When making choices regarding a healthy intimate relationship, many tend to overlook important aspects. It is easy to be fooled when falling in love, and things can get blurry.   We are overrun by the ideas that have shaped our view of what an intimate relationship should look like, and these can leave us misinformed.  Some of these views can be developed by watching our family and friends, reading romance novels, watching dramatic and unrealistic romantic movies, and our individual trial-and-error experiences.  It has been said that “LOVE is all you need,” but this is an overly simplistic statement for such a complex word.

Is there a way to follow your heart while using your head when falling in love?  The research has been done, and it turns out, there are ways a person can know what their partner will be like in marriage.  Here are five key areas to pay attention to as you search for love.  

  1. Compatibility potential: Couples that are truly compatible have three dimensions that need to be considered. 

Chemistry- In a poll done by the National Marriage Project, ninety-four percent of singles stated they wanted to marry their soulmate.  When you search for your soulmate, it is obvious you need rich chemistry.  But, chemistry cannot be used to judge character, nor is it a constant in the very strongest relationships. 

Complementarity- A soulmate is different from you in ways that benefit the relationship.  You will find yourself desiring to be a better person because of the connection with your partner.  

Comparability- With a soulmate your core values, lifestyle choices, and life goals are in alignment.  Therefore, it is important to do the work of knowing what those values and goals are in your life.  

  1. Relationship skills: A soulmate communicates.  Watch closely for communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal.  Many couples come to therapy because one partner or both cannot put their feelings into words.  When having a conversation, watch for your partner’s ability to be open.  When communication skills are coupled with conflict resolution, a couple will be able to resolve challenges, disagreements, and arguments.  Without these skills, the relationship will erode over time. 
  2. Relationship patterns: Look for common denominators in their relationship patterns, both romantic and unromantic.  A soulmate will treat others with respect, including their boss and the waiter at your favorite restaurant.  You must observe how this person behaves in a variety of situations, not just one or two.  When circumstances change, pressure is more intense, and stress heightens, how does this person behave?  
  3. Family patterns and background: Childhood family patterns and relationships are often repeated in adulthood unless conscious efforts are made in an attempt to change.  Family expressions of affection in childhood are important determinants of the ability to express and be open as an adult.  Take note of what the relationship is like with parents and siblings, and how angry and hurt feelings were dealt with in the family.  As depicted in The Beverly Hillbillies, you don’t get to marry Jethro without gettin’ the Clampetts.
  4. Character and conscience traits: Once you have found your soulmate, find your mate’s soul.  Skilled communicators and masters in conflict resolution can create a relationship disaster if they have no conscience.  Do you see your partner monitoring their thoughts, words, and actions and living in alignment with their core values and morals? 

Remember that as you look for your “right” one, you have an opportunity to take a good look in the mirror and evaluate whether you are the  “right” one.  

For more information and research on how to fall in love using your heart and head together, I suggest you read John Van Epp’s book called “How to avoid falling in Love with a Jerk.”  There is a helpful workbook that goes along with it that offers helpful insight.