Ever have a problem where you keep dating the “wrong” person over and over again? Do you keep wondering why every woman seems to be awesome… but they never seem to work out? Have you gotten caught up in a cycle where you date someone and it’s amazing in the early stages, but it explodes spectacularly by the time you get past the three month mark? Have you been wondering why you just can’t ever seem to find someone who’s right for you?
It’s actually an incredibly common problem. Guys are very good at convincing ourselves that someone is the right one because… well, mostly because we just really want them to be.
When you’re single – especially when you’re socially inexperienced – it’s easy to assume that you’d be ok with a woman, any woman, just so long as you were actually coming into contact with another person finally. It’s even easier to think that you’d be ok with someone you weren’t actually compatible with just so long as you got to experience what everybody else but you seems to get, at least for a little while. But that doesn’t last. And when it’s over… well, you’re back where you were before. Even a little worse off than you were before. Believe me: being with the wrong person is in many ways worse than being alone. There’s nothing like trying to make things work with someone you were not compatible with to make you feel horrible about yourself.
No, you want to find the right woman. The one who gets you. The one who makes your heart seize in your chest because you can’t believe she’s so incredible. The one that’s going to last because you’ve actually got a deep-seated compatibility that goes beyond looks or superficialities.
The next time you’re starting to feel out the long-term potential, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.
Is She Actually Compatible With You?
Guys, especially nerdy guys, frequently mistake “compatibility” with “likes all the same things I do”. After all, what’s not to love about a woman who digs all the same video games, television shows and comics you do? You’d never fight! You could play Xbox and then make out on the couch! How is that not the world’s greatest foreplay?
On a surface level, this would seem like an obvious must-have; after all, we prefer people who are similar to us. So why wouldn’t we want someone who was into all the things we’re passionate about?
The problem is that marking off a checklist of things that you both like isn’t the same thing as compatibility. Geeky guys make this mistake all the time; they internalize the idea that being geeky or having geeky interests makes them undatable and end up fetishizing Geek Girls as someone who legitimizes them for being geeks. Other guys – especially ones who’ve had conflicts with previous girlfriends over their interests and hobbies – may focus just as quickly on sports or twee indie shoegaze bands or craft beers or what-have-you. Clearly the problem was that she didn’t like the same things I did; find someone who does and boom: problem solved and it’s blowjobs and champagne for everybody.
People who believe this way are sharing an incredibly common misunderstanding about compatibility. Compatibility isn’t about having everything in common; in fact, one of the ways to strengthen a relationship is to have separate interests. Compatibility is about being in harmony with one another. It’s not a question of whether or not she’s as into fantasy sports leagues as you are or is equally obsessive about Game of Thrones and True Detective, it’s about whether she can appreciate that you love them. Can she understand your love of tabletop RPGs and painting miniatures even if she doesn’t grok it herself? Is she willing to indulge you and support you in your passions instead of mocking them or telling you to give them up?
It doesn’t matter if she loves Vampire Diaries and you think it’s a vapid storyline full of pretty people that goes nowhere and goddamn it, 2/3rds of their problems would be solved if Damon and Stefan would just quit fighting about Elena and start exploring the possibilities of a poly triad. That’s a micro issue, one that’s insignificant as long as you match up in the macro areas.
Do You Sync, Sexually?
This trips up many, many couples over the long run. Sexual compatibility is incredibly easy when you’re still in the grip of that New Relationship Energy. Mammals are coded for sexual novelty – known as the Coolidge Effect – and when we’re with a new partner we tend to fuck like a pair of weasels on meth with Viagra IV drips and a 50 gallon tub of AstroGlide. That newness spurs passion and intensity and prompts you to want to stress test every flat surface in your apartment.
But that initial passion fades, faster than you might expect, and that’s when you’re faced with the question of how well the two of you mesh up in bed. The most common issue comes from mis-matched libidos – she may want it every day and twice on Sundays while you’re ok with once a week or so… if nothing good is on TV. Unless accommodations can be reached, then one or both of you end up frustrated and resentful; she’s frustrated that her needs aren’t being met while he resents feeling like he’s obligated to “put out” all the time, even when he really doesn’t want to.
But sexual compatibility goes deeper than just whether you’re on the same sex schedule; it also means that your interests align. Someone who has a need for power-exchange games and BDSM in their sex is going to have a hard time with a partner who’s only interested in missionary with the lights off. While it’s important for couples – in the words of Dan Savage – to be GGG1 there comes a point where a fundamental disconnect in sexual practices becomes an irreconcilable point of strife. As with the previous section, it doesn’t mean that the two of you need to have his-and-her matching floggers and ball-gags, but it does mean that if one or the other has a kink the other can’t (or won’t) indulge within reason… well, it’s going to be a problem that’s only going to get worse over time.
A related issue is compatible levels of adventurousness. One thing that happens is that while you’re single or just dating, you’re having crazy, wild sexual adventures; you’re banging out in concert bathrooms, experimenting with new tricks and positions, enjoying sex in the great outdoors… and then “settling down” in a relationship and assuming that the adventures are over because you’re in something “serious” now. If you have differing expectations of what your sex life is going to be over the long-term – you expect soft-focus, candle-lit love-making while she wants to continue the lust-fueled adventures until you’re the kinkiest couple in the retirement home – then you’re going to be facing increasing conflicts over the course of the relationship.
