How To Figure Out What You're Looking For In A Partner, According To Experts

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Figuring out what you want in a partner can be trickier than you think. Sure, we all may have some broad ideas of what we like — someone attractive, funny, and kind — but people are a lot more complex than that. And getting to grips with our more detailed wants and needs isn't easy — in part because women who know what they want are often written off as difficult or demanding.

“Our society does not do us any favors when it comes to dating, relationships, and communication,” family and marriage therapist Rachel Wright tells Bustle. “There isn’t a class in school on how to express our needs, and there’s also a huge cultural shame around women asking for what they need — we’re afraid to come off 'selfish,' 'needy,' 'bitchy,' or 'aggressive.' The reality is that if we don’t ask for what we need from our partners, they are never going to know, and not going to be able to give it to you."

What you look for in a long-term partner — and who you eventually choose to be with — has such a huge impact on your life. So, you shouldn't feel any shame about being specific in your wants and needs. With something this big, settling really just isn't an option. If you're not sure about what to look for — or even where to start — here's how you can begin to get a sense of what you should be looking for.