Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how miraculous it is that any of us actually finds the person we’re supposed to be with. If you ask me, this is an incredible phenomenon right up there with the wonder of childbirth. Sure we’re all capable of finding someone — as my mom always reminds me, “There’s a Jack for every Jill.” (Or, a Jill for every Jill; a Jack for every Jack.)
But when it comes to love, many of us are looking for far more than just a genetic opposite or a counterpart. We’re looking for that one person who helps us be better versions of ourselves. A person who brings out our personal best; who thinks we’re as beautiful first thing in the morning as we are all dolled up on a Saturday night; who, besides just being the love of our lives, is also one of our closest friends and allies.
What are the odds of finding that person? I’m going to go with this: the same as stumbling upon a miniscule needle in an overwhelmingly large and coarse haystack. Really, how do two people find one another, and grow love? And I’m not talking “you have all the necessary parts my parts require so, fine, you’ll do” type of love — I’m referring to real love. Compassionate, “I can’t imagine a day without you” partnership. How do those who feel so intensely for one another, and who are also able to harness those powerful feelings into lifetime companionship, come together and build?
At first thought, this may not seem so amazing. After all, people meet, begin the dating process and marry everyday. But on deeper reflection, love — the union of two individuals who develop into a larger, interdependent whole — seems astounding. Think of what this requires: two people growing mutual (or mutual enough) feelings for one another in order to progress from acquaintanceship to relationship, from unfamiliar passerby to intimate bedmate. Further complicating this already complex process is that new relationships are delicate, easily breakable affairs. They are highly sensitive to external factors and too apt to rupture at the sign of a first setback. How is it that we ever make it past the initial dizzying whirlwind?
After the first date, how do two people know they like one another enough to try for round two? And after two, what about three? And, after a few dates — you know, more than three but not enough to constitute "relationship status" — how and when do people realize that, for lack of a better phrase, they’re just not that into each other?
Recently a lot of my close guy friends have been experiencing this. A few great dates with girls, then, boom! The end. Either the girls, or they, find something about the other that irritates them. Or makes them realize they’re not the Mrs. (or Mr.) they want to spend the next few days, let alone the rest of their lives, with.
And then there’s me. For two and a half years after my most recent breakup, I didn’t feel so much as a spark with anyone. After that relationship ended, I was unwilling to enter into a new one until I felt fully independent again. But I do believe that if I met the right guy, I would have at least tried to engage. Tried to forge a healthy relationship. I don’t believe I would have ever said, “Um, no. Would rather just be single right now.” If I met Mr. Right, I would have given it my all. But I didn’t meet him (or even Mr. Right Now). I met a whole slew of Mr. Wrongs with an entire crop of Mr. Weirds mixed in between.
But after one date with my current boyfriend, I knew. Not that he was it, of course, but that he was someone. Someone I wanted to get to know. Someone I didn’t have to force myself to accept a second date with (then dread it the way you dread a root canal or mid-term exam.) So, I’m perplexed. How do we find our matching mates when the odds truly don’t seem to be in our favor? And, aside from not wanting to hurl ourselves off the nearest bridge when in their presence, how do we determine that this may be someone we actually want to spend our time with and money on? Someone we can foresee sharing our saliva, intimate moments and futures with?
I don’t know how it happens. I just know I’m glad it does.
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Marissa Kristal is a New York-based writer who has written for various print and online publications such as Psychology Today, Time Out New York, Chicken Soup for the Soul Magazine and Beauty Addict, to name a few. Read more from Marissa on her website: marissakristal.com, and her blog: mariskris.blogspot.com.