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Relationships are a lot like a puzzle; we all have our rough edges, it’s just about finding the people who fit.

Before you go out and seek new relationships – whether friendship, or romantic, or business, or whatever – reflect on what it is you are really looking for.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to find the right job or get married, you need to first define what you want.

Without at least a mental picture of the kind of relationships you want, you’re just going to wander aimlessly through your social world and settle for relationships that don’t fit, or aren’t what you deserve but you stick with them anyway.

Before a first date, or interview, or meet-up with someone, you should ask yourself:

  • How will this person fit in my life?
  • Does this person have an overall positive or negative influence on me?
  • What do I like about this person? What bothers me a bit about them?
  • Can I see myself developing a long-term relationship with this person?

Having some level of expectations for the relationships in our lives is important. We have to be careful not to set our standards too high (see how to avoid magical thinking in your relationships), but we also have to not be so careless that we settle for anything that comes our way.


Here are tips on how to develop a greater “mental picture” of the relationships you want in life:

  • Make a list of the things you want in your relationships. What do you really value in the other person? For example, confidence, humor, kindness, sense of adventure, etc.
  • Make a list of the things you definitely don’t want in your relationships. Often knowing what you don’t want is just as important to knowing what you do want – this will help you identify warning signals in your relationships before they go too far.
  • Store your list somewhere. Use it as a resource when you need a helpful reminder on the things you really care about in a relationship.
  • Manage your expectations. There will always be some things you like or dislike about a person, no one is going to be perfect. Make sure you take your lists as a guideline, not strict rules that you have to follow by.
  • Meet new people. The only way you’re going to find who fits in your life and who doesn’t is if you actively go out and interact with more people. Many you find will be temporary relationships, but the people who really click with you will last a lifetime.

Never forget that you can’t get what you want in life if you don’t know what it is.

Most people never define for themselves what they truly want in their relationships, and they spend their whole lives wondering why they can’t find happiness.

Take these guidelines seriously when defining what is most important to you. Make sure you re-visit these standards and make changes when necessary.

What you value in a relationship is not necessarily set in stone, and you may look for different things in your relationships depending on where you are currently at in your life.


Discover more tools to daily growth in The Science of Self Improvement

The Science of Self Improvement

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