How to Pick a Mate

By Dr. Ben Kim

I've long felt that choosing a life partner should be a subject that is thoroughly discussed sometime in high school and perhaps even in university. It amazes me that so little time, if any, is given to considering this topic on a meaningful level in school.

Near as I can tell, it's probably the single most important decision that all of us can make.

My take is that most people who get married in modern society don't have the foresight and life experience needed to make the best possible choice.

I'm sure that some people do think things out to a degree that would make Dr. Phil and Oprah proud, but from my little spot on the planet, it looks like most of us, myself included, rely mainly on our instincts to choose the one person we want to be with forever.

And why wouldn't we? Society teaches us that love is what matters. Love is the only thing that matters. And what is love? Isn't it that special feeling that occupies your thoracic cavity and makes you feel blissfully alive?

Well, here are some thoughts that I would like my loved ones to consider in choosing a life partner:

Do you like him?

To me, it's not about if you love him. It's if you actually like him.

The challenge is in knowing if what you are feeling is genuine like as opposed to fool's like, which I think is really just a symptom of being intoxicated with lust (which I don't have anything against - I just wouldn't recommend choosing a life partner with fool's like being a primary source of fuel to maintain a healthy relationship).

How do you know if you genuinely like and admire him? Ask yourself if you would want your child or future child to marry someone like him. And in answering this question, think about how he consistently behaves, not what he says.

As most of us know, feelings of "being in love" come and go. I wouldn't want to rely on such feelings to keep my life partnership healthy and intact. Much better, I think, to have a foundation of genuine like in place. Because ultimately, we want to spend our time with those we genuinely like.

Why do you like her?

Being drop dead gorgeous, having a trust fund, and taking good care of you are all weak reasons to like someone. They belong in the what she can do for me category, which includes the need-to-have-a-trophy-partner-by-my-side-so-that-I-feel-less-like-the-troll-that-lives-deep-within-me reason. Not a very solid foundation.

She can make you laugh your socks off? You admire the way she treats others, especially in instances when she is unaware that you are aware of what she is doing? She inspires you to strengthen your character? You respect her work ethic? Here and there, she blows you away with her thoughts? Now we're talking about some power fuel to sustain feelings of respect, genuine like, and even adoration for a lifetime.

Do you have the same basic attitudes and beliefs about religion?

Specifically, do both of you have about the same tolerance level for other people's beliefs? If not, think carefully about how this might affect the way that you feel about raising your children together.

Speaking of children...

Do both of you have similar feelings on having or not having children? If both of you want to have children, do you have a good inkling of what type of parent your partner would make?

Are you relatively clear on how much time you would like to spend with parents, siblings, relatives, and friends on both sides of your family?

If you're the type that would absolutely love having your parents in their golden years living next door or at least in the same town, I would suggest making this perfectly clear and asking your potential life partner to give this careful consideration and letting you know how it sits with him or her.

I imagine that very few life experiences can create more sorrow than not being able to spend time with your loved ones or, on the other side of the fence, being forced to spend time with people who make it clear through their behavior that they don't cherish you.

Do you have similar money values?

What do both of you like to spend your money on? Do you spend the bulk of your money on things or experiences? How much do you spend on items and experiences that aren't essential to your survival? How much do you like to save?


Those are the big ones for me. They're the issues that rise above the inevitable squabbles that accompany all life partnerships and float around in potential deal-breaker territory.

To be clear, if you just don't like who the other person is (not as obvious as you'd think or hope in the honeymoon phase), if you don't really laugh together, if you don't have the same basic attitudes about religion, having children, raising children, other family members, close friends, and money, you have one or more deal-breakers staring you in the face.

And people who genuinely care for you won't want to hear "but I love him." Because they'll be able to see what you can't see in the moment; that what you have isn't the kind of love that can sustain a healthy life partnership; it's something else that will probably make you want to punch yourself in the face a few times every day for the rest of your life beginning in the near future.

Okay, I'm getting carried away, but hopefully, my thoughts on this topic are clear. And for sure, they're just my thoughts, things that I hope my loved ones consider before they choose to get married, should they decide that marriage is for them.

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

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