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How does one know that they've found the right partner?
December 25, 2008 7:34 AM   Subscribe

How does one know that they've found the right partner? I don't have my dream job, apartment, body, city... no aspect of my life is exactly what I dream about. But I'm generally happy with my life and I'm thankful for the good things I have.

Yet somehow I came to believe that I should wait for my dream partner... that one day I would be involved with someone and just somehow *know* that they were the one for me. Married friends and family confirm that this is way it should be. Yet I'm suspicious that they are unconsciously cooking the books... forgetting about the serious misgivings they once had now that they've already made the commitment.

I recently broke up with my girlfriend of about a year. She was the kindest, most positive, most beautiful person I've been with. The only problem was a nondescript nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it just "wasn't right". It's been 3 months now, and it tears me up to think that I may have given up the best person to come into my life in hopes that a mystical more-perfect one will appear.

Give it to me straight, Mefi. How does one know that they've found someone who is right enough? How does one know if they've set an unreasonable bar of compatibility that no actual human may ever reach?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 120 users marked this as a favorite
 
How does one know that they've found someone who is right enough?

When I found someone with whom I could totally be myself, without any reservations whatsoever, that's when I knew I'd found the one. I never have to hide anything from him, I never have to pretend to be smarter or prettier than I am. At the same time, he challenges me to be a better person, like that Jack Nicholson line in As Good as it Gets: "You make me want to be a better man."
posted by desjardins at 8:03 AM on December 25, 2008 [22 favorites]


You don't. It's a fallacy promoted by centuries of story-telling, then decades of movies and novels. What people talk about when they talk about 'falling in love at first sight' is the rush of hormones and chemical attraction experienced when you meet someone whose pheromones, physical attributes and everything else push all your buttons.

What does sometimes happen is that you date someone for a while, bimble along with your life and look up six months, a year, a decade later and say 'I literally cannot live without this person, and I'm willing to do anything to protect them and make them happy'.

She was the kindest, most positive, most beautiful person I've been with.

Yep, sounds like you may have thrown away a great thing. There are no flashing signs, lightning bolts or anything else to tell you what to do. But throwing away a happy relationship because you can't shake the feeling there might be something better out there is a wrong-headed thing to do - I've seen it happen, and it's painful and pointless.

You are operating under a delusion. Stop watching romantic comedies and appreciate the people around you for who and what they are now, not what a lifetime of bad movies has taught you they should be.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:08 AM on December 25, 2008 [38 favorites]


I was a cynic who never believed in romantic comedies or fairy tales, however when I found the one I knew pretty much at the get-go by these tell tale signs;
1) I was scared as hell and ran in the opposite direction. What I felt immediately made me vulnerable in case he didn't feel the same way, and that was very scary for me (and him, he felt the same way).
2) I could totally be myself around this person and it was a-OK, ditto that person was himself and I loved all of it. How liberating, I could be me and he got it!

I've been in love, and loved people before but this was different. It might have been the timing of it all but eight years later we're still on. And like desjardins says, it makes me want to be a better person.
posted by dabitch at 8:21 AM on December 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I remember one day, after I'd spent some time dating the girl I eventually married, thinking, "If she got in a horrible, disfiguring accident or came down with AIDS, I'd still want to be with her as much as I do now." It was quite simple: she was my best friend. Some people have a husband or wife and a different person who is their best friend. I'm not knocking that, if it works, but I don't get it. I knew my wife was The One when I knew she was my best friend.
posted by grumblebee at 8:47 AM on December 25, 2008 [20 favorites]


But throwing away a happy relationship because you can't shake the feeling there might be something better out there is a wrong-headed thing to do - I've seen it happen, and it's painful and pointless.

That doesn't sound to me like what happened here. It sounds like OP should have been happy, but wasn't. To wit:

The only problem was a nondescript nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it just "wasn't right".

Sometimes that "nagging feeling" is justified, sometimes it's not, but either way it's not usually a recipe for a happy marriage. Now, whether it means that there was some flaw with the relationship or something wrong with the OP, I don't know... but if you're already looking for greener pastures after a year, well, that's not a good sign.

