Are you the person with a list of qualities you want in a partner? Keep reading, because chances are you have this one quality you think your future partner must embody or else…, and am here to tell you to scratch it off right now.
You think with this quality in a partner life should be easy, pleasant, and fun.
I think your life will be boring and data shows that your relationship will fall apart.
So, without further ado, the person you absolutely do not want to be in a relationship with is the person who only does nice things for you and never rocks the boat.
There are two possibilities for why someone will never cause you at least some distress. Either you don’t really know them. Meaning, your relationship is superficial and no major life challenges have come your way. During challenging situations, true colors shine bright. You can see what the person values, how they perform under pressure, and who they really are. Perhaps, you don’t see each other very often so both of you are always on your best behavior. Whatever the situation, you really do not know this person.
Or, they are not communicating with you, or you with them, so there’s no opportunity for disagreements. Perhaps, they are high on a personality trait known as “agreeableness” and they are extremely conflict avoidant. Perhaps, you are subordinating them to you, which makes you a questionable character. Perhaps, they have a game plan that may not turn out very well for you. Whatever the situation, your communication is limited and inadequate.
If there is no disagreement ever, if this person always does your bidding without questions, if no friction, discontent, or difference in opinion, values, priorities, and preferences ever arise, you are not growing!
You want someone who can keep you in check and holds you accountable for your bad behaviors and crazy, potentially harmful, selfish ideas. A real and meaningful relationship incorporates and specifically allows and welcomes disagreements and uncomfortable moments for the sake of both participants’ transformation. People do want this kind of productive friction, relying on their partner to stand up for what they believe, to communicate, to figure things out together. No healthy, emotionally intelligent person likes a pushover.
What does an optimal relationship look like in terms of positive to negative emotional interactions? We know from data that less than five positive to one negative interaction signifies an excessively negative environment and the relationship will fail. We also know that eleven or more positive to one negative interaction leads to the relationship also falling apart. While you may think that the more the positive, the better, in reality, too much positivity equals not enough challenge. Not enough challenge causes the relationship to disintegrate.
Growth requires challenges. A relationship context should provide a safe space for productive friction and working with challenges for the benefit of both parties. Living alone is easy. You float around in your comfort zone, unchallenged, however dysfunctional you may be. As you interact with the world outside and around you, it will appear to you that people are out to get you. That the world is full of malevolence and causes you suffering, which will make you retreat further into your own space.
The tragedy of this is that you are not likely to become what you could be without the challenges and friction arising in the relational space. But if you embrace them, you could put yourself together better and minimize your suffering. To paraphrase Canadean psychologist Jordan Peterson, the degree to which the terrible part of the world manifests itself to you is proportionate to how insufficient your ara. And you don’t know the full extent of your insufficiency until someone points it out to you. You may not pay attention to strangers or co-workers, blaming them instead, but you will likely pay attention to someone you care about and want to stay with. As you act to reduce your insufficiencies, you will reduce not only your suffering but the suffering of those around you, because you will show up for them a better person.
If you choose to remain on your own, pay attention to your reasons. What beliefs drive your choice? What rules do you impose on yourself? If you had a bad experience or two in past relationships, are you trying to protect yourself? What conclusions did you draw from these experiences? Is one bad actor reason enough to believe that all possible future partners will be bad actors? If you have rules such as “never have a permanent relationship,” or “never live with someone again,” “don’t share too much personal information,” you might think that you are doing yourself a favor, but you are restricting your own growth and limiting your own potentially positive and rewarding experiences.
A deep discussion about what matters with someone you care about, however difficult it might be, is priceless even though it’s free. Relationships will help you develop life skills and emotional intelligence. Unless you choose someone who lives in your shadow and never disagrees with you. Don’t pick a person like that, even though at first it might seem like you just flow together in amazing ways. If you are not learning anything about yourself while with this person, start questioning the situation.