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Is This the Right Person for Me?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

One of the questions I often hear is "how do I know whether or not this is the right person for me?

It is an excellent question given the number of people who seek therapy as a result of being in the wrong relationship with the wrong person. In order to answer the first question it is necessary to look at a second question: "Why did I choose someone who has broken my heart?"The answers to the second question are varied and complex:

Why did I choose someone who broke my heart?

1. The last web log If Not Now, When?) I posted dealt with the concept of caring for others versus caring for ones self. Those who tend to be codependent tend to select partners who need rescuing from some type of trouble. The troubles from which the codependent is rescuing partners range from alcoholism and drug abuse to depression and anti social or criminal behaviors.

2. Infatuation is a powerful emotion that drives people towards 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 fail to notice serious flaws in the other person. If the flaws are merely of the types that are minor there will be no problem. However, the tendency under the magic of infatuation is that people often ignore major flaws that should raise "red flags" about the nature and character of the individual with whom they believe they are in love. These flaws or problems "come home to roost" later in the relationship in that the object of all of the passion becomes hurtful, unreliable and abusing.

3. There are those people who may not rescue others but who are driven by a fear of being alone. For these people the feelings of depression and low self esteem are so great and the fear of abandonment are so huge that they will connect with and marry the first individual who appears to love and accept them. The problem with this is that no intimate relationship can satisfy a person’s needs in every way and all of the time. The heavy expectations with which this person enters into intimacy leads to trouble because they become disillusioned with their partner the moment they begin to experience frustrations. Very often partners are driven away because they feel stifled or suffocated by the endless of demands made by this type of dependent individual.

4. There are those who are hurt and disappointed by their failed relationships because they entered into them for superficial reasons other than infatuation. For example, entering into a relationship based on physical appearance or based upon the amount of money they have is often a mistake. The reason it is a mistake is that when the come to know the other individual they discover all of the things 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 cannot sustain a relationship for long if there is nothing deeper binding the two people together.

5. There are many ways in which people can delude themselves into believing that a relationship can work. If people do not communicate with one another what their beliefs, values and life preferences are they are sure to learn these things when it is too late. For example, if people with different religious affiliations choose to marry but without asking how they will live, what holidays (if any) they will celebrate and how they will raise children they will find themselves in endless conflict and turmoil later on when it is too late to find easy solutions. 6. Continuing from number

6, there are those people who are aware of the differences and ignore them based on the faulty thinking that they will persuade their partner to change after they have married. It is similar to the individual who wants to marry but chooses to stay with a partner who clearly and unambiguously states that they want neither marriage nor children. I have seen endless numbers of people entering into therapy exhausted and depressed because they have failed to convince their partner but will not leave this person. They actually want me, as the therapist, to meet with the individual and convince them. This is both unrealistic and hopeless since the problem is not why the other will not marry but why the patient has remained with someone who is lucidly clear about what they do not want.

The Answers to the Second Question:

How do I know this is the Right Person for Me?

The answers to this first question lie in the six factors listed above that partially explain why some people choose the wrong partners.

In other words:

The answers to this first question lie in the six factors listed above that partially explain why some people choose the wrong partners.

In other words:

1. Adults cannot be controlled and rescued. It is vital that each adult cares for his or her self and realize that "what you see is what you get." In other words, we have to accept people as they are not as what we hope they will become. Codependence is not healthy for anyone.

2. While it is true that infatuation is a wonderful emotion it is important to wait until it passes and to take time to learn about and get to know the other person.

3. In my opinion everyone needs to become more realistic about intimate relationships. These relationships or marriages cannot solve all problems. Intimate relationships do not compensate for low self esteem, fear of abandonment, depressed and anxious feelings or for feelings of loneliness.

4. Beauty and money are never the right reasons for marriage. Successful relationships are built on mutual trust and respect for one another and not on material things.

5 and 6. When a potential partner makes clear and unambiguous statements about what they want and do not want out of a relationship they need to be taken seriously. To remain in a relationship in the hope of persuading someone to change their thinking about marriage, children, religion and other matters is tantamount to setting oneself up for utter disappointment. These things cannot and should not be overlooked or minimized.

How do I know that this person is right for me? I know it because we have discussed everything and I know we share the same values, attitudes, beliefs and hopes for the future. I know because we share the fact that we love one another and that we want to be with one another.

Please submit your opinions and experiences.

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