Love is supposed to fall apart with the wrong person. Consider that you have met someone. You don’t see any obvious red flags, but you’ve been here before, and love failed. Hint, you ARE going to fail more than succeed when it comes to love. It takes the unique magic mix for love to form and grow. People ask, How do you know when it is right? Ask yourself three questions and dig deep.
Three questions to ask yourself when considering if someone is worthy of your energy.
- Can they love me?
- Will they love me?
- Do they fit with me?
All too frequently, people fail to consider all three questions at a deep enough level and at reasonable intervals before entirely committing their heart. Since most single people are delighted to merely find someone they can simply enjoy time with, they often fail essential selection requirements. So, people keep desiring the relationship to work and find reasons to stay with it. And heartbreak follows.
Consider these three essential questions.
CAN they love me?
The first question is simple in principle. It’s a fundamental question regarding ability. In this category, you are looking for ability only. Is this person able to love?
If you recently met someone, your questions in the can-do category sound like the following.
- Are they available/single?
- Are they hung up on an ex?
- Are they still heartbroken/blocked?
- Are they emotionally mature?
- Overly self-absorbed?
- Mental illness (to what degree)?
- Has this person been in love before? Or Has this person made commitments in the past? (Too many committed and no/limited relationships need equal review.)
You will spend a lot of time explaining your relationship as “complicated” if you are trying to partner with someone without the ability to love you.
Suppose you are in a relationship or married and feel confused about the future. In that case, you ask this question from a slightly different perspective.
- How has this person invested in me and our future- can you name it? (Early in a relationship, this simply looks like showing interest by planning and inviting you on dates that actually happen. Later in a relationship, this looks like supporting your interests, friends, career, and so on)
- Is this person happy?
- Mental illness? (again, to what degree?)
- Is this person facing a trauma – family, work, health, or similar- making it impossible to express love? (Not tricky, but impossible)
In my experience, people uncoupling because of ability (can do) will usually name it. Naming inability sounds like, “His/Her depression became too much,” “the alcohol was more important than I was,” or “this person was a true narcissist.”
Before moving forward, ask yourself if your someone is capable of love. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that not everyone you may be interested in (or already involved with) can love you.
WILL they love me?
Also, a simple principle. Does your partner show motivation and desire to care for you how you want or need it?
- Do they meet the standard of care? (I elaborate on this in my piece “Three Standards You Need”)
- Are they into you in a way that meets your well-being? In other words, if you are looking for more than FWB and that’s all they can give, they will not love you in the way you want or need.
- Will they respect your boundaries and values? Examples include private time, time away with friends, time to worship, to work out problems in private and not publicly, and so on.
Will questions also include- is this love situational?
- Will they only love you because you are wealthy or physically attractive?
- Will they love you if you change careers and lifestyles from luxury to a moderate middle class?
- Will they love you if you find out you have cancer or can’t make a baby?
- If your crazy uncle brings high drama into your life, will they still love you?
Suppose you are in a relationship and feel confused about the future. In that case, you are, again, asking this question from a slightly different perspective.
- Are you always tentative? Does this person profess their love, plan dates, and cancel frequently? Is something else seemingly more important?
- Are you confused by what is happening or someone’s behavior?
If someone becomes unwilling or unmotivated to love someone, “They/I didn’t want to be committed anymore,” “they cheated,” or something similar to “I waited five years for X, and it never came,” will describe the uncoupling. Moving on is healthy when their motivation is not parallel to yours.
Do they FIT with me?
I saved fit for last because “fit” is the most common selection criterion for a relationship. Does this person “fit” will evaluate attraction, chemistry, interaction/communication, trust, values, and standards? How well do you align? Politics, religion, culture, education, social circles, entertainment, family/upbringing, etc. Most people put all the betting odds in this criteria. It’s the most obvious. Consider the matching of a Trump supporter with a Biden enthusiast. It’s not likely to be a good match because of the values represented, not because the people are evil.
How closely you will need to align or “fit” is correlated with how tolerant and patient you are. For example, let’s take religion in a couple.
- If you have little patience for another religion, this is of high value to you. You can’t agree with another religion or commit to someone with different religious beliefs because you value this strongly.
- A moderate amount of patience might look like Catholic and Baptist sharing traditions. You value your religion and can find value in another person and their interests. Following a specific religion is not an extreme value for you. You’re somewhat flexible here and need to match with a similar person.
- A hefty dose of patience might look like a Methodist dating a Buddhist. Your religious label is less important to you, and you are open-minded about this part of life.
Regardless of the category you align on, you both must have the same tolerance level, and patience becomes another fit you share. You accumulate demonstrated fit in every imaginable way.
Over time, people grow together or grow away from each other. So, to continue in the religion example, if religion was a fit for you early in your relationship, say both non-practicing Christians. An example could be where suddenly, one partner enjoys a church life four days a week, and the other resents the time invested. You are now growing apart. Grow apart with too many “fits,” and the phrase “we just grew apart” will describe your divorce/uncoupling.
Again the person in front of you may be a great person but still be a poor match for you. In my relationship experiences, lack of “fit” was always the most challenging and heart-wrenching break-up. I once ended a relationship with a can-do, will-do man because he “mansplained.” We just didn’t fit.
Can, Will, and Fit questions provide a framework for selecting a healthy love life partner. All three (not 2 out of 3) will make your unique magic work. You cannot have a fulfilling relationship with someone you fit with if they are unwilling or unable. Only after you can answer all three questions about your partner and all three about you in the affirmative should you commit your heart.