She's the one...?
June 8, 2005 5:23 AM   Subscribe

How do you know when you have met "the one?"

I'm approaching 30 and am watching the quickening pace of couples marrying around me. I've been in relationships where marriage has been discussed, but in retrospect those marriages would not have been good decisions.

Is there any knowledge that has been passed around or gleaned from your experiences that might help guide others?
posted by VulcanMike to Human Relations (51 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You don't. But 'Cupid's Dart' followed by hard work may do the trick. (I can, from experience, tell you that Cupid's Dart without back-up from the heavier artillery doesn't work, but that the Dart is a good way to start).
posted by TimothyMason at 5:43 AM on June 8, 2005

You don't. That's why so many people end up trapped in loveless marriages.

The key thing is to always have an escape route.
posted by cmonkey at 6:04 AM on June 8, 2005

I think it depends on what one expects from love/marriage.

I met my (now ex-)husband when I was 22 and knew he was The One. At that stage in my life, I felt that the purpose of love and marriage were so I could have companionship and financial security throughout my life with someone for whom I cared deeply. We were a good match, we got along well on a daily basis, loved each other (but weren't in love) and we had a lot of fun. But there was zero romance or butterflies in the stomach. It was almost like we were siblings with some sort of business relationship (running a household).

My point? Your question is a very good one. I just know what didn't work for me.
posted by superkim at 6:06 AM on June 8, 2005

Unfortunately, the answer is, at times, when you've lost the One...
posted by juiceCake at 6:08 AM on June 8, 2005

From my own experiences and observations, there's not always a "1" that gets handed to you on a platter. It's more a matter of finding a partner who you can imagine spending lots of time with and devoting the energy needed to work out your differences.

Regarding compatibility: for me it helped having a handful of earlier relationships to reflect on. You generally know characteristics that you would like in a mate, but the characteristics that you would not like usually become more apparent after reflecting on failed relationships and why they failed. You can use those to help determine compatibility of new/future partners.

Don't have much more to offer but good luck. By the way, I'm approaching 30, and just got married a few weeks ago ;)
posted by p3t3 at 6:11 AM on June 8, 2005

Also, don't feel rushed by the people around you pairing up and getting married to do the same yourself. You are most likely the find "The One" when you are not looking...
posted by benzo8 at 6:18 AM on June 8, 2005

I have always felt that if you have to wonder "Is he/she the one?" -- he/she isn't. You just know. You don't think about it.
posted by suchatreat at 6:21 AM on June 8, 2005

For me, it was dating someone else and then wishing that person were more like "the one."

...That, and being dragged kicking and screaming into the other relationship.

superkim and p3t3 are onto something. Compatibility is key. I am so compatible with my wife it's uncanny.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:30 AM on June 8, 2005

You also may want to consider that there isn't just one, there are probably many people that could make you happy. You only need to find one (or more than one, you sly dog.)
posted by electroboy at 6:32 AM on June 8, 2005

If you have to ask!
posted by kenaman at 6:37 AM on June 8, 2005

First of all: no such thing as "the one".

How to know if the person you're in love with is someone you really want to spend the rest of your life with: spend some extended time apart. And not just once. Spend several weeks apart, several times. Go about your life. If you then find that you BOTH want to spend your life together and are not just carried away by emotion, then consider getting married.

Then again, I'm not a reliable authority. I met and started dating my wife after Halloween and was engaged by Valentines' Day (and married that August). And we've been married nearly 24 years. I have never regretted a moment of it.
posted by cptnrandy at 6:46 AM on June 8, 2005

If you want to find "The One" then go rent The Matrix.

Ignore all this stuff about "just knowing" and "if you have to ask." That's just romantic mumbo-jumbo. You don't meet "the one" who is perfect in every way for you and sweeps you off your feet and you live happily ever after. No, you decide at some point in your life that companionship and responsibility and commitment are more important to you than trying to find a partner who is perfect in every way, and you realize that relationships take a LOT of work, and that life isn't all romance and butterflies. Finding "the one" isn't about meeting someone else, its about a transformation in yourself that allows you to make peace with the differences between you and your partner.

