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3 Non-Negotiable Characteristics To Look For In A Partner

by Jananie Chandrarao. |


The nervous smiles and ceaseless butterflies. Stolen glances and sweet flirts. All of these might be your experiences at the start of a new relationship. However, often these are the same elements that blind us from the problematic behaviours of our partners. We give in and compromise and later find ourselves in situations where we’re unsatisfied and unhappy. Because it takes more than these superficial feelings and actions to decide if someone is suitable to be your life partner. Establishing a list of non-negotiable characteristics of what you look for in a partner might be a great way to ensure what you want in a person and if they check the boxes.


Here are a few to get you started.


1. Trustworthiness


a) Secrets and important information

Trustworthiness, to be able to be relied on as honest or truthful, who can be entrusted with your secrets and important information is a non-negotiable characteristic your partner must possess. It can be considered to be the bottom row of a house of cards if it’s precarious, it might just result in the complete collapse of your relationship. Imagine disclosing to your partner an innocent joke your married friend made about how attractive someone is. You might share it with your partner with chuckles and smiles, solely focusing on how humorous it is. Now, imagine the deadly embarrassment that will follow if the innocent joke you shared with excitement led them to confront your friend’s spouse.


Even such a trivial incident can reflect how trustworthy your partner is and if your relationship is a space for you to be open, honest and not get judged for who you are. Even if it’s a piece of inconsequential information that you shared with your partner and they couldn’t it keep to themselves, that might be a warning sign in your relationship on how much of a safe space it is, to begin with.


b) History/Past

On top of that, their trustworthiness also depends on whether or not you can trust them with your past. To be human is to make mistakes and wrong choices and a trustworthy partner is not someone who would hold them against you. In some instances, they might not even be past mistakes but rather experiences from past relationships before you met your partner. Your habit of collecting old love letters and photographs as memories shouldn’t be a problem, to begin with. So does that fact that you might have dated others before you entered into a relationship with them. Their inability to make peace with your past might just be them projecting their insecurities onto your relationship with them that can also lead to destructive consequences. It’s important to find a partner who acknowledges that you do have a past and not judge and evaluate your commitment to the relationship based on that.



2. Supportiveness

Intimacy isn’t the ignorance of the differences that exist between two people and completely merging, rather forming deeper bonds with one another without losing the sense of self; individuality. The undeniable reality is that both people are separate beings with their own beliefs, opinions, dreams and wishes in life. Therefore, being in a committed relationship shouldn’t take away your autonomy over your life, but support you to manifest and build a life that you’ve always dreamed of.


However, this requires you to have a partner who is supportive of your dreams and personal growth instead of tying you down with a label of a wife or a boyfriend. For instance, we can observe how in many marriages, women are not allowed to pursue higher education or in some cases even work due to the traditional gender stereotype of nurturing assigning more responsibility to women when it comes to raising their children. This forces them to neatly fold and tuck away their dreams and aspirations in someplace back of their minds and live the rest of their lives with regret and dissatisfaction. Instead, a partner who is supportive of you might want to take on extra responsibilities so that you can pursue your dreams and even feel proud of you for your achievements. Their claps will be louder from the rest of the crowd. Thus, it’s important to clarify and discuss where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years and observe how much they exhibit supportiveness throughout the relationship.



3. Respectfulness

A relationship built on mutual respect is vital because the opposite reflects on inequality where one partner has more power and control over the other. Mutual respect means that both people’s wants and interests are respected and met to a reasonable degree without one partner dominating over the other partner. This can be in terms of many aspects including but not limited to decision making, compromising, and finance.


a) How are you treated during arguments?

The level of respect your partner has for you can be easily observed through how they treat you during an argument. It is when someone is mad when they really show their true colours. Having disagreements with your partner is common, but that can never justify your partner treating you disrespectfully either verbally or by using force. Their ability to respectfully and calmly discuss the disagreements to achieve a mutual understanding with you is incredibly vital to building a healthy relationship.


b) Respecting your privacy and boundaries

Another form of respect to look for in your partner is their ability to respect your privacy and boundaries. Your partner is not entitled to know every detail of your life and this applies to anyone else you have any form of relationship with. A healthy relationship will honour your need for privacy without holding your desire for privacy against you as something that questions your level of commitment in the relationship. For instance, many partners equate their partners’ level of commitment to the relationship on whether they have access to all their social media accounts and text messages and in cases where they don’t, they easily assume the worse such as infidelity. However, at the same time, while we ensure our right for privacy is protected in a relationship, important information that can hurt your marriage or relationship such as job problems, illnesses, addictions, etc shouldn’t be kept in the dark either.



The quality of your relationship can highly depend on your partner’s characteristics and these 3 are the most basic non-negotiable characteristics to look for in a partner. However, there’s more that can be indeed classified as such based on individual differences and needs such as empathy, integrity, and a strong moral compass. While we’re striving to find our prince/princess charming with such characteristics, it’s important to ensure that we practice what we preach. In this case, it’s equally important for you to be trustworthy, respectful and supportive to your partner.

You can find out more about the author on Instagram.

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