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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.