|Laurence C. Smith, Jr., PhD
Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
|THE SELECTION PROCESS II
How do you select a partner?
Is it by chance?
Is it purposeful?
Is it predetermined?
Is the first meeting guided and then free will enters
Beyond the initial meeting?
What we know is this. Some selection is Karmic (in hindsight – never in foresight). Some
selection – if not all – are need based. These needs may be physical, social, financial, religious,
and psychological – but definitely they are needs that we have. Some selection is repetitive which
suggests unresolved Karma. Some new relationships that come immediately after a long
relationship are based on opposite needs from the prior relationship. Those needs that the other
partner didn’t meet are often subconscious, sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious. If
the new partner meets these needs that are too different from the past relationship, they often don’
t work because the personality is too different. The greatest disappointment in a relationship rests
in the failure of the partner to fulfill our beliefs and expectation in these basic need areas.
The greatest mislearned belief that we have is that “I can significantly change my partner in these
areas of my needs.” If this occurs in the area of the three givens then the disappointment is
overwhelming because these givens are unchangeable. They are basically given at birth and
change only slightly during a lifetime. Significant differences between two people in each of these
three areas (intelligence, activity level, and sex drive) cause major relationship problems of a very
predictable nature. These interactions are characterized by classical one-up one-down
interactions in which both parties and the relationship looses. This inequality has disastrous effects
on all three entities, each person and the relationship. If two or more of these givens are
significantly different then the failure of the relationship is practically inevitable. Selection must
include an objective assessment of these three areas or a mismatch is sure to occur. Realistically
knowing yourself without pride or prejudice will allow both of you to do this assessment.
So many of our early determined beliefs lay hidden under the cover of these three givens. So
many of our relationship expectations are silently caged in the parental modeling and early learning
about what relationships “should” be like. These expectations do not emerge and become
verbalized until there is a romantic ideal discovered as a mate. Only then to we verbalize them and
magically expect our mate to meet these expectations.
What do I expect of my partner in shared intellectual ideas, in financial management and
intellectual discussions? What do I expect of my partner in shared activities, exercise, healthy
living, going and doing, sitting and resting? How do we handle peace and serenity and high levels
of activity once the first stage of a relationship is over (a few months to a couple of years)? What
do I expect in a sexual relationship with my partner in terms of frequency, openness, initiation and
quality? If his or her drive is truly lower than mine how will we adapt to it. The one up position in
each of these three areas is the one with the greater amount – of intelligence, activity level and sex
drive. The person who is lower in these areas is traditionally one down.
From September 2006 to the present getting to know Maria and her history of her relationships
set the groundwork for a practical approach to selecting a partner. The process has several
steps. The first is looking at what has happened in other relationships – what their strengths and
weaknesses were and why they have not worked out. Since the analysis is only one sided with
one person of the relationship the results are strictly from her perspective. This requires honesty
with oneself as well as with me. It also requires some risk taking and openness in her willingness
to use these examples for public exposure. As a result the names of her counterparts are
disguised as well as other identifying information.
Relationships have a life of their own. They all progress through predictable stages. The depth of
a relationship is a function of it progressing successfully through these stages. When there is little
guidance or knowledge about selection of a partner it becomes a random process. It is most
likely dominated by immediate needs and attractions. Because of that the selections are high risk
in terms of longevity and success.
The hope of using obvious but intelligent criteria in selecting a partner is that it will improve the
chance of a lasting relationship. Some of these criteria will be reflected upon in each of Mary’s
past choices. Her verbalized needs will also be examined.
A necessary first step is for each person to identify characteristics that they believe are essential
for a good relationship for them. I call this the “screening in” list. The second step is the
“screening out” list – those characteristics that will be a relationship killer. Hints of these early on in
the relationship are the “red flags” often predictive of future problems.
This process works best for what might be called “normal” individuals i.e. those individuals who
do not have major personality and behavior characteristics. We will address these problems
later. Normal is further defined as individuals who are truthful to themselves and to their
prospective partner. Their “normality” requires a positive degree of self-knowledge about what
needs drives them and what is important to them. Another requirement is a level of maturity
demonstrated by the individual’s ability to have introspection enough to ask the question “is this
person right for me” and to adhere to the answer – regardless of everyone else’s opinion. It is
based upon the premise that no one knows you better than you and that you have to listen and
trust yourself in your decisions. When you ask this question of yourself it is best to be in a
meditative, relaxed state where you can hear the answer clearly.
While these criteria appear to be quite simple and obvious, my experience is that they are seldom
invoked once the power of the new relationship takes over. “Swept away” usually means such a
powerful emotional situation that critically examining the relationship doesn’t happen. It’s a stage
one phenomenon that is extremely difficult to override. Let’s return to Maria and the practical
approach to analyzing her relationships based upon the three givens.
|Copyright © 1986-2009 L.C.Smith, Jr., PhD
The selection of equal
the basis for strong and
healthy families – the
foundation of society.
|THE SELECTION PROCESS II
|From the Selection Process