3 years ago5,000+ Views
Truth: there is nothing worse than being in a bad relationship. It drains you of your emotional energy, sucks the joy out of life, and leaves you a depressed, worried mess. So of course, there's nothing more important than determining if someone is right for you, before you even take that big step of diving into a relationship.
Me and this guy have been going on dates for a month or so now. They've been amazing; the best dates I've ever been on. I wrote a card about one of them. He's so sweet, polite, and charming. We have incredible chemistry; we laugh a lot; we have great conversations. And he goes all out, planning these wonderful nights to spend together. I mean, this is the stuff of chick flicks – we've kissed on a ferris wheel, dined at an amazing Italian restaurant, held hands as we walked back to his place. We've cooked meals together, snuggled on a hammock and counted stars, and talked about things we'll do together in the future.
But despite everything, I still feel unsure. And so I ask you, Vinglers:

How do you know if someone is right for you?

How do you know that you'd be compatible in a relationship? And what are the qualities you look for in a partner? In other words, what, to you, sets "keeper" material apart from the pack?
Sorry - I was finishing out the original conversation - you asked what we'd look for in another person. Integrity, honesty, sense of humor, intelligence, passion, kindness, empathy, social responsibility, inner strength, trust, must love cats, must love all sorts of music-literature-movies, optimism, communicative, patient, faithful... not in any particular order. If they love to be creative/expressive or appreciate those who are - that's a bonus to me because I am primarily an artist. Most importantly I want a partner that I can share all aspects of my life with and be invited to share in all aspects of theirs. A best friend, a true companion, a love that will give meaning to both of our lives as we work together to love, cherish, and lift each other up.
OK. This is helpful. Let me play Devil's Advocate here if you do not mind. I'm going to ask you some questions which truly only you can decide the answer to. It doesn't matter if you answer them here or to me... that's not the purpose. You need to answer them for yourself. Why is finding a long-term - life-long relationship important now? Here's a personal perspective before you answer - true there is an amazing benefit of having so many long years and decades of happiness ahead of you if you find your true love early in life. But the opposite viewpoint is that you and your love will go through numerous changes as you age and if at any of these thresholds for change you are not unified in your viewpoints, etc... it will mean a dramatic shift in your relationship that could spell the end... the later in life and more settled you are the more you will understand what is important to you and what you are truly looking for/truly value. Were you not honest in your past relationship? Was the cause of your ex's pain that he didn't get what he wanted (you) or that he felt misled by you (his perception - sometimes people only choose to hear what they want and not what is being said) - or did you mislead him (for whatever purpose - that you were afraid of hurting him, that you thought he'd eventually realize the same thing you had, etc... justifications don't really matter - what matters is do you feel guilt on any level for your direct/conscious choices)? If after you've really stepped back and analyzed the totality of your relationship with your ex in the most objective manner you are capable and you realize that you made choices that you regret - stop. If you need to - write it all down - and know that there is a HUGE difference between a mistake and a poor choice. It's not just semantics - it's the very important concept of self-awareness. If you experience a situation for the first time and through the complexity of navigating it you make choices that at the time you feel are best and right only to look back at them and wish you'd chosen different... STOP. This is VERY good. It means you've recognized an opportunity to learn and grow. Take it. Learn from it and if you ever find yourself in that situation again - recognize it and remember your previous choices - make better choices this time. If you choose to ignore what you've experienced in the past and you make the same or similar choices again - this is what a mistake is. It's also a clinical definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting/believing that eventually you get the outcome you want. In all seriousness - this is why many counselors and psychologists who specialize in relationships suggest that you never rush from one serious relationship into another. You need a period of self-analysis and time to work through your emotions so you can come through whatever challenges you've experienced as a wiser, more aware person. Most importantly it's vital that you can recognize choices you made, decisions that rest squarely on your own shoulders and process how the outcome(s) have affected your sense of self. Many times you will find that after a serious relationship ends your personal priorities and what you find most important in a relationship will change/evolve. I can't say if you moved into this relationship too quickly. But playing DA again - What did you learn about yourself and what is important to you from the ending of your past relationship... besides that fluency in French is a fun option but like a sunroof option on a new car it's not really necessary. That was supposed to make you laugh, BTW. Seriously... you need to ask yourself if your current fear is born of the fact you are not really sure what, if anything, you learned from your past relationship. Lastly, it's better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Cliche but true. You won't ever learn or grow as a person if you don't take risks. There's a balance to everything good in life. Balance is one of the key principles of existence in this universe that we live in... think about it... if there is too much electricity in the air lightening will create balance so the air and earth are in sync electrically. From the chemicals in your brain and blood and body to the salinity of the oceans - everything has to find a balance to avoid a catastrophic imbalance. Relationships and your state of happiness/self fulfillment are no different. You can't find balance if you don't look for it. Like I said above - you need to do some soul-searching - the answers are inside of you. They always have been - they always will be. From everything I've observed you are a wonderfully thoughtful and honest person. Two things that are so special and beautiful in themselves. I have all confidence and faith in your ability to work through this. I can only hope that my comments have perhaps inspired your thoughts in directions that you may have perhaps not contemplated yet.