And as benzo8 said, don't feel the need to rush it just because everyone else is pairing up.
posted by googly at 6:46 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

I knew the second day I spent hanging out with the gal who ended up becoming my wife. I remember sitting beside her and feeling totally relaxed in her presence and thinking, "Wow, I can be myself, absolutely and totally my uncensored self, around this person." I remain in a bullshit free relationship to this day.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 6:51 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

When it is right, you will know.

[Of course, if it never seems right, it may have more to do with you, what you are looking for etc.]
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on June 8, 2005

you wake up and realise, surprised, that you've spent a third of your life with them, and it's been, you know, pretty damn good.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:04 AM on June 8, 2005

I think superkim is on to the right thing here. If you know who is NOT the one, you've gone a long way towards identifying the potential matches. Knowing yourself and knowing your own goals in life are helpful too.

You have to find what works for you. Me, I found that my best friend was also the girl I was dating. I realized that I was no longer interested in other women, just in her. I knew I loved her early on, but I knew she was the one when I realized that my family loved her as much as I did. Sometimes family and friends are a better judge of who is right for you than you are yourself; infatuation can blind you to a lot of realities. (That said, it is worth pointing out that this axiom does depend on how good your relationship is with your family.)

Finally, The One is worth putting effort into. Nobody really finds The One for free. Even the "love at first sight" folks needed to put in a lot of hours making the relationship last after the initial first sight wore off. The right person is the one who makes you feel like all that effort is worth it.

And, what benzo8 said.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:08 AM on June 8, 2005

Are you currently living with your prospective 1? I think that living together for at least a year, especially under a tight budget, will give you some insight into whether you'll be able to live with this person for the rest of your life. I'm not married, I live with my boyfriend, we've been dating for more than 4 years, and I would be very happy and not at all surprised if my current boyfriend and I got married some day. We're both still young, though, so we're not rushing anything. In the end, though, it's not age that matters but how prepared you feel for this big committment, especially if you feel like your age puts pressure on you to rush. If you're unsure, try moving in together, or keep on living together for a while if you already do, and just feel it out. If you enjoy doing, or are at least able to do (paying bills and living on a budget can't really be described as enjoyable), most of the things that married people do together, then I would think that your chances for a happy marriage are pretty good (IMHO).

I guess i'm pretty much echoing the previous comments about compatibility. I feel like you're searching for a description of the emotions (that "spark") that you feel when you've met "the 1." If you're considering marriage, than I'm guessing you've felt that spark, but, again in IMHO, the ability to sustain that spark over time (compatibility) is what you've got to feel out, and that does take time.
posted by Crushinator at 7:08 AM on June 8, 2005

Good question. I'm on the second "one". She is more likely the "one" than the first one was. We both acknowledge that in most people's lives, (not all, mind you) there is more than one. However, I have never trusted someone so, never felt a connection as strong, never missed someone so when apart, and never wanted to be with someone so much as I have with my wife. You just sort of know. But also, it's very important to know what you want in another, maybe even more important to know what you don't want and what you cannot and will not under any circumstance tolerate.
posted by horseblind at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2005

I guess it's just different for different people, like everything. Despite the fact that it was pretty much the last thing I expected, I found the One, and it was mindblowing, and cataclysmic and euphoric and impossibly delirious... something like a 24/7 ecstasy buzz, and I'm not even exaggerating. We're still together and in love 15 years later, and I still wake up every morning thanking the universe for this crazy luck.

