This post is dedicated to all males in the world whose names start with the letter C, and all females in the world whose names start with the letter A, and everybody else as well.
My kids have reached the age (18, 20, and 22) where they are starting to become involved in intimate relationships.
As we are the type of family that discusses everything ad nauseum, it just makes sense that we’ve talked about things like love, how we’d define it, lust, how to handle yourself in the “protection” department so you don’t get AIDS or spawn random unwanted children, what we think makes a good relationship, what kind of person to look for when picking a mate, why it’s prudent NOT to have sex with someone whose IQ is on par with Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson of Honey Boo Boo fame, etc. etc.
It was no surprise then when someone recently asked: “How do you know if you’ve met ‘the one’?”
My answer: “Well, I guess you first have to assume that ‘the one’ actually exists. I don’t, and I’ll tell you why.” (Don’t worry, it’s not as depressing as it sounds.)
Given the vast number of human beings on the planet, I don’t believe in soul mates – or “one” soul mate anyway. Logistically, it just doesn’t make sense. Do I think that certain connections are stronger than others? Of course. I know for myself, I can count on one hand the number of “holy crap, that person makes me tingle all over” experiences I’ve had. I mean, there’s only so much time in the day to meet people, speed date, and hang out in a sexy outfit at the local home improvement store. You have to live. Somebody has to make dinner.
Still, how DO you know if you’ve met that someone special? Special enough to commit to long term or even marry?
Well, I think there are certain characteristics that one should look for in any partner – husband, wife, lover, friend, business associate, whatever. (I ask the following of my husband all the time just to make sure that I haven’t married a douche.)
Does he/she make you feel good more often than he/she makes you feel bad? In the beginning, most couples are on cloud nine. If you are fighting every day about every single thing, and just being together is giving you an ulcer – and you’ve only been dating a few months – then it might be time to rethink the situation. After you’ve been together for a while, you may not want to get naked (with chocolate sauce) every single time you are alone together, but you should at least still like each another. The friendship factor is very important. With my husband, the ratio of love to “can someone do something about this jackass” is definitely in favour of the first part. I don’t like it when he sings though. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he says he was on Romper Room as a kid. Big deal. One stupid stint on television howling like an injured hyena does not a virtuoso make.
More importantly, does he/she make you a better person? Does he/she make you want to DO better and BE better? If you find that being with your partner is spiraling you into a pit of uselessness and despair – and you can’t even bother cutting your toenails because you are so down and out – you need to put an end to things. My husband is pretty good at inspiring me most of the time, except when he keeps buying random laundry baskets – then he makes me want to commit bloody murder. I get it, he wants our house to be organized. What he fails to realize is that the kids will continue to throw their dirty clothes on the floor no matter how many woven, plastic, oval containers he lines up outside their bedroom doors.
Could you live without him/her? I think this is pretty straightforward. If you could go away for ten years and not bat an eyelash, or if you could discard him/her as easily as you would a worn-out toothbrush, then break it off. Find someone you actually WANT to be with. With regard to my husband, of course I couldn’t live without him. Who would pay for all of my shoes and my cat accessories? Kidding, kidding – it’s called sarcasm people.
Is he/she there for you whenever you need him/her? This is important – VERY important. What is a life together if you don’t actually do it as a team? My husband is pretty good. He was there when the kids were born anyway. There was that one time I asked him to buy me a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar at the grocery store, and he outright refused saying that I was an “addict”. He’s lucky I didn’t put an absurd amount of crushed red pepper flakes in his chili. I went and got the chocolate myself.
Is he/she honest? Do you trust him/her? Being able to tell each other stuff is really key to any good relationship. You definitely want to have an open line of communication to prevent any sort of misunderstanding or jealousy from building. Having said that, with my husband, I don’t expect him to tell me every single little detail that pops into his head, because I’d probably want to rip his throat out if he did. “Look at those jugs”, for example, I don’t need to hear. For the big things however – like if he has a wife and three other children somewhere in Florida – I expect the truth.
Is he/she kind to animals, old people, and the disadvantaged? Find this out early, because this is how he/she will treat you once the “fireworks” have died down. You could hear “screw you, I’m going out with my friends” when you are sick on the couch with the flu. Again, my husband is fairly competent in this regard, except for the fact that he doesn’t really “get along” with our one cat – they sort of snarl whenever they pass each other in the hall. Bums and anyone looking for a handout seem inexplicably drawn to him though. He says he has to stop making eye contact. Or just have a wallet full of loonies and toonies on hand. Whatever gets you through the door to Shoppers Drug Mart, I always say. You may have to buy your wife a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar, or some tampons. You never know.
How does he/she perform when untangling Christmas lights or when you go out to dinner at a really busy restaurant and the waitress screws up your order? This is another key element to find out early on in the relationship. Anyone who can’t untangle Christmas lights without throwing a hammer through the front window, will be on track for murder by the time they have children. Luckily, my husband passed this test. Yes, the kids can make steam come out of his ears, but I think that’s fairly normal, especially after they’ve dented the fridge for the tenth time by closing it with a karate chop. Who wouldn’t get upset? Whirlpool appliances don’t come cheap.
To conclude, there are certain prudent things to look for in any partner, and other things you can’t control. One thing is for certain, you can’t go into a relationship and expect it to remain static.
I’ve been married a long time because I met someone I loved, and I wanted to be with him. But I also understood that things would not always be perfect. I understood that he would sometimes say things and act in ways I didn’t like. Well, it took a few years for me to figure that out, but eventually, I did – thank goodness. I think this realization is what has kept us together. That, and the fact that we respect each other as individuals, AND that he is always in charge of haggling when it comes to buying a new car. We’d be piss poor if it were up to me.
One last thing to consider: the more demands you make on another person, the more likely they are to run in the opposite direction. That’s just the hard truth. I don’t mean to belabor this point, but one time I asked my husband to buy me a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar, and he wouldn’t. Instead, he went and roamed around the hardware store for two hours. He came home with a clamp-light lantern and a high-speed aluminum car jack – like what the hell is a person supposed to do with garbage like that?
Still – even with the prospect of finding a significant other – I think it’s smart for every person to count on making their own happiness. Yes, I want to be with my husband, but I can’t base my prosperity and satisfaction on it. What if it doesn’t work out? People change. What if he decides that he’s in love with his car, and he wants to start having sex with it? Some people are just that crazy, you know what I’m sayin’? One bump to the head at the wrong angle at the age of five, and anyone could turn into a lunatic.
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