We all have our pros and cons, as do our partners. For the single people amongst us, prospective partners most definitely do. There may be something which happens during a relationship, past, present or future which seals the deal or shatters it to smithereens. How to be better in a relationship is very subjective.

I recently spent a weekend on a Divorce Retreat run by the amazing Sara Davison. One of the exercises we carried out was a fun game of ‘design your own partner’ – the ultimate list of what we’re looking for – and what we will steer clear from to avoid ending up in heartbreak hotel once again. Here’s mine.

Makers

A fruit loop: For me, a key way on how to be better in a relationship is to have a healthy dose of wacky to keep me on my toes. Personality and bags of it are the order of the day. I want someone who I can laugh with until my belly hurts. But, also someone who I can cry with until all of my mascara has run away. How to be better in a relationship means taking the rough with the smooth but also providing support for that, no matter what.

Ambitious: I am a working mum. I will always be a working mum. I am not passing comment on parents who don’t spend some of their week in an office. Parenting is the hardest job I have and I totally understand the numbers do not add up for some – both literally and otherwise. But, the working mum life is for me and long may that continue. I need a partner who will not only understand that but support me and push me to do my best, no matter what the task at hand is. That’s actually how I can be better in a relationship too – by encouraging me to be at the top of my game and happy with my own achievements.

Shared values and interests: I need someone on my wavelength. I may not be the most avid reader of a daily newspaper but morals and values appear in everyday life – and my future Mr. Right needs to share a worldview with me. It would be handy if those values extended to everything from choice in music, film, and books too. A key way on how to be better in a relationship is common ground – both the serious and the not-so-serious variety.

Breakers

Emotional unavailability: Life with me can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – in both the good ways and the bad. I don’t want someone who I will clash with because of that. Yet, I need someone who gets it because sometimes it happens to them too. Stupid society makes some men feel that they can’t truly express their emotions – I call bulls*hit on that. It’s also definitely not how I am raising my son, TJ. For a man, how to be better in a relationship with me is to never be a closed book and to open up to me about anything under the sun – as I will probably do the same to you!

Negativity: Quite naturally, I am a ‘cup is half full’ sort of person. Even in the wake of a divorce which came with more than the loss of a husband, I optimistically looked to the future and what new opportunities would present themselves. I try to do the same for my friends and family if they are in difficult situations. Negativity begets negativity, and I don’t have time for that in my life anymore.

Unhealthy living: OK, so I am no gym bunny – toddler parenting is workout enough for me. I may also enjoy the odd glass of wine or five after a hectic week. But, heavy smoking, daily drinking, and a consistently poor diet are all major no-nos for me. Respect me and your body – and we will be on to a winner.