Is this the right person? It always boggles my mind when people ask me this. How am I supposed to know? Especially if I haven’t met him, if I don’t know anything about her? What do YOU know about ME and MY relationship that makes you think I’m a good source of advice? All I can tell you is that if you have to ask, then No, the answer is no. If you feel like you need to ask other people whether you’re in the right relationship, you’re not.
You’re the expert.
YOU are the one who has to be with this person. This person is waking up in your bed, not mine. This person is sitting on your couch, using your wi-fi, and leaving dishes in your sink, not mine.
A lot of stuff happens when you date someone based on what your friends and family think. You start making your decisions based on how they will look to others, on what sort of comments you’ll get, on what you think people will say if you get married/break up/separate/shack up. This is not a path to happiness. It’s not even a way to make a relationship last in the long term.
Whether you’re with someone who is “right” depends 100% on your inner feelings.
Also, there’s no one “right” person because a relationship is not about someone’s personality. It’s about their behavior. It’s about what happens between their behavior and your behavior when you’re interacting with each other. It’s about communication, about how skilled you are at sharing your feelings and setting boundaries and negotiating for what you need, and about whether this person is willing to come to the table with you and do the same.
If all people were perfect communicators who did their share of the housework, etc, then it would be more of a question of personality. Mostly, though, it’s about whether you can live together without driving each other nuts.
Traditional romance asks a lot. It asks that you settle down with one person and that you are perfect roommates, friends, lovers, and business partners all in one. Maybe add parenthood and home maintenance to that. Quite a job description, no?
Oh, right, and then you’re supposed to make all those things work for fifty years or more.
Comparing your relationship to others’ relationships doesn’t really work. It doesn’t work because you only see the part they make visible while you’re there. Most people have the great good sense not to fight in public (because why humiliate each other in front of an audience?) and because of that, you can’t have a realistic picture of their shadow couple.
If you swapped mates, the person who seems wonderful with your friend might be terrible with you. Does that make sense? There is no “one” perfect person because it’s all about the combination of that person’s behaviors with someone else’s.
For instance, my husband is great for me because we have twelve years of history adapting to each other’s preferences. We know how to wait on each other and accommodate each other’s weird ways. If you had him, he wouldn’t know your drink order or favorite sandwich or whatever, and believe me, you don’t want mine. You wouldn’t be able to use our lexicon of hand gestures, code phrases, and emojis because it would take you those twelve years to learn them all. All the things he does for me that make me happy would be useless for pretty much anyone but me.
I sometimes spend a moment thinking on my friends’ husbands or boyfriends and, no. Just no. The guy who insists on playing the radio next to the bed all night, every night. The one who chews tobacco. The one who sleeps with three dogs on the bed. I can’t. No. I don’t care what they look like or how fun they are to talk to, I could never live with these particular behaviors. It wouldn’t be fair to ask someone to stop doing something that is part of his best life, the very thing he’d do on his perfect day. Easier just to pick someone whose wackiest habits are okay for me.
I see my hubby sitting there in his reading glasses, poring over another robotics textbook, and my heart beats a little faster. When I was a little girl, I always knew my future husband would wear glasses and read a lot. Something about him in his natural state clicks with this innate hunger I had. He looks right. Yeah, there are a million men our age who wear glasses and like to read, and obviously I only wanted one of their number. It’s just a side benefit that helps me feel like we’re on the same wavelength.
What I like in a relationship may not be what other people are looking for. What works for me is friendship first. I married my husband because I realized that no matter where we went in the world, I would always wonder what he was up to, what he was reading, what he was thinking, and what projects he was working on. I realized that if we lost touch, I would miss him. Whenever anything interesting happens, he’s the first one I want to tell. Sometimes we start laughing at the same thing without even making eye contact or touching each other. He’s also the first person I think of when I’m stuck on a problem, because I’m always better off when I take his advice, and how many people can say that? I feel like he sees me the way I see myself, that he gets what I’m about. We have different or opposing outlooks on a lot of stuff, and we can actually wind up appreciating each other more after discussing them. I feel like I’m more interested in him after thirteen years of friendship than I was when we first met.
Is he the right person for me? Well, he is now, anyway.
You can have physical chemistry with someone who will break your heart. You can have a public-facing relationship that looks great in photos and drives you up the wall when you’re alone. You can have a fantasy romance that exists almost entirely in your own mind. Probably, though, you have friendships that work great. Compare your romance to your friendships and that will start to give you a better idea of whether you’re with the “right person.”
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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