Six Ways to Know You are with the Right Person

Love is in the air- or so all the commercials tell us.  Retailers sell us love and Hollywood and music sell us an image of what love should look like.  Not surprisingly, giant corporations might not be the best place for advice on our love lives.  So, if the flowers, the chocolates, and the diamonds are not the ideal way to tell if we are with the correct person, what is?  I offer six components to finding the “right” person (with the obvious stipulation that love comes in as many forms as there are people in the world.)

  1. The right person is the one you have fun with out on the town and at home on the couch. Valentine’s Day is all about going out and having an expensive night on the town. Commercials and popular culture tell us that romance and love are about excitement and glamor.  But long term intimate relationships may involve a lot of time just snuggling up at home.  You should be able to spend time with your partner wherever you find yourselves.
  2. The right person is the one, not without whom you could not live, but who has given you the strength to handle anything- including their absence. So often we think of love as the feeling that you could not go on without the other person.  There certainly is that kind of love.  But that love is not sustainable long term.  That kind of love consumes you as certainly as fire consumes kindling- hot, but depleting.  Lasting love is about a person who helps you find your own strength. You would, of course, prefer to be with your partner, but you know that you are stronger for having known them.  Their gift to you is a love that strengthens you as an individual as opposed to one that diminishes you.
  3. The right person is not only the one who holds your hand in public, but holds your head when you are throwing up. Romantic walks on the beach or holding hands at sunset are beautiful things. They are memories that you will treasure.  But life is composed of terrible times as well.  You will inevitably feel sick or weak (emotionally or physically.)  It is in those moments that you see the strength of your relationship. Is this person going to be there when times are tough as well as when you are flying high? The person who puts a cold cloth on your forehead when you are sick is probably going be able to handle life’s ups and downs.
  4. The right person is the one who is not afraid of your growth, but encourages your growth and grows along with you. If you are lucky enough to be in a long term relationship with another person, you will find that over time life changes you. This change, hopefully in the form of personal growth, is almost inevitable.  Couples “grow apart” all the time.  The right person is committed to helping you become the best version of yourself.  With any luck that person will grow along with you, increasing your compatibility.  It is not a sure thing- but it beats resenting the other person for their personal evolution.
  5. The right person is the one who knows all your deepest secrets and would never use them against you. If you trust your partner, you should be able to tell them your secrets and fears.  Moreover, intimacy means learning the good as well as the not so stellar qualities of your partner.  Being intimate with another person is about vulnerability and therefore, must also be about safety.  You need to know on some level that your partner will not use your weaknesses against you.
  6. The right person is the one who makes you laugh. They say that laughter is the best medicine.  It’s true.  Sometimes life is so absurd, or even so heartbreaking, that laughter is the only thing that will get you through.  The right person is the one who can make you laugh when you are happy, stressed or down. The right person can help you laugh at yourself and is open to being laughed at as well. Laughter doesn’t make hard times go away, but it can make those times bearable.

So, this Valentine’s Day, ask yourself if the person with whom you are sitting is the right person for you.  If they are, you are truly blessed. If they are not, it’s time for a change- either within the relationship, or moving on.

Lessons Of The Dream

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Fifty years later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still inspire.  They still call us to our better selves, rallying us in his cry for a moral and just society.

What is in the power of these words that still resonate today- even amongst those who have never felt the stinging bigotry of segregation, the brutal violence of racism? Dr. King’s voice is haunting as it demands we honor his dream of justice.  We cannot help but be by moved by his idealism and moral courage.

On another level, we can all relate on some level because we all have dreams.  Some are narrower in focus- for ourselves and for our children.  Some are broader- imagining a world of economic justice or an end to war (things of which Dr. King also dreamed.) But we are all united in having dreams. But sometimes are dreams seem too far and unattainable.

It is perhaps easy in today’s fast moving, global society to believe that our problems are insurmountable- that idealism is synonymous with naiveté.  Too many of us romanticize the past- believing that in the 1960’s once could change the world and that now it is no longer possible.

The truth is, of course, much scarier.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s the problems of segregation and racism also seemed insurmountable.  Change seemed unattainable.  What makes Dr. King’s message so powerful and scary is that it was more than his dream.  It was his life’s mission that he worked tirelessly to achieve. What is scary is not that things cannot change now.  What is scary is that they could if we backed up our dreams with action.

We cannot and should not dismiss idealism as merely dreams.  We cannot give up on making our lives and indeed, everyone’s lives, better simply because it is difficult.  Dr. King’s dream involved sacrifice and perseverance.  It involved action and commitment.  It was a bold dream fueled by moral conviction and fierce courage.

It is tempting to walk away from Martin Luther King Day congratulating ourselves as a nation for how far we have come (though it is clear that on many levels Dr. King’s dreams are not fully realized).  It is tempting to long for a past when such change was possible and cite the reasons it no longer is.  But we should hear Dr. King’s message as a rallying call to our dreams, a shining example of what is possible when dreams are backed up with actions.

What can you do today to make your dreams come true?