Thank you @JonPatrickHyde for yet another brilliantly insightful comment :) I really appreciate you taking the time to give such rich and helpful input. Your tattoo sounds really beautiful, and best of all, meaningful - thank you for inspiring us with it. I guess the reason I ask this question is because, although I feel like both my heart and head are pretty crazily into this guy, I got out of a serious relationship pretty recently, in which I had to break someone's heart because, while they were quite invested in the relationship, I'd figured out several months in that he wasn't the person I was going to be spending my life with. That was a relationship I got into pretty quickly, because I thought I had this feeling – like, wow, this is an amazing person who checks all of my boxes. AND speaks fluent French. (lol). But now I can see that that feeling was just a rush of emotion based on the person I thought he was, not who he really was. There wasn't anything wrong with him, really - he just wasn't the guy for me. But he was really, really hurt when I broke things off, and I don't want to do that to anyone else (or have it done to me). I'm just kind of "over" bad relationships. So I guess I'm just curious what qualities people who are "worth it" have. It's easy and wonderful and amazing when we're together, and I kinda wanna just go for it, but at the same time, I feel so cautious after my last experiences. I want to make sure I don't make the same mistake again. And I feel like the best way to do that (besides knowing myself and what I need and want – I agree that that's most important) is to understand what makes someone a good longterm partner.
This is an interesting situation for sure... There's the "Gestalt" reaction to this - you can call it your initial - immediate gut reaction - and in my opinion after reading this I have to ask what you are not telling us because the way you initially introduce this situation leaves me with a "ah... if this is as good as you say then what's the question again?" I have a tattoo on the back of my neck that goes down to the center of my shoulders and across them... I'm 1/2 Native American - just a little background. In traditional Native American medicine disease or illness is caused when energy paths in the body are disrupted. They are called Meridian Lines. The idea is that when we walk on the Earth (sans shoes) healing energy from the Earth enters our bodies and travels through us keeping us healthy. My tattoo traces the energy lines between my heart and my head - the two most important elements of happiness... in the center of these lines I have the Yin and Yang symbol (for balance) and inside of that symbol instead of the normal dots I have the Chinese characters for "love and happiness" the two things I seek most in life. I have this etched into my skin so I can always be reminded that the worst pain I've ever felt - the most costly choices I've ever made were born of the imbalance of communication between my heart and my mind. Never again... Without a balance between the dominions of your heart and mind you won't be able to enter a relationship with the confidence a successful long-term outcome will require. Think about it like this... If your heart is saying, "Yeah baby!" but your mind is saying, "Ehh, whatever." - then regardless what your heart says the situation isn't the right one for you. It's the same if the responses are reversed. I agree with @Gavriella when she says you will know. I have gone out with numerous women who on paper were ideal... but for whatever reason my heart just didn't feel any connection. I've gone out with women who set my world on fire and my heart was doing Lambada Break Dancing - but when I stepped back and looked at them logically - yeah - woah... not good on paper and truly a recipe for future heartache. The key to knowing what is real and what is right starts with being 100% in touch with yourself. You have to ask yourself why is a relationship so important to you - and not just the typical social/family/cultural reasons - but truly - what do you want/need from a relationship? What do you have to offer/give in a relationship? Reading your card I would say that you're in a "on paper it's ideal but my heart isn't sold" situation. And trust me - if your heart doesn't do back flips when you see them walk into a room - if every minute away from them doesn't feel like a lifetime - if you don't find yourself picturing your life with them and not being able to imagine it with anyone else... you've got the makings of a great friendship but that's all it should ever be. The heart is a funny thing. It wants what it wants. You'll find yourself in this "ideal on paper" relationship and one day someone who sets your world on fire will walk in your door and you're going to be really uncomfortable - because safe isn't always fun and life if not mixed with equal parts safety and excitement will create a void that you will eventually be compelled to fill. And that is how good people find themselves in affairs. Not trying to be controversial. Just stating the truth as I know it. I've seen it happen to several of my friends... I say you need to do some deep soul-searching.
I second that @nicolejb if you're too focused on the 'what ifs' of the future you might psych yourself out and forget the most important part of the relationship: having fun with someone you care about!
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