Yes, some people do find the person of their dreams. Most do not. It's not a requirement for a happy life or marriage. What is required, though, is that you be satisfied and happy with what you have.
posted by toomuchpete at 8:54 AM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


if you felt like it would be settling, then it wasn't right. simple as.
posted by nunoidia at 8:58 AM on December 25, 2008


I think that for most people, most of the time, you never really know for sure. There are a few people who have that instant recognition of "this is my soulmate!" but for most of us, it's complicated, ambiguous, and always conditional. For most people, there simply isn't just one perfect partner -- there are a lot of possible partners, and it takes luck and compromise and a lot of hard work to make something work over the long term.

I love my wife very, very much. But I don't pretend that if we hadn't met that I'd be doomed to a monastic life, or that she would still be sitting there, waiting for me. And neither of us knew instantly that this was the person we'd marry, or even fall in love with. I don't think that usually it is helpful to try and look that far ahead, honestly. There are far more critical, and very pragmatic, day-to-day questions, like Does this person make me smile? Do I want to make the compromises that it would take to make her happy? Things like that, where if you consistently answer one way you have a happy situation, and consistently the other way things aren't going to go happily.

Accrue enough of those small decisions, and you have a relationship built on a really good foundation. But even if the other person is a great person, very compatible, and so on, if you aren't ready for the relationship -- if you aren't ready to do the hard work and make the tough compromises -- then it's not going to work. You need that initial compatibility, or chemistry, call it what you will, but that's just the entry point. Making it work each day after that is where the real work comes in.

(And by "work," I don't mean that it should be a slog, rolling a boulder uphill every day. It's not, and if it feels that way then something's not right. But people change, and life happens, so for a relationship to stay strong and relevant you need to put in real effort, every day, at communicating, and making the other person's life that little bit better, and adapting. It's fun, and amazingly rewarding, but if you blow it off and put all your effort into other areas of your life, you risk waking up one day and realizing that there isn't much connection anymore.)

So no, I think doubt is normal, at the beginning and always. And sometimes the person isn't right, or you aren't right, or the moment just isn't right. None of that makes you a bad person, or means that your decision was wrong. (And even if it was, you can't go back and fix it -- the question is what do you do tomorrow, not what should you have done yesterday.)
posted by Forktine at 9:28 AM on December 25, 2008 [28 favorites]


I recommend the book stumbling on happiness. It explains why your married friends are "unconsciously cooking the books." It's not a self help book, it's the psychology of happiness and the tricks our mind plays on us effect our happiness.

The author did a TED talk called the (mis)guided pursuit of happiness that touches on some of the issues.

Short answer: they are cooking the books, and when you get married you probably will too.
posted by magikker at 9:39 AM on December 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


A lot of people who are happily married and talk about it being love at first sight, or "just knowing" that this person was "the one" and so on may be speaking from confirmation bias. The feelings they have for their spouse and the years invested in their relationship shade their memory and they forget previous boyfriends/girlfriends that also gave them a rushing feeling of "I think this person is it!" And, of course, they married their current spouse and effectively shut the door on feeling like "this person is the One" for anyone else.

When people talking about "just knowing" it's as much about that person being at a time in their life when they're ready to meet and have a relationship with "the One" as it is about that person being "the One."

So don't sweat it.
posted by Martin E. at 9:43 AM on December 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Excellent advice here. I guess my criteria for "the one" is the same- able to be myself, feeling unjudged by that person, etc. Motivations are never questioned- our partner may not do what we would want them to do, but we never (should) think that it's a personal affront. Never lie, never *want* to lie. If I have to stay at work late or the train is late or the car breaks, that's not me disrespecting you.

You have a common purpose- enjoy life, focus on careers, build a family, whatever- and you both work towards that and truly believe your partner does the same.

Agreed- that nagging feeling shouldn't be there. The question is, is whether it's a real concern for the relationship, or is it just your internal error-checking monologue (or anxiety/paranoia) giving you doubt? Do you believe there is something better out there because there is some problem with the relationship that you don't yet recognize? Or simple human-nature wandering imagination stuff?

