Sometimes, Love Isn’t Enough
On Choosing a Romantic Partner
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One of my mentors told me that if there's any decision that deserves all the overthinking in the world, it's the one around who you choose to be your romantic partner.
Through film, literature, music, and poetry, we've been taught that love is the ultimate thing. We've internalised that by accepting the idea that being in love with someone is enough to be in a relationship with them. Even if it comes at the detriment of our peace, our career, our friendships, or our very own health.
For most of us, love is our only criterion when deciding whether someone becomes our romantic partner; because "love conquers all", right? How under-reasoned. It's disappointing, yet amusing, when you realise that we consider a lot more than one factor when deciding which apartment to get, which shoe to buy, or which friends to invite to our party.
My mentor understood that when you fall in love with someone, you position them to influence you in ways no one else can. Because of that, you need to be sure that everything that they are, flaws and all, is the right kind of stuff you need in your life.
A few weeks ago, I chose a certain man to be my partner after spending three years saying no to everyone else I'd considered. In making that choice, I asked myself four questions.
I needed to make sure that if I was to say yes to his big question, I must also answer 'yes' to the four questions I had to ask myself to determine if he was right for me.
What're those four questions?
1 – Are they worthy of you?
Some may see this as an arrogant question to ask, but it's really not. It's a genuine question. When you take stock of who you are and everything you're poised to become, is this person likely to be intimidated by you or be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as an equal? Intimidation is the foundation of many toxic emotions and behaviours that you don't want in your partner.
They must be someone who can gaze into the brilliance of your light and not be blinded by it or be envious that theirs doesn't shine as brightly. To be worthy enough to stand beside you, they need to be able to do so without trembling, cowering, or hesitating.
2 – How do they align with the things that are important to you?
Recall that this person is not a fuckbuddy; they're your partner. So, inevitably, who they are will rub off on you to some extent. Ensure that their goals, dreams, ideas, politics, and whatever else you care about align with yours.
They don't need to be a biological or ideological clone of you. Still, you should both see eye-to-eye on things and topics that are paramount to either or both of you. Disagreeing on foundational stuff is the most surefire sign of incompatibility.
3 – Do they have a net-positive or net-negative effect on you?
Remember what I said about your partner's ability to influence you in ways that almost nobody else can? Yeah, so that can also be a bad thing if they're not influencing you in ways that are beneficial to you.
Think about all the different ways your partner can affect you—physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially, etc.—and ask yourself whether this person you're considering is set up to be someone who will positively impact you across each dimension you care about.
You need to be sure that they're helping you grow and become a better person. You're two separate individuals, of course, but you're also each other's greatest propeller or dead weight.
4 – Do you see them being your partner through life?
With this, trust your gut. Some people are only around you for a short time, usually around the time when things are stable or on an upward trajectory. Once things start to get shaky, they jump ship.
My favourite part of the traditional wedding vow is "...for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health..." That's because it acknowledges that life isn't going to be a bed of roses. But even it were, roses have thorns.
Just as there will be ups, there will most certainly also be downs. We need to make sure that we feel confident enough that the person we say yes to is the type of person to stick around and hold our hands as we go through everything life throws at us.
• • •
I'm not writing all of this because I've got love all figured out. My partner has first-hand knowledge that that's certainly not the case, lol.
The point of this week's piece is to emphasise the need for us to give more thought to who we decide to share our lives with (for however long) while highlighting some of the things I ask myself before saying yes to anyone. Because, as my mentor made me understand, sometimes, love just isn't enough.
See you next week!
- Arinze ❤️
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Hey Arinze, not a question. I was really inspired by your write up about growing through pain and discomfort. God bless you. Thank you for existing.
Thank you so much for reading 🥺❤️