Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
Dear Stacy: How do you know when you have met “the one” person you are meant to be with? I’m asking because I don’t know what to do next in my relationship with my girlfriend. We have been dating for about two years. We don’t live together – maybe we should move in? Is that when you know if the person you are with is the right one to marry? We have a lot of fun together, have similar interests and we basically view the world in the same, general way. I get along with her family and we have many friends in common. But my heart doesn’t do flip-flops when she walks through the door (not sure if it ever did). I wonder if there might be someone else more compatible out there, and if I’m missing my chance to meet her because I’m already committed to this relationship. Thoughts? – Wanting “The One”
Dear Wanting, The honest truth is that for many, many people, you don’t just “know.” It’s not that easy – and it shouldn’t be, really – to make the decision to join two lives together. When a person is totally caught off guard by a marriage proposal, that’s an enormous red flag. Two people in a relationship should be in dialogue about that relationship, at least at regular intervals. If not, they find themselves expecting the other person to be a mind reader, which 99 percent of the time leads to disappointment and, too often, the deep resentment that poisons a relationship. You ask the age-old question about hearts flip-flopping (if it’s not “age-old,” at least that’s a question I hear weekly in my office). In our rom-com-fantasizing world we have been conditioned to believe that involuntary convulsions are an indicator of True Love. But that’s a myth, similar to the myth that living together will provide clarity about the marriage decision. If you don’t think she’s The One, save yourself a lot of anguish and don’t agree to buy a bed together. Splitting the assets after a premature move-in can be just as painful as a divorce. Sometimes that pain is so frightening that people stay together anyway. They go ahead and get married, ending up disappointed and, yet again, deeply resentful (READ: poisoned). Your litany of positive comments about Current Girlfriend gives the impression that you two are pretty compatible already. So wondering if Unknown Woman would be more “compatible” sounds like a PC line you are feeding yourself. Don’t compare Current Girlfriend to Unknown Woman, because the latter is not real and therefore fits every requirement imaginable. Take some time to consider the relationship you’re already invested in – and by “consider” I mean talk to her about her own needs and expectations. Find a couples counselor to do the mediating, if necessary. But navel-gazing is wasting your time. See if she can handle this kind of discussion and see if you can handle it as well. That’s a really good litmus test of whether you’ve found The One.
Stacy Notaras Murphy www.stacymurphyLPC. com is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.