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4 Traits of a High-Value Partner

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

There are 4 essential S’s in a healthy relationship. These four components make up what it means to feel safe in a relationship. Without safety in a relationship, it cannot be healthy. As the recent blog posts and articles on the topic have shown, women want partners these day who they can be emotionally vulnerable with. Men who make them feel safe. The new high value man is the safe, emotionally connected man.

Safety is such a big concept and sometimes it can be difficult to articulate exactly what it means to be “safe” with someone. But, as a marriage and family therapist, I’ve had quite a bit of practice identifying safe and unsafe behaviors in relationships. So, here’s my breakdown of what it truly means to be a “safe person” and create safety in a healthy relationship. If you want to have a healthy, long-term relationship, you must have these four skills.

  1. STABILITY —instability threatens the safety of a relationship. When there are behaviors that are actively destabilizing the relationship, the relationship, and the people in it, tend not to feel safe. Some examples of threats to stability are: unaddressed mental health issues, any form of abuse, out of control alcohol, drug, or porn use, and lack of access to basic physiological needs. Addressing these behaviors on your own- through support groups, medication, or therapy- before bringing them into a relationship is crucial to establishing a base of stability which is essential to creating safety in a healthy relationship.

  2. SELF-REGULATION — the ability to regulate yourself when you are upset is a safety skill that helps with conflict management in relationships. So many conflicts spiral out of control due to people not understanding or paying attention to when they have shifted into “fight or flight mode”. When you are dysregulated and your body is in fight or flight, you are no longer in “collaboration” mode; you are in “attack mode” and your partner is now your target. Lack of self-regulation skills leads to ugly and brutal conflicts between couples where hits often end up below the belt. Learning the skills for self-regulation will help you to turn your conflicts from destructive to productive.

  3. SELF-EXPRESSION — the number one skill that women look for in a partner nowadays, is the ability to be emotionally intelligent. Part of being emotionally intelligent is having the language to be emotionally expressive. When you can talk about your emotions in a way that invites connection and increases understanding, you establish yourself as a safe person for your partner to share her emotions with. Emotional safety is currently the most sought after feature in a modern relationship. However, you cannot express what you don’t have the words for. Becoming more fluent in the language of emotions will allow you to self-express more deeply and honestly and allow you to understand your partners’ self-expressions as well.

  4. SELF-AWARENESS — another thing that threatens safety in a relationship is when someone is unaware of how their actions and words are affecting their partner. I also see a lot of people who are in relationships almost by default. They have little to no self-awareness of why they are in their relationship, how they are impacting their partner, or what their goals are in the relationship. When you don’t know the answers to those questions, chances are high that you are inadvertently hurting your partner. When you know your why, your impact, and your purpose, you will not end up in relationships that are not meant for you. This level of self-awareness also leads to a healthier relationship with yourself, as when you know yourself, you can assert yourself with confidence, not arrogance.

Regardless of your gender, or the gender of your partner, the question, “how do I be a safe partner” should be top of mind- especially if you are getting into a new relationship.

Start working on the 4 S’s for yourself, and start looking for them in your next partner. If they have these 4 S’s — they are stable, able to self-regulate in a healthy way, able to self-express honestly, and self-aware of who they are and what they are looking for, you will be saving yourself a lot of time. Set yourself and your new relationship up for success by ensuring that the 4 S’s of Safety are present before you begin.

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Kristal DeSantis, LMFT, CCTP is the author of STRONG: A Relationship Field Guide for the Modern Man (available for pre-order November 2022)

Follow my instagram @atxtherapist or on TikTok @atx_therapist or visit my website:

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