The pressure to choose the right partner for yourself starts to hit the moment you hit a certain age. This age may differ in different cultures but most of us find ourselves at that juncture when we know that we need to find Mr. or Ms. Right! The pressure itself is enough to make this task impossible and confusing, let alone the various other factors.
It is not easy to make this decision since you know that it can affect the way your life shapes in the future. Even though separations and divorces have become more commonplace than before, most of us would like to initiate and nurture a relationship that will last a long time, if not forever!
While there is no foolproof method of doing so, here are some tips on how to go about this task without feeling overwhelmed or going crazy.
Eliminate the Fluff
The first thing to do is to get rid of the factors that lie on the periphery. This step helps in simplifying the process in order to understand what really matters. Some of the most common interferences include the following:
I mention this as the first factor because it is on the top of the list. Hormones can play havoc with your system and this does not pertain to only your body. Hormones can kidnap your logical thinking brain and convert it into a piece of mush, making you do things you would otherwise never have done. In all probability, if you give into these menacing chemicals, you are likely to say this to yourself some years into the future – ‘What was I thinking?’ The fact is that you were probably not thinking at all and your rational capabilities were hijacked and coerced into doing things you would never have done otherwise.
It is normal for us to get swayed by hormones, mistaking them to be emotions or signs. This does not pertain to only sex hormones that tell you that you have chemistry with another person but mainly those that make you feel good about yourself. You may see a rise in your confidence, or you could find that you are chirpier than before. Identify these changes in yourself and get to the bottom of it. Analyze your behavior and try and figure out what is really causing that change. Are you feeling good just because you are no longer single or because you genuinely think you have found the one?
Often considered one of the main reasons for choosing someone as Mr. or Ms. Right, chemistry between two people is just that – chemistry. It means that you have great sex together and your bodies are responding to the specific pheromones that the other person is emitting. This reaction arises from our primal instincts and has absolutely no place in the modern world that we live in. Many examples in evolution show is that our bodies have not evolved in keeping with the pace of modernization.
This is obviously not to state that you need to repress yourself and not respond to these primal instincts if that is what you desire. Give into these desires and have a good fling for as long as you want (try and be honest to yourself and the other person while having your fun though!). But this chemistry ‘will’ fade after some time. How much time? No one knows but it will fade! A relationship cannot be based on sex alone and while sex may be a significant part of sharing yourself with another person, it is not the whole!
Oh, don’t we all know a lot about this one. Parents say things about how your aunt’s son-in-law is a successful lawyer. Some may not say it but imply it in all kinds of subtle ways possible. A disapproving glance, constant appreciation of another, and many more tricks are adopted. Then there are other aspects like religion and culture that will start to weigh heavy on your head.
There is no easy way to handle this one at all. Especially because the pressure comes from those who love you and from deep roots called ‘upbringing’. You just do not do certain things in your culture and therefore the right person needs to understand these aspects of your life and culture. Keep in mind that acceptance and respect for your way of life is essential. But practicing those rituals or believing them is different. Differentiate between what you believe in as an individual and what has been a part of your life because you were born in a specific family. While families will be part of your life after you choose your Mr. or Ms. Right, they will not live with you all the time.
Another very devious aspect that interferes with the decision-making process, financial stability is extremely difficult to manage. After all, if you are looking at a future with someone, you need to make sure that you will be able to live together and manage home with ease. If you decide to marry and have children, you would want them to have a secure future, right? This factor becomes an underlying criterion for choosing the one before you can realize that it has happened.
There are two points to be made in this regard. One, you are also part of the structure who will provide stability to the set-up you have. Your contributions will matter as much! And two, the desire for money is never-ending and it is not the only thing that governs a ‘happy home’. Keep a minimal basic requirement in this arena to be practical but don’t let it govern your choice.
Focus on the Real
Often neglected in the surge of emotions and sexual activity, respect is an enduring emotion that can sustain all kinds of ups and downs. They safeguard you from unending arguments that can lead to frustration. Two people who do not respect each other cannot even have a meaningful and productive discussion. For those who are likely to take many significant decisions together, respect is not just desired; it is essential.
