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How To Pick Your Life Partner – Part 1

How To Pick Your Life Partner – Part 1

How should you pick your life partner? Wait But Why has this inspiring answer.

To a frustrated single person, life can often feel like this:

non-vday-staircase

    And at first glance, research seems to back this up, suggesting that married people are on average happier than single people and much happier than divorced people.But a closer analysis reveals that if you split up “married people” into two groups based on marriage quality, “people in self-assessed poor marriages are fairly miserable, and much less happy than unmarried people, and people in self-assessed good marriages are even more happy than the literature reports”. In other words, here’s what’s happening in reality:

    non-vday-2

      Dissatisfied single people should actually consider themselves in a neutral, fairly hopeful position, compared to what their situation could be. A single person who would like to find a great relationship is one step away from it, with their to-do list reading,“1) Find a great relationship.” People in unhappy relationships, on the other hand, are three leaps away, with a to-do list of “1) Go through a soul-crushing break-up. 2) Emotionally recover. 3) Find a great relationship.” Not as bad when you look at it that way, right?

      All the research on how vastly happiness varies between happy and unhappy marriages makes perfect sense, of course. It’s your life partner.

      Thinking about how overwhelmingly important it is to pick the right life partner is like thinking about how huge the universe really is or how terrifying death really is—it’s too intense to internalize the reality of it, so we just don’t think about it that hard and remain in slight denial about the magnitude of the situation.

      But unlike death and the universe’s size, picking a life partner is fully in your control, so it’s critical to make yourself entirely clear on how big a deal the decision really is and to thoroughly analyze the most important factors in making it.

      So how big a deal is it?

      Well, start by subtracting your age from 90. If you live a long life, that’s about the number of years you’re going to spend with your current or future life partner, give or take a few.

      I’m pretty sure no one over 80 reads Wait But Why, so no matter who you are, that’s a lot of time—and almost the entirety of the rest of your one existence.

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      (Sure, people get divorced, but you don’t think you will. A recent study shows that 86% of young people assume their current or future marriage will be forever, and I doubt older people feel much differently. So we’ll proceed under that assumption.)

      And when you choose a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times.

      Intense shit.

      So given that this is by far the most important thing in life to get right, how is it possible that so many good, smart, otherwise-logical people end up choosing a life partnership that leaves them dissatisfied and unhappy?

      Well as it turns out, there are a bunch of factors working against us:

      People tend to be bad at knowing what they want from a relationship

      Studies have shown people to be generally bad, when single, at predicting what later turn out to be their actual relationship preferences. One study found that speed daters questioned about their relationship preferences usually prove themselves wrong just minutes later with what they show to prefer in the actual event.

      This shouldn’t be a surprise—in life, you usually don’t get good at something until you’ve done it a bunch of times. Unfortunately, not many people have a chance to be in more than a few, if any, serious relationships before they make their big decision. There’s just not enough time. And given that a person’s partnership persona and relationship needs are often quite different from the way they are as a single person, it’s hard as a single person to really know what you want or need from a relationship.

      Society has it all wrong and gives us terrible advice

      → Society encourages us to stay uneducated and let romance be our guide.

      If you’re running a business, conventional wisdom states that you’re a much more effective business owner if you study business in school, create well thought-out business plans, and analyze your business’s performance diligently. This is logical, because that’s the way you proceed when you want to do something well and minimize mistakes.

      But if someone went to school to learn about how to pick a life partner and take part in a healthy relationship, if they charted out a detailed plan of action to find one, and if they kept their progress organized rigorously in a spreadsheet, society says they’re A) an over-rational robot, B) way too concerned about this, and C) a huge weirdo.

      No, when it comes to dating, society frowns upon thinking too much about it, instead opting for things like relying on fate, going with your gut, and hoping for the best. If a business owner took society’s dating advice for her business, she’d probably fail, and if she succeeded, it would be partially due to good luck—and that’s how society wants us to approach dating.

      → Society places a stigma on intelligently expanding our search for potential partners.

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      In a study on what governs our dating choices more, our preferences or our current opportunities, opportunities wins hands down—our dating choices are “98% a response…to market conditions and just 2% immutable desires. Proposals to date tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths governed by what’s on offer that night.”

