There's a lot of bad marriage advice out there. I don't mean the bits of wisdom you get from your friends who've been there and are speaking from experience. I mean those broad aphorisms about true love that sound great -- but in reality are completely unhelpful.
But there's one dating tip that just needs to stop today. Friends, if you ignore one piece of advice in your search for "your soul mate," this should be it.
"When you know, you just know." You've heard that one, right? Apparently when we've found "the one," it's supposed to be crystal clear. We're supposed to get a lightning bolt to the head, or an all-points bulletin from our gut. Instinct is supposed to override our operating system. The world should just click together and make sense, with all the puzzle pieces of you and him fitting perfectly.
Here are five reasons you shouldn't get hung up on "just knowing" when you're looking for lasting love:
1. That "gut" feeling is probably coming from someplace else. We like to think we can tell the difference between lust and confidence in a new-found love. But I think that ability is extremely rare. Spock probably has it. The rest of us just need to recognize that the libido or what's called "mutual positive erotic transference" has an awfully loud voice that's hard to recognize, and we'll do anything to justifying listening to it at the expensive of using sound judgment.
2. We're geniuses at lying to ourselves. The heart wants what it wants, and we'll tell ourselves whatever it takes to ensure the heart gets what it wants. You'll ignore red flags and little stirrings of doubt. The human capacity for denial is astounding -- I would know. I've been there.
3. That feeling is a beginning, not a conclusion. Okay, so my first two points were pretty cynical. I still have hope, though. I think sometimes that overwhelmingly positive feeling you get about a guy actually means he's worth getting to know. Not that he's definitely the one, but that he's got potential and is worth your time.
4. You still need to keep your wits engaged. I'm not saying you shouldn't trust your gut at all. It's just that you need to balance your feelings with some clear-headed analysis, to the extent that's possible. You need to stand back from time to time and look at your relationship or your guy from the perspective on an outsider.
5. Nothing is perfect, and there are no guarantees. I think when we go with that "you just know" feeling we raise our expectations for the outcome -- and then we're so crestfallen when a guy reveals a flaw, or we find out we're incompatible in some way. What's more, just because someone is Mr. Right at the moment doesn't mean he's Mr. Right Forever. People change, circumstances change, even you may change. That's life.
Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't trust our gut, or that those positive feelings you have about a guy aren't to be trusted at all. But if we really did run with "when you know, you just know" every time, we'd end up with a lot of Mr. Wrongs. Finding the right balance between the head and the heart is challenging, but worth the effort.
What's the one bit of dating advice you're glad you ignored?
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