Years ago, when I was dating a divorcing man (who’s now my husband!), and our relationship was getting serious, I struggled with how to answer the questions “Is this relationship right for me? Is this man right for me?”
After his divorce was final, we really started talking more seriously about a future together.
Plus, the lease at my place was expiring, and we started to wonder: should we move in together? Should we go into deeper levels of commitment?
In the previous article, part 1 of Is He the One?, I detailed three of the seven key things you should think about to help you decide whether you should make a commitment.
This article details the next four keys, including what you need to do to help you project the long-term success of the relationship and the one thing that’s a certain predictor of relationship failure.
Identify Your Needs and Experience Evidence That They’ll Be Met
What do you need in a relationship in order to feel loved?
Do you need to hear him say “I love you?”
Do you need him to give you hugs and kisses when you see each other?
We all have emotional needs.
These are the things that we need in a relationship in order to feel loved.
We also have functional needs, the things we need in a relationship in order for the relationship to work for us.
Maybe you’re a punctual person and can’t stand being late (my husband certainly is).
My husband grew up in a culture where being late is considered rude; there is no “fashionably late.”
Whereas, I grew up in a culture where you had to put an earlier time on your party invitations to anticipate all the late arrivals.
In another example, I had a client who experienced an issue when her boyfriend would cancel date night plans at the last minute. (remember, whenever we experience an issue in our relationship, it’s because there’s a need or requirement that we have that’s not being met)
She needed a partner to be considerate of her time and to contact her in advance (rather than at the last minute) if he needs to cancel date night plans.
She needed a partner to honor his word and not be flaky.
One could argue “well, wouldn’t we all want that same consideration?”
But one person’s issue is another person’s “no big deal.” One person might be irritated while another person whould shrug it off.
It depends on what’s important to you.
It’s important to get clear on what your needs are and to choose someone who can meet those needs.
Not someone who says he will meet your needs, but someone who has proven through his actions that he’s capable of and wants to meet your needs.
And it’s important to base your decision on your real lived experience with him, not on what you hope will happen in the future.
Look for evidence that your needs will be met.
Needs are different from relationship requirements in that needs are flexible.
You wouldn’t necessarily end a relationship if he didn’t call you when he said he would call.
Or maybe you would!
It just depends on what your needs are and what really matters to you. You would end the relationship if it were a requirement for you.
The distinction is that needs are flexible and relationship requirements are dealbreakers.
Identify and Test Your Relationship relationship requirements
This is the one thing that I probably talk about the most in my blog. And I consider this the number one decision-making strategy.
You need to know your dealbreakers.
You need to determine whether this person is in alignment with your relationship relationship requirements. relationship requirements are the things that you absolutely require in a relationship for the relationship to work for you.
For example, if you’re a single mom with young children, maybe one of your relationship requirements is that your partner must like kids.
And if they don’t like kids, then it’s a dealbreaker for you.
In your relationship, your relationship requirements are either being met or they’re not being met.
A relationship is not going to work if even one requirement is not being met.
And because relationship requirements aren’t always clear, it helps to get coaching so that you can get clear about just what exactly you mean by a certain requirement.
For instance, a client or student will often choose “honesty” as their relationship requirement. They need the relationship to be “honest.”
When we take a closer look, what does that mean? Honesty can mean a lot of different things. For example, there are degrees of honesty.
The important thing to think about is: what does honesty look like for you in action?
What do you really mean by that?
And then how do you determine whether your partner is really fulfilling that requirement for you?
How do you determine whether you are experiencing—and that’s the important word—experiencing that requirement being met in your relationship?
A requirement is an absolute deal breaker.
It means that would leave the relationship because it’s not in place.
relationship requirements come from your vision. (see Part 1 of Is He the One?)
Your relationship requirements are unique to you, your values, and the experience that you want to create for yourself in this life.
So all needs and relationship requirements are valid.
Whenever we experience issues in our relationship, it’s because we have needs or relationship requirements that are not being met.
If those relationship requirements are not being met 100 percent, then the relationship is not going to be fulfilling for you and you may even move towards divorce, which is what we’d like to prevent because it’s so painful.
A lot of the questions that I receive are about this very issue.
A couple has gotten into a relationship and their relationship requirements are not being met, but they’ve fallen in love, they’re already so emotionally invested, and they really don’t want to break it up.
They got more involved in the relationship at a quicker pace than was wise for them because now it isn’t working, but now also it’s very painful to get out of it.
I’ve seen it happen a lot and it’s very hard.
A friend of mine, who’s a single dad, was dating a woman for months and they had fallen in love.
They starting talking about the future and he finds out that part of her dream is to become a mom someday.
Unfortunately, my friend was adamant about the fact that he’s done having kids.
She thought she could convince him to change his mind.
Ultimately, the relationship didn’t last.
So getting clear on your relationship requirements and whether your relationship is aligned with your relationship requirements—before you make a commitment—is really, really important.
Ask Powerful Questions That Help You Imagine Your Relationship Long-Term
There are powerful questions that we need to ask ourselves before considering a relationship commitment.
These three questions are actually in this list of 36 Questions to Help You Decide Whether You Should Stay or You Should Go.
The first one is, “Would I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?”
What’s involved in that question is looking at them exactly the way they are, not the way that you want them to be, and looking at the challenges that you have.
Every relationship has challenges.
What are the challenges you experience with this person and are these the kinds of challenges that you potentially want to spend the rest of your life dealing with?
I love this question because I strongly believe that we need to choose somebody that we can truly love and accept for exactly who they are; their faults, their vices and things you don’t like about them…everything.
One of the challenges that every couple has is learning to love the things that they really don’t like about the other person.
So, ask yourself, is there anything in that person that you could never learn to love?
This next question is also important. “Would I want this person to raise my child?”
This is especially if you’re a young couple and you might possibly have children together or if you’re entering a second relationship and you have children, would you want that person being a step-parent to your child?
I have friends right now whose children are going through custody battles and not wanting the person they married to raise their child.
They’re having a lot of problems with the ways in which their former spouse is interacting with the children.
It’s such a painful situation for everybody involved: grandparents, parents, the children. It’s an extremely painful situation so it’s an important question to ask.
And then the third question is, “Would I want my child to be exactly like this person?”
I think this question applies even if you don’t have children or you don’t plan to have children.
If you were to have children, just pretend that there’s a possibility that there’ll be children in this relationship.
Would you want a child that would be exactly like this person?
So, it’s a good hypothetical question.
If you wouldn’t want that in a child, then is that a good relationship for you?
Check in with Your Intuition
When all is said and done, it’s important to do a gut check.
Check in with your subconscious reasoning, your inner source.
I go into this more in depth in my article about How to Make Smart Intuitive, Decisions When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed.
When we’re in a complicated relationship, it’s easy to feel scattered and reactive—and to lose sight of our truth.
So, it’s important to slow down, quiet the mind, and really acknowledge what your heart is telling you.
A good way to do this is through journaling.
You can even take the questions from the article I mentioned and start to write what comes to the surface.
Have an honest Q & A with yourself.
Write from your absolute truth.
When you really tune in, what does your heart tell you about which path will lead to your highest good?
When your heart speaks, listen.