Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I’m a 24-year-old woman in a stable and loving relationship for the past year. After years of dating guys I had explosive fights with or couldn’t get to stay, I finally feel truly understood.
The thing is, I can’t be sure that this guy is “The One.”
When I look at him or spend time with him, I don’t overwhelmingly feel certain that he’s the guy I’ll be with for the rest of my life. I can and do picture our lives together and that possibility makes me happy, but is there a problem with the fact that after a year I don’t feel 100 percent sure about him? (My cousin frequently says she knew her husband was The One after three dates.)
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I’m not sure I believe in the concept of The One — but I don’t want to stay in a relationship if the fact that I feel this way means there’s more out there for me.
“The One” is a road apple left behind by Prince Charming’s horse. There are over 7 billion souls on earth, and just one who’s perfect for you? You’re teetering toward disbelief, but humor me anyway: If you do nothing else, take a pledge not to marry anyone until your skepticism is fully developed.
People mature at different rates and they meet good people for them at different ages and they show varying abilities to grow and change within a relationship. Some people can get married at 21 and continue unhindered on their path to self-knowledge, and some can marry at 21 and feel stifled by Week 2.
Yet even accounting for all of these variables, I feel comfortable saying it’s the rare person who has come fully into his or her own by 24. That to me says it’s going to be a while before you have a good, confident working knowledge of all your strengths and weaknesses, and that’s the exact self-knowledge that will guide you toward a good choice of mate.
Because of that, it’s likely premature for you to be searching your guy for signs that This Is It. Instead, please, just live — enjoy his company, or, if you don’t, admit you don’t and seek less of it. Often the better answers are the ones you don’t actively seek, but instead allow to come to you when they’re ready.
Re: The One: I also dated a lot of frogs before meeting my wonderful husband (we met when I was 24), and I was confused about if he was the one. We didn’t have the passionate fights or the drama; we had a normal, healthy relationship. This was something I had never had, and it was way less exciting than the drama.
It took a friend to point out to me that The One isn’t necessarily someone who gives you butterflies or sets off fireworks, but someone you have no problem leaving unattended around your family.
Yes, exactly — and who you just like having around.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.