      In other words, people end up picking from whatever pool of options they have, no matter how poorly matched they might to be to those candidates. The obvious conclusion to draw here is that outside of serious socialites, everyone looking for a life partner should be doing a lot of online dating, speed dating, and other systems created to broaden the candidate pool in an intelligent way.

      But good old society frowns upon that, and people are often still timid to say they met their spouse on a dating site. The respectable way to meet a life partner is by dumb luck, by bumping into them randomly or being introduced to them from within your little pool. Fortunately, this stigma is diminishing with time, but that it’s there at all is a reflection of how illogical the socially accepted dating rulebook is.

       Society rushes us.

      In our world, the major rule is to get married before you’re too old—and “too old” varies from 25 – 35, depending on where you live. The rule should be “whatever you do, don’t marry the wrong person,” but society frowns much more upon a 37-year-old single person than it does an unhappily married 37-year-old with two children. It makes no sense—the former is one step away from a happy marriage, while the latter must either settle for permanent unhappiness or endure a messy divorce just to catch up to where the single person is.

      Our Biology Is Doing Us No Favors

      → Human biology evolved a long time ago and doesn’t understand the concept of having a deep connection with a life partner for 50 years.

      When we start seeing someone and feel the slightest twinge of excitement, our biology gets into “okay let’s do this” mode and bombards us with chemicals designed to get us to mate (lust), fall in love (the Honeymoon Phase), and then commit for the long run (attachment). Our brains can usually override this process if we’re just not that into someone, but for all those middle ground cases where the right move is probably to move on and find something better, we often succumb to the chemical roller coaster and end up getting engaged.

      → Biological clocks are a bitch.

      For a woman who wants to have biological children with her husband, she has one very real limitation in play, which is the need to pick the right life partner by forty, give or take. This is just a shitty fact and makes an already hard process one notch more stressful. Still, if it were me, I’d rather adopt children with the right life partner than have biological children with the wrong one.

      ———————————————

      So when you take a bunch of people who aren’t that good at knowing what they want in a relationship, surround them with a society that tells them they have to find a life partner but that they should under-think, under-explore, and hurry up, and combine that with biology that drugs us as we try to figure it out and promises to stop producing children before too long, what do you get?

      A frenzy of big decisions for bad reasons and a lot of people messing up the most important decision of their life. Let’s take a look at some of the common types of people who fall victim to all of this and end up in unhappy relationships:

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      Overly Romantic Ronald
      titanic

        Overly Romantic Ronald’s downfall is believing that love is enough reason on its own to marry someone. Romance can be a great part of a relationship, and love is a key ingredient in a happy marriage, but without a bunch of other important things, it’s simply not enough.

        The overly romantic person repeatedly ignores the little voice that tries to speak up when he and his girlfriend are fighting constantly or when he seems to feel much worse about himself these days than he used to before the relationship, shutting the voice down with thoughts like “Everything happens for a reason and the way we met couldn’t have just been coincidence” and “I’m totally in love with her, and that’s all that matters”—once an overly romantic person believes he’s found his soul mate, he stops questioning things, and he’ll hang onto that belief all the way through his 50 years of unhappy marriage.

        Fear-Driven Frida

        fear

          Fear is one of the worst possible decision-makers when it comes to picking the right life partner. Unfortunately, the way society is set up, fear starts infecting all kinds of otherwise-rational people, sometimes as early as the mid-twenties. The types of fear our society (and parents, and friends) inflict upon us—fear of being the last single friend, fear of being an older parent, sometimes just fear of being judged or talked about—are the types that lead us to settle for a not-so-great partnership. The irony is that the only rational fear we should feel is the fear of spending the latter two thirds of life unhappily, with the wrong person—the exact fate the fear-driven people risk because they’re trying to be risk-averse.

          Externally-Influenced Ed
          gut

            Externally-Influenced Ed lets other people play way too big a part in the life partner decision. The choosing of a life partner is deeply personal, enormously complicated, different for everyone, and almost impossible to understand from the outside, no matter how well you know someone. As such, other people’s opinions and preferences really have no place getting involved, other than an extreme case involving mistreatment or abuse.

            The saddest example of this is someone breaking up with a person who would have been the right life partner because of external disapproval or a factor the chooser doesn’t actually care about (religion is a common one) but feels compelled to stick to for the sake of family insistence or expectations.