Even so, we didn't rush to marry. Our "engagement" (not really an engagement - we were living together, and just didn't bother to get around to doing the do) lasted longer than most people's marriages. However, we did start living together... um... just about the second date, as I recall. Zooom! (compatibility: ++doubleplusgood++)
posted by taz at 7:22 AM on June 8, 2005

googly writes "No, you decide at some point in your life that companionship and responsibility and commitment are more important to you than trying to find a partner who is perfect in every way, and you realize that relationships take a LOT of work, and that life isn't all romance and butterflies. Finding 'the one' isn't about meeting someone else, its about a transformation in yourself that allows you to make peace with the differences between you and your partner. "

While I agree with many things said by googly, I think you also have to have a sense that you really like the person you're with, that you appreciate their world-view, that you're excited by them. If you're having doubts you need to face them and figure out if the doubts are about the other person or about you. Often the other person can seem less then perfect (I mean this rhetorically, as there are no perfect people) but the real issue is within ourselves, things that we fear losing or giving up. That's where the work comes in. I disagree with googly insofar as he makes it seem as if there are not situations in which you could end up with the wrong person. There is choice at work here, and it's far better to make your choices before marriage.
posted by OmieWise at 7:22 AM on June 8, 2005

Also, as others have said, it certainly takes work. Don't fall for the "all you need is love" line. Money, life, careers, family, etc and on certainly matter and they all take work. Currently, I'm very much enjoying this work. In fact, it doesn't feel like work at all. I think that's a good start.
posted by horseblind at 7:25 AM on June 8, 2005

I never believed in the concept of "The One". I went about my life and dated very nice men, a few seriously, until I was 33. At times, I toyed with the idea of marrying this one or that one, but it didn't seem worth giving up the independence I very much enjoyed.

My roommate introduced me to this guy...he seemed nice. I was attracted to him, but that feeling wasn't new. However, I began to get to know him a little bit, as a friend, and remember thinking one evening when I was working late, "I think I'm going to marry that guy." I then immediately decided that it was silly to think that...we weren't even dating! We became good friends for a year. Then we began dating. Then...eleven months later...we were married. As theinsectsarewaiting said, it was "bullshit-free". It was fun and healthy and drama-free and sexy and cool. Tomorrow is our 4th wedding anniversary. He still rocks.

I think I was free to find commitment after I didn't NEED commitment, does that make sense?
posted by jeanmari at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2005

Ignore all this stuff about "just knowing" and "if you have to ask." That's just romantic mumbo-jumbo. You don't meet "the one" who is perfect in every way for you and sweeps you off your feet and you live happily ever after.

well, some people apparently do. Like Taz says, it's different for different folks. The impossibly perfect romantic mumbo jumbo does, occasionally, happen to people. But you certainly can't expect it; it most definitely does not happen to everyone. There's a lot of luck involved, and there's also probably something about your personality that makes it more or less likely for you in particular to be 'swept away' or 'find the one'. Being overly rationalistic and independent, and also having fairly high expectations of any potential mate, I think my chances for an absolute 'one' are very low (I won't say impossible because you really can't tell with emotional responses) so I would be happy to find someone who I could imagine an enjoyable & continually interesting life with. But even if you think 'there could have been others', I think you have to think 'but I don't care' as well - if you are still looking around thinking, 'could I do better?', then I don't think it's really strong enough to be a good marriage.

Silly analogy, but when you order a meal, that doesn't mean no other meal would have been satisfying, but it sucks when you spend your whole dinner wishing you'd gone with that other special, or looking at other people's plates. You want to be happy with what you've got, and not really bother to give any thought to whether anything else could have been as good.
posted by mdn at 7:45 AM on June 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Congratulations to p3t3!

Thanks for everyone's very insightful responses thus far...

The living with someone issue is almost worth a thread of its own, as I've done it twice and have not liked the overall results, rather than the particular chemistry. My mother is against the idea because she belives that post-engagement/marriage you have greater incentive to work through the issues that arise when living with someone, and that moving in prematurely and dealing with those issues may ruin something more casual that might have someday worked out to be a marriage.