Compromise- this is a tough one. My personal belief is that compromise should never be expected, only given. Expecting compromise of your partner is a sign of incongruent goals or a lack of respect for the other partner's wants and needs. I want you to change your desires because I've changed mine. Not that compromise isn't part of all relationships- just that compromise should always be discussed and recognized. Love isn't transactional, but compromise has to be. We agreed on painting the livingroom green, and you changed your mind and want brown. I don't like brown. It's important to me, so if you are going to change the plan for the living room, I get to pick the color for the bedroom. Unrecognized compromise leads to regret and bitterness. You give into the other partner's wishes on everything without telling them that you are, there will come a time when you make a stand and the relationship has no pattern for that.

(I recently thought I'd met "the one"- one of her main relationship/compatibility indicators was "do we hate the same things". It blew my mind, because it's absolutely true. Or it was for us. You can like Kanye West or Volkswagons, that's just the spice of life. But you cannot respect someone who doesn't hate "Everybody Hates Raymond" with an equal passion as yours. Turns out, however, that this isn't strictly true. We broke up because it turns out we hated one too many things in common: me. (HA!))

Yet I'm suspicious that they are unconsciously cooking the books... forgetting about the serious misgivings they once had now that they've already made the commitment.

Absolutely, positively true. Part human nature, part jealousy. Of course you are going to forget some of the reservations you had before you ultimately make a decision, you'd go crazy otherwise. While there are untold joys to couplehood I'm sure, there is always that grass is always greener thing. And while people want to see their friends happy, they also want to see them make the same decisions they did, because it justifies those decisions. They respect you, and they respect themselves, and they want to make those two things jibe with each other.
posted by gjc at 10:13 AM on December 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know, it's hard to come up with a good general policy on Nagging Feelings.

I mean, sometimes they're important signs that you're making a mistake. But sometimes you're doing the right thing, and the feelings are just the inevitable little frustrations bubbling to the surface, or interference from problems in some other area of your life, or bits of self-doubt, general pessimism, or just plain meaningless emotional static that your brain is latching on to. You can't always trust 'em, but you can't always ignore 'em either.

(Corollary: the happily-married people you know? Yes, they've ignored plenty of Nagging Feelings. The ones who will stay happily married, it's because they were lucky or clever and chose the right ones to ignore.)

I find it helps to talk about this stuff with a neutral third party who knows me well. It helps to ask myself point-blank "Is there anything specific in this situation that I want to change, or am I just generally dissatisfied?" And it helps, finally, to make a conscious effort to look on the bright side of the situation, count my blessings, and see if that helps.

But sometimes you can't ever really tell whether the feeling is trustworthy or not. You just have to make a choice and see how it goes. Life is kind of like that, unfortunately.

(In your specific case, I've got two thoughts. Could it be that you loved your girlfriend but had problems in your relationship that you weren't dealing with? Or could it be that you were dissatisfied with your life overall, wanted to change something, and decided a change in relationship status would be the easiest change to make? My experience is that the specific Nagging Feeling you were experiencing — the one that says "You know that kind and beautiful woman over there? You should break up with her!" — often arises out of one of those two situations.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:36 AM on December 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


When I found someone with whom I could totally be myself, without any reservations whatsoever, that's when I knew I'd found the one.

Yes, absolutely. Or to put it another way, as Mrs ob says: "It's a good thing I love you because otherwise I'd find you fucking annoying."
posted by ob at 10:43 AM on December 25, 2008 [13 favorites]


Here's my take on this:

All the times I fell in love before, it was an obsessive thing where I felt I needed to "win over" the other person, and that would make the hole in my heart all better. I worried about myself and whether I was good enough for them, etc. These relationships didn't work out -- the guys involved projected a sense of ambivalence that seemed to indicate interest, but not enough.

Then I got therapy, because it was obvious there was something wrong with what I was attracted to. My therapist at the time told me I would attract someone who was right for me when I started taking care of my own needs and inner hurts and didn't expect a relationship to make it all better. Frankly, I thought this was a lot of new-agey hoo-ha, but the rest of the therapy was working out.

