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How to Choose the Perfect Partner

If you are not yet married but would like to be, you may wonder if you now date or live with "the one" you should marry or, if not, how to spot this perfect partner. I received an email recently from someone wondering about this, too.

Who is Your Perfect Partner?

Your perfect partner adds something extra to your good enough life. He or she is not responsible for making it good enough. If you find it hard to meet your perfect partner, do something to make your life better.

Your perfect partner disagrees with you about many things. Otherwise, how could he or she bring anything extra into your life? The Third Alternatives you two discover when you disagree will open your life to possibilities you never dreamed of.

Your perfect partner is not frightened or disgusted by your past or your dreams. You cannot know this, and you cannot find your perfect partner, until you reveal your past and your dreams, ideally after the first date and before the first orgasm, because all that oxytocin will bond you and make it harder to leave if you have found the wrong partner for you.

Your perfect partner does not have a past or dreams for the future that frighten or disgust you. You feel free to admire and encourage a perfect partner.

Your perfect partner will sometimes do things that shock, hurt, embarrass, or frustrate you, simply because you two see things differently. However, barring brain damage from an addiction, disease, or accident (all of which call for immediate treatment, not just forgiveness), your perfect partner will never pose a threat to your health, life, or sanity.

Because your perfect partner's perfect partner is you, your perfect partner cannot be (a) created by attempting to fix him or her, (b) lured by pretending to be anyone by yourself, nor (c) drafted through imprisonment, pregnancy, or financial support.

How Do You Find Your Perfect Partner?

You keep looking. You break up and move on as soon as possible when you discover you are dating someone else. As soon as your life is good enough again, you get out and meet new people, because one of them may be or may know your perfect partner.

Your perfect partner is one of many perfect partners for you, one who happens to inhabit the place or lifestyle you find most comfortable right now. If you do not find him or her there, try traveling in slightly different circles.

If I Marry, Won't It Constrain My Life Choices?

Yes, it will. Life is one giant buffet full of options, but every single one you put on your plate constrains your ability to choose the others. Spend your money on a great pair of shoes, and you have less for a trip down the Amazon or a cozy house overlooking the water. Spend your time in the garden, and you have less time for windsurfing or writing a novel.

If you marry someone who won't get in an airplane, you will need to do your air travel solo. If you marry someone saving for a house, you may need to channel some of your funds into that house, too, or live apart.

And yet, marrying increases your options, too. It increases them because your husband or wife brings a different set of character strengths to inspire you, to rescue you, and to open up options not available to you with your strengths. And it increases them because your spouse can give you a boost up and a softer place to land, making it easier to take a big risk, experience something incredible, and perhaps reap the big payoff.

Marrying also frees up all that time you spend looking for, getting to know, checking out, breaking up with, and recovering from people who are not your perfect partner. Think of all the other things on your wish list you could spend this time on!

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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