In the interest of guiding the conversation, I'll add another sub-question... Do you think your parents' conception of finding the one differs greatly from yours? When looking for love, do you follow a general conception that came through your upbringing, or very contrasting criteria?

Obviously this is very specific to the individual -- I'm thinking of the "If she opens the car door from the inside, then she's one of the great ones" style of knowledge transfer.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:51 AM on June 8, 2005

I agree that it's different for everybody so I'm just going to add my .02 in the hopes that you can distill something meaningful for you from all of these disparate replies.

I had 2 very happy LT (>4yr) relationships before I met my husband. I loved them, they loved me, etc. etc. but when I thought about the future I would always hold something back. And I would always think that if it didn't work out with the person, I would still be fine.

When I met my husband... he said he knew I was if not the one, at least a "potential one" on our first date when we ended up meeting up with a group of his friends at an Arab on Radar show and he left me with them without a qualm because he could see how comfortable I was. I knew within a month of dating him, because I couldn't imagine a future that didn't include him. I mean, I know I'd get by and be happy and stuff, but it wouldn't be as good.

I dunno, that sounded wishy washy.
posted by gaspode at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2005

I wouldn't buy this "if you have to ask" stuff because some people can be ABSOLUTELY SURE of all sorts of things. This is, after all, how gambling (especially betting!) makes its money. People who JUST KNOW this one's a winner. Next day? Did I say that one? No, I mean THIS GUY'S a winner.

And other people have trouble being absolutely sure; have doubts even when there's absolutely no reason to. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been some perfectly good relationships ruined by being an unsure person in an ABSOLUTELY SURE social circle.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:54 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

I agree with theinsectsarewaiting on the merits of the bullshit-free relationship; that's a good start. Drama doesn't necessarily equal passion.

I had a coworker a few years ago who was in marriage counseling, and she told me she'd decided there were a few baseline requirements for a solid relationship: partners should love, honor, respect, challenge and enliven one another. It's a great checklist.

I think finding "the One" is partly pragmatism (and I agree that living together and going through financial and personal hardship is one hell of a test), and partly pure kismet. I got together with my One after running the potential relationship through an intricate series of matrices and tests and then kissing him. My toes curled back... and that was all the information I needed.
posted by hamster at 7:57 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

i'm with the move-in crowd, i think its a great way to deal with the issues that you might never have to deal with otherwise.

if you think shes the one, move in with her and then you'll know if shes the one (but she probably won't be). still, would you rather find out those financial and day to day issues are going to drive you apeshit AFTER you are married?
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2005

Like what Superkim said, except with butterflies. Followed up by a lot of work to keep it goin'...
posted by lalalana at 8:12 AM on June 8, 2005

shoulda been, "...happy enough with what you've got to not really bother giving any thought..."
posted by mdn at 8:20 AM on June 8, 2005

When I met my husband, I knew that day I would marry him. I called my friend Alice, told her that all my other boy drama was over and that I had met The One. I knew. I just knew. It was breathtaking, dramatic and all that. And this was before the first date.

My husband, however, wasn't so sure. When I told him I loved him on date.. um three, he freaked out, told me "Whoa, there." In fact, even though we had discussed marriage, it wasn't until he couldn't get me on the phone for more than a week that he realized he wanted to be with me.

We got married rapidly, in college. Within a year, I was miserable and he was ignoring me. The marriage lasted 9 years. I'm in the middle of a divorce. We both think getting married was a mistake and that we would have broken up in the first year if we hadn't married.

