It’s easy to list what you find unappealing in a potential mate, but identifying the qualities that make someone desirable for the long haul is a slightly tougher task. What exactly qualifies a person to fulfill the role as your life partner? Not everyone runs a mental checklist before taking the ultimate leap — some just know. But regardless of whether or not you choose to follow that instinct, it doesn’t hurt to validate that he or she is the one.
To distinguish between someone who’s good for right now vs. someone you want to wake up next to every day, consider the following list. If there’s someone in your life with these 20 qualities, don’t let go.
1. Supportive of your passions and decisions: He or she should be your biggest cheerleader and encourage you to pursue any endeavors despite how it may affect them.
2. Adds value to your life: Not in terms of monetary value — your partner should contribute a quality that inspires you to grow, whether that means he or she is smarter or more ambitious than you. (But make sure you can provide the same.)
3. Can be completely silly with you: “Till death” is a long ride that should be filled with the most fun moments. Along the way, they shouldn’t have a problem being playful with you or exposing their inner child without inhibition.
4. Adores you: Even if you’re not one who needs the validation, your partner should show how much they love and adore you without necessarily putting you on a pedestal.
5. Is willing to compromise: The two of you will never not disagree on something, so make sure he or she is open-minded to your needs and desires, too.
6. Treats your family just as well: If your partner shows zero respect for your friends and family, it’s hard to ignore, even if he or she has no problem showing their appreciation to you.
7. Values your opinions: Your partner doesn’t have to agree with you at all times, but he or she should be able to respect your beliefs (without imposing theirs on you) despite them being different from their own.
8. Loves him/herself as much as they love you: The best partner is someone who can stand alone without constantly depending on your company or attention. He or she should be comfortable with themselves and be totally secure without you there.
9. Trustworthy: Even if every other aspect of your relationship is solid, the power of doubt is hard to dismiss. Problems down the road will be inevitable if you’re constantly second-guessing their honesty (and vice versa).
10. Exhilarates you, doesn’t deplete you: Your partner should make you excited about life and its offerings. He or she should never make you feel bad about yourself or diminish your spirit in any way.
11. Has a life outside of the one you share: It’s important for your SO to understand that you have a life of your own and to encourage you to enjoy things without him or her.
12. Doesn’t hold grudges: Despite any bumps in the road, your life partner should seek to improve your relationship rather than dwell on any setbacks.
13. Brings out the best in you: Your partner should not provoke your inner worst qualities — only the ones that make you a better you.
14. Loves all of you: This includes your flaws, especially. Your personality traits don’t come à la carte so he or she should be able to embrace you as a whole, shortcomings and all.
15. Accountable: He or she should be able to put aside their ego to be held accountable for any mistakes. Your partner should own up to them rather than place blame on someone or something else.
16. Allows him/herself to be vulnerable to you: Communication will prove to be the hugest challenge if either of you have a wall up. Your SO should feel comfortable enough to confide in you with all of their fears and secrets.
17. Keeps you in check, without dictating: It can get boring when someone is in constant agreement with you for the sake of not wanting to upset you. When you’re out of line, he or she shouldn’t be afraid to challenge you and respectfully point out your wrongdoing when necessary.
18. Allows you to be you: It’s difficult to be fully happy in a relationship when you’re forced to suppress any part of you. You shouldn’t feel restricted whatsoever, whether that includes being able to freely pursue your hobbies or to be your silly self.
19. Dependable: You should always be able to rely on your partner for anything, from emotional support to upholding their commitments. You don’t want to have to waste time worrying about if they’re acting irresponsible.
20. Is easy to be with: Every relationship comes with its battles but by no means should it be a daily war — that can get exhausting.
Although the need for improvement is never-ending, your partner should be your counterpart, teammate, and best friend, and mutual happiness should come with little effort.