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Is this my “perfect” partner?

Lori Gottlieb’s New York Times bestseller Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough touched off a recent firestorm of reaction from women who believe they shouldn’t be expected to compromise when choosing their perfect mate. Controversy aside, what fascinated me was that neither side mentioned (and maybe did not even know) anything about what I consider to be the most important factor when making the decision about a possible perfect partner: the mind’s ability to remain clear while analyzing facts and making decisions.

When making any critical decision, especially contemplating whether or not to compromise on something as important as a life partner, it is essential for the mind to analyze the relevant information based on fact and not emotionally biased information. How else can you be sure that you are making a good decision and not dooming a potentially loving relationship to fail? Perhaps the compromise you choose to make is minor when you look at the larger picture, and years down the road, you will be thankful it did not stop you from committing. Also, it’s important to be aware that when the mind is swirling with desire and expectation, even if it is pleasurable, you could easily be swayed in the wrong direction.

Choosing a partner is one of the most important decisions in a lifetime, so it’s important to have a clear and issue-free mental state. I would hope that women (and men) recognize the importance of having their equipment (the mind that is) functioning at the highest level before making any long-term decisions. Since pilots never fly unless their radar is functioning and divers always checks their air delivery system before taking the plunge, doesn’t it make sense that choosing the perfect mate requires that our thinking facilities are functioning at an optimal level? Falling in love is a complicated affair that combines thinking, emotions, and information from the old memory banks. Without being aware and centered, any choice could be doomed to failure.

If you are not sure about whether to continue a relationship or end it, there is another point to consider: at what stage of the relationship is this question arising? If you are in the first stage of a relationship, the romantic stage, it is definitely not the right time to decide if compromise is necessary. It’s too easy to ignore wisdom when you are panting in ecstasy; and while romance is such a nice way to start a relationship, its raging hormones and overwhelming desires do not lend itself to rational thinking.

The best time to contemplate compromise is when your wise, intuitive Self is present. My wife and I have some personal experience in this matter, and we both agree that compromise is sometimes the prudent path to take.  We both agree that although we did not meet each other’s expectations in a few areas, the past thirty-five years of our marriage proves it can work anyway (as long as you don’t compromise on the essentials). No doubt there are people who are just not compatible and no amount of compromise will alter that. However, if it is not black or white, make sure your mind is clear and your heart is open when facing that delicate decision.

4 thoughts on “Is this my “perfect” partner?

  1. Gary R

    I was certainly not perfect when I married Carol, but with her help I’m getting there… Mutual respect and being each other’s best friend is what keeps our relationship strong. For me, there were many mixed emotions during the marriage-decision process, but Carol was clear-headed enough to realize what we had was real. Thankfully, she was able to help me see the light. I haven’t regretted it yet.

  2. Arjuna

    Scott Peck has written that the reason we get married is actually for the friction which helps to wear down the rough edges of the ego. We are attracted to someone because they have the traits that we need to help balance our own traits and then we fight about it for the next ten years. In a good relationship we can resolve conflict, grow, see the good in our self and the other person. With grace, we will also experience joy and peace. In a good relationship we can at least glimpse our deeper self…our heart…and intuition.

  3. Jeremy

    Well put, especially the part about panting in ecstasy. My experience (in my thirties) has taught me that most of the things we focus on when we’re younger – likes and dislikes, music and fashion, books and movies – are actually incredibly superficial and provide only the haziest etching of another person’s personality, much less a true glimpse into their soul.

    What I’ve learned is important is the things that are deeper, much deeper, the things that do not change, the core values that make us who we are. These are not merely our strengths or aspects of ourselves with which we feel comfortable, but also (and more so) the parts with which we feel the least comfortable and the most afraid. True intimacy arises from sharing these things, and if my yin has taught me nothing else, it’s that what makes a relationship work (3+2 years and counting) is the ability to know our Self more fully through our experience with another.

    Also, for the record, my yin has taught me more than that. For instance, did you know that you can use garlic water for a nasal rinse? Disgusting and true!

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