Looking back on it -- I was lonely. I had just had a semi-engagement broken off with a man I really cared about. I wanted out of my parents' house. And I wanted to prove something to everyone in college who referred to me as "the kind of girl guys sleep with, not the kind of girl guys marry." So how did I know he was The One? He was standing right in front of me when I needed him. That's it.
posted by Gucky at 8:34 AM on June 8, 2005

I knew she was the one when she told me she was. I always listen to her; it's safer that way.
;- )

To be honest, after nearly 21 years of marriage, I think it is a combination of butterflies in the stomach and shared values and compatible personalities. I had cold feet on my wedding day, and now I realize it's because I knew how important the commitment was. My wife was shaking so hard her bouquet fell apart for the same reason. I would be suspicious of anyone who was too casual about getting married. It IS a big deal, if done for the right reasons.
posted by Doohickie at 8:36 AM on June 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Say what you want about the guy... St. Paul occasionally got it right.
posted by Doohickie at 8:41 AM on June 8, 2005

I always worry when people talk about the amount of work it takes to keep their relationships going. Does that mean that there's something wrong with my relationship, that we don't have to work at it? Or do people just mean something different by "work"?

It seems to me that every loving relationship I have requires effort, whether it's with my mother, my friends, my siblings or my fella. We need to make time for conversation, empathy, planning, fun. I need to support the people I care about when they have difficult times, and they need to support me through my difficult times. We don't have to be blind to each others' flaws, but we have to accept them and be willing to live with them. None of this is "work," if you ask me. It's what makes relationships valuable and meanginful. It's life.

Sorry for the tangent, there.

I don't really believe in "the one," but I do believe in love, in relationships, and -- for me at least -- monogamy.

When I find someone that I know I am compatible with, I hold on to them. When I find someone I know I am not compatible with, I let them go. This is true in friendships as well as relationships, and as a result I have a small number of extremely close friends and I haven't dated many people for very long.

From our first date, it seemed clear that my boyfriend/fiance and I had a lot in common. The more I got to know him, the more I realized that not only did we have compatible personalities, but he is one of the best, most insightful, caring and intelligent people I've ever known. How could I avoid falling in love? We've been together for three years, and the more I learn about him, the more impressed and in love I am.

Although I've been fortunate not to have anyone I love deeply die in my life, I have watched several close friends and my boyfriend struggle to cope with the deaths of their loved ones over the past few years. I've struggled with how I would cope with the loss of different people in my life. And I've realized that I don't want to live a day of my life without my boyfriend as a part of that life. Does that make him "The one"? I don't know. It could, I guess.

On the other hand, it's not unfathomable that he'll die before me, and I know I'll survive, I'll get over it. I might even fall in love again and find a new, meaningful relationship.

Heck, even though I believe my boyfriend and I will be together for "as long as we both shall live," my logical side knows that things can change and we may end up going our separate ways.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2005

It's a great question and I'm with those obnoxious people who say 'you just know'. Not necessarily right at the first moment, but after maybe a month or so of dating and realizing how absolutely right, honest, fun and EASY it is.

Everyone says relationships are hard work - which is why my wife and I feel like we're cheating somehow. Like taz, we look at each other all the time and wonder how on earth we got so lucky. I think it's because we did our hard work on our own, before we met. We both put a lot of effort and time into improving ourselves and working through personal issues, and I know that's one of the biggest reasons why our relationship is so crystal clear and utterly amazing.
posted by widdershins at 9:15 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention that age/experience has something to do with it as well. We're both in our 30's, and at this point we've been in enough relationships to recognize that this one is 'IT'. I've never understood the urge so many people have to get married in their 20's - how can you possibly know what you want and don't want when you have so much growing and changing to do yourself? (My opinion only, of course, and no offense to happily married people in their 20's.)
posted by widdershins at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2005

When I met my fiancee, my first thought was about how amazed I was that finally met a girl who I could be really good friends with, they way guys have buddies. We really hit it off. We had the same thoughts, finished each other's sentences, and I felt like I actually had to work to keep up with how sharp she was. She was my friend, first. And she became one of my best friends really quickly. The romantic love came soon after.
I was in another relationship at the time. Meeting my fiance made me realized how much I was settling for people who didn't understand me and didn't appreciate me. I dumped my girlfriend and started dating the girl who I'm going to marry.

