Looking for a Perfect Person?


What are the qualities needed for a strong, healthy, lasting relationship? This conversation often arises in the presence of friends, family members, and co-workers, many of whom I deem to be in happy, healthy relationships, and others who are not. This topic and thoughts about this question have been considered in my mind on many occasions over the years and are a main reason for being involved in graduate studies and research within the area of human development and family studies!! I always wondered what it was about my parents’ relationship, for example, that made it so different (in my mind better) than other adult relationships I witnessed. I have also been blessed to have many wonderful examples of healthy relationships from professors, family friends, and other family members also! I wondered why some of my friends ended-up in very secure, happy relationships and marriages, while others experienced the opposite. What I have discovered, and what is supported by research, is that there are indeed a few main qualities that lead to healthy, happy, successful relationships.  


First, let’s talk about the qualities that some people look for in a mate which are not predictive of successful futures. Things like “perfect looks,” “having a perfect body,” parents who have money, a good job, a nice car, material “stuff,” and someone who likes ALL the same things you do, etc. In short, things that are “shallow,” as opposed to the “deeper” qualities. These “shallow” qualities are ones that can all change in an instant and are not things you should solely consider when thinking about who you may want to spend your life with. Some of these qualities could be considered “icing on the cake,” but other qualities are much, much more important.


What you should consider are the qualities which are lasting about a person. Things such as their spirit, their loyalty, their commitment to those around them (not just you J), their ability to persist in the face of difficulty, their selflessness and ability to put others before themselves when necessary, their willingness to compromise, and their respect for you and those important to you. Simply stated, you should strive to seek out someone who understands what a shared life is all about! And they should love you know matter what. Things like looks and perfection will all fade away very quickly as we age. You want to be sure you are with someone who will never leave you and who will stand beside you through the roughest of days…days when you are moody, sick, and when the sky seems to be “crashing down” and nothing is going right. The person that will stand beside you on these days does not necessarily have a models face or body (but you should be attracted to them J).


Another thing to consider is whether a person would make a good parent and caregiver for your parents if life should present you with those situations!! There are lots of absolutely gorgeous, “perfect bodied” people that would not make good parents or caregivers!! Of course there are a lot of people that are attractive and also are great parents and caregivers, but looks are not predictive of parenting ability!! J You have to watch a person, watch how they treat those around them, watch how they treat you on your bad days, watch how they treat you on their bad days, watch how they treat the people most important to you.


If you have taken the time to build a relationship with someone who does a great job of meeting all of these qualities, chances are you have met a person with whom you can have a happy, healthy, successful, lasting relationship! You might want to put in some time with the person that displays these qualities. Do not just write someone off because they have brown hair instead of blonde, don’t like the same type of music as you, don’t have the same favorite foods, and aren’t your idea of “perfect.” No one is-not even you!! If you want to find lasting love, you have to be willing to be realistic in your expectations and be willing to consider that maybe your “perfect person” is not what you were expecting!! One thing is 100% certain…your perfect partner will surely be a person with flaws and imperfections!! J


Brittny Mathies, M.S.

Ph.D. Student and Graduate Research Assistant for the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative


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