You can’t always get what you want, but you can start by identifying what you really need from your relationship.
By James Michael Sama — Updated on May 31, 2023
Photo: OnPhotoUa / Shutterstock
Relationships are perhaps our most valuable asset in life. While we have many different types of relationships, choosing the person you want to commit yourself to romantically may be the most important decision you ever make.
While I’ve always said the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself, your relationship with your significant other is not far behind.
The person you commit to will have a daily impact on your motivation, your mood, and your path in life — for better, or for worse — so you really need to know who and what you want and need that person and your relationship with them to be.
A lot of people seem to get caught up in the idea that having a relationship — any relationship — will automatically bring them happiness or fulfillment. Because of this, they simply pursue the first person who shows them interest in return.
Sure, they’re easy on the eyes and they like you back, so why not? Well, the reason “why not” is this person could literally make or break you.
It’s important to be with someone who brings value to your life, just as you should bring value to theirs. But, some of us become overly dependent on our relationships because we don’t think we can function in life without another person by our side.
Unfortunately, dependency and infatuation can easily be mistaken for love. If you don’t trust someone and/or feel held back by them more than you feel encouraged by them, it’s time to be honest with yourself and do something about it.
Remember that just because someone desires you, that does not mean that they value you.
So, you ask, is there a way to figure out what you want in a relationship?
How to Figure Out What You Really Want in a Relationship
1. Clearly define your core values.
The most important thing you can possibly do, in all areas of your life, is to have a clear understanding of your core value system.
What is important to you? What are your non-negotiables? What would you do for work if you didn’t have to worry about being paid for it?
These are important questions to ask yourself when illustrating the image of what you’d like your life to look like.
Next, ask what are you willing to compromise. Are you okay with living in the country if the commute to the city isn’t so bad? Do you want three kids, but you’d be happy with two?
Taking time to really think about and consider these things is an important part of knowing what kind of person will best suit you for the long haul.
2. Live your single life exactly the way you want to.
Speaking of defining how you want to live your life, how are you living your life?
When you are single, it is imperative to take charge of your time here on earth and fill it with meaningful, exciting experiences. Do not allow other people to hold you back from doing the things you want to do. Getting out into the world and absorbing it with passion will help you define what it is that you enjoy, and don’t enjoy, doing.
Then, and only then, will you be able to form an image of the type of person you’d like to be with (if anyone at all).
If you find that you want to be out on the town every single night, shaking hands and kissing babies at events and you find yourself bored to death on the couch, then this is imperative to recognize, because if the person you’re with is the opposite, it absolutely will not work in the long run.
3. Learn to truly understand and value your own worth.
There are few things more important in life than embracing your own self-worth and understanding the value that you bring to the world and the people around you.
It’s not about cheesy acts like hugging the mirror every morning. It’s about accepting the truth that it is better to stay single than it is to be with someone who makes you feel alone. Nothing is more aggravating than meeting an amazing, genuine man or woman, and hearing how unappreciated they feel by their significant other.
If you don’t understand what it is that you deserve in your life, then how will you ever weed out the people who can’t give it to you? It’s the same concept as purchasing an expensive car or piece of jewelry — there is only so much negotiating that can happen before the seller realizes the buyer simply cannot afford the item.
Why? Because the item has an intrinsic understood value, and should only be possessed by someone who has worked to “afford” it. The same goes for your heart.
4. Observe couples you admire.
A lot of people ask me where I get my insight on relationships. They call it insight, but I just write down my opinions and hope people read them.
I grew up observing how my parents acted with each other (and still act with each other) and learned what it really meant to support each other and be a team. I have also observed plenty of couples who I wouldn’t exactly want to emulate, and I think it’s important to see both types of dynamics in action.
Our personal experiences are transformative when it comes to defining the life we want to live, but it is also a smart practice to take clues from others who are already successful in whatever avenue you’d like to also find success in, relationships included.
Observe couples you admire. Take hints. Learn from their hard times and be inspired by their good times. Ask them questions. Communicate. Everyone is different, but that also means everyone can teach us something new.
5. Focus on having open, authentic communication.
Too many of us are putting forth a facade these days. We are basing our self-worth on how many likes or followers we have, and therefore are trying to please our “audience” by giving them what we think they want, rather than what we really are.
When you communicate openly and are authentic with other people, you’ll very often find that they will do the same with you.
Through this process, you will be able to genuinely learn about people and also express yourself in ways that you may not have in the past, allowing learning moments about yourself as well.
If you worry too much about what you think you should be doing, places you should be going, or things you should be wearing, then you’ll never attract people into your life who love and appreciate you for who you are.
The side-effect of this is that it will hold you back from learning how to know what you need in a relationship and what really makes you feel happy and fulfilled in life because you won’t be exploring the depths of your heart and mind.
The world is lacking authenticity and love. The question is, are you willing to be the person who brings it to us?
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James Michael Sama is an award-winning Boston-based blogger on the topics of dating and relationships who amassed over 30 million readers in just a year and a half. He writes and speaks on the topics of chivalry, romance, and happiness throughout the country and has been featured repeatedly in news segments, talk shows, and mainstream radio.
This article was originally published at James M. Sama. Reprinted with permission from the author.