Why you shouldn't settle for less in a partner

Which qualities do you really yearn for in a partner?

Is it intelligence? A sense of humor? Someone who's gainfully employed?

Whatever you seek in a significant other, don't settle for less.

In my case, I had a strong preference for someone with or working toward a bachelor's degree. Since I was always a dedicated student, I wanted someone who similarly demonstrated a certain level of commitment to her studies. Thankfully, my wife, like me, was working toward her bachelor's degree when we hooked up.

Moreover, I wanted someone with whom I could have intellectual conversations with. Someone who wouldn't be bored at the thought of going to a museum together. While my wife isn't as well-read as I am, she's a teacher, which in itself shows an intellectual bent. And let me tell you -- when we play along to the game show Jeopardy! at home, she gives me serious competition.

While no one will come with every single attribute you'd want in a partner, no one says you have to compromise on those you really want. If you really want him to be handy around the house, then someone like me -- who sometimes struggles to hammer a nail into the wall -- isn't for you. If one of your "non-negotiables" is that she be as tidy as you, don't settle for a woman who's messy, as it could lead to problems down the road.

The more items you can check off each other's wishlists, the better the chances of a strong, long-term relationship. Let's face it: relationships in which both people are too different -- their interests and/or values diverging greatly -- are not built to last.

Of course, your expectations should be reasonable. If you insist on finding a rich man with the face of Mel Gibson and body of Dwayne Johnson, for example, you may never feel satisfied.

If deep down you know that the person you're dating is missing one or more of these criteria, you're better off being friends and holding off on getting serious with anyone until the right person comes along.

And keep in mind that you may lack something that a prospective partner seeks, resulting in an ill-fated fling -- if that. If you find yourself in such a quandary, don't despair. Someone better is on their way.

Do you feel you've ever settled for less? How did it end up?

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