Respect emanates from your ability to see the positives in another. Only when you identify characteristics that you consider amazing in another will you respect him or her for those. Your list of reasons to respect another will differ from another’s based on what is important to you. Some may respect a hard-working person while others may respect selflessness. While some may respect the unending drive, others may respect the ability to enjoy in any situation.
Don’t just go by your feelings on this one. It might be a good exercise to list out the things you respect in your potential Mr. or Ms. Right and have them do this exercise as well. Once you share it with each other, you will be clear about a lot of things that may have seemed hazy earlier.
Agreeing with everything is not essential in a relationship. But acceptance of the complete human being is critical. After you have listed the things that you respect in another person, think of all the things that annoy you too. Are these human qualities acceptable to you? Do they fall into the category of ‘complete no-nos’ for you? If yes, then you will have a tough time accepting these in the future. Do make sure that you are completely objective about it. Ask yourself, whether these annoying things will become grander in stature and overshadow the things that you like later. Will you be able to live with these follies? Remember you are looking for another human to be your companion and not a God!
Time changes us all in ways we cannot even fathom. Just as you will change, your significant other will too. Some amount of adjustments and management will be needed in this area but if the respect is strong, the process will not be tough.
If you are looking for a long-term relationship with someone, you know that daily life will get in the way of just enjoying each other. Surely, you are not looking for a mundane situation where you go off on your separate ways, doing things each of you enjoy and then coming back to a common bed. Relationships are all about sharing and this sharing can happen only when you are spending time together.
It is often heard from the mouths of lovers ‘I don’t mind watching a sci-fi movie because I just love being around him all the time’. The charm of just being around him is ephemeral and you will soon want to do the things you love (and why should you not?). How many have you heard complaining about how boring it gets when she is shopping or when he is watching soccer (apologies for the stereotyping).
It is not critical that you do everything together. It is good to have some interests that do not involve the other, but you should have some (a few at least) activities that you like doing together. These in time, become ‘your thing together’.
A large part of trust has got to do with you and not the other person. It is extremely difficult and painfully resource exhausting to prove when someone is lying or cheating. Not only does it consume you mentally, it can also be a drain on your time (if you are looking into the emails and phone messages surreptitiously) or money (if you hire someone to investigate).
The bottom-line is that you either trust a person or you don’t and there is no reasoning behind this. This one is for your gut! Let your instincts decide whether you trust someone or not. Also question yourself whether your feelings are emanating from a feeling of insecurity and lack of self-esteem or whether they are genuine.
Personality, Values & Beliefs
Opposites attract! No doubt they do as we have physically seen in magnets and electron charges too. The rational given by most is that when two people are very different, they bring a certain balance in a relationship. While one person is a spendthrift, the other one is a saver – balance! While one person likes to party, the other is a homebody – balance! While one is casual and disorganized, the other is a planner and organized – balance! While one is sensitive, the other does not get swayed by emotions – more balance!
While you may need balance in your life, it can never be achieved when two individuals are pulling in different directions. While a home may be more balanced if one partner is frugal and the other a spendthrift, imagine the number of arguments with regards to the issue. And as the home stays balanced, the relationship rots because one does not see eye-to-eye with decisions made. The same is the case with the partying vs. homebody situation and so for the sensitive-stoic personality.
This is the practical aspect of the process where you should understand what each of you wants from life. There is no guarantee that this will remain constant, just as there is no guarantee that this article will land you Mr. or Ms. Perfect but we can try and reduce the chances of failure.
Discuss locations, geographies, children, dreams, and especially discuss some things that are absolutely not acceptable to you. Let the open communication establish a healthy dialogue that can continue for a long time.
All said and done, this is not a decision you take based on instinct or a feeling of ‘love’ alone since everything can get overridden with hormones and chemicals in the body. This is something you should evaluate based on a deep understanding of what ‘you’ want without anything else clouding your judgement. It is not always easy to identify these implicit or sub-conscious elements, but one can surely try and I hope this write up helps you do just that – Good Luck!