Look, by now you probably have read a dozen articles on “This is how you know you will marry this person” and I understand: You are tired of always being told who you should be with, or what you should look for in a date, a relationship and a life partner.
As sharp, witty, and well-rounded eligible beings, it sometimes gets hard to go past the surface criteria i.e. height, weight, hair color, resume credentials etc. and search for a real connection.
The search becomes even more painful when considering your constant desire to grow as a person and a professional. It may be that your past relationship has ended because he felt threatened by your raise, or that magic went out the door and routine settled in, or that you couldn’t find anything to talk about anymore. The common theme is poignant: if one person grows faster than the other, forever becomes an illusion.
I believe in empowerment through strategy, so I would like to share with you the two key traits to look for in a life partner, if stunt growth is what you fear, when it comes to being in a relationship.
Praise & Criticism – Can the person standing in front of you be both your cheerleader and your critic?
You want your life partner to believe in you, acknowledge your accomplishments, and give you the power to pursue your life aspirations in your personal and professional life. Being praised for your accomplishments says “I see your aspirations to become the best you can, and I want to celebrate you for all that you are to me, and others.”
You also want to know that they will speak their mind when they think that you are doing something wrong, and not only state “I think this the wrong thing to do”, but also give you an explanation on why they think that. There is a fine line between pointing fingers, and helping each other grow and get better.
A life partner who can both praise and criticize you is important from a communication’s standpoint. It says “I am not afraid to communicate to you two important things: that I acknowledge what an amazing person you are, and that, whether you’ll like it or not, I am not afraid to express myself when I see areas of improvement”.
There has to be a balance between praise and criticism, as being at either of these extremes can be damaging to your relationship and life. Self-reflect on how you engage with these two; chances are you are most likely choosing based on your own reflection, so, if you seek balance, you must embody it first.
How do you know if you embody it? Ask those who are close to you- your family, friends, colleagues, to express how they feel when you praise and criticize them. Always ask about praise first such that you start the conversation on a positive note. You will find that people will be more open to giving you feedback on the negatives of your character if you start on a happy note.
A great strategy to get frank feedback from them is via indirect messaging over texting or email. It is easier for people to type up their honest thoughts, rather than be looked in the eyes as they try and come up with a fitting answer to a rather sensitive topic. It’s also a good strategy to protect yourself from answers you may not like as much as you initially thought.
Now that you have a clear understanding on how you score on the praise-criticism scale, you can confidently make small changes to become better at it. As you are gathering valuable feedback from your close tribe, finish on a positive note and ask them to make suggestions on how you can improve at both praising and criticizing.
It is important to understand and accept the following: in order to find an extraordinary life partner, you yourself have to be, or become, an extraordinary cheerleader and critic.