            It can also happen the opposite way, where everyone in someone’s life is thrilled with his relationship because it looks great from the outside, and even though it’s not actually that great from the inside, Ed listens to others over his own gut and ties the knot.

            Shallow Sharon

            shallow

              Shallow Sharon is more concerned with the on-paper description of her life partner than the inner personality beneath it. There are a bunch of boxes that she needs to have checked—things like his height, job prestige, wealth-level, accomplishments, or maybe a novelty item like being foreign or having a specific talent.

              Everyone has certain on-paper boxes they’d like checked, but a strongly ego-driven person prioritizes appearances and résumés above even the quality of her connection with her potential life partner when weighing things.

              If you want a fun new term, a significant other whom you suspect was chosen more because of the boxes they checked than for their personality underneath is a “scantron boyfriend” or a “scantron wife,” etc. I’ve gotten some good mileage out of that one.

              Selfish Stanley

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              selfish

                The selfish come in three, sometimes-overlapping varieties:

                1) The “My Way or the Highway” Type

                This person cannot handle sacrifice or compromise. She believes her needs and desires and opinions are simply more important than her partner’s, and she needs to get her way in almost any big decision. In the end, she doesn’t want a legitimate partnership, she wants to keep her single life and have someone there to keep her company.

                This person inevitably ends up with at best a super easy-going person, and at worst, a pushover with a self-esteem issue, and sacrifices a chance to be part of a team of equals, almost certainly limiting the potential quality of her marriage.

                2) The Main Character

                The Main Character’s tragic flaw is being massively self-absorbed. He wants a life partner who serves as both his therapist and biggest admirer, but is mostly uninterested in returning either favor. Each night, he and his partner discuss their days, but 90% of the discussion centers around his day—after all, he’s the main character of the relationship. The issue for him is that by being incapable of tearing himself away from his personal world, he ends up with a sidekick as his life partner, which makes for a pretty boring 50 years.

                3) The Needs-Driven

                Everyone has needs, and everyone likes those needs to be met, but problems arise when the meeting of needs—she cooks for me, he’ll be a great father, she’ll make a great wife, he’s rich, she keeps me organized, he’s great in bed—becomes the main grounds for choosing someone as a life partner. Those listed things are all great perks, but that’s all they are—perks. And after a year of marriage, when the needs-driven person is now totally accustomed to having her needs met and it’s no longer exciting, there better be a lot more good parts of the relationship she’s chosen or she’s in for a dull ride.

                The main reason most of the above types end up in unhappy relationships is that they’re consumed by a motivating force that doesn’t take into account the reality of what a life partnership is and what makes it a happy thing.

                So what makes a happy life partnership? We’ll explore more in Part 2. Read Part 2 of How To Pick Your Life Partner here.

                [Sources at the bottom of Part 2]

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                More by this author

                Anna Chui

                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                Last Updated on June 26, 2019

                13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

                13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

                Let me begin by being 100% frank with you – everyone is capable of happiness.

                Happiness is first a choice but it also takes persistence to maintain. Happiness is our birth right and my mission is to help as many people as I can live their happiest life.

                My mission is to spread the message that everyone deserves happiness.

                To live a happy life; however, you must do the work, gain the necessary knowledge, and increase your awareness.

                You must fully embody this state and begin to think and feel happiness on every level of your being.

                Often times, excuses present themselves and our mind gives us the reasons why we can’t be happy:

                “I am too busy right now to focus on happiness”

                “I will be happy when I finish school, when I have the money, when I am in the right relationship, when I have kids, when my children are older….”

                “I would have had a happy life if this traumatic event had never happened”

                “I don’t deserve happiness”

                EVERYONE deserves happiness. The reason that you are here right now is because you have a purpose and you are on the earth to enjoy your journey.

                Think BIGGER than your excuses. Push FARTHER than your complaints.

                Don’t be pulled away from greatness. Get uncomfortable. At least these are what happy and successful people do on a daily basis.

                If you would like to begin embodying this life-changing state, then… Here are the 13 ways happy people think and feel differently:

                1. Happy People Put Happiness First

                Happy people have made the decision that their end goal is happiness.

                Every situation, event, bad day ultimately ends with happiness.

                To them, happiness is equivalent to sleep and water – it is a necessity to their life. To live an unhappy life is to have never lived at all.

                The happy person asks,

                “What would be the point of living if every day and moment were filled with negativity?”