Can You Talk To Her? Can You Not Talk To Her?
Communication is, hands down, one of the most important parts of a relationship. Everything, and I do mean everything, in a relationship ultimately comes down to whether or not you two can communicate on the same level. This doesn’t just mean being able to explain your wants and needs or the times when you feel hurt or upset (although this is important). This means just being able to just be with her. To hang out on the couch or at a coffee shop or what-have-you and just talk. No agendas. Not trying to get into her pants or trying to build towards something but just being able to chat, purely for the sake of wanting to connect. To share. To relax. To just… be.
Someone who’s right for you is someone you can feel comfortable with. Someone you’re not always putting on a show for. You don’t feel like you always have to impress her or prove you’re the A+ alpha dog living the life of Riley. You’re just able to let everything go, relax and just have a conversation with her.
We make jokes about how the guy who has the long and deep talk with a woman all night long has just missed the opportunity to get laid, but that ability to connect with someone on an intimate and emotional level is critical to a relationship. Someone who’s right for you is someone you feel utterly comfortable with, someone you can share anything with, whose insight you appreciate even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.
But this also has another side to it: can you not talk to her? That is: can you appreciate the silence with her, without feeling like you have to fill the void with words and sounds and activity? That comfort and intimacy means that their presence is enough; you don’t need to babble or fill in the silence because sometimes words are very unnecessary and they can only do harm.2
Is She Really “Right” For You Or Are You Repeating A Pattern?
One of the signs that you keep going for people who aren’t right for you is that your relationships tend to follow distinct patterns. If you’ve ever known somebody (or are somebody) who’s consistently dated women who’ve all turned out to be “crazy bitches” or who inevitable dump him for somebody better, then you’ve seen those patterns in action. Another incredibly common example are the relationships that start off fireworks and passion, then rapidly cool off to boredom and disinterest.
It can be tempting to want to write it all off as bad luck or something about the inherent fickleness of women3 but if you legitimately want to seek out the cause, then sometimes you have to embrace a cold and hard truth: sometimes you are the only common denominator in all of your relationships.
Everyone has their preferences, but just because someone’s your type doesn’t mean that they’re automatically right for you. In fact, there are many times when that “preference” is a form of self-sabotage. It may be an unconscious issue – feeling that you don’t deserve to be happy, believing that you couldn’t possibly get someone who is right for you so you go for people who are somehow attainable – even when you know that a long-term relationship with them is going to be the emotional equivalent of years of dick-punches.
On the other hand, it could be behavior on your part that drives women away – for example, falling in Twu Wuv every time like a gosling imprinting on the nearest warm body. Or you may be consistently mistaking sexual attraction and/or limerence for compatibility and when that initial buzz wears off… well, there was never really anything there except that initial attraction.
Part of understanding whether she’s right for you is knowing yourself. Nobody is going to be right for you if you’re unable to recognize that you’re not making the right choices. You have to have a level of self-awareness and a willingness to take an objective look at your love life and the people you’re attracted to. Yes, cold and dispassionate logic may feel like the antithesis of love, but it’s often the way you avoid heartbreak. When you’ve chased after the same “type” over and over again, only to find that it ends in disaster every time, then you need to be willing to admit that maybe you need to look to other women. If the patterns of your relationships suggest that you’re continually breaking up after a certain number of months, then you need to examine the patterns that lead to the failure and – critically – be willing to address them. If you’re continually making the same mistakes, there will be no “right”, only varying shades of “wrong”.
Can You Trust Her?
In the scheme of things, being able to trust someone is a fairly glaringly obvious must-have. After all, if you’re going to be forming a relationship with her, you need to be able to trust her.
But trust isn’t just about whether or not you can expect someone to not betray a monogamous commitment. Nor is it just about not worrying about what they’ve been up to when you haven’t seen them all day or even whether you can give them a key to your apartment and not come home to find all of your stuff missing. Yes, this is all incredibly important… but that’s not all that trust is. Trust is a many-sided thing, and something that’s going to directly affect whether or not she’s right for you.
The question is whether you can trust her with yourself. Not just with your heart, but with your true self. The “you” that’s there when you’ve removed all of your armor, the “you” when you aren’t putting up the personas and false-faces we all present to the world.
Are you able to trust her enough to show her your dark side? Are you comfortable enough, secure enough with her that you can trust her with knowing the parts of you that you’re ashamed of, the parts that you try to wish away, the ones you bury deep down and try to hide from everybody – including yourself? Can you trust her enough to share your entire self with her and to still have her accept you? Can you trust her enough to be open, to be emotionally naked in front of her? To let your real emotions flow, no matter how embarrassing or “unmanly” they may be? Are you able to share not just your hopes and dreams but your fears and anxieties? Can you trust her enough to admit that you’re scared without fearing her thinking less of you?
That level of trust is hard to come by. It’s easy to trust somebody on the surface – not to break a promise to us, not to lie, to live up to their responsibilities. It’s another entirely to trust her with your soul.
And it should be. Because someone who’s right for you is someone special.
So keep all this in mind. Because you want to make sure that you’re right for her too.