He’s the boy that your Mum talks to on the phone, your best friend can’t stop raving about and everyone else keeps coming up to tell you what a lovely couple you are.
Still, there’s something missing, some kind of spark or sense of being sure. How can you NOT want to be with someone who puts air in your tyres without needing to be asked, makes a mean curry or chicken soup (depending on the situation) and gives you toe-curling massages on cue. But, but…
You don’t want to break up with someone out of fear but neither do you want to ignore your gut feeling. To help you decide whether it is the ‘real thing’ or if you should be listening to your doubts, we’ve prepared a guideline for those ‘perfect on paper’ partners.
It is normal to expect certain things out of a partner. Single, sane and solvent should be the least any girl asks of in a boyfriend. You can have other things such as sense of humour (actually, this is a very important one – don’t stay with a man who can’t make you laugh), likes animals, whatever is important to you. Do a double check though, to see if these expectations are realistic of any human being. If you expect him to treat you with kindness, honesty and respect then that’s basic stuff. If you want him to jet you off to France everytime you have PMS, then you’re going into the realm of fantasy. If your list of requirements is somewhat unrealistic, you need to ask yourself why. This brings us to our next ‘scenario’.
This is a biggie. People have so many more choices nowadays than a few decades ago. Sometimes you just need to get out there and experience different things so you don’t think later in life that you’ve missed out on something. You’re not ready if you feel any of the following:
a) You haven’t finished looking (not just referring to men)
b) You want to travel… alone.
c) You want to live by yourself… etc.
You can see where this is going. If you haven’t fully explored being by yourself and being independent, then you’re not ready. No matter how much you want to be.
Got some issues you haven’t dealt with? Maybe it’s that ex you haven’t let go of, the Mr Big from your past. Occasionally a goodbye ritual can help with the pain of letting go. Try writing a letter and burning it, or putting it into a bottle and floating it away in the ocean. It really can help. Otherwise if it’s just a case of commitment phobia, then back up to ‘not being ready’.
This is the part where you have to trust your gut instinct, your innermost self. So he’s so wonderful that angels have created a special halo for him to wear. The folks adore him like he’s their own, your friends have embraced him wholeheartedly but what about you? Sometimes you just need to be brave enough to own up that the spark isn’t there. It’s hard doing something that you think will disappoint everyone but at the end of the day, your parents and friends don’t have to live with him. In choosing a partner, if you try to please anyone but yourself, you’re in for a lifetime of pain. Ask yourself this – are you kinda icked out when you have sex with him? You have your answer.
Those cute little traits that you found endearing in the first few months of a relationship can really grate after a while. You like how he doesn’t talk that much at first? Well, try revisiting that question in another year’s time. Instead of thinking of him as ‘mysterious’ you get frustrated at your inability to communicate with a brick wall. The opposite of that is the guy who talks too much…about himself. Says everything right there.
There are some guys out there who play ‘nice’ to get a girl. They can say and do everything right because they’ve either been manipulating people their whole lives or find it easy to act out the role. Remember, manipulators are masters at making you feel guilty. They could very well have a Mr Wonderful face they show to the rest of the world, yet when the bedroom doors shut, things are different. Red flags include: not wanting to spend time with your friends, not having friends of his own, moving way too fast, his friends are disrespectful jerks, he doesn’t understand the word ‘no’and he makes you cry alone late at night.
I’m talking about the kind of guy who professes to be a ‘feminist’ (Don who?), and yet when you come home after a long day at work, you’re expected to cook, take in the washing and vacuum. He’s the one who talks about how nice it was having a Mum who made him hot homemade biscuits as a kid and he’ll expect the same from his wife. Sexists are easy to spot. They’ll be the ones poking fun at feminists, claiming they’re all hairy lesbians or women who are bitter they can’t get a man.
Ultimately, love isn’t about finding someone who’s perfect on paper. It’s about finding yourself first and letting the rest follow. Being afraid you can’t find anyone better is not a good reason to stay with someone.
As Oscar Wilde said: To fall in love with oneself, is the beginning of a lifelong love affair.