Hey Katharine, long time follower of yours. Congradulations on getting married! Wishing you only the best! I really look up to your relationship and I wonder if you have any advice for picking a significant other. I feel I have settled for a less than I deserve kind of guys before and I hope to not do that in the future. Do you have any pointers?
Step 1: Find a Sweetheart
Step 2: Marry him
Oh wait… sorry guys and gals, I already did that and we’re monogamous so that route to happily ever after is closed for y’all.
Just kidding (no, but really he’s awesome…).
Finding someone you want to spend any period of your life with (let alone something crazy like till one of you dies with) is not an easy thing.
First and foremost, remember that it’s not the most important thing in the world to find a significant other. Seriously. It is not the end all be all of life. Rom coms make it seem like the only way people find fulfillment in their lives is by being in relationships with other people. This really isn’t true. Lots of people are 100% fulfilled and happy in their lives with their jobs or their pets or their friends or their kids or their hobbies without a significant other. So even if you never find someone you want to do the whole “I promise forever” thing with, don’t worry. You don’t have to.
I just wanted to talk about that option first before talking about the picking someone option because no one ever talks about not picking someone as a totally valid option – and I think that’s kind of crap.
But as far as the how do you pick someone option, here we go:
So when I was a kid, I remember having this conversation with my mom in the car about how you knew you loved someone and she told me that it was something that was hard to explain, but that you just knew. That it was like the feeling of your heart getting bigger and bigger to fit that person inside of it.
But then she told me that how you knew you loved someone was an easy question, you just knew, but how you knew if you wanted to spend your life with that person was the hard question.
I think that’s true. There were people I loved before Sweetheart. I really did love them. I loved them as best as I could in the moment and with the most love we could create between us – but we were never meant to be forever partners because we just didn’t have all the pieces we needed to make it work.
[Aside: I’m using “forever partnership” instead of “marriage” because actually doing the whole dress/aisle/certificate thing isn’t necessary here – it’s just any agreement between two people to stay together forever in whatever way they thing works best for them.]
I could write you a whole book on what I think it takes to make a forever partnership last. It’s a whole lot of stuff. But when you’re looking around looking for someone that would make a good forever partner, here are 5 arbitrary things I picked from my long list of ideas just now that you could think about.
1) You share goals - You should agree on the “big decision things” like value systems, the presence/absence of children, how work plays into your life, etc. It’s hard to live your life by a certain value system or really want something non-negotiable and have your partner disagree. That just isn’t going to workout to well long term.
2) They’re a good partner - I mean this in a sense more than just a good significant other. They’re a good partner. When you’re in a crisis, they jump in and help pick up the slack. They listen and respond to your needs. They pull their fair share with split responsibilities. You play well off each other.
3) You can have fun together even in the monotonous moments - So much of your life with another person will be doing things like buying groceries, or cleaning the house, or taking care of children/dogs/cats/etc. There are mundane moments in every day life, find someone that makes these things more enjoyable when you do them together.
4) They push you to be better - Good partners support where you’re at – the best partners push you to be better than where you are. It’s easy to tell someone they’re doing a good job, but a really good forever partner will help you see how to take the next steps to improve yourself even more.
5) They work hard for the relationship - Any forever partnership is work. Love isn’t just a noun, it’s a verb. And sometimes loving someone else takes a lot of work – because you have to love them even when they’re making you crazy. Find someone that invests their time and emotional energy (and physical energy) in your relationship. If they’re too busy investing all that time and energy somewhere else, there often won’t be enough left to keep the relationship strong.
You’ll date people who will be right in the moment. Maybe they were the perfect “right now” partner. Don’t worry about it. Give yourself to that in the “right now”. There’s nothing to regret about loving someone who loved you back and you both did the best you could. You’ll learn from it, grow, and you’ll both take something away to make you better partners in the future. So you don’t have to get it right the first time, or the next time, or the 18th time. You’ll learn what kind of person you’re looking for by looking.
But really -pick someone who is honest and gentle and 100% in – and then give them the same back. If it’s right, the pieces will fall into place and one day you’ll wake up next to them and you’ll know it never was, never will be anyone else.