULD be looking for? I’m so glad you asked.

Because the trickiest thing about finding a perfect partner is that your perfect partner is not the perfect PERSON.

In fact, if I were to distill my sentiments about what you should be looking for in a partner, I would probably say this.

“You need a complement, not a clone”.

Yet if you’re in the 90th percentile in looks, intelligence, and income, you likely think that the key to happiness is finding a man who is in the 95th percentile.

Not true. That’s what you’ve been doing your whole life. It hasn’t worked.

You need to try a different approach.

My client Laura finally “got” this during our last call.

Laura’s got a lot of personality. She’s the one who dominates conversation and is the center of attention when she’s at a party. Laura may be DRAWN to men who are more charismatic than she is, but they’re not good fits for her.

Because a charismatic man wants to be the center of attention.
Because he doesn’t want to share the stage.
Because he’s likely to compete with Laura for the last word.

And most of all, because his charisma is probably indicative of a whole bunch of other qualities – his desire to flirt with other women, his bossiness, his stubbornness, his refusal to settle down or compromise…

Yes, Laura’s dated that charismatic guy a dozen times – always with the same result.

Her shift – and yours – is not to swing to the OPPOSITE end of the spectrum. Remember – I’m not trying to pair you up with bland, boring, and lame men.

Just know that if Laura brings 60% of the charisma, her partner should probably bring 40% of the charisma.

If Laura’s bringing in 60% of the income, her partner should probably bring in 40% of the income, and so on.

By having a balanced partnership, you can lean on each other and clearly define your roles without all the ego and conflict.

My wife handles customer service because I have a worse temper.
I handle negotiations because she’s too nice.
My wife handles money because I’m better with words.
I handle paying for vacations; she’s the one who plans them.

Relationships aren’t about two people who like skiing or two people who enjoy live music.

This may seem trivial but this is important. Relationships aren’t about two people who like skiing or two people who enjoy live music. Relationship are about how a couple can negotiate and compromise in every aspect of life.

So when you date the man who is just like you but “better”, you’ll likely end up with a man with the same strengths…and the same weaknesses.

If I married someone with my weaknesses, my wife would be difficult, opinionated, short-tempered.

The reason that we work is because she’s my complement: patient, happy, easygoing.

If it seems like a challenging shift to wean yourself off of men who are just like you, all you have to do is look at the results.

You’re reading my blog for smart, strong, successful single women.

That’s all you need to know.

You don’t need a clone. You need a complement.

Join our conversation (40 Comments).
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  1. 31

    “You need a complement, not a clone”.
    Yep. I dated my clones for years. Fairly recently reflecting on my last relationship and comparing someone else I met who is different from most men I’d date made me realize I don’t want my clone. This particular new guy  may not be the one for me since he inconsistent but I see other areas where someone like him who was consistent, would be a great match . My ex and I had very similar  personality  so we had the same strengths,  the same weaknesses, and a ton of the same interests.  He was the biggest clone ever.  Some of our conversations felt  as though I was was speaking to myself, wouldn’t that get boring? I like the saying that goes “If two people in a relationship are too alike, one of you isn’t necessary”. 😛
     However, I am  a bit different  from the “smart, strong, successful”  women who are very proactive and take control. I  make  a decent living and have a masters, yet I do not want to be a CEO, etc.  I’m more introverted than extroverted. I enjoy being in a more supportive and nurturing role in my career where I do get to  make decisions yet I’m not “the boss”.   Many men  I’ve dated   say they like strong aggressive women. Also after learning that many people mistakenly make the association of being feminine with being a doormat,  I thought I was supposed to be more aggressive. So I  even asked out and chased after guys, but never seemed to come out right as it felt unnatural. I also confused aggression and assertiveness so I was one of those women who went from being “too nice” to  “too bitchy”. 
    So I do believe part of the reason  I haven’t found the relationship I want is my choices.  I was seeking men who were very similar to me rather than my complement. I thought they’d be be able to relate to me better as they would “get how I feel”. I think that’s the reason most of us tend to seek someone who is just like us.   I should be dating  guys who have a heavier dose of masculine energy and do not have every little thing in common with me. 

  2. 32

    @Rochelle – I agree with you. If you have two people who are very alike it can reach some kind of stalemate when times get tough whereas with two different energies, one person gets down and the other picks them up. I think also it has a lot to do with conflict resolution patterns so two people who are conflict-avoidant or vice versa are not the best match for each other. 

    I’m quite feminine myself and beginning to get frustrated that I attract more feminine men when I want the more masculine men. The quiet guys look at me and think “She is like me. We are definitely a good match” but I tend to only see the guys who are almost my opposite as being psychologically attractive. I know people have looked at this through studying MBTI types etc

  3. 33

    Good grief. Blonde nonsense is ridiculous. As a male in my young twenties I try not to discriminate on my dates based on hair color, ethnicity, etc. Dating is about who you find attractive! Am definitely not your target audience @EMK but enjoy your articles! It’s interesting to read from the ladies’ perspective. Thanks EMK!

  4. 34

    This blonde discussion is very amusing to me because I just started dating a guy who is blond, and I normally don’t like blonds.
     In the past, I probably would not have gone out with this guy.  On our first date, he was more affectionate than I was comfortable with, but there was something about him I did like.  He was a perfect gentleman–chivalrous.  I ended up enjoying our second date, although I was nervous about it.  We fooled around on the third date, during which I learned that he not only knows how to please me, but is very interested in learning to do it better.  He also demonstrated that he can take subtle hints about where the line is without skipping a beat.  While I know I’m in the nitpicking stage,  I do recognize that I’m damn lucky to be with this guy because he makes me feel good rather than self-conscious.  I know from experience that I can fall for a guy who is not my physical ideal, and that those traits I don’t like simply become him, and I will love those parts because they are him.  I know my weaknesses and what I need from a man, and he can definitely take care of those needs in an a LTR.  I’m very interested in seeing where this goes, and I hope it’s somewhere good.
    It is definitely worth it to give the not-so-ideal guy a chance, even a second or third chance.  Evan is right once again.

  5. 35

    I met a guy who admired and listened to my intelligence, which has definitely intimidated men. Intelligence and attractiveness is a man repellent sometimes. They go for you because of your looks, and then flee when they find out that you’re smarter than them. I was stoked this guy was not afraid of Intelligence, but then he turned out to be a flake. I don’t know, I keep trying. I need someone who is not intimidated by intelligence and secure. Who wants a relationship. A large percentage of men out there do not want a relationship. I keep thinking about that stupid guy too. I think the next thing in my dating skills is simply not to get attached for a long time, no matter how woozy and wonderful the first few weeks are. You hurt don’t know! Thank god the true colors come out early enough.

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