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The 5 Best Traits to Look for in a Romantic Partner

Decades of research have delved into what key ingredients are necessary for true success in any given long-term relationship, including marriage.

While there is no rhyme and reason to explain such success, it is believed that the following psychological traits can heavily impact the success of a given relationship, thereby cementing it into something solid that has a chance of enduring fruitfully over time.

Take a peek at these five traits that researchers and experts use to predict longevity in relationships, and see where you and your partner may be falling short.

  1. Similarity
    It is best to seek someone who is similar to you. A large pool of research to date emphasizes that opposites do not always attract in the long term. People are generally attracted to others who are ultimately similar to themselves. While your partner may have a different personality than you, similarity comes into play with respect to the values and attitudes you share with one another. Similar couples are generally happier together, whereas dissimilar partners are not as happy with one another down the line. Of course, there are many exceptions to this.
  2. Kindness, fidelity, and support
    As much as people may stress personality, earning potential, and physical attractiveness/chemistry, ultimately kindness, loyalty, emotional support, and understanding beat out all of the other ‘superficial’ traits. While the other traits can be important initially, or equally important to some, it falls into the subjective realm. Kindness, support, and understanding are far more objective, and can be non-negotiable at some point when deciding on who to spend your life with.
  3. Conscientiousness
    One of the traits that psychologists delve into is conscientiousness. As part of the OCEAN scale that identifies general traits of others, C stands for Conscientiousness.  It is about being reliable, dependable, practical, and organized. This all can generate a tremendous amount of trust and commitment. People who fall lower on this trait are generally very difficult to be in a relationship with. They might always cancel plans, act carelessly, and fail to fulfill promises, or fail to help around the house. Over time, all of these actions or inactions can lead to resentment, as well as cause a demise and breakdown of the relationship.
  4. The belief that relationships take work, and require effort and commitment
    This camp is divided into those individuals with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. The ones in the relationship who believe that it takes work are willing to work on it, thereby encompassing a growth belief. Those who believe in the concept of ‘meant to be’ encompass the belief that if something goes awry in the relationship, or if an argument ensues, the relationship is doomed, and it is not going to work out/ and as a result perhaps not meant to be. Some of these partners come to believe that they are even ill-fitted for one another due to their erroneous fixed mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset can also be quite difficult to be in a relationship with.
  5. Emotional Stability/Instability
    This trait is the most important harbinger of relationship success, and should ideally be #1. Those who lack emotional stability, and are high in the trait of neuroticism, tend to be moody, touchy, anxious, and quicker to anger, all traits that can be destructive in any given relationship. Those who have low emotional intelligence or EQ, tend to be negative, and are more prone to be combative with others and their partners. There is a strong link between high levels of neuroticism and divorce.

While it is hard to predict how a relationship will unfold in the very beginning stages of your relationship, and even further down the road, like how a partner deals with conflict, or how they get along with your family, there are some telltale psychological signs to spot early on indicating its potentiality. This can ultimately save you a lot of heartache and rockiness in the future of your relationship, or if you are in a marriage or long-term committed relationship, you can muster up the courage to reevaluate where both you and your partner are in every possible realm. Sometimes all that is needed is time, as that can reveal a whole lot more.

The 5 Best Traits to Look for in a Romantic Partner

Emily Waters

Emily Waters earned her Master's degree in industrial psychology with an emphasis in human relations. She possesses keen insight into the field of applied psychology, organizational development, motivation, and stress, the latter of which is ubiquitous in the workplace environment and in one’s personal life. One of her academic passions is the understanding of human nature and illness as it pertains to the mind and body. Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Presently, she teaches a variety of psychology courses both in public and private universities.

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APA Reference
Waters, E. (2018). The 5 Best Traits to Look for in a Romantic Partner. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 10 Jul 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.