Life principles - Partners
Partner with your best friend - someone you love spending boring tuesdays with
Description: In this context we are talking about romantic relationships and the associated situations around it such as dating, marriage and life coordination.
Why this principle: Many people understand the importance of a relationships with millions spent on dating (both online and offline) and their presence as a focal point of a huge % of our media and many people’s lives. However people are pretty bad at having relationships with about 40% of marriages ending in divorce and many more continuing on in a way that makes one or both members unhappy. People do not perform better when it comes to shorter relationships with outside evaluators pretty consistently being able to tell if a relationship will last long before the members of it can.
How to optimise this principle
The first step to optimising this part of your life is realising it can be optimised. There are two spots that can be improved when it comes to relationships: finding a better match and maintaining the health of a partnership. There is also a cross-cutting category getting at the point that many standard traditions and norms are not helpful or productive to have.
There are lots of accepted truisms of relationships and romance that would be seen as ridiculous in any other situation (can you imagine making a great friend at first sight?). And yet, people collectively often use them to determine how to connect and with whom. Having a single soulmate, love at first sight, expecting a person to radically change, or doing stalkerish behavior are all pretty terrible norms. Movies may endorse them, and many may see them as romantic, but they are pretty good ways to end up/stay in a bad relationship. People more experienced in relationships frequently come to some of these conclusions over time, but often the hard way.
The best way to find a great relationship is to make sure you are looking for great traits. Most people randomly bump around social situations until they meet someone who seems like they could be a good date. This leads to predictably random results with almost all the discovery happening late in the relationship and easier-to-see traits (such as physical attraction) being given undue weight relative to their long-term importance. What makes a great relationship long term? If you do not know it's worth looking at your or others historical relationships that you see as successful. What do they have in common? What traits matter in the long run? A few that came up when I surveyed a number of people in happy long-term relationships and looked at the research data:
Get into a relationship with your best friend - This is one of the heuristics that, in different words, came up with almost every successful long-term couple I talked to. You tend to have much more consistent and sane criteria for friends, and if you plan to coordinate with your partner deeply (e.g., share a home, finances, or life decisions), you need to get along with them on a pretty deep level.
Be with someone you love spending boring Tuesdays with - It is easy to get along with someone during an exciting trip to a new country, but relatively little of your life will be like this. Do you enjoy spending time with this person over a cup of coffee on a boring Tuesday? If so, that is a great sign for longevity. If not, you might have been more caught up in an experience than the person.
Be with someone kind - Kindness never ceases to be underrated, but it is fundamental to a connected relationship. Beauty fades, kindness only gets more important with time.
Be with someone who shares your values - This can be your ethical values, but also your more practical values. A huge % of divorces are due to fundamental disagreements about how to spend money, where to live, or how to raise children. Are you dating the sort of person you think you would agree on these sorts of big issues with? And I mean agree with after your infatuation with each other has worn off.
Getting into a great relationship is only half the battle. You have to maintain the health of the relationship as well. Thankfully, if you pick the right partner, this will often be an enjoyable experience.
Book a date night long term - Many give up on dating after they move in together, but a huge amount of time in the same room is different than spending dedicated one-on-one time together. It does not have to be going out every time, it could be staying home and reading out loud, but it has to be regular and with each other. A long-term couple I know goes for Sunday brunches with each other regardless of how crazy both their weeks have been.
Put money into the piggy bank - Every positive interaction with your partner can be thought of as putting money into the piggy bank of your relationship. The only trick is that every negative interaction takes out x5 as much money. You have to stay in the black, so make sure you have lots of positive interactions for every negative one. Fights and negative interactions are inevitable, but it will be those positive ones to balance it out that will allow your relationship to rebuild.
Going deeper on this principle:
Why this one?
In ~1 hour
Sadly, I don’t have great short resources on partner selection, so most of this content is built around maintaining good current relationships.
In ~1 day
These are my two top favorite communication books, and I think it very directly connects to being able to work through hard conversations that inevitably come up.
In ~1 week to ~1 year
Both of these will increase your generalised relationship and communication skills.