How can you tell if someone is right for you?

-- Question for John --

I go out on dates, but the last one made a lasting impression. In my opinion, he needed time to gather himself after a recent break-up. He became significant and I liked him. But I let him go, so he could find himself. Is there a possibility we can still end up as more than friends? Or I would just have to move on with my life and just forget him? Its hard because I think, I fell for him.

I know that I really had to move on with my life and look for what’s real and not potentials.

There’s one more thing I would like to ask. If the time comes that he’ll be back and and would court me, how would I know that he’s ready to enter another relationship and its not just displacement or love on the rebound? Its really hard for me to assess for I met a lot of guys who can say all the things that you want to hear and then… they’re……. gone! Leaving you hanging and with lots of questions. Plus those experiences made me a very skeptic person. I tend to be very cautious in every word that man says! (is it unhealthy to acquire an attitude like that?)

Thank you for helping me out. I just hope that I could find that guy that’s really meant for me.

-- Answer from John --

The guy can be great, but if the timing is wrong, the relationship will not work. You made a good intuitive call. A difficult piece of wisdom to carry out. Congratulations.

You cannot know the future, so sure there’s a possibility. But it would not serve you to put your life on hold. That would, in effect, put you way out of balance with him. Relationships work among equals. You don’t want to start pining over a possibility. It is not what is actually happening. Rather, it is your imagination. Go for what is real. Another difficult piece of wisdom to implement, but you can do it.

You cannot tell from the words during the courting phase (or the honeymoon phase). And that’s not just true for men’s words. Just as many women are prone to say wonderful, expansive things while the feelings are high and expansive. And you cannot just tell by how high the feelings are in the honeymoon phase.

Just because words at the beginning are not an authentic indicator does not mean you should disregard all discussions, or mistrust guys and what they say. The fact is, when we feel good, we are prone to say and believe all kinds of hopeful things. But when the honeymoon is over, it becomes an entirely different phase in the relationship. The “get real” phase, where you start to work on the real relationship — and not just the dream phase.

Briefly, you want to see how a couple reacts to the challenges that come up — the problems, issues and differences that are inevitable in every relationship — even the best. If a couple demonstrates the ability to take a difficult challenge and build deeper trust and authentic connection, then you have a good sign for the future. That’s putting words to action. The proof is in the putting. But if the couple has trouble resolving issues, and get stuck in reactivity, self-defense, criticality, or any of the other unproductive emotional stances that are quite common when there are problems — then that’s a bad sign. It’s a sign that love will erode, no matter how much there was at the beginning in the hopeful honeymoon phase.

It helps you to study the real mechanisms in relationship, and to educate yourself on what are ways to work with challenges that are healthy and produce positive growth. That is what you want to do and that is what you would want to see from a partner. That would be the only kind of partner with longterm potential.