Is falling in love worth the risk? Should I guard my heart? These are questions every man asks when he thinks he's falling in love.
When my wife and I began dating almost twenty years ago, I knew there was something different about her. My best friend was marrying her best friend and, although she and I had met, we really didn't know each other. By the end of our best friends' wedding weekend, she and I were dating.
There were so many things running through my head as our relationship progressed. Did I really want to fall in love now? Is this just convenient? How could I be sure she was the one?
Nearly 20 years later, I know falling in love with her was the best decision I ever made. Looking back, I could have been assured falling in love with her was a wise decision a lot sooner if I had asked myself five simple questions. If the answers to these questions are positive, she may just be worth lowering your defenses and falling in love with.
#1 What type of trail does she leave behind?
Does she leave a trail of negative or positive outcomes? Did her past relationships fail due to her actions? Does she still have a good relationship with previous employers or did she leave in a negative way?
Don't get me wrong: people can change. The problem is most don't. Most people have previous relationships that didn't work out. There is usually a pattern, and patterns typically continue to happen. So if she cheated on someone else with you, don't be surprised if she cheats on you in the future. If she settled for her past relationship and left as soon as something better came along, take notice.
Looking back, I could have assured myself that my wife was the one. She had previous relationships, but not very many. The few she had were relatively long-term and they all ended peacefully. She had a pattern of only dating if she was serious about a relationship. She also had strong relationships with all of her former employers, which showed me she left on good terms. This also showed me she didn't create a lot of drama.
Study her past for a glimpse into her future.
#2 Who does she spend time with?
I believe with all my heart that I can predict your future simply by seeing who you choose to spend time with. Understand that you are not going to like all her friends and they aren't all going to like you. Don't judge her based on one or two of her friends. Judge based upon the actions of the majority of her friends.
If all her friends are boring, make sure you are okay with boring. If all her friends are partiers, make sure you are okay with partying. If all her friends run around on their boyfriends, be careful. If all her friends are focused on their futures, odds are she will be as well.
My wife had friends that I enjoyed being around. (She still does.) I love to laugh, and her friends always seemed to have a good time. When we met, my wife's friends were all in college working toward brighter futures. There were lines that most of her friends wouldn't cross, and that was appealing to me.
Take a look at who she chooses to spend time with and it will give you a clue as to who she will become.
#3 Is she focused on herself or others?
This gets to the core of who she is as a person. Does she have compassion? Is she forgiving of others or overly judgmental? Is it always about her? In order for relationships to work, the people involved cannot be selfish. Selfishness is the seed that blooms into action. Selfish action eventually causes most relationships to fail.
Tough times will come. If she's selfish, she is more likely to quit than to try to work things out when the tough times come. Again, tough times will come. Be prepared.
My wife has always loved kids. She worked at a juvenile detention center when we first started dating because she loved helping kids that had not seen much compassion in their lives. Looking back, this should have assured me that she would support me when I made mistakes. It proved we had a similar desire to help others.
If she is focused on others, she will likely do the same in your relationship.
#4 Opposites may attract, but similarities make them stay
How similar are you? Do you share similar beliefs spiritually or politically? These beliefs usually strengthen over time. This means any divide between you could grow wider and cause friction.
Are you similar physically? If you're 100 pounds overweight, don't expect the yoga instructor to stay interested over time. Do you have a similar vision of your future? If she wants kids and you don't, you will eventually have a problem.
When my wife and I were dating, we talked about everything. There were areas we disagreed about, but for the most part we had the same beliefs and were in similar physical condition. We shared a common vision of what our marriage would look like in the future. These similarities have helped us grow closer while other married friends who were not similar drifted apart.
It is exciting to date someone who is completely opposite of you. Just understand that that excitement will eventually wear off.
#5 Does she inspire you to be a better man?
Have you thought about changing some things you've always done? Are you more focused on your future since you started dating her? Are you more health-conscious, goal-oriented, or motivated to be a better man because of her?
My wife is my most trusted adviser and personal cheerleader. She encourages me when I need encouragement and gives me a kick in the pants when it's needed. It hurts when I disappoint her because I want to be the best I can be for her. She inspires me and makes me strive to grow in all areas of my life.
If she inspires you to be a better man, then she just might be the one.
I realize the stats say that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, but if you're the kind of guy who believes the stats, you're reading the wrong website. Life is short, and time is one resource we'll never get back. You can waste time puttering around, or you can choose to spend the precious few moments you have left on this earth with YOUR one. If she's the one, quit waiting and pull the trigger.
This article was first published on The Good Men Project
Photo Credit: Flickr/Dhilung Karut