Finding (and keeping) Mr./Mrs. Right

Note: The original of this most excellent post has been passed around for months. I can’t find an author. If you wrote the bits in italics, and you want credit, let me know. You’re a great writer.

How do I know if I am with the right person?”

This is not a helpful question. It implies the myth that “out there” is THE one, single, solitary person who is “perfect” for me. This myth has done more to hurt real relationships than just about any other (except maybe, “What’s wrong with porn? It’s only two-dimensional. I’m here with you, aren’t I?”)

Every relationship has a cycle… In the beginning; you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls, want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love.

People in love sometimes say, “I was swept of my feet.” Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something happened TO YOU. Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It’s a natural cycle of EVERY relationship.

Slowly but surely, phone calls may become a bother (if they come at all), touch may not always be welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, begin to drive you nuts. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial “chemical romance” stage when you were in love and the much less exciting or even boring “working” stage. At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, “Am I with the right person?” And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships breakdown.

The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.

Venn Diagram created by Dr. Susannah using

There is no magic in making a relationship viable, enjoyable, and long lived …unless you spell ‘magic’ w-o-r-k. The individuals who create the “We” of couplehood remain individuals – at least they certainly should – and the overlap of the new identity that’s formed is solely and only what the two individuals who created it, make of it. The “We” rightly and necessarily excludes all others and is comprised of shared experiences,  conversations, and memories, and emotional, psychological, mental, and physical work. This “We” must be nurtured, protected, and maintained by the two individuals. The reward is a vibrant, healthy, fulfilling and life-enhancing relationship. Conversely, just as anything withers and dies without care, so will the “We” of a relationship without the will or the work to invest in keeping it alive.

People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfilment. Extramarital fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it. I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this):

The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it’s learning to love the person you found.

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work at it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your partner), Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. If you know how to apply these laws, the results are predictable.

Love is therefore a “decision“. Not just a feeling.

Remember this always: You cannot control who walks into your life. It is up to you to decide whom you let walk away, whom you let stay, and whom you refuse to let go. 

3 Comments on “Finding (and keeping) Mr./Mrs. Right

  1. Pingback: The Science of Finding Your Soul Mate | Brain Pickings | WorkplaceWise

  2. Dear Dr Susannah,
    Thank you for your post 🙂 I greatly appreciate your sharing.

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for the feedback – keeps me from feeling like I’m flinging words into a black hole. 🙂

      Happy New Year!

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