11 Important Qualities To Look For In A Partner That You Wouldn’t Think To Notice

You already know to look for red flags in a partner, but what positive traits should you look for in someone that signal they might be good for you? When you’re not sure if they’re “The One” or not, look for these important qualities that you might not have thought to notice.

  1. They remember small details. If someone remembers little tidbits of information about you that you’ve shared with them before, they likely don’t just have a good memory. Notice if they remember small details from your dating profile, details from a story you told them long ago, or the name of your best friend from high school. If so, this means they’re a great listener and are highly invested in getting to know and understand you.
  2. They’re good at disagreeing. When it comes to building a healthy relationship, the key isn’t to never disagree. Instead, it’s to disagree tactfully and respectfully. If they can respect your opinions and don’t pressure you to join their side all the time, they might be a keeper.
  3. Silence doesn’t feel awkward. Chances are, you already notice the great conversations you’re having that seem to flow for hours. But you might have not thought to notice how they act during moments of silence. A long-lasting relationship is one that can stay together even when the excitement subsides. So while chatting until 2 a.m. is fun, it should also feel nice to just spend quiet time together too. Look to see if they seem comfortable and relaxed during moments of silence.
  4. They’re assertive but not pushy. If they’re worth your time, they’ll be someone who is clear and assertive. They’ll let you know they’re into you, without playing hard-to-get or using weird mind games to try to keep you hooked. Even though they wear their heart on their sleeve, they aren’t aggressive or clingy. They’ll give you space and time to take things slow. In other words, you know where they stand, but they’re gentle and never make you feel pressured.
  5. They talk positively about others. Common advice is to make sure that a partner is kind to waiters and other people during a date. It’s true that if someone is rude to wait staff and other people they think are “beneath” them, they’re probably a total jerk who will eventually be rude to you too. You may not have thought to notice how they talk about other people, though. If someone tends to see others positively, this is a good sign. Whether expressing appreciation for their mom or complimenting their friends, people who talk about others positively will likely bring that same positivity to your relationship together. They also tend to have better relationship skills compared to those who complain or find flaws in others.
  6. They say sorry. Did their joke sting a little too much? Or were they late arriving to your date? A decent person, and a good partner, will apologize. Apologies don’t fix everything. But not apologizing certainly doesn’t either. So many arguments and issues get swept under the rug, but the right person will make sure that they don’t. They’ll address problems, take responsibility for their part, and work to patch things up. Being able to say sorry shows self-awareness and maturity, two things you definitely need in a relationship.
  7. They’re not insanely busy. There’s a fine line between being busy and being too busy for a relationship. In most cases, you want a partner who is at least a little busy. They should have a life and interests outside of the relationship. But notice if someone seems way too busy and unavailable to meet up. If your dates need to be scheduled a month in advance or they’re always traveling for work, ask yourself if they really seem like the kind of partner you need.
  8. You can be a total badass around them. This one is especially true for strong women dating men. If you can be strong and confident around him without him being intimidated and scared off, that’s a sign of a secure partner. Some guys will always want to take the lead and prefer for you to follow. But a good guy will let you shine and enjoy basking in your confidence, without him feeling threatened. Stick with a partner who can share the spotlight and loves your bold, badass vibes.
  9. Their friends are likable. The people around us are a reflection of who we are. So if you’re dating someone with crappy friends, your date might be kind of crappy too. Meet their friends, and see how well you get along. Friends can have a lot of influence over our lives and behaviors. If they seem to have a lot of unhealthy habits or questionable attitudes, know that at least to some degree, your partner may too.
  10. They’re still learning in bed. Believe it or not, a partner who doesn’t know everything about sex is often much better than one who thinks they know everything. Sex and sexual needs are different for every person and every couple. Don’t overlook a partner who knows this. They should stay open to exploring new things and asking what you like (and don’t like) in bed. If they aren’t interested in learning new styles or listening to your requests, take this as a red flag.
  11. You’re in a similar stage of life. Even if someone seems great, they may not be great for you if you’re not in a similar stage of life. For example, if you’re making big career moves, while they’re still studying, your priorities may not align. Or if you’re looking to party and have fun, but they want to settle down, this can create tension that could erode the relationship. Though some differences in life stages can be okay, be sure to talk about your priorities and goals for now and the future. For many people, a large age gap is even easier to deal with than a large gap in life stages.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo