One of the most important relationship to have in your life is partnership. It is distinct from other relationships in life such as kinship (blood relative) and friendship. Partnership is the only kind of relationship where you are free to choose people based on who is helpful to you. Applying such criteria to other kinds of relationship could be problematic. You can't shun family relatives who are needy. You can't make friends only with whom you can take advantage of. In fact, you often make friends to help those who can't repay you. However, you can and should be selective about partnership. Partners can be family, friends, or coworkers, but not all family, friends, or coworkers can be partners.

Here are some of the ways partners are special, and by these traits you can recognize them.

    • You work well together as a team.
    • They give you good advice or useful information.
    • They help you accomplish things you can't do yourself.
    • They introduce you to more people who can potentially be partners.

It is important to recognize who your partners are because it defines your success in life.

You work well together as a team

It is really hard to qualify exactly what makes people work well together. It might be compatible personality traits. It might be comparable skill levels, or complementary skill sets. It could be mutual respect for each other. Some people are just inspiring to you to work with, and it could be that you are inspiring to them as well. You appreciate what they do for you, and they appreciate what you do for them. It is actually the most wonderful synergy to experience in life, working alongside people who mutually inspire one another.

They give you good advice or useful information

Some people really like giving advices, but not everyone who gives advice can be partners. You can tell their motivation by whether the advice is relevant to you. Giving advice is easy, but it takes real effort to give relevant advice. They first need to discern whether you're really seeking advice (sometimes you're just trying to be conversational), and if you are, exactly what you are seeking advice on. They also need to be knowledgeable about what they are advising on.

Self-conceited fools are especially prone to offer their ill-informed opinions as advices. Some people like to play devil's advocate. It makes them feel good, possibly with a sense of superiority, but devil's advocate is not necessarily good advice either. Most of the times you still want to remain friendly with those who offer unhelpful advices, but by the helpfulness of the advice you can tell who your true partners are. On the other hand, good advices do not always come in the expected way, so it helps to keep an open mind.

They help you accomplish things you can't do yourself

Things you can't do yourself might be due to the lack of skill or the lack of time. Some people are just very adaptive and try to be helpful in all situations. They can readily figure out how they can make a contribution without being told what to do. These are really the type of people you want to be partners with.

A useful test is to invite someone to help you prepare a meal in the kitchen, or clean up after a party.

They introduce you to more people who can potentially be partners

Networking is not just about meeting people. It's about meeting the right kind of people. The ability to introduce you to the right kind of people also takes a lot of accurate assessment on you and the person to be introduced. It also requires the person to be resourceful in the first place to know the right people. Avoid those who introduce you to unhelpful acquaintances so they can show off how resourceful they are.

In other words, partners are enablers, not disablers. They recognize your best interest and are willing to provide the right kind of support, and won't block you because you're not on their agenda. Seek partners, but remember that partnership is bilateral and equal, so also seek to be the partner for others. If someone makes a great partner for you, make sure you let him or her know about your appreciation.

You can meet potential partners from all kinds of relationships, but the most significant relationship to have as a partner is marriage. Your spouse should definitely be a partner.