Somewhere toward the end of the therapy sessions, a friend I had started corresponding with over Match.com invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him. The first time we met (while I was in the throes of one of those other infatuations), I wasn't all that interested in him. When I went to see him at Thanksgiving, however, something in my eyesight changed. Around him, I felt like I was home.

We'll be married two years in March.
posted by lleachie at 11:01 AM on December 25, 2008 [12 favorites]


It took me several years of actually BEING IN a relationship with my partner to decide that I was in it for life. Your concept of love changes the deeper you get into it. People who've been married a long time are great to turn to for inspiration, but not necessarily for advice when it comes to your preliminary game -- their own judgment has become corrupted by the weight of their own personal experience. I'm discovering that now as I try to help my single friends deal with being single and getting un-single.

You may have broken up with your girlfriend unjustly. But who knows? Just keep in mind that not only won't you "just know," even after a feeling of "just knowing" eventually develops, there may pass months or even years in which you have second-thoughts.

When my partner and I had only been dating a couple months in the summertime, he mentioned to me how much he was beginning to look forward to winter, as it was an excellent season to have someone to snuggle and keep warm with. From my unsteady emotional position, I reacted poorly. "Let's just get through the summer," I joked, but he couldn't help hearing the discouragement in my words, and to his credit, really made fun of me for it. It's still one of our jokes, over 5 years later. Whenever one of us blithely comments on some future event we have to look forward to, the other is ever ready with a "Let's just get through the ______(current season)." But by and large, I think this is very healthy -- approaching time in manageable portions is the only way to assess what you have and what you want by any comprehensible terms. Breaking up with someone because you don't see yourself with them in 40 years doesn't speak very well of your imagination. Anything can happen. Let's just get through the summer.
posted by hermitosis at 11:22 AM on December 25, 2008 [33 favorites]


My cousin told me that the night she met her husband, 36 years ago, she told her best friend she met the man she'd marry.

My mother told me that when she met my father, 29 years ago, she didn't find him all that attractive, but eventually decided he was a good man and would make a good partner. They've been happily married 27 years.

I've heard people say, "I thought I'd spend my life with her/him - I can't believe we're breaking up/divorcing." More than not, actually, this is what I hear. I've said it myself. I was certain about a boyfriend of mine - it just felt so right - and now that it's over, I'm not sorry it's over. The sort of irrational romantic love that accompanied that relationship was what drove my belief. See Helen Fisher: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4856626310862753252

Lastly I've heard people say not to settle, because I'll just end up divorced like they did.

So my conclusion is: it's very, very individualistic. Some people just know (and some of those turn out to be wrong, not in line with their partner, or to fall out of love) and some people make a calculated decision based on what they need out of a partner (and some of those marriages probably fail, too).
posted by namesarehard at 12:06 PM on December 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


While I totally agree that hollywod / popular culture fills our heads with all kinds of ridiculous (harmful) ideas about love/romance/relationships, that doesn't negate the fact that some people do wind up in amazing, love-filled relationships, and if you find yourself in one of those, it profoundly changes your life for the better.

I think of it like this: in the past, even in relationships in which I thought of myself as happy, the thought of being with the same person in 20 years could make me a bit queasy with anxiety. I realized M_____ was right for me when the thought of being with her in 20 years filled me with contentment.

Of course, that could very much have to do with my simply getting older. Nonetheless, it is still not uncommon for me to wake up and be honestly amazed at how lucky I am that she's next to me.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:28 PM on December 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


How does one know that they've found the right partner?

The problem with your question is you're asking it as if it's universal, when it will end up having to be specific for each person who makes the choice for themselves.

No matter how many times AskMe looks at this question, your answer has to be the one you choose. Only you know who you are, and what you need in the person who will essentially be your "other self" in life. You can read these threads to get yourself thinking, but don't expect majority to rule your heart. It doesn't really matter how it works for other people, or how they think it works, or how they say it works on a message board. You make the call, and you live with the consequences.

