What does Forrest Gump know about lasting love that most of us don’t? He was oblivious of the things that society uses to determine the attractiveness and suitability of a relationship partners. These include basic niceness (i.e., Mom and/or Dad would approve), physical attractiveness, s*xual chemistry, good job/income, education/intelligence, family/social status and religious commitment.
These are the features our parents, peers, movies, music and popular culture tell us to value in our search for suitable relationship partners. The problem is that while these are proven attractors, these characteristics also tend to distract us from—or cause us to undervalue and overlook—those with a high correlation to a person’s capacity to establish, build and sustain healthy relationships.
So what characteristics do you need to cultivate in yourself—and require of potential partners—in the search for lasting love? Grown folks—and Gump—value and have developed a great capacity for the following characteristics above all: respect/admiration (appreciation), compassion, forgiveness, fidelity/loyalty (trustworthiness), unconditional acceptance, and safety (physical, mental and emotional). These are the characteristics that sustain relationships over time.
Moreover, while relationship attractors (looks, s*xual attractiveness, income) will be inconsistent and change over time, relationship sustainers go to the truth of who a person is (not what they look like, what they have or what they can do) and usually stay the same over time.
It’s also important to note that if you do not require these qualities of yourself—i.e. practice self-love—you will also fail to require them from others, leaving you vulnerable to neglect, mistreatment, betrayal and abuse.