24 Things to Look for in Relationships We Know as Kids

24 Things to Look for in Relationships We Know as Kids

What Makes Good Relationships?

What are things to look for in relationships? It’s kind of personal. We all have certain things we look for in relationships over other things, like football fan or movie buff, but what about the deeper things that make love last?

I knew more about dating when I was 10 than when I started dating years later. I was a nerdy kid: I loved reading more than playing dodge ball, wrote reports about whales and Abraham Lincoln for fun after school at a little table in my bedroom. And when I had my first neighborhood-boy crush at age 10, I made up a questionnaire for him to fill out to determine our compatibility. He was older than me, all of 11.


I can’t recall if he passed or even filled it in. We did have a brief, awkward sort of half-kiss on my front porch. It ended shortly after that. It wasn’t him, it was me. I just wasn’t ready.

I’d like to see that nifty survey-document – hand written on lined 3-ring notebook paper. It’d be fun to see exactly what I considered important in a man as a 10-year old girl. It couldn’t have been about career paths or income, or good credit or investments or pension funds or even political affiliation – because I didn’t know much about those things. And surely retirement or old age seemed like eons away when I hadn’t even entered middle school.


I can only assume the issues I cared about were things like trustworthiness and whether or not he liked books. Character traits of 10-year old loyalty, honor and respect. I wanted a man who knew I was equal to him inherently. Not identical, but equal. I wanted someone respectworthy and true. I knew I was loyal and faithful – I wasn’t going to toss that away on a 12-year old cad. Where was this caution and level-headed deliberation 10 years later? And 20 years later?

What to Look For in the Man We Date

All I can say – with a sigh of one who’s had some life experience – is at least I’ve come full circle. After a few not so-nice times with men who were far worse than not-nice – and some good times with a few who were incredibly good. I’m fully back to making up a compatibility test that covers what I knew was important way back in grade school from a grown-up point of view. Here’s what I’d be looking for:


  1. Someone magnanimous and with a sense of humor.
  2. Someone who likes that I’m smart and funny.
  3. Someone who can cook, because I can too, but I don’t want to do it every day.
  4. A man who can do laundry, take out garbage, run a vacuum cleaner. Or is open to hiring a housekeeper.
  5. Someone who carries things for me and opens doors.
  6. A strong man who can cry or be sad and show it.
  7. One who can get the oil changed in the car.
  8. Someone who likes it – a lot – when I bake a pie or make cookies.
  9. One who is genuinely happy for other people’s success and accomplishments.
  10. A man who wants to see me reach all my goals and supports my efforts.
  11. A guy who puts the toilet seat down.
  12. A man who admires women from the bottom of his heart.
  13. Someone who loves his family.
  14. A man who is kind.
  15. A man who likes a lot of the same kinds of movies I do, but shows me others I don’t know about.
  16. A guy who doesn’t spend hours watching sports. Really, let’s go on a bike ride instead.
  17. Someone who takes me places. I sit at home if left to myself.
  18. A very honest man.
  19. Someone who truly values relationships for all the right reasons.
  20. A guy I love to kiss.
  21. Someone who likes to stay home and just be there with each other.
  22. A guy who likes to be among our friends.
  23. Someone who knows how to smile and laugh every day.
  24. A man who likes books.

And now that I’m older and a little wiser:

25. I’d want a man who can bring home the bacon and save for the future. Because I can too and we’re in it together.

The way I’d find this out isn’t by his answers to yes or no questions on a pencil-smudged piece of paper, or even with an Internet background check – it would be time. Time. Time spent together. Time spent with friends. But not too much time in any one week. I’d take time for myself too. And we’d talk in person, instead of texts or by phone. I’d meet his family and spend time with them. I’d have my sister give her stamp of approval. I’d take time. And after a year, maybe two years… then I’d think about a life together.


Here’s to REAL True Love and Happiness!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via


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24 Things to Look for in Relationships We Know as Kids

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Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.


With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via


[1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
[2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
[3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
[4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
[5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

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