Being passionate about the things we enjoy is what makes us human, but are we focused on the right things?
How do we know when a relationship is the right one to be in?
Chasing After Our Dreams
As humans, we are guided by our passions and desires
We seek what we want, and chase after things that are pleasing to us
In the pursuit of the things that make us happy, we run in all kinds of directions, guided by our instincts which tell us what is desirable and what is not
But what if our instincts are wrong?
That Look Is So You! I Think…
As we grow up, there are numerous social and commercial influences that try to tell us who we should aspire to be, what we should wear, who we should date, etc…
Amidst all of these interjections, it is important to discover our personal identities and learn who we are and what makes us happy
Without knowing this, we will often guide our lives according to a moral, intellectual, sexual, and philosophical compass that is not our own, but think that we are being true to ourselves because in our minds that is what we want at the time
But how do we know what is really “us”, and how do we know what relationships are good for us and which ones are bad?
The One In A Million Rule
As we grow and evolve, our tastes and preferences often change as we learn what we like and what we don’t. This is a natural part of becoming familiar with who we are, and learning to live according to what we really want and enjoy, not what society tells us
In this process, our preferences can shift overnight or over an extended period of time, which can be seen when our tastes change and what seemed desirable before can suddenly become very unappealing, while other things that never appealed to us can shift and become things that we enjoy
Let’s take an example from some shocking new territory: dating!
For the sake of easy math, let’s say that out of every one million people, you will find one person that you could marry and be happy with
This “one in a million” person is attractive, has a compatible personality, and all the other things that would go into making a good relationship
Okay, but then let’s look at a place like San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area which has about fourteen million people
Out of that number, if one person out of a million is compatible with us, we can assume that there are fourteen chances of finding long-term marriage partners
As a set of statistical averages this makes sense right?
But ask yourself this, would the people you dated when you were sixteen be the same people you would date today?
Would the people you dated ten years ago be the same people you would date now? What about the people from five years ago or even last year?
Depending on your personal growth rate, what about the people from six months ago or even a month ago?
Do you see the point I am making?
So even if the “one in a million” rule holds true, just keep in mind that the “one” shifts right along with our personal growth and evolution as we learn more about ourselves
This means that in the Bay Area, there are fourteen people who are compatible with us, but that fourteen can change every year, every month, every week, etc…
Considering this ever shifting matrix of people that would make us happy, think of all the times we have dated someone thinking that it was a good thing, possibly even considering marriage or a long-term relationship: doesn’t it seem absurd that we would have the expectation of a successful relationship when we don’t even know who we are yet?
How Do We Know When To Commit?
Without knowing who we are as people, it is impossible to know for sure when, or how much, we should commit to anything
But, unless we want to live in a cave all our lives, taking chances and learning from our successes and failures is part of discovering who we are
However, as part of this natural process, it is important that we give some amount of consideration about the people we pursue instead of chasing after whomever seems right in the moment
Otherwise, we are just running blindly in a direction without questioning whether someone will really make us happy
How Do We Know If We Know Ourselves Or Not?
A logical question!
Some signs that we know ourselves and have some self-confidence are:
- Not needing reassurance through friends, co-workers or other groups of people around us
- Being able to hear someone who has a different opinion than ours and not need to convince them that they are wrong or that they should “just try” things our way
- Spending quiet time with ourselves and objectively evaluate whether a relationship partner will make us happy or not, and by taking care to review our negative emotional patterns to make sure the past isn’t being repeated (“I always date jerks!” Uh huh, make sure that is not your fault, before looking at the other person…)
- Being able to walk by a mirror and not have to look in it
- Not feeling like our existence on this earth is justified because someone attractive looked at us and smiled, leaving us to walk around feeling a slight ego boost for the next few hours
- Being okay missing occasional social events without feeling like we have disappointed the world
- Feeling free enough to express our true feelings and thoughts to a partner without having to second guess ourselves or constantly worry about how the other person is going to react
On Your Mark, Get Set, Ridiculous!
Imagine what it would be like to watch the 100m finals at the next Olympics and see all the runners get positioned on the starting line, but the runner who has been dominating the time trials and heats is facing the wrong way for some reason. Nobody around them says anything, and when the starter pistol fires, they run in the wrong direction!
The reality is, there are times in our lives when we are the runner facing the wrong way, full of amazing potential and seemingly headed for greatness, but sprinting off in a direction without paying attention and completely wasting years of dedication, effort, and losing our chance for success
When we are running in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how fast we are, we are still going the wrong way!
So take care to think through your relationship choices, otherwise you might find yourself sprinting away from a gold medal, even if the that gold medal shifts every month as you discover who you are as a person