You’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. It may look crazy to outsiders, but it’s your right. No one else can see through your eyes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So how do you know who’s the perfect match for you, if no one can help you?
It’s not an easy decision to make on your own. Perhaps you’re not sure if you should stick with the man you’re seeing, or you’re wondering whether Bachelor A would be a better long-term bet than Bachelor B.
- Ask your friends what they would do.
- Make a list of pros and cons.
- Imagine yourself ten years in the future and decide if you like what you see.
There’s no one right way to decide whether to stick with a relationship or choose one man over another.
But there is one piece of information that’s more important than all the others.
One piece of information that predicts better than any other whether you have what it takes to last the long haul.
Take a guess. Do you think it’s:
- Whether his values are compatible with yours?
- Whether he wants the same things in life?
- Whether he meets your criteria for what you want in a life partner?
- Whether it’s a good relationship?
The answer is D. Don’t look at him to decide. Look at your relationship instead.
Set aside what you think of him as a person. Instead, ask yourself how you FEEL when you’re together. Is this a great relationship? The best you’ve ever had? Then who cares if he’s not perfect?
This shift in focus is a radical change from how most of us make relationship decisions.
Popular culture encourages us to take the perspective of consumers. People are like products. We weigh desirable traits against undesirable ones. If he has a lot going for him, then he’s a catch. If he doesn’t have many desirable traits, then he’s not worth pursuing.
But this marketplace approach is rife with problems. Attraction isn’t quantifiable. You can’t put a value on people.
A better approach is to see attraction as something that happens in the space between two people.
This idea dates back to a 1923 book by philosopher Martin Buber. He argued that we can choose to relate to others in one of two ways.
An I-It relationship treats the other as an object. He is separate from you. You can describe his qualities objectively. Choosing to be with him is like buying a car; you want to get the best value possible.
In an I-Thou relationship, you are not separate from him. When you come together, you create something living and dynamic, something more than the sum of its parts. Your relationship comes alive in the space between you. You stay or go based on what you create together.
It’s impossible to predict what happens when two people come together. He brings out certain qualities in you, and you bring out different qualities in him. You aren’t the same person with him as you were when you were alone.
If those changes make you feel amazing, then you’ll want to stay. If those changes make you feel small or restricted, you’ll want to leave.
For example, have you ever been mystified when you met a friend’s new boyfriend? Did you ask yourself, “What does she see in him?”
It’s not what she sees in him that matters. It’s how she feels when she’s with him. It’s what they create in the space between them. It has nothing to do with her merits or his merits, or who they are as people. It has to do with the quality of their relationship.
So, if you ever find yourself wondering what to do, judge the relationship, not the man.
Put aside what you think about him and ask yourself how the relationship feels.
Does it feel safe? Supportive? Secure? Nourishing? Fun? Alive? Important?
Do you feel like a better person when you’re with him? Do hidden qualities come alive? Do you feel more in touch with your confidence, your creativity, and your strength?
Then stick with it. A relationship that makes you feel strong and supported is one worth keeping.
Even if he isn’t perfect. Because no man is.