Knowing this is "The One" vs Settling

Dear Toni--

I've been dating this guy for a few months. He's a "nice" guy. He treats me well and we have some of the same interests, pursuits, etc. I just don't feel a strong chemistry. He's attractive, but it's not WOW. I'm hesitant to move very fast, even though he has clearly expressed his interest in something more serious. How do I know if this is the guy? If I'm unsure, am I settling?
--Wants Foreworks

Dear Wants Fireworks--

Somewhere deep down inside you have at least part of the answer to your question.

It's helpful to begin with a brief self-assessment. Ask yourself these questions and see if there are issues that contribute to a need in you to have "a relationship," rather than a willingness to wait for the "right relationship."

* Are you happy with your current life?

* Do you like yourself?

* Do you feel okay about being single right now?

* Are you worried that you may not ever marry?

* Do you feel that everyone but you are able to meet great guys?

* Do you have much dating experience?

* Have you had mostly healthy dating/relationship experiences?

* Is there anyone in your past you still are not over?

* Do you know what you must have in a relationship?

* Do you know what you can't tolerate in a relationship?

After you have answered these questions honestly (take your time with each), reevaluate your current relationship.

Once you know yourself and your needs, you will have the right answer to your question.

Q. I've been dating my girlfriend for over 6 months. We started very fast and may have moved faster than I really wanted to. Now I find that I'm hesitant about taking the relationship to the next level. I like her and I find her attractive. Yet, I think about dating other women and approach women when I'm out with my guy friends. In some way I feel obligated. I know she'd be very hurt if she knew what I'm thinking. So, I'm hesitant to ask for a breather or a more open relationship. Are these normal feelings? How do I know if they are and if I just need to give it more time?

A. This kind of question is asked a lot. The answer ALWAYS involves knowing yourself. The bottom line is about asking yourself if you can or cannot live without her.

It sounds as though your actual level of true involvement is low. You may spend a lot of time together, yet it doesn't seem to have the qualities of connectedness and intimacy that relationships headed for the long haul have. If you really do care about her feelings, you need to be honest with her. How the two of you deal with this issue will provide valuable insight into your rightness or wrongness for each other.

(from July 2003)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

This is the first "Attraction and chemistry" column.

List of more
"Attraction and chemistry"

"A Good Example of the Wrong Chemistry"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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