“The real challenge is that we grow. Partner choice is a self-development journey, driving us to learn more about ourselves, about other people, about life and the way we want to live it.” —Susan Quilliam, How to Choose a Partner
At the core of living simply luxuriously is figuring out how to live life to each of our fullest potential which is why The School of Life books, website and video series captured my attention. Based in London and with editors such as Alain de Botton (who you might remember from this book I recommended last year), it was Susan Quilliam’s book How to Choose a Partner that I began reading first.
Normally I would write one post which encompasses all that I learned from reading a book that inspired me, but as I feel choosing the right partner is vitally important to our overall happiness and understanding when and if we want to partner with another human being, I wanted to digest and reflect on the book so as to share with you not only what I learned but also examples and further observations I gained.
Today’s part of the series will focus on the understanding of the breadth and power of choosing the right partner, why it is indeed difficult, but necessary to understand all the caveats as well as how to be prepared to step forward into a relationship.
1. The adventure of choosing and then being in a relationship is more complex than in previous generations.
Not only are we looking for a partner to enjoy life with, we are throwing the expectation of love into the equation. And sometimes it can be hard to differentiate love from lustful emotions and physical chemistry, but it is not impossible. In other words, the quest for a partner whom you love is not always the partner you need or are drawn to initially.
2. More opportunities abound to meet
As a more open and accepting society has merged as well as the capability of traveling more widely, barriers to meeting individuals from difficult cultures, beliefs, and religions has expanded the possibilities of whom we might meet.
3. Better equipped
While the choices may be paralyzing, we as individuals have never before been so adept at meeting the adventure of finding a partner should we choose to do so. With more education, a better understanding of psychology, sociology, neurology and biology, we are capable, should we choose, of understanding why we connect with individuals more closely after sexual intercourse, why we are drawn to particular individuals over others, which chemicals are coursing through our bodies in particular instances and what our defaults are that we do indeed have control over even though society may have us believe otherwise.
4. Understand the necessity of being single
Allowing yourself time to be single, to be alone and have moments of solitude in which to understand yoruself is crucial when it comes to being able to enter into a healthy relationship down the road should you choose. There will be times when you may reach for a partner, but unconsciously be doing so as a source of dependence. Ultimately, a healthy relationship begins with two healthy, stable, secure and content individuals.
5. Understanding where true fulfillment lies
Depending upon where we are in our lives, we may come to realize our lives are completely fulfilled without a partner. We have a variety of friends and family and outlets for communicating, socializing, creating and being loved. This is healthy. Knowing yourself is a good sign that you will know, should you reach that moment, if you want to seek out a partner. Do not accept the notion that the only way to be fulfilled is with a partner: This is false.
6. Knowing when you are ready
Quilliam cites psychologist Erich Fromm who states, in order to be ready one must understand how to love. He suggests the following skills each of us needs to learn: (1) the self-belief that we are worth loving; (2) the self-understanding of what we need; (3) the self-control to know when to let go of our needs when necessary; (4) the ability to teach our partner how to love us as we need and feel most loved; (5) and the humility to allow our partner to teach us how to love them and (6) lastly, Fromm believes to be considered grown-up in the ways of love, one must understand that love is the only and best way to fully experience our existence on this planet.
The list is clear and will take time to learn, but the good news is we can learn. These, all six, are skills and not something we come into the world knowing innately. We can learn the art of love, and then we must be honest about finding someone else who is also ready to love. Which leads me to #7.
7. Be courageous and aware
As much as we may love someone and be ready for love, our partner must also be ready to love. Whether they are seeking a pain numb”er” after having recently ended a relationship or being ignorant to what a loving relationship entails, we must have the courage to notice and then step back and move on with kindness to let them move forward in their journey in order that we can move forward in ours to find someone whose timing meshes with our own.
The feeling of love is priceless, and we sometimes realize what love is after it is gone. But there too is the lesson. Once we know what it is, what it feels like, real, true love, then we take that lesson in and let go of the mistaken identies of love.
Being open to love is daunting, and being clear as to what we do and do not need or will and will not tolerate is essential for our enduring happiness. Because ultimately, as much as we want those we love to be happy, we need to find someone who wants us to be truly happy as well.
Stop by next week when we’ll dive into Part Deux of this topic, Choosing a Partner.
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