How to find your prince - or princess
It isn't easy. The old adage is true, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince - or princess. Hopefully, of course, you find out what frogs they are before you start kissing too many of them.
Everyone is looking for their shining consort, the Prince or Princess Charming with whom to spend their happily ever after. But so few people know what to look for in a partner that they end up completely disillusioned and broken-hearted. Happiness in marriage becomes a myth or a Utopian ideal that no one really expects to achieve.
But it is within reach. It is very possible to find your soul's mate and enjoy a lifelong romance with him or her. You just have to know some fundamental truths about love, and about yourself, before you start.
The first thing you must know is that the only way you'll ever be happy with someone, for more than a couple of weeks, is if you both share the same core values. If you know that your partner sees life the way you do, if you know that their genuine, unshakable beliefs are compatible with your own, and if you know they are committed to upholding their values throughout their life and won't up and change overnight into someone you don't know, there's a very good chance your romance will last a lifetime, regardless of the ups and downs, or minor conflicts of opinion that will inevitably arise.
If there is a "safe" person to surrender your heart to, if there is anything close to a guarantee in love, it must be with someone who you not only know, but are capable of knowing, intimately, because they have been open and honest with you about themselves, and prove they have every intention of being so in the future.
There are many relationship chameleons out there, people who will be different things to different lovers and have no real convictions or beliefs of their own. There are many people who will alter their beliefs to please their partner, without ever questioning whether integrity might be a quality far more valuable than falsely going along with someone to keep a relationship going. These are the people you should be cautious about giving your heart to, since they're likely to let their pretenses fall once they've tired of playing at being something they're not.
But how do you find a good person? Don't we all think we've fallen for Mr. Wonderful only to find him prancing around in our underwear one day when we come home?
No, not all of us. Some of us fall for Mr. Wonderful and marry him, because we establish even before we meet him the values and attributes we must have in a mate. Accordingly get what we deserve.
Aside from core beliefs like rationality, honesty, integrity, and the willingness to think, for example, I maintain that there are some objective standards by which a person can be judged, some criteria that good people meet and bad risks fail at when it comes to marriage. People can change, of course, but I don't believe that the following values change easily, or without serious introspection and hard work.
Marry a person who likes the opposite sex.
This is obvious, right? Not so fast. Never mistake sexual preference or physical attraction with genuine respect and admiration for the opposite sex. There are a great many men and women who actively dislike, distrust and disrespect the opposite sex, but engage in relationships with them because they are heterosexual and enjoy having sex. It doesn't mean that their attitudes change once the sun comes up - in some cases, having spent the night with someone only reinforces their animosity towards them. If they despise themselves for being seduced by your charms, they aren't far from despising you.
Find a person who enjoys the qualities and characteristics that the opposite sex brings to their lives. Find a man who admires women's nurturing natures, their kindness and wisdom, their beauty and their sexuality. Look for a woman who feels flattered by your sexual attraction to her, who admires your strength and straightforwardness. Find someone who notices the myriad differences - the tiny, subtle things that set us apart, like the way a woman's back gently curves into hips, or a man's broad shoulders, the way a woman tosses her hair when she laughs or the way a man's hand almost engulfs his child's when they're walking down the street. Men and women are gloriously different yet complementary in so many ways. Find someone who has noticed this, and who knows how to appreciate it.
Marry only someone who likes sex.
Not all people who engage in sex think it's a good thing. Many people feel that it is a distasteful, immoral thing that that devil drives them to do, and that it has nothing to do with the pure and shining innocence of love. Consequently, these people are usually among the most promiscuous, sharing themselves indiscriminately because of their belief that sex, a dirty little personal habit bereft of morality or nobility, has nothing to do with the more vaunted emotions, like love, respect, admiration.
Aside from the problems it can cause within your marriage - how can you enjoy lovemaking with someone who thinks what you're doing is disgusting? - the main risk you take in being with someone like this is that they won't think twice about infidelity. If sex has nothing to do with love, if it is merely an animal urge that must be satisfied against their better judgment, they can freely indulge that urge with a clear conscience. They can convince themselves that what they feel for you - love, supposedly - is pure and real, unsullied by the time they spend in the gutter with someone else.