There may be some universal advice, but I think we make assumptions about generalities, partly based on vague words that are open to many interpretations (like, "love", for instance). Think about how differently people feel about religion, art, and politics, and I'd bet that the experience of love is far from identical across populations. All we can do is advise based on what seems to have worked for our own individual case so far, which means people who found a "perfect match" may later end up divorcing, not having realized they were living in something of a dream world, or people saying you always have to compromise may later meet The One and become true believers. You're as much an expert as anyone, and in the case of your own life, you're the only expert whose opinion counts.

Though, as someone around here once said, don't look for custom fit in an off-the-rack world.
No one is perfect, and they have to put up with your flaws too, so the best partner is someone who understands you and cares, thinks you're just weird enough, laughs at your jokes & makes you laugh, that kind of thing. Basically, remember that it's not settling to partner up with a human being instead of an abstract ideal.
posted by mdn at 1:31 PM on December 25, 2008 [13 favorites]


My current partner is my dream partner. Thing is, I never really knew what I wanted before I met her. But now that I have her, she's it. She's the one. As I often tell her, she's everything I never knew I wanted in a woman.

I think this is about the same experience for most people. Some may think they know what they want in a partner, most others probably don't, but when the right person comes along, you just know it. You know it because you end up falling in love with that person and knowing you'd do just about anything for them. Spending time with each other dosen't seem like an eternity. Her crazy in-laws are acceptable to you. All that sort of stuff.

So as others have said, don't sweat it. You'll find the right person. The person thats right for you, right now and forever.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:47 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It really pretty simple: you can't know. You make your best effort at choosing well and learn to live with the results. If you want something she wasn't providing then I hope you find it, because it sounds like you lost something good, even if it wasn't perfect.
posted by RussHy at 4:56 PM on December 25, 2008


the bricabrac man: "I think of it like this: in the past, even in relationships in which I thought of myself as happy, the thought of being with the same person in 20 years could make me a bit queasy with anxiety. I realized M_____ was right for me when the thought of being with her in 20 years filled me with contentment."

What he said. I broke up with my previous girlfriend when that 20 year thought experiment freaked me out. When I started dating my now-wife, that same experiment, thinking about us together twenty years in the future, filled me with happiness and no anxiety. I knew within the first few months that we'd be together for many years. When someone early on asked me how I'd describe my relationship, I said, "no fear".
posted by octothorpe at 4:58 PM on December 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Aw hell no.

I just got married, and she was the roommate of my ex-fling. At first I thought there was no way. I mean, I thought she was cute, but she's annoying, has cats, and she has all these stupid insecurities and quirks, I thought. No way do I even want to know her. But over the next few months as we became more and more familiar, I discovered she actually had a sense of humor...a really good one in fact, and she's made me laugh harder than anyone I know. And the only things she's really concerned with about me were whether I was doing something worthwhile with myself. It was a really slow process of discovery as we went from "oh shut up I'm plenty healthy" to "yeah I guess I shouldn't smoke so much" to "yes yes I'm quitting right now but stop nagging me about it! I know! You're right!" It was slow, and it was tedious, but after a year where there were just as many times I wanted to strangle her as I wanted to make love to her, I kind of figured it out. It dawned on me slowly. Very slowly.

And I will still be plenty honest about her shortcomings, and I'm sure she's got some things to say about mine. But that's how you find out, I think. Or at least how I did it. No flash of inspiration, no pivotal moment, my heart beating in anticipation as a white light ensconced my conscious and unconscious mind and awakened me to an eternal, universal love that would cradle us until the mortal coil ticks down and we vanish into the ether. Definitely none of that. It was simply the slow, pained realization that she is the most worthwhile, wonderful person I know, not me myself, and that I really, really do love her, and it's not only possible, but blatantly obvious, that she feels the same about me, after we've proven through a lot of personal sacrifice and sharing that we are, actually, committed to this. And now I know.
posted by saysthis at 5:03 PM on December 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


I settled. The day we got married I met the woman of my dreams. She was the minister.
It is weird to see yourself in xkcd. What happened.