                “Why would I deplete my energy on negativity when I expend less to be positive?”

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                They make happy-based decisions which means in EVERY MOMENT they choose happiness.

                If their circumstances can’t change then they instead change their perspective, they look for the silver lining in the negative.

                Happy people don’t let negativity steal their moments away – a positive mindset always prevails.

                If you ask a happy person how their day was, they will always answer your question with a highlight or a lesson learned.

                2. Happy People Embrace Pain

                I know what you are thinking –

                “No one is ALWAYS happy”

                or …

                “Even happy people get in bad moods”

                and …

                These statements are absolutely accurate.

                Happy people aren’t always happy and they DO get into bad moods. They get overwhelmed, they feel defeated, and their feelings get hurt.

                Happy people aren’t invincible and they feel pain just like everyone else. The only difference between happy people and people who let negativity run their lives is that…

                Happy people quickly acknowledge their pain and they make a decision to find a way to transform their pain into something greater. They also use these 13 simple ways to shake off the sadness.

                Happy people admit the negativity they feel and they do what it takes to get back into their natural state: happiness.

                When your end goal is happiness, then you will find a way to achieve it no matter how much strength you have to muster.

                3. Happy People Have a Happy Self-Image

                We all have an image in our minds that we subconsciously live up to.

                The reason that change is so hard is because our subconscious mind is programmed to live by how we define ourselves.

                How are you currently defining yourself?

                For happy people, they see themselves with a smile, positive outlook, and/or a bounce in their step. When an event or situation arises that brings in a negative emotion, they quickly change their state to resemble their natural self-image.

                When happy people are in a bad mood, it feels unusual to them because feeling negative isn’t aligned with how they see themselves. When they feel upset, they acknowledge the negativity and look for a solution to bring their emotions to the level of how they perceive themselves.

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                Look at how you define yourself today – your mind and body are always trying to live up to the definition it is taught to believe.

                Your body’s job is to keep you in a “normal” state because this is where it feels most comfortable.

                If your self-image is happy, then your mind and body will naturally be brought back to where it feels at home. Your actions will be a clue to how you define yourself.

                Take a look at this guide and learn to build positive self-image: How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

                4. Happy People Have a Strong Support System

                The happiest people know that it takes a village and they lean on others for support.

                Happy people feel comfortable reaching out for help when they feel that their resistances are overpowering them. They quickly sense their negativity and they tell somebody.

                Happy people ask for assistance when they can’t figure out a problem. Seeking help takes strength and it never gets in the way of their self-worth. Happy people appreciate the wisdom that their support system provides.

                They have strong connections with the people who are close to them. They never trudge through tough times alone because jeopardizing their happiness for too long would be detrimental to their well-being.

                5. Happy People Safeguard Their Minds from Negative Triggers

                Warding off negativity is almost impossible when we live in a society that lives by what went wrong and feeds off of what could go wrong. News travels instantaneously so it would be unrealistic to shut this out of your life completely.

                However, one strategy that happy people use to safeguard their minds is regulating their environment.

                We have a lot of control on how we allow our environments to affect us. We can control our social media feed, the television shows and movies we watch, the books that we read, the people that we spend our time with, and the places that we hang out.

                If happiness is your end goal, then take a good look at what is bringing you down. What triggers your unhappiness? See if there is anything in your environment that can be changed……

                What we listen to, read, and who we hang out with influence our mind, what we think about, what we worry about, our reactions, and behaviors.

                Happy people know what triggers a feeling of negativity and it feels out of alignment for them so they do what it takes to avoid it.

                They might regulate their social media news feed to reflect the information that brings them positive energy. They might regulate the people that they spend their time with. It is important to hang out with like-minded people.

                What are your triggers? How can you avoid the negativity in your environment?

                These are ways that happy people regulate their environment and safeguard their minds: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions

                6. Happy People Know When to Say “No”

                Happy people know when to sit one out and say “no.” They do this to protect their happiness and well-being.

                Life gets overwhelming – a lot of people need our attention and the to do list can seem never ending.

                Happy people give themselves permission to take the day off and they feel comfortable with saying “no” when their stress levels begin to climb. They understand that those around them aren’t benefiting from someone who is frazzled, overwhelmed, and tired.

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                A happy person identifies their negative emotion and then they quickly treat it to bring themselves back to their “normal” state, so that they can be at their best for not only themselves but for those around them, too.

