What To Look for in a Partner – The 3 C’s

I’ve written extensively, online and in my books, about how to meet, date, get engaged, and get married to the right person. Sure, it’s difficult to define ‘right’, and so much randomness seems to be involved as we go through the process of falling in love.
Still…I think it’s important we get our heads around a few fundamentals, even if it’s just a starting point.
Here are some characteristics to look for in a partner. They won’t guarantee that you’re relationship will improve over time, or be fulfilling, but they are strong indicators.
1. Curious. The person is interested in exploring new ideas, countries, cultures, and subjects. They are aware that they don’t know it all and want to know more. Not in a nosy way, but in a way that enriches them and their relationships. Habits include reading books, not watching television; exercising, not slugging; conversation, not gossip; travel, not shopping; and education as a lifelong pursuit.
2. Compassionate. If someone isn’t compassionate, no matter how passionate they are for you, the relationship won’t have legs. A person has to care about other people. If they don’t, over time, they won’t care enough about you to sustain and grow a long term commitment.
3. Confident. If a person doesn’t know themselves and have confidence in their abilities to meet challenges, set goals, and take risks, then they probably won’t make a good partner. You’ll need someone to lean on at some point, someone who can carry the load for both of you for a time. A person without confidence can’t do this. A person who requires feedback from you all the time to make decisions becomes a burden, and the relationship won’t remain healthy.
Let me know what matters to you. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

16 thoughts on “What To Look for in a Partner – The 3 C’s

  1. Great advice.
    I will add another C: Consistent. Getting to know a person over time is important, and observing their behavior in different situations and around a variety of people is enlightening. Someone can put on an act at first, but after knowing someone for awhile, you will see patterns. It is ok to see different moods, of course, but also their reactions afterward show their self-awareness.
    Consistency in what they do compared to what they say is a major thing to pay attention to also.

    1. Thank you, Elle. While Oscar Wilde besmirched consistency as the last resort of the unimaginative, we all know his track record with enduring relationships. Excellent attribute to look for. – BGT

  2. A person with a strong moral compass. Everyone has to deal with hardships, temptations, and difficult choices. You do not want to be married to someone who opts for the easy way out. A person with a sense of humor. Dealing with life’s ups and downs is so much easier when approached with a dose of laughter. I am fortunate to have married a man with both these characteristics.

  3. This was a great posting to read. Here are some things I have discovered when I was looking for a spouse and subsequently married.

    * Decide that you want to be married and put yourself in situations where you are around prospective partners who also want to be married. Remember you don’t want to date, but find a spouse. This rules out internet dating and bar hoping. Move to an area with a high population density so you can increase your chances. Utilize old fashioned match making service or Marriage brokers. Be opened to other cultures.
    * Find a partner with a strong work ethic. You will both be so busy it will be a joy when you have time to talk with each other. My wife insists on formal breakfasts, lunches and dinners on the weekend, normally Saturday morning breakfast lasts about two hours.
    * You will know when you find the right person. I think I mentioned this before, but I asked for my wife’s hand in marriage on the second or third date and we have been married for 15 years so far.
    * Marriage is a very in the moment endeavor, take time to reflect. I like playing the “remember when” game. Pick a memory and chat about it.
    * This seems frivolous, but I am finding it increasingly true. Stay away from “boat” people. One boat is never enough the boat traded in for bigger boat and yet a bigger one. Then a place is needed to keep the boat. Associated with the place to keep the boats is a club that needs to have dues paid. Work is avoided in order to go out on to the boat an extra day. Large quantities of alcoholic beverages are consumed on the boat making quite dangerous. It seems the days of JFK and his love of the sea are over. I have seen many families in bad situations over boats.

    1. Excellent comment, Bob. I recall someone making a comment about ‘yacht brokers and broke yachters’ that had a similar sentiment. It is an interesting culture. Thank you. – BGT

  4. Great thread! I’ll add another ‘C’ to the mix: [interesting] Conversation. A serious potential spouse has to be able to talk about a variety of interesting things — sometimes in a humorous lighthearted vein, sometimes more weighty in tone — rather than simply a constant stream of dippy, superfluous minutia that fills the room with hot air. Sure, relatively unimportant small talk occurs in any relationship, but it’s nice to be able to talk once in a while about more than grocery lists, what’s for dinner, when children need to be picked up, celebrities, popular entertainment, or whatever else turns up daily in the Yahoo “news” feed.

    Best Regards,


  5. Reportedly, a few years ago, the divorce rate in America was slightly below 50%, in France slightly above.

    We may tick as many boxes as we want before marriage. Life can be unpredictable.

    My point? It’s not just about all the characteristics the other needs to have, but about *one* characteristic that *we* need: The courage to ask “where can I improve?”

    What’s the word to describe this?

  6. A person who doesn’t have to be Correct (aka ‘right’) all the time. It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ and find out the answer together.

  7. Mr. Tully, I would add a K to this list- Kindness. An unkind partner who believes it is acceptable to be unkind to the person they claim to love is not a good choice, no matter what other positive characteristics they have. Unkindness can lead to another C, which stands for Contempt. I have seen many marriages end because one partner became contemptuous of the other, especially in public. As a teen, the mother of a dear friend spoke so unkindly about her husband that I was not shocked when the marriage ended a few years later. I was shocked that she was so open in front of me, a child she’d known since babyhood.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.