How do I know if he or she is 'The One?'
Unsure about your relationship? Wondering whether to stay or go? Waiting to be hit by a lightning bolt? Needing to know that you've made the right choice? I know how you feel. I was confused for years. Read on to hear how I finally made up my mind and got married.
"As soon as I met him, I just knew."
"Right from the start, I was sure she was the one for me."
Hearing other people utter these phrases used to drive me crazy. When was I going to "just know" that I'd met the right guy? When was I going to be hit by a lightning bolt? Why was I plagued with doubt in every relationship?
For years, I assumed my uncertainty about a partner meant that I had to end it. This couldn't possibly be right if I had so many doubts. He simply wasn't for me. Bide your time, Katherine, I'd tell myself. Date other guys until you meet someone you're sure about - until you "just know".
Then I had an epiphany. Or rather a gradual awakening.
I grew in self-awareness and began to understand myself. I realised that I'd never been sure about anything in my entire life (except the purchase of my pistachio green Vespa). I had questioned, doubted and second-guessed every choice I'd ever made and I'd always been terrified of making the wrong decision.
If I struggled to choose between the black boots and the brown ones and often ended up having to buy both, of course I was going to find it hard to decide on a life partner. There was so much more at stake. The decision was infinitely more scary. Naturally, I was going to obsess about all the other options and wish that I didn't have to pick just one.
But why did I find it so hard to choose?
I'd struggled with decisions for as long as I could remember, partly because of my upbringing. I'd lacked a secure base and solid foundations. I wasn't sure whom I could trust - and I definitely couldn't trust myself. I'd lost faith in my intuition when I was a young girl after I spoke my truth to an adult, only to have that truth negated and my experience of reality undermined.
I'd also struggled to commit. Choosing one thing meant saying goodbye to the other and that brought a sense of loss - and if you've experienced a lot of loss in your life, you're going to avoid it at all costs.
I especially struggled to commit to romantic relationships, because my experience of loving as a child had brought heartache and pain and I definitely didn't want to go through that again. So I found fault with every man I met.
As I became aware of my behaviours and the reasons for them, I grew in self-love, self-compassion and self-acceptance. And from that place, I was able to change my dysfunctional relationship patterns and fall in love.
I got married this June, at 48.
By the time our wedding day came around, I was absolutely sure I was with the right guy. But it hadn't always been like that. For years, I'd doubted our relationship. I'd left, come back and then left again. I'd pushed and I'd pulled. I'd found fault. I'd gone off looking for someone else.
I'd confused myself, and my now husband, with my to-ing and fro-ing.
Exhausted, I slowed down and stepped inside.
I worked on myself, I healed my past wounds, I understood my fears and learned to face them (I believe we have to face our deepest fears in order to fall in love, as I wrote in this blog).
I began to connect to myself and to my truth. I meditated, imperfectly. I nurtured my connection to my intuition that had been severed when I was very young. I began to trust myself again.
I started to make choices and to take risks, allowing myself to make mistakes, knowing that I'd be OK even if I got it wrong. I lightened up. And I grew in resilience.
Most importantly, I spent more time feeling and less time thinking.
I'd always tried to think my way into a relationship, to think my way to love. Did he have the right education and career? The right hobbies? Were we compatible? Would he fit in with my friends?
Instead, I had to feel my way.
How did I feel when I was with this person? And how did I feel when I left him and dated other guys? The answers came: I felt at peace, at home, safe, secure and entirely myself when I was with my now husband. In other relationships, I'd felt on edge, nervous, anxious and insecure.
As I tuned in to my feelings, I saw my doubts for what they were: fear.
Fear of loving and losing, fear of getting hurt, fear of getting it wrong.
And as I re-parented myself and reassured my frightened inner child, I was able to open my heart to love and to commitment.
I'm nearly seven weeks into my marriage and my husband and I laugh every day together.
Is he 'The One'?
'The One' makes a good headline but I believe the notion of 'The One,' imported from fairy tales and Hollywood rom-coms, is unhelpful to those of us who never "just know," to those of us who struggle with fear, indecision and self-doubt.
For me, falling in love was about timing, self-awareness, commitment and choice.
I chose to love my husband and I choose to love him every day.
I wonder, are you stuck in indecision? Are your doubts about your relationship driving you crazy? Do you swing between staying and going by the day, or by the hour?
I know how you feel. It's exhausting. It's debilitating.
But there is a solution.
Get to know yourself. Get to know your fears. What are you truly scared of? Are you afraid to choose, afraid to lose, afraid to love? Why do you have these fears? How can you heal the wounds that gave rise to your fears?
Build your solid inner foundations. Re-parent and reassure yourself. Spend time with yourself. Nurture your self-esteem and self-confidence. Connect with your intuition.
When you have reasonably firm foundations, edge yourself off the fence. Take actions and make decisions, trusting that even if you make a 'mistake', you'll learn and grow.
Finally, tune in to your feelings. Quieten the mind and open the heart. Stop thinking for a while and connect with how you feel. How do you feel when you're with this person?
And do you want to feel this way for the rest of your life?
*** Additional support for your journey to love ***
Looking for inspiration and motivation? Join my free Facebook group, Being Real, Becoming Whole.
Read my full journey to love in my book, How to Fall in Love - A Journey to the Heart.
Take my transformational How to Fall in Love - Laying the Foundations group course, starting Sept 2, or take the self-paced course in your own time. Use the code PSYCHOLOGIES at checkout for £35 off either course.
Relax, renew, heal and grow on a self-love and yoga retreat in southern Turkey, Oct 7-14. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the code 'PSYCHOLOGIES' for £25 off. Details here: The Love Retreat.
Read how to understand the push-pull in relationships in this Psychologies blog.
Photo credit: Camilla Arnhold Photography