How did I know that she was "the one?" She made me comfortable and inspired. From hamster's post, partners should love, honor, respect, challenge and enliven one another. That was it, more or less.
She sees the things in me that I had always wished people would notice. In fact, she encourages me to be more of the man that I've always wanted to become.
Both of us grow for and because of each other.
We decided to get married when we realized that nothing could be greater than this continued growing together.
Not only is she everything that I thought I wanted, she's many things that I wasn't aware of wanting. I just couldn't imagine anyone who could be better. (In fact, my mother said that if she had to create the perfect daughter-in-law, or the perfect wife for her son, she couldn't do a better job.)
We're the same in so many ways that it feels like she's the other half of my self that I've been missing.
I can't even begin to describe how amazing it is. I could gush about it endlessly, really.

It's true that it's a certain amount of work. That doesn't mean that you have to fight to truly be in love.
After having one fight, early on, both of us realized how ugly fighting is and how much we really wanted to avoid it. Now, we discuss things as soon as they occur to us. We solve our problems while they're small. Also, living together really helps. Most of my friendships dissolved after living with the person but my fiancee and I are still going strong, if not stronger than when she moved in. It's much easier to anticipate problems, differences, etc, and solve them before we're married.
The work is too constructive and rewarding to really feel like an effort. It's a joy.

Time apart: So difficult. I really feel at loose ends when she's not around. I'll clean everything and go grocery shopping twice a day just to keep my mind off of it.
I feel so amazingly lucky to have found her and she's so precious to me that I want to get her one of those kevlar bomb-squad armor suits and a couple body guards. I feel like the odds of finding another person in the entire world as right for me as she is are SO SLIM that I need to overprotect her. I couldn't stand to lose her. God forbid I have children. I'll have to build a concrete bunker in my back yard. That's really how it feels. And I know that's how she feels.
posted by Jon-o at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2005 [7 favorites]

I'm from the "when you know, you know" school:

My husband-to-be and I met online and quickly became best friends. In spite of a 16 year age difference and different backgrounds, it was apparent to both of us that we were scarily compatible. We fell in love before meeting face-to-face. When we did finally meet face-to-face, I knew he was the one.

We joke that his previous two wives were just place-holders until I grew up and bought a computer.
posted by deborah at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2005

When you no longer think about the girl you left behind.

You are most likely the find "The One" when you are not looking...

And don't mistake cliches for actual fact.
posted by justgary at 10:16 AM on June 8, 2005

Someone once told me that the perfect relationship begins when both people think they got better than they deserve. This has held up, in my experience.
posted by Jairus at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

I met "The One" and was so surprised and amazed that I didn't want to fuck it up. So we dated very slowly and it took almost a year before we were together. I was so utterly convinced she was the one I would have married her, settled down, had babies. Luckily, it turned out she was incredibly manipulative once in a relationship, had serious issues she was masking, and within two months it was over, having driven me down a very dark and lonesome road. (Oh, I survived ok!)

So sometimes the one is a one-sided or asymmetrical phenomenon -- I was the one for her because I filled an unhealthy need she had.

Love is standing guard over the solitude of another - Rilke
posted by Rumple at 11:06 AM on June 8, 2005

What Jon-O said.

I too, needed all those past relationships to clarify what I didn't want and what my priorities are in a relationship.

About mid-way through our FIRST date my wife and I compared what the three most important things are in a relationship to us. They were the same, only her #3 was my #2 and vice versa.
posted by jopreacher at 4:43 PM on June 8, 2005

