When asked, Clarissa Pinkola Estes imparted these guidelines for choosing a mate to her three grown
daughters, ages 22, 26, and 28.
1. Choose someone as though you are blind. Close your eyes and see what you can feel of that
person, of their kindness, loyalty, insight, devotion, their ability to be concerned with you, their
ability to care for themselves as an independent being. It is more important what we “see” with
our eyes closed when it comes to the object of our love.
2. Choose a person who has the ability to learn. Those who are unable to learn are intolerant.
Choose a person who is curious about the world and how people work, a person who is
gradually learning and evolving.
3. Choose someone who is willing to be both strong and sensitive. Choose a person who has the
strength of a tree which is flexible in the wind and does not break when blasted with powerful,
gale force winds. Choose a person who has the ability to see and be alert to things around him
or her.
4. Choose someone who when you hurt them, they feel pain, and they are willing to show it, and
vice versa, when they hurt you, they see your pain, and they feel sorry.
5. Choose a person who has an inner life: woodworking, drawing, writing, meditation….something
that they love. Choose someone who is on their own journey and sees you as a partner and
fellow traveler on that journey. Choose a person who is capable of being merged AND separate
with a bond between you which can stretch over distance and time without breaking.
6. Choose someone who has similar passions in life to your own. A relationship is for making
memories together.
7. Choose someone who has similar values about having children, about childbearing, about family
members, about roots and roles for women and men and kinds of marriage and money and
religion. This is about the pragmatics of decreasing the friction in the relationship, and if there
are differences, they should be worked out before there is a long term commitment to the
8. Choose someone who is compassionate, who is able to listen, someone who gives equal time.
Polly Ryan, MA, MFT, PO Box 2315, Truckee, CA 96160 530.587.1978
9. Choose someone who can laugh at themselves and who knows how to stop an argument in midsentence.
10. Choose someone who is able to overlook certain faults or characteristics and know what you
can live with. This is important because the things that are so cute and charming in the
beginning, symbiotic stage of a relationship will drive you insane later.
Several things that are intolerable and unacceptable in a lifelong relationship:
Substance abuse
Criminal activity
Anything that takes a person away from their true soul life
A person who cannot tell the truth
A person who cannot give
A person who cannot face you after they have made a mistake and who tries to cover it over in a
dramatic and large way instead
Accepting any of these would be like starting a relationship on swamp ground.
11. Choose someone with whom you can be friends, not just lovers. Are you willing to do for your
partner what you are willing to do for your girlfriend or your guy friend? Are you willing to sit
and listen in minute detail to how that person thinks, and to do what they would like to do? Is
that person able and willing to do the same for you?
12. This is the most important. Make sure that when you choose, you are choosing someone who
makes your life bigger rather than smaller. That will tell you all you need to know.