Why is it that so many people find themselves in relationships that don't work? This has got to be one of the burning questions of modern times. We certainly don't start a relationship with someone thinking that later we'll be at odds with them. But looking at the ever-rising divorce rate, that often seems to be the case. So again, I'll ask, why?
There are a wide variety of answers as well as reasons. Perhaps it would first be better to examine the assorted reasons for being with someone in the first place. Some people are looking for friends, companions. Some are looking for a series of temporary lovers. Many are looking for someone to pass the time, perhaps, someone to help them overcome loneliness. And some are looking for that special, lasting connection that will allow them their place in the sun.
I think it's important to carefully examine what you're seeking when searching for a partner. There are people who will literally hook up with anyone who might have them. This type of indiscretion often stems from insecurity and poor self-esteem. When such a relationship progresses into marriage, both individuals may soon discover that there is more to life than simply having a warm body around.
But this article is not designed to examine the reasons relationships start or any individual's particular motivation for wanting to be with someone. This piece is for identifying the qualities that are essential to any lasting relationship and showing the reader how to be sure those qualities are present in his or her partner. These concepts are for people who are honestly seeking someone as a life partner. And though the text has been loosely written to describe traditional male - female relationships, the principles discussed will easily apply to same-sex relationships as well.
This material is a product of the examination of my own frustration in a failed marriage. After more than sixteen years of marriage my ex-wife and I decided to throw in the towel. It's not that we didn't love each other - we did. The problem was, we didn't get along. Just before calling it quits I faced a serious illness and spent the better part of a year being treated. When I found myself on the other side of that experience I decided that life was too short to stay in a relationship that causes more frustration than happiness.
During the marriage and well after I wondered what it was that was causing the disharmony. After pondering our differences and the many apparent and underlying reasons for our mismatched behaviors I came up with a short yet essential set of behaviors or "virtues" that must be present for two people to have that elusive "forever" relationship. And although it is not normally my style to analyze or categorize things, I have come up with a scoring system for the absolute essential qualities needed for any relationship to last. This system is designed to give the reader insight to what is really important for a couple's lasting harmony and a method to evaluate your chances for a lasting, committed relationship based on objective reason.
Over the last few years I've talked to many people about the virtues or essential elements to establishing and growing a lasting relationship. I've interviewed many folks who were actually happy; many who gave the appearance of happiness; and many who were quite unhappy. Without exception, each of the people agreed that the following personal attributes or qualities are absolutely necessary for any relationship to thrive. These virtues as I sometimes call them, are over and above the very basic premise that two people have some common interests to begin with. The five virtues are:
Looks - Appearance
This is typically how it all starts. Without physical attraction nothing else happens. Face it, there has to be something about a person's appearance that makes another interested, and over time, helps to keep them interested.
This one is simple. Is your prospective mate honest? Does he or she do what they say they're going to do? Did they go where they said they were going? As many can attest, a long lasting relationship without honesty is no relationship at all.
For a long term relationship to thrive both parties must have similar interests and be able to communicate on similar levels. If she is interested in particle theory and he is interested only in NFL play-calling theory or reality TV, chances are, the partnership will suffer and eventually fall apart.
Some people are open and uninhibited about sex and others are guarded. Some have pre-conceived ideas about what's acceptable and natural in the bedroom and are unwilling or unable to bend on these matters. Perhaps the best determiner of sexual compatibility is whether both people find their sexual relations natural and free flowing and that each of them strives to please the other within what they both consider to be reasonable boundaries.
Affection - Respect
These two items might have been separate qualities, but upon examination they are very closely related as one cannot exist without the other. Looking at a wide range of individual's intensity levels of affection and respect, these feelings might be light and casual, or significant and very meaningful. Some folks are happy with only small gestures of affection while others require much more. The important thing is that each person is comfortable with the level of these qualities and is having their needs met in these and all of the other categories.
Scoring the Qualities
Okay, we've defined the five virtues. The rest is pretty simple. You will need to assign a numerical value to each of your partner's virtues. The values range from 0 to 3 with three being the high score. Once you've assigned a numerical value to each of the five virtues you total the score. You're going to need a minimum score of 9 to ensure a long-lasting, loving relationship. Of course, the higher the score, the better the chance for success. There is one other important rule. Never consider a long term relationship with anyone who scores a 0 in any of the virtues regardless of how high the other scores are.
That may seem harsh but it's really quite important. I've informally asked dozens of couples to score the five virtues and without fail, it works. People who were struggling or unhappy in their relationships always scored lower than a 9 or they had one or more zeros. Virtually every couple with a score of 9 or better were well adjusted and happy. Let's look at an example:
Ziggy has the hots for Zena and is considering asking for her hand in marriage. He honestly and objectively rates her on the virtues. Her scores are as follows:
Looks = 2
Integrity = 2
Intelligence = 3
Sex = 3
Affection/Respect = 2
Total = 12
Zena's total score is 12 - a respectable score and more than enough for lasting compatibility. But love is a two-way street so Zena now needs to rate Ziggy. Ziggy's scores are as follows:
Looks = 3
Integrity = 0
Intelligence = 3
Sex = 3
Affection/Respect = 1
Total = 10
Ladies and Gentlemen, do we have a match? Not by the rating system and not by the informal survey I've conducted over the last several years. Remember, and this is a key factor, a score of 0 on any of the virtues, regardless of the other scores indicates a high probability of failure. It's also interesting to note that Ziggy scores a 1 in Affection/Respect and a 0 in integrity. Respect and integrity are very closely related.
In my own marriage my ex and I each agreed that the other scored high in all but one category. What was interesting was that we came up short in the same category. For her the low score was a 0 for Affection/Integrity and for me, the same - a 0 for Affection/Integrity. We managed to limp along for more than 16 years pretending everything was fine, but each of us was missing the affection factor, and without it, we were eventually doomed to divorce.
The one thing essential to this system working is honesty. It's necessary for people using the method to look at each of the qualities named and evaluate them objectively, with brutal honesty. And that brings me to the next and final item to consider.
Some might say that to examine and score the five virtues takes all of the romance out of being together. That might be true . But stop for a moment and think of exactly what romance is. Aren't love and romance intense emotional states? Of course they are. Love and romance are strong subjective feelings. And all things considered, I wouldn't want them to be anything other than strong emotions.
But here's the dilemma: decisions made under the influence of strong emotions are often poor decisions. It's the emotion itself that distorts our perceptions and often leads us away from noticing actions and behaviors by another that will eventually hurt us. I believe the reason for so many failed relationships is that we start out thinking with our hearts instead of our heads.
The simple scoring system described here will help anyone to recognize the qualities and behaviors that are important to a lasting relationship and evaluate a partner's ability to demonstrate those qualities. I wish you joy and luck in your search for romance, and don't forget your calculator!
Charles Steed has been a student of human development for more than 20 years and has written extensively on the topic. He’s been a master practitioner of NLP since 2002.To learn more about the law of attraction and other powerful self improvement techniques visit