I waited on this beautiful girl several times when I worked in a local bookstore - I handed over her special orders, she asked where to find things, etc. She was impossibly beautiful, and I knew she liked cool stuff from her choice of books, so it was really easy to be attracted to her. The third time I saw her in the store, she asked me to list all of the available Bruce Lee movies (my kung-fu heart was aflutter!) - then she asked me out. I knew that she was even more special when we spent our first date hanging out in an empty administrative building, doing cartwheels and talking for hours. She moved in with me after a week or two, we got married a little over a year later, and we celebrated our fourth anniversary last week. I can't imagine what life would be like without her, and we're as much in love now as we were in the first weeks of our relationship. That's how it worked in our case - we both felt something different, I trusted her, she trusted me, and we went for it.
posted by sluggo at 5:37 PM on June 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Does anyone know where the "mark all as best answer" button is?
posted by VulcanMike at 5:44 PM on June 8, 2005

Best answer: um, I think you can mark more than one...
posted by Jon-o at 8:23 PM on June 8, 2005

How do you know when you have met "the one?"

Just ask the oracle.

Clues include:

*mirror sunglasses that attach at the nose
*dark clothing that usually involves a trench coat
*unexpected knowledge of jujitsu
*frequently utters "woah"
posted by Kwantsar at 12:21 AM on June 9, 2005

I think the idea of The One is utter tosh - of course it's a simple social construct. However, I do subscribe to Robert Evans' dictum that luck is where opportunity meets preparation, and I think that the person you are deemed to be with is brought forth from a chaotic sequence of unique events to which you will subscribe meaning.
posted by forallmankind at 1:06 AM on June 9, 2005 [2 favorites]

*sluggo I love you forever*
posted by ibeji at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2005

Just a word of caution in response to googly ("No, you decide at some point in your life that companionship and responsibility and commitment are more important to you than trying to find a partner who is perfect in every way, and you realize that relationships take a LOT of work, and that life isn't all romance and butterflies.")...

I was someone who believed that, and married a woman that I was compatible with, had many interests in common, and loved, although I wasn't truly "in love" with her, and we had a good marriage for 18 years, a marriage that many of our friends saw as "perfect".

Then I met "the One", and my world turned upside down... as much as I cared for my wife and absolutely hated what going through the divorce meant, there was simply no way that having known the transcendence of being with "the One" I could have carried on without her, and certainly my wife had no interest in continuing a relationship with someone who was so deeply in love with someone else.

So I don't really know what the answer is... if someone had told me before my wedding that if I would just wait another 18 years I would find the "real" right person, would I have been willing to do that? I guess the main point is that before you get all practical and look at your potential union primarily in terms of "companionship, responsibility, and committment", think about what it would mean to that relationship if years down the road someone came along who moved you to the bottom of your soul. Being married is about more than having a roommate for life, no matter how well you get along.
posted by papillon at 6:02 AM on June 12, 2005

When you are better WITH them than WITHOUT them.
posted by bamassippi at 6:34 PM on June 12, 2005

Quoting Jon-o: "I really feel at loose ends when she's not around. I'll clean everything and go grocery shopping twice a day just to keep my mind off of it."

It's wonderful to hear that two people feel that close, but I can honestly say that I never felt that way. Perhaps for a while at the beginning of a relationship, but it's as though I always realize that I will be fine without the other person. I can see myself with them, we get along wonderfully, I'm completely natural with them, but I can always see that I would (after a while) be fine if they left. I have had three long-term relationships with incredible girls that were amazing - better than many I know (my father has been divorced 3X), but I just can't completely fit what they see for the future with my vision for my life.

Now, maybe that means that I haven't been completely in love. Or maybe I have too many things in my life which I will not compromise. I just have to think that there is more than just getting along wonderfully and being best friends (not that that is not an important ingredient). But if it's just a compatibility issue, then we just want a best friend to always be there, as though we need someone else there to be whole, to not be lonely - and I cannot accept that. There must be more than that.

Obviously I don't have an answer here, but Quentin Crisp had a great thought: "The consuming desire of most human beings is deliberately to plant their whole life in the hands of some other person. I would describe this method of searching for happiness as immature. Development of character consists solely in moving toward self-sufficiency." I think that's brilliant. I think it's about your finding your compliment, not your completion.
posted by Everest29 at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

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