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Crucial characteristics of lasting love

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First comes that split second of physical attraction. Next that thrilling feeling of chemistry. But when the veil of romance starts to lift, what's life really like off the dance floor?

Too often, love is blind
When Jenny and Michael met, they were instantly attracted to each other. Those electrifying sparks started flying. In an exciting whirlwind of parties and romantic dates, they swept each other off their feet. They decided to get married and live happily ever after. Years later the hormones had calmed down (and so had the fireworks). When the smoke cleared, the mismatches started to emerge. Her passion to shop and his questionable money decisions created constant financial stress. He liked to hang with the guys at the bar. She loved to go to the theatre with friends. They disagreed on children and family values, especially religion. Communication broke down. Eventually, they grew apart.

Sound familiar? A physical and chemical match is essential at the start, but the excitement of a budding new romance eventually wears off. Making thoughtful dating decisions can mean the difference between revolving relationships and finding lasting love.

Dating experts outline seven match areas to consider:

Physical appearance
While physical appearance and attraction draw two people together at first, these aspects will affect the rest of their lives. If working out and staying fit is important to you, will it bum you out if your mate doesn't share your quest for rock hard abs?

Emotional maturity
Is this person emotionally mature and centred or are they still lugging around some trunk-sized baggage? How does your sweetheart relate to family and friends? Is he or she emotionally supportive or have control issues? Is your mate aware of his or her own issues and interested in addressing them?

Lifestyle choices
This includes career and social lives, common interests, leisure time activities and energy levels. Would she rather join the bowling league or the metropolitan symphony? Does he have lots of energy for activities with friends while she'd rather rest and chill out at home?

Financial style
This is a hot bed for most couples. It includes income levels, financial goals and views on handling money. How do you each want to spend, save and invest? Is one person a spender while the other saves? Is one person financially responsible while the other plays catch-up with child support and bills?

Value structure
This match area is often overlooked but has a tremendous impact on your life. It includes the big values: Honesty, integrity, loyalty, views on family and children, religion and spirituality, life goals and the treatment and care for others. Does your mate follow through on her word? Would you say he's trustworthy? Will she always be there for you in a pinch?

Marriage and sex
Everyone does not share the same idea of marriage. The big questions to address are: What do you and your mate expect from marriage and sex? Is he or she looking for a soul mate? Do you both want close intimacy in friendship, communication and sex?

Intelligence
Having similar education levels increases your chances of sharing matching school and social experiences, intellectual interests and career goals. What topics do you and your honey like to talk about? Conversation limited to sports or shopping may get boring to someone who likes to ponder philosophy and bluster about business. While you don't have to match exactly in each area, look at the big picture and make sure you match closely enough in the important areas of your life.

Dee Anne Merriman is a freelance writer who often covers relationship issues.