11 Things Your Mother Never Told You About Finding A Relationship That Lasts

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Couple holding hands in cave

Dating apps, articles and even reality TV shows always ask what people look for in a relationship. The answers are usually the same. They want someone who can make them laugh, who they can have fun with, who will be their best friend, etc.

All of these are great and should be part of any long-term relationship, but what someone should be looking for goes deeper than finding a best friend or good provider — but that's what most of our mothers taught us. It's likely what their mothers taught them, too. 

My own mother had a history of toxic relationships, so when I started looking for someone to love forever, I only knew how to follow her lead. As a result, I had one toxic relationship after another. I wasn’t finding the love that I wanted.

Then I met my husband. He is a unicorn in some ways, someone who possesses everything I need to be happy.

With him in mind, I have compiled a list of what to look for in a long-term romantic partner so you can find the love I have, and we can all live happily ever after.

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Here are 11 things to look for in a long-term partner (that your mom never told you).

1. Someone who loves you unconditionally.

Many people who are in toxic relationships are with someone whose love for them goes up and down.

One day, their partner declares love, and the next day, after doing something annoying, the person they love treats them like the lowest person on the planet.

This is not okay and not something we should look for in a long-term partner.

My husband loves me, problems and all. He loves me when I am depressed or annoying. He loves me when I don’t want to go to parties with him because of my social anxiety. He loves me when I go to the Caribbean with my kids without him.

He loves me no matter what. I am sure some days more than others, but I know he loves me, and he lets me know it.

2. Someone willing to address issues and resolve them.

When we were first together, my husband and I got into a spat, something we don’t do often. I said something, and he just stood there, not saying anything. He looked at me and said, ‘My brain is blank. I don’t know how to process this.”

I have since learned that for many people when their partners get mad at them, their minds go blank. They have no idea what to say or do at that moment. Once I understood that, it made processing issues with my husband much easier because I could be more patient and give him time to figure out how to respond.

As a result, he doesn’t run from issues like he used to. We can address them head-on and put them to bed.

3. Someone who you like.

Of course, you want to find someone to love, but it is also essential to find someone you like and like to spend time with.

I am not sure it’s possible to have a partner who is also your best friend because we need to save that for the best friend we need when we have to vent about our relationship. But, you do need to find someone who you like.

I like my husband. I like looking at him, I like talking about dumb stuff with him, I like how he is when we are at a dinner party, and I like seeing how he is with his kids. I truly like this guy.

Many people in relationships are struggling and often not sure they like their person anymore. They like who their person was at the beginning of the relationship but not necessarily the person they are now.

So, when you are out there looking for love, look for like as well!

4. Someone who wants to understand you.

Does your partner ever look at you and tell you you are an absolute mystery to them? They don’t understand where you are coming from sometimes.

Of course, a little mystery is good in any relationship, but if your partner doesn’t fundamentally understand you, it will be hard to build a relationship together.

People don’t get each other for different reasons. Sometimes, it’s cultural. Sometimes, it’s communication styles. Sometimes, because we aren’t our true selves in a relationship. Sometimes, because our person isn’t interested in trying to understand us.

Whatever it is, to build a relationship, it’s vital to bridge the gap in understanding your person.

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5. Someone who treats you with respect.

The reasoning here is you want someone who treats you well. Who does the little things they know you like? Who holds the door for you, rubs your feet, and cooks your favorite dinner?

Someone who goes out of their way to do the things that make you feel loved.

Of course, many people are this way at the beginning of a relationship, but these actions mustn’t stop as a relationship becomes more settled.

6. Some who make you a priority.

When looking for your person, choose someone who makes you a priority. Someone who puts you first more often than not.

When I was married, my ex put his work first. Not because he wanted to but because he felt he needed to. At first, I tried to understand this. Yet, in time, I got resentful, and it ultimately came between us.

In my new marriage, I don’t always put my husband first. If my kids call, I will drop everything. The thing is, he knows this. We have discussed it, and he is okay with it. He knows I will always make him a priority, except for this one place. He knows I know, which makes him feel good.

7. Someone flexible.

Nothing is worse than being in a relationship with someone who is intractable. Someone who believes it is their way or the highway. Who isn’t willing to work with their partner when a disagreement arises?

Sometimes, we find it attractive when people know what they are. They speak up for what they want. They make plans. They don’t force us to make decisions all the time. But, in time, having a partner who always wants to make the decisions, who only wants to do what they want to do, becomes increasingly unattractive.

If you encounter someone who isn’t willing to bend on an issue or many issues, I would encourage you to think twice before getting involved with them.

8. Someone who has their own life.

Many people get into relationships and give up everything they had before their relationship. They stop spending time with their friends. They stop doing their hobbies. They make excuses not to see family.

Unfortunately, while this might seem OK for a while, being in a relationship with someone completely reliant on you for their life gets draining. You want someone who wants to spend time with you but who also will get up in the morning and go for a bike ride with their buddies. Someone who makes seeing their friends on Wednesday night for wine a priority.

Then, after they have done their thing, they can come home to you, and you can do your thing together!

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9. Someone who talks about the future.

If you are looking for a long-term relationship, you must choose someone who wants to talk about the future. Why? Because you want to build a future with them.

Many people say they are looking for something in the here and now. They might want a relationship right now, but they aren’t in any hurry. When you bring up next week or next month, they shut down and make excuses not to commit.

Furthermore, picture being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to talk about the future or plan what is next in your life. That would feel pretty lonely, wouldn’t it?

10. Someone who does what they say they will do.

This is a huge one and something that should not be ignored while you are on your search to find your person.

I have a client whose husband is bad at doing what he says he will do. He promises to stop on the way home to do something for her, and then he forgets. He doesn’t do it maliciously, he just forgets sometimes. That is okay. But it’s not okay when it becomes a regular thing. She doesn’t believe she can rely on him and doesn’t feel good. Even worse, she believes he doesn't love her because he doesn’t follow through.


11. Someone who knows your love language.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with love languages, it works like this. Each person has one of five things that make them feel loved — quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gift-giving.

The rub is that if we don’t know our partner’s love language, we won’t know how to make them feel loved. If we don’t know their love language, we will probably try to make them feel loved with what we need to feel loved.

Let’s say you feel wonderful when you are hugged or holding hands. This means one of your love languages is physical touch. Great. You can encourage your partner to give you hugs often.

Imagine your partner’s love language is not physical touch but quality time. What is most important to them is getting quality time with you. This, not hugging, is what makes them feel loved.

As you travel through dating, make sure you find someone who knows and understands the love languages so you can speak each other’s fluently.

Our moms are great and give us plenty of advice when we are growing up, and sometimes they hit the nail on the head when it comes to relationship advice. (I am sure I do!)

While financial security and love are important, something moms tend to emphasize, it’s essential to dig deeper and find the things that lead to building the life you want.

It might seem impossible, but your person is out there looking for you. I found my husband at the breakfast bar of my best friend’s house at 6 in the morning before they headed out to ski. Who would ever have thought I had met the love of my life that morning?

And you will find yours too!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them be all they want to be. Mitzi's bylines have appeared in The Good Men Project, MSN, PopSugar, Prevention, Huffington Post, and Psych Central, among many others.