Personal Qualities Part 1
Experiences, learning and contribution are important facets of a full Life. They create self-fulfillment because you could have (or do) them without anyone else. But self-fulfillment alone won’t give you a full Life.
Equally essential are the relationships we build and strengthen over time with other people, our personal interactions with them, and the way we change and grow because of them.
Of all these, the most important may be the loving, long-term committed relationship with a special other.
A Relationship for a Full Life
Call it what you will: spouse, partner, girlfriend/ boyfriend, or soulmate, having someone special with whom to share the journey of Life can add much to both your Lives. Indeed, for many people, this is the most important criterion of having a full Life.
It’s not just having anybody however. It’s got to be the right person.
The right significant other makes you a better person. You just can’t help it. That person holds you to higher standards, inspires you to greater heights, makes you want to do more than you might want to alone. You bring out the best in each other.
In my work and business teaching exercise and evangelizing a full Life, I’ve met a lot of people over the last 15 years or so. Many were in happy, synergistic relationships that empowered them to achieve more success and happiness than they could have alone. I’ve been very fortunate to learn from them through observations and interviews.
Because loving relationships are an important part of a Full Life which is what AA35 is about, I’d like to share two important ideas.
The first idea is that people have personal qualities that make them more likely to have mature, loving, synergistic relationships. For example, positive qualities like being giving, kindness, and integrity increase the chances of building a happy, long-lasting, two-sided relationship, the type that provides a firm foundation on which to strive and succeed at audacious goals.
The second idea is that there are relationship qualities which exist in the most loving, supportive and enduring relationships. Good qualities can exist in a person, but how two people interact when building a relationship isn’t predictable. The right relationship qualities common to successful relationships will be explored in a future post.
10 Best Personal Qualities
Everyone is an individual with their own qualities. When it comes to relationships however, some are more conducive to building a foundation with love, consideration, support and trust. Once established, two people can strive for bigger things in Life, achieving great success and happiness together.
On the other hand, I’ve seen many high calibre people fall far short of their potential because their partners kept them at low altitude with negative qualities like low self-esteem, selfishness, greed, immaturity and other poisonous fumes. They became depressed, lost their zest for Life, learning and finally their spirit, burnt out and drained.
That’s not what I want for you.
Let’s look at 10 personal qualities that make a potentially great relationship partner.
1. Committed to Growth, Self-Improvement and Living Fully
People who are committed to growth and self-improvement continually improve themselves in all areas – including relationships. They aren’t happy to stagnate and lapse into a ‘nua’ (loosely translated as “lazing, bumming, idling”) state. They strive to be better in all areas, including their relationships. They understand there is always room for improvement and if that means doing a course, reading a book or seeing a counselor, they will.
Couples who share a passion for continuous improvement and learning won’t be easily bored. The common complaints that with time, one person became boring, gained weight, or took the other for granted are less likely. They’re always learning something and experiencing a new adventure. I recently met a couple who was doing sign language together after years together. By continuing to work on becoming better people, they’re always attractive and fresh to each other.
When self-improvement is shared with someone special, emotional bonds get stronger. Connections are built while moving towards shared goals and visions. The couple committed to growth sets goals for the future, including a financial plan which can fulfill their dreams, rather than spending for instant gratification. This minimizes financial strife, a great source of conflict these days.
When two well-adjusted people who already live full Lives come together in that special way, the synergistic effect is greater than the sum of the two parts, and both will be incredibly enriched by the experience.
Questions to ask:
- Does your partner have Life goals? Does he have a 1-, 3- and 5-year vision of where he wants to be?
- Is your partner a multi-faceted person, or very narrow in interests and goals?
- What are the qualities your partner is trying to develop, and what bad habits is he trying to eliminate?
- What has he read recently? What are his opinions about it?
- How does he spend his free time when he isn’t with you?
2. Grown Up and Responsible
“He’s such a man-child!”
“She’s just a spoilt teenager!”
“You’re hopeless without your wife/ husband/ girlfriend/ boyfriend!”
These are complaints about immaturity.
Immaturity can be cute and endearing… at first. But when you have to bear with it in a committed relationship, it gets old really fast.
Immature people expect to be taken care of. They want things done for them, they want only their feelings considered, and don’t see the need to give anything or make any sacrifices. In times of difficulty, they practise avoidance rather than taking one end of the load. They may throw tantrums or act cute until someone (that’s you) takes care of it.
