The common mistake people make when choosing a life partner

Lucy Varish
Thursday 06 October 2016 07:00
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In response to the question: "What common mistakes do people make when choosing a life partner?" Lucy Varish writes on Quora:

My dad gave me a ton of fantastic advice over the years, but a couple of simple and powerful analogies he shared with me came to mind when I saw this question.

The first lesson came up when I was learning to drive:

There was a tricky intersection near my house where cross traffic does not stop. As a newly licensed teen driver I’d get a little nervous when having to chose the right moment to turn. I tended to sit there too long, waiting for the perfect gap from traffic coming in both directions. And of course the longer I waited, the more anxious I’d feel, particularly when a line of cars started forming behind me introducing even more pressure, setting up the perfect scenario for an increasingly desperate driver to panic and rush out at the wrong time with disastrous consequences….

Lucky for me, I had my dad patiently at my side reminding me not to worry about the cars queuing up behind me, pick a gap that is safe and good and head out confidently and calmly.

After the first time this happened, my dad explained that unfortunately he had witnessed this same thing happen far too many times to women when choosing a life partner (he’s a psychiatrist specialising in relationships). They tend to pass up good, promising potential partners while waiting for the “ideal”, “perfect” partner. Then slowly pressures start piling up (biological clock, nagging parents, all of their friends are getting married), they panic and pick the next guy, any guy who comes along, often with disappointing consequences…

It wasn’t until later in life, when I started seeing this happen to lovely women I know that I realised how true and sad this was….

The second lesson came up when I was struggling with my decision over turning down a proposal:

I was very much in love with an absolutely wonderful guy who at the time seemed like a perfect match. Unfortunately, during our relationship we discovered that we had big differences in our life values and beliefs. (I’m not talking about different tastes in music, I’m talking about huge differences over life-changing decisions and core values). The fact that he was funny, smart, kind, handsome made it so hard to accept that he and I could never compromise our core values and it would be a mistake to choose him as my life partner.

After I finally took the painful step to end our relationship, I had pangs of doubt daily and could not stop thinking “what if…”. My dad once again shared his wisdom:

Look at it this way Lucy, let’s say you’re building a bridge and you need 100 bricks to reach the other side. Even if they were the loveliest bricks made of gold, if you had only 99 they would not be enough - the bridge would collapse. However, if you had 100 good strong bricks, you have a solid bridge. Over time, you can polish it and strengthen it and it becomes something beautiful too.

Again, it wasn’t until I had met my husband and finally had a complete “bridge” that I understood what my Dad was saying. Although at first it didn’t look like the perfect materials for a bridge, over time we reinforced it together and ended up with something spectacular that will stand the test of time.