We have had to work on our relationship. It was not always a smooth ride. I have asked myself if I could do it but never if it was the right one. I want to believe that there is a right one for each of us but how we find that person is a different journey. There was four or five years between my "She's the one!" moment and us getting married. And there was a lot of pain and heartache in those years.
posted by pointilist at 9:43 PM on December 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


People think "love" is a very individualistic thing. It isn't. People can be ranked almost linearly in their desirability as partners.

If you are looking for "the one" you are probably either thinking of starting a family, or are aware enough of your own aging and decay, that you want to get a good partner before your own desirability plummets, leaving you with less desirable options than if you had just picked when your own desirability was greater.

Here, at least, men are at an advantage. Both men and women are physically getting worse soon after their mid-20s. But many men are still increasing in qualities that attract women. You are building assets (home, car, savings) and gaining status socially, and in your profession. An analogy might be made to most sports, where people are also physically decaying soon after their early 20s, but building in skill also. The "sweet spot" is the age where both your (increasing) skills and (decreasing) physical ability are both at their highest, since your skill level eventually plateaus and your physical ability is in freefall (an exception is the cheating steroid players). For baseball the peak is around age 27; golf which demands the least physical ability, and more talent is one of the latest sport "peaks": age 31.

Take a lesson from sports, even at your best, your early to mid 30s are the upper-bound of your "peak" age for getting the best possible girl before you, and your options, start declining.

If you are under 25 and you are upwardly mobile, then you shouldn't feel bad about dumping your girlfriend. There is a high probabilty you can and will meet a better "the one". ("the one", of course = a girl most other guys would marry if they got to make a decision from a menu!)

On the other hand, if you are over 25, and are on no obviously upwardly mobile place in your income or your status, and your girlfriend was approximately as desirable as you when you met her, then dumping your girlfriend in hopes of finding a better offer was probably a gamble it was not in your best interest to take, because your desirability as a partner is now at lower point than it was when you met her.

Of course, you could still get lucky and meet someone better, but it's better to understand what part of love isn't "luck", if you want to maximize your agency in the matter.
posted by fucker at 9:52 PM on December 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


I've gone through life as a very happy person, but when I spend time with Mr. 26.2 I'm even happier, calmer and more relaxed. I can't say that I "knew" right away, but I knew that we were better together than apart.

After years of complex relationships, being with the right man has been incredibly simple. It feels like the search is over, but it never feels like settling.
posted by 26.2 at 10:49 PM on December 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here's a very unscientific litmus test for figuring out if you've found the right partner: Imagine trying to live without this person: do you feel like you've been punched in the gut? Do you feel like the bottom has fallen out of your world? That's a good sign...Also it really helps if you agree about big items like kids, religion and money...
posted by bananafish at 10:52 PM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


desjardins and Grumblebee said what I was going to say much better than I would have said it.

I wanted to add that it takes longer for some people to "know" than others, even if a relationship is really good. I knew six months into my relationship, but it took my now-husband three or four years to really know.

There's a lot of reasons for that, including just personal taste, but life experience played a large part in our different outlooks. He said that he'd had it in his head that early relationships never work out -- we started dated when we were 18 -- and I can understand why someone would think that because they usually don't. But I also have an aunt and uncle who've been together since they were 12 and never had another relationship, and some other similar relationships around me as concrete examples, so it was easier for me to separate statistics from the equation and just think, "Is the relationship working? Okay, then good." Also, his parents were divorced whereas mine weren't. He said as time passed and our relationship just got stronger he realized, wait, it wasn't going to end anytime soon and that he didn't want it to.
posted by Nattie at 2:10 AM on December 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yet somehow I came to believe that I should wait for my dream partner... that one day I would be involved with someone and just somehow *know* that they were the one for me.

Yeah. That kind of expectation is how I consistently ended up with the wrong guy for years and years and years.

Mr. Micawber and I are at 5 years now. We're kind of astonished. If you put every guy I ever dated in a lineup with him, and said, "Pick out the one who's going to be the love of her life" you'd never pick him just based on physical appearance.