Marry someone who understands that sex between two loving people is a joyous celebration, that it is worth being discriminating in your choice of partner, and that a quantity of meaningless, crude sexual encounters is nowhere near as satisfying as lifelong, quality lovemaking with one special person you adore. Marry someone who knows that sex is love, or at least love made physically real.
Marry someone who understands and likes marriage.
This is not the same as marrying someone who likes weddings. Don't be fooled into thinking that someone who wants to orchestrate an enormous spectacle of a wedding is a romantic. Marry someone who would elope with you tomorrow and get married at City Hall if you asked, not someone who would insist on the lavish wedding in front of five hundred guests two years from now.
By the same token, if you marry someone you have to drag down the aisle, who tries to wriggle out of it any way he or she can, who thinks marriage is "just a piece of paper" but a piece of paper that scares the hell out of them nonetheless, you can't expect your marriage to be a happy one. Generally, people who shudder at the thought of marriage or who have serious misgivings about it beforehand are often the ones who jeopardize the marriage later on, or end it completely through infidelity or alienation of affection. People can't be goaded into marriage and be made happy husbands and wives because of it; they must appreciate what a value it is before they go into it, or are asked to go into it, if they are ever to find joy in it.
Find someone who understands that marriage is a joyful expression of love, not the end of romance. Marry someone who likes the idea of getting married, or is at least willing to put aside their fears.
Marry someone you love, and who loves you, for more than physical appearance.
Many people make the mistake of marrying only for looks, whatever they may be. Marriages based on physicality alone rarely last. Physicality says little about character, unfortunately, and doesn't make up for basic incompatibility or conflicting values when it comes to a lifelong marriage.
It should be obvious, of course, to the men who lost a girlfriend as soon as they lost their hair or to the women who gained weight after having children and lost their husbands to a thinner girl. Your hold on your mate is precarious at best if it depends solely on their physical attraction to you. There's always someone younger, someone thinner, someone with more hair and less of a spare tire than you. What a minefield you live in if your marriage is based on looks alone, since the whole dynamic of your marriage changes if your mate's, or your, appearance changes.
It doesn't mean you can't appreciate the physical attributes of you partner. Good looks, or the kind of look you like, can be a pleasant addition to your romance. I simply maintain that you shouldn't mistake looks for character, or assume that if your spouse has the look you like you will be happy with them for the rest of your life. Time will show you that you likely won't. Not unless their character is as valuable to you as their appearance, and their values mirror your own.
Marry someone whose purpose and passion in life are compatible with your own.
Philosopher Nathaniel Branden once said "Never marry a person who isn't a friend of your excitement."
He understood that for a marriage to be successful, both people have to have some compelling interest, some career that drives their creativity and makes their life meaningful. He also understood that it's crucial for each partner to respect the other's passion, to be "friend" of it, and support the wholehearted pursuit of it. It's not surprising that volcano experts tend to marry each other, or that actors and doctors, musicians, athletes and the like often do as well. They share a common interest, and respect each other's passion for it, too.
If you love creative writing and hope to write a novel some day, but your mate hasn't read a book since high school and thinks your dreams are a frivolous fantasy, you can't expect to develop a deep rapport with each other. Your mate doesn't have to be a novelist, but he or she does at least have to respect your desire to be one. Nothing erodes a love relationship faster than the belief that your partner in life regards the thing you love most with contempt or scorn. And nothing strengthens it more than knowing that your husband or wife will be your greatest supporter, cheering from the sidelines as you pursue your dreams.
This list is not exhaustive. Each person has their own standards, their own core beliefs about what makes a person a potential partner. Success in love lies in identifying those standards and expectations before you enter into relationships or set out to find romance. Add whatever criteria you like to your own list; your relationship will be so much the better for it.
Frogs only turn into princes in fairy tales. In real life, they just stay frogs. If you know what you're looking for, and know what you, personally, must avoid to be happy, you can find your royal consort without ever having to go near the swamp again.