By: Elaine Hamilton
Here it is again. Valentine’s Day. Angsty, filled with expectations or mercilessly pointing out the discrepancy between our longings and our actual lives.
If you are happily in love and looking forward to the day, good for you! Enjoy! Celebrate! But if this weekend you are feeling a little fragile and disappointed, know that you are not alone. And if you are torturing yourself, saying horrid things to yourself, (“What’s wrong with me”, “I will never find someone”), let me attempt to rescue you with this: Here are some things I wish the grown ups had told me when I was in my twenties and desperately looking for my person.
Myths about love and romance:
1. “When you meet the right person, you will just know”.
While it’s true that many people report just “knowing” the first time they met the person they married, it’s also true that about half of those people already are or soon will be, divorced. This is the thing nobody wants to talk about. Though exciting, this compelling feeling is not a reliable predictor of a successful relationship. It’s just chemistry, based on hormones, fermones, wishes, dreams and pixie dust. Chemistry is fun and thrilling ,which is not a bad thing, It’s just not a great foundation for making life-altering decisions. If you have chemistry with a guy who’s a jackass to his mom, he’ll soon be a jackass to you. If you have chemistry with a girl who’s constantly critical of her friends, pretty soon that’s coming your way too.
Take your time getting to know this exciting person. Give yourself a year or two before you decide if this is your person. Enjoy the hormones yes, but pay attention. Observe their behavior. What does it tell you about their character, their values? What do you think about that? Is this the person you want to parent your babies, face financial stress with, walk through illness with? Words are great but behavior tells you the truth. They are showing you who they are. BELIEVE THEM!
2. Real love is easy.
While some of us are not discerning enough, others of us are too quick to call it quits. We get scared when there’s conflict and we run. While leaving a relationship that’s fraught with fighting and tension might be exactly what you ought to do, it’s important to accept that any significant relationship is going to include conflict. There will be plenty of times when we annoy, frustrate, or unintentionally hurt each other. There will also be times when things are so bad that we intentionally hurt each other. This is bad news but it’s the truth about us. While we are capable of deep and sacrificial love, we are also regularly self-centered, self-absorbed, self-protective. That means that if we stay in relationship with someone for more than a month or two, there will probably be some trouble. Being a couple means finding ways to keep moving toward each other even on bad days.
3. Life begins when you marry.
Some of us are on hold, waiting for someone to make our life feel meaningful. This is a waste of your potential and giftedness. Rather than spending too much energy on looking for your person, focus on your own growth and development. A remarkable guy/girl is not looking for someone who is sitting around doing nothing. They want someone who knows who they are, knows what they feel passionate about, knows where they are want out of life. Figure those things out.
Be the kind of person you want to attract. Don’t waste your time with partners who are not your equal. Please! Please stop dating down just because it’s better than nothing. This again is a waste of your time. It slows you down, even damages your development. And it makes you unavailable for someone who is worthy of you. Better to find ways to take care of yourself when you are lonely than dumb yourself down to be with someone who isn’t a match for you. Getting married isn’t the beginning of your life, it’s something wonderful that occurs while you are living your life.