The traits we find appealing in a companion when we’re single are often not the traits that make for a successful relationship. Single friends, go for the nice one.
Recently I got together with a big group of old friends. Pretty quickly the conversation turned to the love lives of the single ladies in the group for analysis. (Their lives do tend to have more interesting updates. I think my contribution involved updating the group on the status of my daughter’s war on vegetables (she’s winning)).
I was taken back by two of my friends who were both facing the dilemma of having to decide between “the nice guy” who was really into them, reliable, sweet and a new guy who was less reliable, didn’t treat them super awesome, but was hot and very exciting!
I was further taken back when everyone’s advice was “go for the new guy!!!”
In my head I was thinking, “What!? Go for the nice guy! You’ll thank yourself in 10 years.”
I’ve mentioned before the discrepancy between who you ARE getting dating advice from (other single people) and who you SHOULD be getting dating advice from (people who are in stable, successful long-term relationships ). Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of relationship advice being shared between the two groups generally speaking.
So, single people, if you are facing the decision between the “nice guy” and the less nice but exciting guy, here is some advice from one who has been happily married for almost eight years, GO FOR THE NICE ONE!
For you visual learners, here is a graph I’ve made based on zero scientific evidence other than my own observations of the qualities that are important in a companion when you are choosing someone to date:
And here is a graph depicting the qualities that are important when you have been married for some time:
Notice any discrepancies?
Ok so I may have exaggerated some of those numbers to make a point (air your grievances in the comment section), and I’ll be honest and say that I never would have admitted my graph looked like the first chart when I was single, but the truth was I had a real hard time saying no to dating someone who flattered me (which had a lot to do with coolness and attractiveness factors) even when I knew they weren’t the best long-term relationship material.
The problem there is that you tend to end up in long-term relationships with the people you date. Funny how that works.
The point is that your partner’s attractiveness, humor and brains might have a big impact on your daily life years down the road. They really might. But they also might not. However, your spouse’s kindness will absolutely have a daily impact.
For instance, when your child is screaming at 3:00am, you want a spouse who will share in getting up and comforting your child rather than always leaving it up to you. You want a spouse who is going to really listen to your side of things when you disagree about how many kids to have or where to live or what to do that weekend or what show to watch together. You want a spouse who will step in and do the dishes when you are exhausted even though its your turn. You want a spouse who deeply cares when you are upset and wants to alleviate your pain.
And if you don’t believe me, believe science! The king of marriage research, Dr. John Gottman through decades of studies is actually able to predict whether or not a couple will be divorced in six years time by observing them in his “love lab” with, get this, 94% accuracy!! Say what? That kind of accuracy just does not happen in psychology.
And guess what he says are the two basic traits that determine whether a relationship will last or not??? . . . . . . Tell us Celeste tell us!!!
Ok, I’ll tell you, it’s KINDNESS and GENEROSITY.
Now am I saying you have to be stuck with some boring dud forever to be happy? No. Am I saying attraction isn’t an important consideration at all? No. Do I think ALL nice guys are going to be better spouses than ALL cool guys? Of course not (also thankfully cool and nice are not mutually exclusive traits). So while it is true that marriage can work if both parties are committed to making it work, its just going to be a heck of a lot easier with some people and harder with others.
I’m just asking you to consider your daily life ten, twenty years down the road and choose a person who will be mostly likely to treat you with kindness and compassion.
This decision will pay off BIG TIME.
What do you think? What did I leave out or how would your charts look different? Married people, do you agree or disagree??