How Do You Know

I had a conversation with a friend recently that has me mulling me over something – how do you know? How do you know when someone is meant for you? How do you know that someone is the one you want to marry? How do you know that someone is the One? How do you make the decision that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone?

Let me back up a little more and explain where all of this is coming from. A short while ago, I had a conversation with someone who asked me point blank, why he wasn’t the one for me. And my answer was, something was missing. His response then was, is something really missing, or it’s just my mind making me think something was missing. So I’m a psychology freak – and not just because I did psychology for my BA and MA. The mind is a beautiful thing and I sincerely believe we can never truly understand its true potential and capabilities (check out Limitless if you haven’t already). I believe in all kinds of things, trust me. So when he suggested maybe it was my mind, that completely threw me off. For days, I kept wondering, seriously, why not him? What is missing? What am I seeking? Will I really know when I find it? Will there be some absolutely clear  and indisputable sign? Has the One already appeared and I missed it?

A few days after my conversation with the blast from the past, I overheard one girl say to another, ‘I really believed he was the one I was going to marry. We were meant to be together.’ She really believed it – what made her so certain? This guy in question eventually cheated on her, with someone close to her (what’s new, huh) but before his indiscretion, she believed he was the one. What was it? Was she just ready to settle down? And he seemed sufficient? Was it love?

To compound my confusion further, a guy recently told me one of his best buddies is probably going to get married soon. This best buddy has been dating his girl for less than 6 months! How the heck can he be certain he wants to spend the rest of his life with her? When did he know? Did he know even before they started dating?

Before I started thinking about all of this so deeply, I figured love and intuition would show me the way. I figured I’d just know, but now I’m thinking maybe I can’t simply rely on intuition or gut reaction. My whole methodology has been thrown off kilter.

This whole state of confusion I am in reminds me of the movie ‘How do you know’ directed by James Brooks, starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. It was a crappy movie and I thought Reese’s made the wrong choice. She made the most likely and predictable choice, which didn’t seem realistic to me. It is really not that predictable, is it?

I believe people make mistakes, all the time about their relationship choices, especially when it comes to marriage. Without a doubt, a lot of people make marriage or partner decisions based on ‘timing’ – the person happens to be around at the perfect time, when one or both have decided to settle down. Some make the decision based on some list, often a stereotypical list, based on traits that parents, society, pop culture or the Church have deemed ideal and appropriate. Someone comes along who fits the bill, so the decision is made. Others make the decision out of desperation and fear – fear of being alone. With others, it’s because they want to be taken care of, and provided for. Bottom line, the decision isn’t always about true, genuine, honest love, is it?

I’ve always told myself my own decision will be based on love and a deep connection to the other person. But will I really recognize the connection? Maybe it won’t be like a light bulb going off like I’ve been thinking. My decision-making is a little off kilter, so I apologize. I’m just second-guessing myself now. What if I have let genuine, honest to God potentials go because of this mentality I have that ‘I will just know.’

Will I really just know? That’s the million dollar question for me right now. A couple of years ago, I made a list – a list of people I’ve liked, had a crush on, loved, whatever, and tried to think if they proposed today, would I marry either one of them? Shockingly, as I went down the list, my answer was mainly no. My gut said no, something was missing from each ‘potential’, but I am not clear on what! Now, I am just wondering, maybe I should revisit that list with fresh eyes.

I think marriage should be forever. I think marriage is an important decision. I think people need to take it seriously, before they take that leap. Marriage is hard enough as it is, so you really need to be sure. And also, I think a lot of people stay in loveless and difficult marriages because they want to commit to their decision – not commit to the other person, but simply commit to the decision they made to be with that person, like it’s some sort of punishment they must bear. A lot of people ‘settle’ and I’ve said I don’t ever want to settle. but am I taking it way too seriously?  

I have too much work (professional and personal) on my plate to spend precious brain cells trying to figure things out. Should I keep trusting that I will miraculously know? Tell me how you knew – knew the girl or guy you’re with is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.  Help a confused, cynical yet romantic writer out!