Dating, Is This the Right Person for Me?
I often hear one question: how do I know this person is right for me, and why did I choose someone who broke my heart? The answers are complex and often lie in an individual’s life history.
1. The answer has to do with caring for others versus caring for one’s self. Those who are codependent select partners who need rescuing from some trouble. The troubles from which the codependent rescues partners range from alcoholism and drug abuse to depression and anti-social or criminal behaviors.
2. Infatuation is a powerful emotion that drives people toward one another. The Oxford American Dictionary defines infatuation as an intense but short-lived passion for someone. Some people make serious decisions about commitment and marriage based on this intense but short-lived emotion.
The problem with infatuation is that under its spell, people ignore or cannot notice serious flaws in the other person. If the flaws are mere of the minor types, there will be no problem. People often ignore major flaws that should raise “red flags” about the individual they believe they are in love. These flaws or problems will return later in the relationship in that the object of all the passion becomes hurtful, unreliable, and abusive.
3. Some people may not rescue others but are driven by a fear of being alone. For these people, depression and low self-esteem are great. They fear abandonment so much that they will connect with and marry the first individual who appears to love and accept them. The problem is that no intimate relationship can satisfy a person’s needs in every way and all the time. The heavy expectations with which this person enters intimacy lead to trouble because they become disillusioned with their partner when they experience frustrations. Very often, partners have driven away because they feel stifled or suffocated by the endless demands made by this type of dependent individual.
4. Some are hurt and disappointed by failed relationships because they entered them for superficial reasons other than infatuation. For example, entering a relationship based on physical appearance or the amount of money they have is often a mistake. It is a mistake because when the other individual is known. Then they discover everything they dislike about the other. These things were ignored or explained away when things began based on the notion that looks and money would solve all problems. Beauty and money can only sustain a relationship briefly if something deeper binds the two people together.
5. There are many ways in which people can delude themselves into believing that a relationship can work. Suppose people do not communicate their beliefs, values, and life preferences with one another. In that case, they will learn these things when it is too late. For example, suppose people with different religious affiliations choose to marry without asking how they will live. What holidays (if any) will they celebrate and raise children? They will find themselves in endless conflict and turmoil when it is too late to find simple solutions.
6. Some people are aware of the differences and ignore them based on faulty thinking that they will persuade their partner to change after marriage. It is like the individual who wants to marry. Still, they stay with a partner who clearly and unambiguously states that they want neither marriage nor children. I have seen endless numbers of people entering therapy exhausted and depressed because they have failed to convince their partner but will not leave this person. They want me, as the therapist, to meet with the individual and convince them. It is unrealistic and hopeless. The problem is not why the other will not marry. The question is why the patient has remained with someone who is lucidly clear about what they do not want.
How do I know this person is right for me? I know because we share our love and want to be with one another. I know it because we discussed everything and shared the same values, attitudes, beliefs, and hopes for the future.
Allan N Schwartz