Is THIS the One?
What's a reliable way to know if someone's right for you? There
isn't one. How do you know for sure if you're ready to settle
down? Who knows? Believe me, I've been trying to figure out
these issues for myself for some time now, and it is difficult.
Who hasn't had a nagging feeling like, "Is this the one for me?"
Maybe you've got a great relationship going until you finally
get down to the decision to move in together. Then you get
weak-kneed, anxious, and stressed. Or what about marriage: "Oh
my god! Marriage! Is that where we're headed?"
Here's a question from a MatchScene reader that really addresses
the sticky situation of trying to decide whether a lover is the
Mensch_Wench writes: "I'm supposed to be engaged. I'm living
with the guy and we'll get married. We're both 50 so I guess
it's just routine, but, as I keep telling him, I don't marry
every guy I date, so this is a big deal for me. I can't tell if
I'm suffering from settling-down fever and I'm not used to it or
if he really isn't it. I want something to happen soon. When I
ask, he says, "Of course..." It's obvious to him that we're it,
together, forever, etc. So why am I still reading Match.Com and
why am I writing this note?"
Move up the Commitment Ladder
OK, Mensch_Wench, here's the deal. It isn't clear to you that
you and your fiancé are "it, together, forever." That doesn't
mean that he's not the one for you. It just means that it isn't
obvious to you. Let me just say here that this uncertainty in
the face of increasing levels of commitment is common. In fact,
your future husband might at this very moment be wondering, "Is
she the one for me? What horrible feelings! I can't let her know
For many of us, each step up the commitment ladder is
tough--whether it is marriage, deciding to move in together, or
even deciding to date just one person. As you point out, you
don't marry every guy you date and that this is a "big deal" for
you. And it should be. Even at age 50, marriage is never "just
Sometimes the Most Wonderful Things Aren't Initially Clear to Us
So how do you decide which it really is: "settling down fever"
or wondering whether "he really isn't it?" Let's look first at
'settling down fever.' If you have some last minute jitters,
that doesn't mean that you shouldn't get married. You need to
examine what that "fever" is all about. You may already be in a
great relationship, but for some reason you can't quite feel its
benefits. Sometimes the most wonderful things aren't at first
clear to us. We live through rough patches with lovers, jobs,
and friendships that have ended, but only later discover just
how positive their effects have been on our lives. Maybe as you
make the move to get married, you see only the bad, little of
the good. You might think that commitment means a loss of
'freedom' or 'passion' or 'spontaneity' or of love itself. So
you might have a good thing with your fiancé that your "settling
down fever" obscures.
On the other hand, maybe "he really isn't it." What would it be
like if he really weren't the one? Of course, only you can know
this, but here are some starter thoughts. Would you feel sad?
Angry? Hateful? Or could you feel that way even if you were
madly in love? (My bet is that we can all feel such strong
negative emotions about our partners.) Are you worried that the
love will dry up? Why did you get engaged in the first place?
Maybe you believe you have 'too many' issues to work out between
you? There's no fun there? No passion? You might be downright
wrong for each other. Are you dragging out a process that you
should have ended long ago just because you're scared to end it?
The Consequences of Upping the Ante on Love
How is it possible to know beforehand what sort of relationship
you've got? It doesn't really matter until you realize that when
you up the ante in love, you up both the positive and negative
consequences. Any change in you and your partner's level of
commitment can lead you to feel more of the greatest love and
warmth you've ever experienced in your life. And subsequently
you increase the chance that you'll endure the most profound
rejection and pain you've ever imagined.
Here are just a few of the emotions you might feel when you go
from dating many to dating one; from seeing each other five
nights a week to living together; from being a couple to getting
engaged; and from engagement to marriage and beyond:
Joy. Panic. Contentment. Sadness. Glee! Boredom. Relief.
Indifference. Anger! Satisfaction. Terror. Peace. Anxiety.
Dread. Fulfillment. Repression...you get the idea.
Talk to Your Partner
Notice that these feelings can't all be just wrapped up in a
tidy little package. They're messy, complicated. Worse, you
experience them all at the same time. Here's my advice: If
you're fairly secure in your relationship, perhaps you could sit
down and talk with your partner in the same honest way you've
written me. Mensch_Wench, you're making a great
leap--acknowledge it. Then, if you can trust your partner with
some heavy stuff, let him know that you might be suffering from
"settling down fever"
Honesty is important in any long term relationship, so why not
let your future spouse know that you've wondered whether "he
really isn't it." Who knows, maybe he'll tell you that he, too,
was worried just like you are, but that he got over it. Maybe
he'll even tell you how he resolved his concerns and you'll feel
greatly relieved--like it was just "settling down fever" all
along. Or maybe you'll find out that he doesn't really want to
be married, but couldn't bring himself to tell you.
Either way, as you up the ante on your relationship, it is time
to talk. Maybe what you find out can help you get clear on the
next step to take, whether it's up another level, or down the
back stairs and out the door.