Yeah, I know. I used to tell myself the same thing.
It’s still my default reason if people ask why I’m single, and there isn’t time to give them the analysed-with-military-precision response.
But I think we both know it’s a little simplistic.
Telling yourself you haven’t found ‘the Right Person’ (even though you’ve kissed not just the frogs, but everything else in the pond) gets you off the hook from developing the sort of self-understanding that makes meeting the elusive Right Person possible.
Hopefully you already stopped buying the American movie fairy-tale fantasy of ‘the One’.
There isn’t just one ideal person out there: there’s probably a handful or two. And once you find one of them, and if the timing is sort of okay, then you give things a try.
Let’s be real: beyond the idealistic twenties, getting involved with a person mostly falls into the “I think this could be good, let’s try and see” space.
If you have more certainty than that, you probably aren’t paying attention to the actual person but your hormones or a life plan that says you need to marry by thirty.
‘The Fork in the Road’
If the timing is right, then maybe you get it together with someone.
You’re going to be in love with them for a while (up to three years apparently), and eventually the love will change – and you had better be psychologically prepared for that! Because nothing ever stays the same, and life is better once you develop a little deference for the process of change. It’s either that or become like one of those annoying long-term travelers who says “Ubud isn’t what it used to be” whilst shaking their heads with sadness.
You keep recommitting, and you keep compromising, and hopefully find some sort of a happiness with eachother, because you were already sort of happy before you met them.
Here’s the alternate outcome:
At some point, you or they say “they’re not the Right Person,” because there was an argument over something, or they did something you didn’t like, or something just isn’t right (happily vague enough to act as a catch-all). And so you or they extract themselves and life goes on.
The search continues. And when people ask them why you’re still single, you say “I just haven’t met the Right Person.”
Let’s say you go down the first road or considering it: you are convinced enough that you found the right person to make a commitment.
Maybe this is when the doubts creep in – when it’s ‘too late’ (although happily or unhappily, the concept doesn’t really exist anymore). The nightly arguments over who stacked the dishwasher incorrectly are the occasions you scratch your head and wonder, “did I marry the Right Person?”
We’ll all ask ourselves the question.
But at that point, it isn’t the right question.
‘The Right Question’
If you married them, then you must have been fairly sure they were the Right Person at least once.
Given this, the question stops being “are they the right person?” and becomes “am I the right person for them?”
You’re right for them if you still actually want to be with them, and you accept who they are. You aren’t if their every minor act of humanity causes you to call into question their fundamental rightness. Or you’re focusing on their faults, and pretending that you wouldn’t have problems with someone else. You will have problems with somebody else, although they might be different ones.
When you get into a relationship, you had better be choosing the problems you want.
‘The Love Styles’
We love in different ways (four, give or take). If our ways are different, then we learn to accommodate eachother’s ways, or we can say “too hard” and leave. Both are decent options.
But when you leave, you aren’t leaving because they aren’t the Right Person. You are leaving because it is too great a rub to love them in their way, and you suspect you’ll be happier with a person whose style is a little closer to yours.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
Applying logic to love isn’t overly helpful. But a little logic is useful, and so here is a little logic. They are ‘Questions to Know Whether you are with the Right Person’, bandied around on the personal growth/self-development circuit.
The very first question:
Did you learn to be reasonably content alone yet? (Only if this one is a clear ‘yes’ do you proceed with the other questions. It is how you know you are making a choice whether to be with someone, as opposed to just escaping your life.)
- Do you two want the same things?
- Are you making time for them and them for you?
- Do they accept you as you are?
- Do they care about your emotional/sexual needs (do they even notice them?) Take an interest in your welfare?
- Do you like what they bring out in you (are you happy with who you are when you’re with them?)
- When you fell for them, what else was going on in life (important!)?
- Do they ignore certain key aspects of you?
- Are you ignoring a huge red flag (did they tell you directly that they aren’t into commitment)?
- Do you make excuses for their behaviour?
- Are there things you do together that you both enjoy?
- Are you respectful when you disagree?
- Can you argue productively (to achieve a greater understanding)?
- Is your attraction to them mind and spirit, as well as body?
- Do you share a vision for an ideal future?
- Are your financial goals broadly aligned?
- Do you make a good team?
- Can you easily imagine a more satisfying relationship?
‘I just haven’t met the Right Person’
But if the lingering sense of dissatisfaction is always there, perhaps you haven’t learned what you need from a relationship. And in that case, maybe the Right Person doesn’t exist – yet.
Get to know yourself, and become the Right Person.
I think that’s how we know the others.