The importance of choosing the right partner
Happy new year!
The first blog post of the year deals with that all elusive and important aspect of many people’s lives: choosing a partner. This one decision can have an enormous impact on your life, physically, mentally and financially. They can make you go off-budget, or stay the course. They can make you depressed or live out your full potential. Partners have a huge impact, and it is important to make such decisions with eyes wide open.
Choosing the “right” partner can be a very scary prospect. I will not pretend to be an expert in any way, shape or form on the matter. After all, I had not had any partners before Mr. E. and I got together when I was 25.
What I can do, however, is to relay to you some of the reasons why Mr. E. is the right partner for me. Hopefully, this will help other people on their own rocky road of love.
Disclaimer: Being single is 100% totally OK! I was single for the first 25 years of my life and enjoyed large parts of it. If you’re enjoying your single life, rock on! This post simply has some pointers I’ve noticed if partnering up is important to you, but you want to stay frugal and true to yourself/your goals at the same time.
When you chase it, it goes away
Growing up, I had always been treated differently by other students. I always had the feeling that people viewed me more as a person-of-no-gender than as a girl. This fitted with my own world view too, which was largely that my body’s primary function was as a vessel to transport my mind around and explore the world.
With this very rough description of my childhood, it might come as no surprise that I was not asked out on dates or flirted with. I still read a lot of books and dreamt about love, but I didn’t truly believe that it was something I could achieve.
Thus, it was with a small sorrow that I went through most of my life in my teens and early twenties.
By the time I graduated from university, I had grown so much and had gotten so many friends who appreciated me for who I was, without reservation. I was growing so comfortable that I came to accept that I might live my life alone, but that was OK. I would still do awesome things with my life and have a glorious time with my friends. I had done a lot of growing, improvement and figurative cleaning out of skeletons from my mental closet. I was content. Not perfect, by any means, but much healthier mentally than I had ever been.
That, of course, was when Mr. E. and I became fast friends.
Another acquaintance of mine, by contrast, is so eagerly ready to establish a family that he has racked up serious credit card debt twice on the encouragement/demands of various exes with whom he really wanted to make things work. He is attracting the entirely wrong kind of woman, and it is heart-breaking to watch.
I know this is old hat and annoying when you really want to find your one, but take it easy. Desperation is terribly off-putting, and has a tendency of attracting the wrong people. Clean out the skeletons in your own closet and work on becoming comfortable with yourself before you add another person and their various skeletons into the mix.
How did I know Mr. E. was the right person for me?
Talk, talk, talk
Well, first of all, we talk. Like, a lot.
Before we even considered getting together, we talked, and talked, and talked. We shared interest, dreams, goals, frustrations, stories, jokes. Whatever struck our fancy. We got comfortable with each other. We were friends and then good friends before either of us considered the possibility of a romantic relationship.
We talked about our backgrounds and our upbringing. We realised that we had a lot more in common than we had previously been led to believe, and we laughed with each other.
We also talked about politics. I know of couples who make it work, even when either partner is from opposite ends of the political spectrum. That would not have worked for us, as we are both rather political. We admire those who make it work, but we couldn’t.
If you’re not comfortable talking to a person you’re considering for a partner, I’d call that a big red flag. Mr. E. and I still talk every day. He is the first person I want to share news with, and often the only one who can pull information out of me if I’ve had a bad day. We share fears and lean on each other.
Most importantly, this all feels natural.
Again, I’d like to preface this one by saying that many people enjoy thriving relationships across different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Mr. E. and I, however, were privileged in that we didn’t have to deal with that. We come from reasonably similar backgrounds with parents of reasonably similar wealth, with Mr. E’s parents a bit better off than mine (and still together). We both had an upper working class upbringing with our parents working their way up slowly, meaning that our younger siblings enjoyed a more affluent lifestyle.
We had to work for what we’ve got, and we’ve both had to make do without.
This means we share similar views on money. We realise that money is an important tool, and know the pain of not knowing where to get it from when you need it. We have more or less similar spending habits, and we are both eager to save what we have for financial security.
We have never fought over money. I feel so lucky to say that, but we never have. True, we still have separate accounts, but we make our financial decisions jointly. We have one shared account from which all shared expenses flow, like rent and electricity. We both treat this account seriously, and always make sure there is enough in it when payments are coming up.
Making sure you are on the same page financially is paramount. But to achieve that, you have to communicate.
Building each other up
The first time I remember actively thinking that Mr. E. could be more than just a good friend, was around the same time when I realised what a good team we made.
We built each other up, encouraged each other and brought out better versions of ourselves. I always thought that if I got a partner, it would be a down-to-earth and calm type of person. Mr. E. is anything but that, but I don’t have to hide any aspect of me from him. I can be silly and goofy, but also focused and idealistic.
I don’t feel like I have to put on a mask with Mr. E. around. Yes, that means he gets to see some ugly sides of me that I am not very proud of, but it is such a relief to have that comfort when either of us have had a bad day.
With Mr. E. at my side, I feel like we are a proper power couple. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, only time will tell. But feeling that way is incredibly encouraging. Who doesn’t want to wake up next to your biggest fan?
As an adage to that, if it wasn’t already obvious: Mr. E. absolutely respects me. He respects my values, my ethics, my dreams and my humanity. He doesn’t make fun of me or belittle my choices. Having some experience on the latter from an ex-friend, I consider it a significant red flag if someone ridicules me or makes me feel ridiculed.
Why does it matter?
It is easy to be blinded by love when you meet someone, and I cannot pretend to speak for everyone, but I really do believe that applying critical thinking in the early stages of a relationship is crucial to happiness down the road. This, after all, is the person (or persons) you will probably spend the most time with for the rest of your life if things go well, and we are an average of the handful of people we spend the most time with, so…
I do not think I could handle having to fight over money or how much we want to save. I am a very fight-averse person, and it would only bring me unhappiness and make me exhausted.
Having Mr. E. next to me on this journey also means that there is someone to whom I am accountable. If I suddenly fall off the FI wagon and go on a mad spending spree, I’ll have to explain myself to him. Not an attractive notion (nor is the thought of going on a mad spending spree, but I digress).
Since we talk so much about everything, we obviously talk a lot about the future and where we want to go. This keeps us both reminded of what we want and why we want it. We discuss blogposts and podcasts and are continuously reminded of the FI community and the goals we are striving towards.
Plus, we get the added bonus of lower living costs. But you knew that part already.
I know I’ve forgotten many important things when it comes to finding a compatible partner, but these are the three most important ones for us. Feel free to share your important factors in the comment section below!