A friend of mine is trying to decide whether to get married. There’s an issue she has with her beau, and she hasn’t discussed it with him. How do I know? I know because she has discussed it with me at great length. This happens all the time. When people come to me for advice, half the time my answer is: Tell them what you just told me.
This is how you know whether you’re with the right person or not. Do you turn to each other when you’re confused or in trouble? Do you turn to each other when you need someone to talk to?
Most people are still very much hooked in to the pursuer/distancer model of romance. They want someone they don’t know all that well. Often they have no idea whether that person even likes them or not, or whether they’re available. I once asked out a guy from my Latin class, and was rocked back on my heels when he gently informed me that he had a boyfriend. Our feelings of attraction to another person can be amplified by the lack of a chance that we’ll wind up together.
Why is that? Why do we keep wanting people when odds are that they don’t want us back?
What the heck is it that we’re looking for?
My 11th wedding anniversary is coming up. Whenever my hubby and I are reminded of how long we’ve been together, we always look at each other with surprise. Where did the time go?? In some ways it feels like we’ve known each other forever, and in other ways it feels like five minutes. As worried as we both were about messing up our friendship by trying to date each other, it’s worked out.
It’s weird that we got the fairytale romance when we weren’t even attracted to each other at first. This is the hardest part to accept for those who aren’t bought in to the companionate marriage concept. They expect to start with intense physical chemistry and let everything else work itself out.
...whereas to me, feeling intense physical chemistry for someone who was a bad match for my temperament and lifestyle is my actual worst nightmare. To me that’s like a drug addiction. Longing for someone who doesn’t care about me, hurts my feelings, ignores me, has incompatible values, wants a wildly different lifestyle, and can’t or won’t hold a conversation with me... sounds like... the dating/crush life of my teens and twenties?
For whatever bizarre reason, a lot of people have someone in their life who fulfills all the qualities of a solid match. They can talk about anything and everything, they’re there for each other when times are tough, they laugh at the same stuff and enjoy spending time together, they basically agree on most things - and yet something about all of this seems to be a turn-off. It’s especially a turn-off when there is another player in the game, an elusive, unattainable, and pragmatically inappropriate person who is yet magnetically captivating.
Turn to your crush? For what?
Is your crush going to take care of you when you’re sick, help you move, cook for you, take care of your pets and/or kids, do favors for your extended family, and cheerfully share your home, your life, and your finances?
Outside of your fantasies, I mean.
Does your crush make you laugh, or even make you smile?
Has your crush ever given you good advice or shown any insight into your life?
Part of why I risked my friendship with my now-husband was that I realized what a huge part of my life he had become. He was the person I turned to. Several times he had given me the best advice of my life, and after a couple of years, I was starting to realize that I just made better decisions when he was around. I liked the person I was when we were hanging out.
He was the first person I wanted to tell whenever anything happened.
This is the first sign that your friendship is worth looking into a little closer. The reason you want to tell this person everything is a combination of factors. They’re reliable and there for you. They think you’re interesting and funny and they like to talk to you. You don’t have to explain why your joke or observation or news is worth sharing because you know they’ll get it. You don’t have to finish your sentences. You can communicate with a single word, or emoji, or a facial expression, or even by trying to avoid eye contact because you know if you look at each other you’ll both explode with laughter. (That’s the only time to not turn to each other).
These are the feelings of a friend-marriage.
Obviously these feelings are for everyone, not just romantic partners. Friends feel this way, and work buddies, and cousins, and neighbors, and teammates, and all sorts of relationships that will never end in marriage. This is part of how you know that your person is the one to turn to. It feels a lot like your other friendships.
We turn to each other, and that includes our friends and families. Part of the reason we rely on each other is that we recognize the way our families have blended. I consider the well-being of his relatives, partly because I care about them and partly because I know he feels the same way toward mine.
When it comes down to it, we turn to each other because sometimes life can be really hard, too hard to face it alone. We all have to turn to someone. It’s best when we can do this on a solid basis of trust and respect, affection and friendship. When we have all that between us, turning to each other is natural, and when it isn’t, we can turn to each other to work it out.
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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