When you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, do you think you know immediately? This world is divided into those who believe in love at first sight and those who do not. Then there are those who ask if it even matters — if you find the right person, who really cares if it takes a while to happen? It is a romantic notion that we can know right away we have found “the one”.
In all truth, it seems unlikely that it can happen, does it not? Your memory may tell you that you knew immediately that person would be the one you would stick with for the rest of your life. But memory is a notoriously tricky thing. It can tell you things that evidence later shows to be false. And with the best will in the world, when you are infatuated, you do not think clearly. So, it is hard to know anything!
All of this sounds very anti-romance, perhaps, but it is not! When you do settle down with someone, it is because you fit together. All the little doubts that crop up and all the bumps in the road you meet, you overcome together because you are right for each other. And the longer a relationship goes on, the more your connection is strengthened by coming through challenges. And the course of true love never did run smooth!
Issue: You Have A Long Distance Relationship
Some people say that long distance relationships simply do not work. If you spend long periods apart, you cannot really build a relationship. You communicate by phone or email, but for the landmark moments early in a relationship, if you cannot actually be together you cannot work. And the truth is that a lot of long distance relationships do fail. Statistically, the average length is about four months. However, to take this and say it means they cannot work is wrong.
There is even an argument to say that if you are right for one another, distance can forge a stronger link. Rather than spending every day and night together, you need to find time for one another. Instead of rushing ahead with couple life, you have to take it slower. And if you are meant to be, you will come through all the challenges you face. Eventually, the geography thing needs to be fixed. But, if you can clear the hurdles early on, you are in a good place.
Issue: Your Friends Or Family Do Not Approve
Most of us have been in a relationship, which did not get 100% approval from both sets of friends and family. It is inevitable, really. But the reasons for this disapproval will vary. Some are entirely legitimate and some are little more than judgemental, instinctive prejudice.
Sometimes family or friends, do not approve for clear reasons. One partner has issues with the law, with substance abuse, or with a previous partner. These are legitimate concerns. The person may well be good deep down, but a stable relationship needs to be built on stable lives. Again, if you are meant to be, it will happen in time. But making a commitment to someone with a rocky present helps neither of you.
If, however, your family or friends do not approve, because they don’t like the person, that is another matter. Sometimes they do not approve because of an age gap (see http://www.ourstart.com for an example). Although, if you are genuinely committed and you work together, then personality clashes just need to be worked out. If there is an age gap, as you get older it will mean less and less. What matters is that you make one another happy.
Issue: You Are On, Off, On Again, And Off Again
It ss one of the classics. It keeps supermarket tabloids in stories for all eternity. Many of us have experienced the on-off love affair, where passions lead you into rash decisions. The whole dance of “I love you, I hate you, I cannot be without you” has driven authors, songwriters, and poets. But when it happens, is there a message you should be listening to? Should it be “on, off, no, really off”?
As we have already covered, in the early days of a relationship, we are not always in possession of our best judgement. Simply put, the hormonal love rush makes us a little drunk. So, when we are apart we can become jealous, paranoid, anxious, and a lot more. We want to protect ourselves and can sometimes overreact. Early in a relationship, it is like trying to drive a car that keeps stalling.
There is no harm in breaking up and making up again. However, if it keeps happening for months you need to look at it realistically. Is there a problem that cannot be solved? Sit and talk about it, because without that conversation you are doomed to repeat your mistakes. An on-off relationship doesn’t mean you’re incompatible. It does mean you need to get things out in the open and be realistic.
And for people who tell couples (or usually, one part of the couple) that they are making a mistake, there is a message too. Nobody ever appreciates being told what they “really need”. It may be hard to watch someone in a relationship you do not think will work. You may, in the fullness of time, be right. But intervening — other than in the case of demonstrable abuse — may well go badly.
It may well be the case that love at first sight does not truly exist. But we can feel a deep connection from the early stages. Hard as it can be, we should try to keep our wits about us. We will face challenges; any couple who have been together ten, twenty years, and never argued are either lucky or lying. It is how we face those challenges that will show how strong our love is!
And if a relationship is not meant to be, the best thing to do is bring it to an end with all the goodwill possible. Trying to make it work against all reason will waste time for both of you and lead to even deeper scars. When true love happens, it is clear to both people and it is not something you need to manufacture.