After several dates, you feel you’ve found the perfect person. This is your dream mate, the one who will stand by you through thick and thin. You’re ready to tie the knot at last.
But is it love?
Or is it a cheap imitation, like infatuation, lust, or even simple companionship? Here are a few things to consider as you make the ultimate life-changing decision:
- Do you want what’s best for this person, or do you want what this person can do to help you? For example, if your mate has the chance to get a wonderful job in another city, are you willing to pull up stakes and move, or will you expect the job opportunity to get tossed aside for you? Love means putting the other person’s needs ahead of your own, even when that involves sacrifice. While blind agreement to any difference of opinion is unrealistic and unreasonable, a thoughtful discussion of what is better for each of you individually as well as both of you as a couple needs to take place.
- Do you enjoy looking at the person or talking to the person more? Both are important to a mature relationship, but if you find yourself fixated on physical appearance, attracted to your mate because of face, figure, or form, you may be taking a superficial look at your loved one. On the other hand, you don’t want to be taken in by flattery or false statements. If your significant other is all talk and no action, that can be a warning sign to drop the relationship before you end up with one broken promise after another. A balance of physical and mental attraction is a healthy signal.
- Are you willing to wait to make the relationship work? For example, if your mate pushes you to do things you don’t feel comfortable with, can you firmly say no? Will your response be handled respectfully and with patience? It goes both ways, too. Are you willing to wait on your partner to get more serious when he or she is ready, or are you demanding more interaction now? Can you wait to marry until the other person finishes school or are you pushing to live together first? Patience is an important virtue associated with successful, long-term relationships.
- Do you support each other by anticipating and meeting needs? For example, if you need to work extra right now to pay off debt before getting married, does your mate understand that the situation is temporary and willingly wait for you to put in the extra hours at your job, rather than complain about your absence? If the person has a list of errands to run before the two of you can get together, do you offer to help?
- Are you friends? Companionship lasts much longer than ardor, generally speaking. People in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s may lose some of their physical spontaneity, but they maintain a quest for fun and a shared life until the end. Do you laugh together? Enjoy similar activities? Share each other with friends and family? Or do you expect your perfect mate to spend all free time with you exclusively?
Loving another person involves self-sacrifice and compromise. If you are attracted to someone for whom you are unwilling to be patient and to share all parts of your life, you may have a lot of work to do or disappointment to deal with after the wedding. Take time now to assess your relationship with these and other factors to see if you can make a life that could last fifty years or more with the person of your dreams. Because when you wake up, your mate will still be there.