How to Figure Out "The One" Before You've Figured It Out8:00 AM
That's no fair. That's not helpful. Hindsight's 20/20. How do we figure out the figuring out?
Here I am to the rescue, transcribing my decision-making process as I am actively still asking myself that very question -- Is he The One?
Surprise, surprise, I want him to be. I love him enough to make him The One. But there's that whole wisdom/God's will thing. Plus, he hasn't put a ring on it.
Being the overanalyzer I am, I think about this all the time...when I'm not pinning wedding decorations on my secret Pinterest board. (Look, I told you dating was weird.)
The #1 stress in our relationship has always been what other people thought of us. "Other people" included random people on the internet, acquaintances at school, anyone we interacted with, and especially residual dating principles from dating manuals, Christian relationship sites, and conventional dating wisdom.
My boyfriend is absolutely impervious to outside criticism. He comes to his opinions slowly and intuitively and then refuses to budge on them unless someone he respects says otherwise. I'm not impervious at all. One little doubt sent me into panicking reevaluation of our entire relationship. We only had two or three legitimate reasons to reevaluate in the past two years, resolved through patient discussion and understanding. The rest of them revolved around me freaking out over what other people said.
Dating an even-keeled, strong personality taught me the necessity of ignoring other people's opinions and only listening to the opinions that matter -- otherwise I would go crazy.
There really does come a point where you have to decide what you think and then not budge -- especially in personal decisions where the answer does calculate out to a black-and-white answer. Big life decisions involve so many subjective variables that outsiders especially cannot understand. Sometimes I don't even understand all the variables involved in making my own big life decisions!
With dating my boyfriend, I knew right away that I needed help figuring out just what the variables were. I'd never dated before, I was almost the first of my friends to start dating, and neither of us had any clue about what we were doing. We eventually figured out that we needed to focus on spiritual and emotional compatibility -- beliefs, personalities, communication, all that mess.
My mother wins the gold star for best outside counselor in my relationship. Since she knew very little about my boyfriend, she only told me what variable I needed to figure out in our relationship -- not how to figure it out or what answer I needed to arrive at. She merely reclarified the issue. We talk about my relationship almost every phone call, sometimes about the same thing. She always guides me back to the question I need to answer or the issue we need to work out...or the answer I arrived at a couple weeks ago, remember?
Figuring out the variables -- figuring out where the real questions lie -- is the best way for a mentor removed from the situation to help someone out with her boyfriend decisions.
My roommate third-wheeled my boyfriend and me all the time. As a firsthand witness, she could help me work out the answers to the questions my mom guided me to ask. She never told me what to do or think unless I flat-out asked her. She too asked more questions but also brought in real-life observations from a knowledgeable, objective standpoint. She would often see good in our relationship when I felt ready to quit. She would tell me our relationship inspired her to love better. She would fend off people confused about how an ENFJ fell in love with an ISTP, and console me with truth when I felt like everybody judged us.
As you can see, it's so, so important to me that my mentors do not tell me what to think but instead give me information and questions to equip me to make the final decision about my relationship. This led me to several (personal) conclusions on how I seek advice for my relationship:
01. I chose two women who knew me best, my mother and my roommate, and kept them informed about everything. They had the final word, so to speak, the final influence on my thought process.
02. I ask specific questions of specific married men and women when I want practical help or a real-life perspective. I rarely just spill about my relationship to other people. I'll ask about how to handle a situation without disclosing any personal details that led to me asking that question.
03. I don't ask advice from people who make relationships black-and-white. If someone makes absolute statements like, You need to date multiple people before you can make wise dating decisions or Dating must be done like this, then I don't ask them for relationship advice.
04. I stopped reading relationship articles about what he must be or 5 signs you're headed for break-up. They got me in a funk of comparing my boyfriend to imaginary men and gave me irrelevant issues to hunt for in my relationship.
05. I never read or consider advice from someone not in a relationship unless she's dated before or been heavily involved in advising/observing other couples. 90% of the time, inexperienced single people are just regurgitating impractical "principles" that nobody actually follows in real relationships.
06. I seek encouragement. Several friends love to hear all about my relationship and are vocal about the positive aspects of my relationship. I also read positive articles about improving communication, showing affection, and strengthening the relationship.
07. I don't listen to people who do not know me. Acquaintances or the internet world may question, but I'm not listening anymore. I don't have the emotional energy to consider an outsider's perspective on such a personal issue, especially when I have access to so many solid advisers who know me and my boyfriend firsthand.
08. I'm clearing out all these distracting voices and listening to the ones that matter because I need to hear what God wants me to do. Despite my frequent freak-outs, He's graciously made relationship decisions clear ever since the day I fell head-over-heels in love.
As to whether my boyfriend's The One...well, I guess we'll all find out eventually. :)
How have you/are you/will you figure out the figuring out of The One?
P.S. Do I need to do an FAQ about my relationship and my boyfriend in particular? I've received so many worried emails from my readers that I'm wondering if we're all on the same page with whom I'm actually dating. If all of you are this concerned about my boyfriend, I'm happy to field some questions. He's hands-down the most amazing man ever + my bestie, and I have nothing to hide about him or his relationship to me. Your call, readers!
Photo creds to Style Me Pretty.