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How do I choose the right mate?

Question: I have been in many relationships with girls, and each time I think, “This could be the one.” But every time I start thinking that, the relationship goes sour. I’m in a relationship with this girl who’s like no other girl that I have been with. I’m starting to think that this could be the one, but I’m scared because this is where the relationship usually starts to go downhill. I have no reason or cause to think this except for past experiences. I want this relationship to go on, but I’m not thinking about marriage right now. I just enjoy her company and don’t want to lose it. How can I assure myself that this will not happen again?

Answer: There is no simple answer to this question, dear friend. However, I want to look over a few ideas with you. First, I do not know how old you are. I am assuming, though, that you may be at the time of life where most people go in and out of relationships faster than shoe changes. This is not necessarily bad. In fact, if you enter a relationship with the idea of giving, and not merely expecting to receive, you will come out of that relationship more mature to face the others.

Since values change as time progresses, so do our friends; that is why it is important not to get too serious or too quickly into a relationship at too young an age.

Note carefully, it is more important being the right person than choosing the right person. You are to make sure that you are emotionally, intellectually, financially and spiritually ready to make a decision for a relationship.

Another way of looking at this is that you may be predicting the outcome by your own self-prophesying downfall. Maybe you have lost trust in yourself, or perhaps your family background offers no positive modeling for you in this area. You constantly feel overwhelmed and self-defeated. You may need to focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Think positively and set goals that can be reached within reasonable time. Allow yourself the privilege of making mistakes, and not moments of self-destructive thoughts and defeatism.

Another concern is that you may be moving too fast in the relationship and expecting too much too soon from you friend. You may be inquiring too much too early, or wanting to become physical too soon. Many young ladies want a relationship to move along graciously and tenderly, with an understanding element of firmness. Therefore, what you would need to do is slow down, move gently, go patiently, yet positively. Don’t forget that being well-groomed, smelling sweet and the wise use of humor can go a long way. Making your friend feel special through kind words of appreciation and tokens of love are always helpful (a flower delivered to her home, or “I love you ____” written in the sky).

Finally, allow a little time to breathe. Do not try to cloud her every hour of every day with your presence. Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you water a plant every day, eight hours a day, for one week, it will die. You can literally drown the plant with water, the same ingredient that makes it grow into a healthy plant. Similarly, you can drown your own relationship with love. “He that had an ear let him hear.” – Matthew 11:15

What really distorts healthy decision-making is jumping into bed with someone early in the relationship. Sex distorts objectivity. It blurs clear thinking, making it difficult to truly evaluate whether or not you should stay with a person. So, avoid getting physically close (having sex and heavy petting and kissing) before your minds are hooked up. This can impact making the right choice.

• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragement.org or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.

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