You probably know how it feels to go out with someone who has all the qualifications of a great match. He has a good career, others like him, he treats you well, etc. In other words, he looks good “on paper”. However, there is one thing that just doesn’t check out: you’re gut. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know the kind of tug of war your heart plays with your head.
Everyone asks me how to know if it’s true love.
I always lead with this thought: “If you have to stretch to imagine a future together, growing old together, and/or having kids together, this guy or gal is probably just a passing fancy.
Real love feels like an old pair of jeans, or casual Saturday afternoon. The right partner almost fits into your organic makeup; you just feel comfortable around them. That’s not to say it’s always 100% roses and sunshine though. There are days when even your favorite old jeans aren’t doing it for you.
Any time you have to convince yourself that it will be okay, or when you tell yourself, “Well this big difference (whatever it is) won’t bug me forever, I can deal with it.” Uh uh. It will and you can’t. The right partner for the long term almost feels like family or an old friend already. That’s why people are always talking about “soul mates.” They feel as if they already know this person on some level. (The idea of soul mates really can mislead folks in our over simplified “Love” culture, but let’s save that discussion for another day!)
Real love feels natural.
Another litmus test – and this one might sound crazy — you may even feel comfortable in conflict with each other. I’m not saying you’re fighting all the time. That would be a sign of inner turmoil that you both need to address. I’m talking about the type of conflict that arises as you are getting to know each other and the act of smoothing out problems or small crises feels as natural in your relationship as those times you see eye to eye.
Some couples naturally go through ups and downs more rapidly than others. Their relationship is just more dynamic and emotionally charged than most. That’s fine, as long as it reflects both of their individual makeups. Some couples have a more placid exterior. It takes a lot to ruffle their feathers. That’s fine, too, as long as one or the other is not suppressing their feelings to accommodate the other’s conflict avoidance. A good match is just that… one that feels comfortable, in good times and in bad.
Some of you may be thinking about other posts or webinars where I’ve said that a relationship takes work. If anything, I err on the side of effort. If you don’t put effort into your relationship (like you do your parenting, or your career), then you won’t reap the benefits and joy of a healthy, fun, and fulfilling relationship. Now I’m telling you that the “right” man or woman for you should feel comfortable and easy to be with!
So is it easy? Or hard work?
You may be wondering about the difference, but listen close… this really is consistent with my other lessons on long-term relationships.
Let’s define “easy” a bit. An “easy” partner is one with whom you want to work. It’s one with whom you can envision moving through life side by side, and not in confrontation with each other. This comfort I’m talking about assumes that you both have the same deep values, and you easily move through the building blocks of a healthy relationship. This easy comfort is more about growing together — rowing your boat through rough waters– than smooth sailing all the way down the stream.
You shouldn’t have to work hard to see yourself together for the long term. Your most likely partner fits in seamlessly with your life, picking up an oar and jumping in right where you are. If he or she can do that, then you may have found “The One.” Stay tuned down the road for when I talk about what pre-marital counseling should cover!