That’s not the kind of relationship we want. A tantrum is what you don’t need when trying to solve a big problem. Neither is wasting time jumping through hoops when you could be maximizing what Life has to offer.
A relationship should be about two already responsible people coming together to create something more. It’s not about one person supplying deficiencies in basic things so that the other can have an idle life.
A relationship is a partnership, not a sponsorship. Being a couple means seeing each other through when hard times come. It’s about two people taking care of each other, comforting each other, and giving to each other.
The last thing you want is to be completely responsible for everything, like repairs, bills, housework, the kids….while your other half does nothing but act like another child. You’ll be so bogged down you won’t have the energy and motivation to do the things that make Life fun and interesting.
Questions to ask:
- Is your partner a giver in your relationship, or is he taking all the time?
- Does your partner show self-awareness of weaknesses and strengths?
- Does your partner seem to blame everything that goes wrong on everyone else but himself?
- In any quarrel or argument, who always apologizes first? Do you find yourself always apologizing even though you know you were not in the wrong?
- Is your partner financially responsible? Does he pay his phone bills and credit card dues on time?
- Are you paying for everything? Does your partner willingly pay for shared experiences, outings, travels, meals?
- Does your partner even have a job?
3. High Self-Esteem
Self-esteem can be loosely translated as having a sense of self-worth. It’s having confidence and a belief that you’re an attractive person and you deserve happiness, success, and a fulfilling relationship.
When someone with low self-esteem enters a relationship, it’s because he believes he needs one to become happy. He usually ends up with someone with equally if not lower self-esteem, in a toxic relationship full of emotional baggage. Because he does not think highly of himself he is suspicious if his partner gives him respect, trust, love and consideration. Yet he demands full attention and focus, and constantly tests his partner’s love with unreasonable rules and dichotomous tests. Always in fear his partner will find someone more attractive, his stressful behaviour leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When someone has high self-esteem, he is confident, proud of his achievements and when he enters a relationship he is already happy. So he chooses another person of good self-esteem, so that together they both create something greater and become happier. He accepts love and trusts more easily, because he is innately confident he deserves happiness and has enough plus points to inspire loyalty and faithfulness.
This is definitely what you want for a solid relationship.
Questions to ask:
- Which of your qualities are you proudest of?
- What are the 3 best things you can offer in a relationship?
- Tell me about your greatest achievement in each of the last 5 years
- Have you ever been taken for granted/ mistreated by an ex? What did it take for you to walk away?
- Do you take care of your health? What do you usually eat and how do you exercise?
This last question reveals how much a person feels about taking care of themselves, and ties very nicely to our fourth quality.
4. Fit and Health-Conscious
The primary message of AA35 is stay young and live Life to the full, whatever your age, and health and fitness are keys to making it happen.
Unlike many things in a relationship, being healthy is non-negotiable and it’s a lifestyle. If you want a long-term (like, Lifelong) relationship, it’s essential to be compatible here. Couples who are not quarrel about what to eat, exercise, financial costs from preventable disease and illness, and jealousy. These are time wasters that drain energy and emotion from the really important thing about Life… living it.
Two physically fit people have few limits to the experiences they can share. It could be trying out a novel activity like a vertical marathon or that new kickboxing class, or travelling to interesting places and roughing it out. Exercising together, supporting each other’s fitness goals, also brings them closer.
Many people embrace the excuse that as you get older you’ll naturally get fat and less attractive. Exercising and eating right keeps you looking fantastic for each other. I’ve worked with couples in their 50s and 60s who exercise together and look great.
Finally, commitment to fitness and health is essential if you love your kids. Many children are fat these days, even obese. Fit parents are living examples and make healthy living a habit. Consequently children won’t have to undergo the torture of drastic lifestyle changes years later when they develop heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and other weight-related diseases.
Questions to ask:
- Is your partner a regular exerciser and careful eater?
- Do you feel assured your partner can look after himself during illness or an injury, or are you the one who has to monitor and take care of him all the time?
- Does your partner express unhappiness that you are spending ‘too much time’ on exercise?
- Does your partner object to having exercise equipment in the house?
- Do you argue frequently about food – what to cook, where to eat, how much you are spending on supplements and organic produce?
That’s the end of Part 1. Remember, relationships are two-way. Think about what your good qualities are, but also, where you might fall short. Far too many people are blinded to their own faults when it comes to relationships and don’t work hard enough to improve themselves.
In Part 2, we’ll look at the 6 remaining personal qualities in a person that makes for potentially great relationship.