                A simple “no” can ultimately mean many more “yes’s” in the future because happiness has a long battery life. You can take a look at Leo Babauta’s article The Gentle Art of Saying No and learn to say no.

                7. Happy People Are Good Evaluators

                Happy people can quickly sense when something is off with themselves or others. They are very intuitive to happiness levels. When someone isn’t quite right, they are the first ones to notice.

                Being able to evaluate happiness means that you can identify when negativity is lingering around for too long.

                We all have bad days; however, the happy person evaluates often and quickly intervenes.

                In other words, happy people frequently evaluate their state and immediately change when their pessimism is overshadowing their joy.

                8. Happy People Bring Other People Up

                What goes on inside of us is mirrored into our physical world.

                What we think about literally consumes our life and is displayed in our work, relationships, and attitude.

                Happy people naturally feel good inside and about themselves so they treat others the way that they treat themselves. It never feels forced to give a compliment or to help out a stranger.

                When we are truly happy with ourselves, everyone around us has a better experience. Happy people are kind to themselves and because of this, it feels natural to them to want to make others’ happy, too.

                9. Happy People Go After Their Dreams

                Happy people are always following the joyful path. They make happy-based decisions and because of this, they always end up where they want to be.

                It’s absolutely impossible to be happy by following an undesirable path, which is quite opposite for unhappy people.

                Most people journey through life on a path they think they are “supposed” to be own. Warning signs (negativity) are often ignored because they truly believe that these feelings are a normal part of life.

                Negativity is NOT normal.

                The happiest people investigate the negativity in their life and quickly analyze the results. This process allows them to get back on the joyful path which ends in a desirable outcome.

                Follow your happiness and your dreams will come true (If that isn’t motivation then I don’t know what is!)

                In addition to happiness, here are 14 amazing things that happen when you live your passion.

                10. Happy People Never Sweat the Small Stuff

                The only expectation that the happy person has is that they remain in a joyful state.

                They rarely have expectations for the events and people in their lives because they know that this is a sure way to get let down.

                The happiest people take life as it comes – you could say that they roll with the punches. When you don’t have expectations, then you can just sit back and watch how beautifully life unfolds.

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                Happy people understand that bad things are inevitable, they are a part of life – The car will break, the kids will make mistakes, people will be late, and dinner will burn.

                If it’s not anything seriously affecting their lives, then they don’t give their energy to it.

                11. Happy People Rarely Have to Prove That They Are Right

                Happy people remember that it’s more important to live up to what they believe. When you live your life aligned with your belief system, then there is no need to explain or prove yourself to others.

                Differences in opinions are inevitable, but the happiest of people know it’s wasted energy to defend their position.

                It is more effective to simply show people, through actions, how you think, feel, and what you believe.

                Energy is saved, arguments are diminished, and credibility/respect are gained when we live by what we believe.

                12. Happy People Smile (Even When They Don’t Want To)

                Smiling is one of the healthiest things we can do; and happy people use this simple trick quite often.

                It has been proven that smiling has the ability to boost your immune system, decrease stress levels, and can even make you look younger. The benefits of smiling have even been backed up by science.[1]

                Better yet, smiling is contagious. When you engage in a quick smile, you are likely to brighten someone else’s day along with your own. It is no wonder why happy people smile often!

                13. Happy People Live Life in the Present Moment

                When we are genuinely happy, we are living for the moment.

                Happy people let go of the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future. They take the moments for what they are worth – they only invest their energy in what feels right to them.

                These tips on How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future maybe helpful for you.

                Everyone is capable of living a happy-centered life. You deserve a life that you desire – your dream life. All you have to start doing is make happy-based decisions TODAY.

                In every moment, decide on what makes you happy – decide on what gets you excited. Stop doing what you don’t love, don’t listen to the people that you dislike.

                If you are engaging in something that isn’t bringing you joy, then quit doing it. Listen to your heart, stop ignoring the warning signs (negativity) because they are there for a reason.

                Final Thoughts

                I have observed, studied, and interviewed some of the happiest and most successful people along with some of the most miserable and self-loathing.

                It starts with one decision – happiness.

                The happiest, most successful people choose happiness with EACH and EVERY decision. And you can start doing this today.

                Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Harvard Business Review: The Science Behind the Smile

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