Question: "I met someone I feel so close to, but we are going through a lot of ups and downs.
Good question! Even though I was blessed with a flash of inspiration and my husband and I both KNEW right away that we were perfect for each other, this isn’t always the case.
In fact, surveys have revealed that only about 12% experience “love at first sight” and less than 30% know their partner is right for them on their first date. Most people respond that they know “after a couple of weeks” that someone is right for them.
This is where having a good relationship with yourself comes in handy. You have to know when you are “wishful thinking” or when you are projecting. You have to know when you are thinking too much or are too much in your mentality and not in touch with your intuition, your gut instincts enough.
And then there were the survey respondents who said they knew only after 6 months to a year, and the tiny fraction who took more than a year to know if their partner was right for them. You have to ask yourself if you’re experiencing some resistance and face that Shadow in order to release it, so you can see your situation clearly.
All that being said, here are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to know if your partner is The One for you or not:
1. How do I FEEL around them? Of course, when we’re in the throes of romantic love, everything feels utterly ecstatic! But when your feet touch the ground, how does it feel? Do you feel you need to tiptoe around the relationship and watch what you say in order to maintain it? Or can you be yourself? Does your partner take an interest in you, how you like things, what you like to do – whether or not they like the same things? Does your partner show you they care? Do you feel truly supported, acknowledged, cherished, and respected? Do you both for the most part GET ALONG and have FUN and feel like best friends?
2. Is there enough commonality? Are you enthused to get to know this person more? Do their interests overlap enough with your interests? We don’t have to be on the same page about EVERYTHING – it’s healthy and exciting to have some differences of opinion. But what about the IMPORTANT stuff? Do you both want to raise a family? Are you on the same page with urban living vs. a suburban or rustic lifestyle? Can you respect each other’s religious / spiritual beliefs? Do you like each other’s friends and family? What are your values around money – making it, spending it, saving it? Would the things you’re MOST passionate about be respected by your partner, if not shared?
3. Is there enough chemistry? This is a tricky one! So many of us go for the partner where the chemistry is off the charts and sex is just so unbelievably great. Unfortunately, these are the relationships I have MOST seen crash & burn. Off-the-chart sexual chemistry appeals to our biology – it’s perfect for mating and creating offspring. But as psychotherapist & sex expert Esther Perel’s studies have shown, a long-term relationship is based on security, and not on the element of surprise needed for great sexual chemistry – which is disastrous for long-term security. So the right balance needs to be struck – go for the partner that feels most secure, and yet you feel ENOUGH chemistry with, that will last for the long-term. And also one who is willing to work on ways to keep it exciting between you two when the flame turns down, as it tends to do over time due to familiarity.
4. What is their coping style? We all have put in place a system of defense mechanisms in childhood to help us cope with life. We are blind to these, which is what forms our Shadow. When two people get intimate, their defense mechanisms surface. According to the Enneagram Institute, the 9 distinct coping styles are defined as the following “personality structures”: the Reformer, the Helper, the Social Climber, the Dramatic Artiste, the Intellectual, the Traditionalist, the Renaissance Person, the Boss, and the Peacemaker. These are personas that keep us from being in our True Essential Nature and eventually need to be faced and released for true intimacy to deepen. It’s not the fact that someone has “issues” that makes or breaks the relationship – we all have issues – it’s how you cope with and work through them that determines how well you will get along.
5. Are they committed to self-growth? Your partner doesn’t need to read the same self-help books you do, if at all. Some people have an innate sense of how to work out your differences and some people seek assistance such as coaching or therapy. As two people get intimately involved they start to reveal their coping styles to each other, and this is when most people want to run from the relationship screaming! It takes two people committed to self-awareness and self-growth to get through this with courage and compassion. As long as you are both committed to self-growth, the relationship can grow healthier and more authentically intimate. If your partner says “This is just the way I am, take it or leave it” – it still may not be a deal-breaker. You just have to decide if you can live with them as they are – and then TRULY accept them fully – or if you prefer to be with someone who grows with you.
6. Are you being realistic about the relationship’s potential? All of the before being said, you need to accept the relationship as it is now and not fall in love with its potential! There is no way to tell how the relationship will evolve over time, what outside pressures will impact the two of you (money and illness being biggies), and how you will tend to cope. Notice if you see any red flags that don’t feel good to your values and integrity. Don’t be tempted to take on a “project”, thinking you will “fix” your partner over time. This is a recipe for disaster as you both will grow resentful of each other. Refer back to point #1 – does it feel good right now? Are you able to be completely yourself around them? Would you be happy if nothing changed (besides the deepening of your level of commitment to each other, of course)?
7. What do your friends and family say about them? It’s true that your friends and family are not going to live with your partner, but you do want your partner to fit into your existing life’s support system as well as possible. If the friends and family you trust the most, who have your best interest at heart, are not crazy about your prospective partner, have a heart-to-heart talk to see what their concerns are. Perhaps they’re seeing something you’re blind to because you are head-over-heels in romance and chemistry. Take your most loved ones’ responses into consideration and then see how you truly feel in your gut and intuition about whether to proceed with this partner.
All the above being said, sometimes we just HAVE to be with someone who is not The One for a while. Some partners come into our lives to take us to our next relationship level so we learn some important skills, release some more Shadow material, or gain some necessary insights to prepare us to finally meet and be with our One. If you are fully present to this relationship and totally honest with yourself, I guarantee it will serve you however long it lasts.
Nijole (Neola) Sparkis is a licensed Spiritual Practitioner who coaches individuals to heal the Shadow in their relationships, maintaining that everything in our lives is a relationship which reflects our primary relationship with ourselves. Whether she is counseling, writing, training, or speaking, Nijole synthesizes principles of Science of Mind with today's best personal development methods, and a smattering of Jungian psychology. She was certified as a Life Coach in 2001, studied under the founder of Coach University Thomas Leonard, and holds her practitioner license at Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith's Agape International Spiritual Center, and the Centers for Spiritual Living.