There were so many criteria I used for so many years as the ultimate litmus test. All of them were bullshit. But it took a very very long time and kissing a lot of frogs before I whittled it down to the basics. It's not even what you love or what you hate, it's the right combination of those things.

I'll nth this one, as we just talked about it when we were away for our anniversary:

When I found someone with whom I could totally be myself, without any reservations whatsoever, that's when I knew I'd found the one.

Here's my example: I am cranky in the morning. And when you read that, you will think, 'Okay, sure, she's cranky, so is everyone' but I need to explain to you that this is my own very special brand of cranky. Every other guy I have ever been with has taken this as a personal condemnation against them, has stormed out of the house, has given me lecture after lecture, taken things said without coffee to be personal insults upon their very honor.

Mr. M. will just kiss me on the head and say, "It's so hard for you in the morning" and walk away. We usually laugh about it later. (He is not mr. wonderful in the morning either, and we generally just try to not speak at all.)

I have never been more *me* than I am with him. All of it, good and bad. Definitely bad. ESPECIALLY bad. It is easy to be your best self with someone you love but it is hard as heck to show the ripped seams.
posted by micawber at 8:08 AM on December 26, 2008 [14 favorites]


("the one", of course = a girl most other guys would marry if they got to make a decision from a menu!)

So the right "girl" for you is based on what you think other men would desire? That's a pretty sad way to live, fucker.
posted by jayder at 11:30 AM on December 26, 2008


Here's a very unscientific litmus test for figuring out if you've found the right partner: Imagine trying to live without this person: do you feel like you've been punched in the gut? Do you feel like the bottom has fallen out of your world? That's a good sign...

Not so sure about that ...

-- There are lots of women I could imagine would make me feel "punched in the gut," make
"the bottom fall out of my world," and yet, in the day-to-day routines of life, I discover that they are mentally ill, unstable, overly demanding, narcissistic, prone to conflict and crying jags, etc.

-- And there are women I could imagine wouldn't cause some immediate physical/psychological response, whose decency, intelligence, and delightful personality, combined with a good career and so forth, would make them a perfect partner.

I am skeptical of any explanation of "the one" that rests on language of sudden violence or catastrophe. Whether someone is the person to spend the rest of your life with does not become apparent in some blinding instant; I suspect that the belief that it does, explains why so many marriages end in divorce!
posted by jayder at 11:36 AM on December 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, if you are over 25, and are on no obviously upwardly mobile place in your income or your status, and your girlfriend was approximately as desirable as you when you met her, then dumping your girlfriend in hopes of finding a better offer was probably a gamble it was not in your best interest to take, because your desirability as a partner is now at lower point than it was when you met her.

Right, because once you're over 25, you stand NO CHANCE AT ALL at meeting the love of your life.

Youth is wasted on the young.
posted by micawber at 11:44 AM on December 26, 2008


So the right "girl" for you is based on what you think other men would desire?

No, and this is not what that meant. I'm saying people are competing for desirable mates, and there is a high degree of consensus on who those desirable mates are.


Right, because once you're over 25, you stand NO CHANCE AT ALL at meeting the love of your life.

I explicitly stated I wasn't saying this, even though nothing I wrote stated or implied otherwise. Read my final sentence. It's about maximizing your agency in the matter, rather than leaving it up to "destiny" or all those other false romantic notions that weaken rational self-interest and make people worse off.
posted by fucker at 9:55 PM on December 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man if any of us really knew the answer to this question.....half of the "human relations" questions posted on askmefi wouldn't have been asked in the first place, like you i broke up with someone whom i was in love with....even when i was in love at the time I did....I'll tell you this....only time will tell whether you made the right decission....and i am starting to think that the glue that will hold my next relationship together is the heartbreak of having such a close what if? or could have should have would have? and what happens once you dont have them....Who is the one? Is really the one you cant live without and for some of us to arrive at this point we have to leave a couple of other "ones" at the junctures in order to recognize them.....
posted by The1andonly at 11:06 PM on December 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


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