Is this the person I want by my side as we fight to stave off the zombie apocalypse?Okay, so hopefully you won't ever battle for your life World War Z-style, but (and this is a corollary to the previous question) when things seem like they can't get any worse—and then your car breaks down in the middle of a rainstorm while you're blocking an intersection—who would you want to be there with you? Not a perfect clone of Brad Pitt, per se, but someone who's ready and willing to see you at your screaming, ugly-crying worst—and vice versa.
Now is the time to climb a ladder of why's, as in: Why do I feel like I can't trust him or her to be there for me? Maybe your climb stops there, with "because it's date No. 3 and the most you can trust someone to do at that point is watch your purse while you're in the bathroom at Starbucks." Or maybe it leads to something like: "Because he's always texting his co-workers," which leads to: So why does that worry me? "Because my ex always chatted with his co-worker Lisa, and now they're dating—oh."
You may find it's not so much about the other person as it is the ghosts of unreliable exes past. So maybe you start with small acts of trust—like asking your partner to pick up a prescription because you can't get off work before the pharmacy closes—that can make you feel as if you can count on him to help tackle anything (the rise of the undead included).
Is this all that's out there?As quickly as this question comes to mind, we're likely to bat it away, because after a few too many nice-but-not-right dates, it's easy for another, more insidious fear to slither in along with it: the one about being unlovable, unmatchable, destined to be the quirky sidekick in somebody else's romcom.
The key to getting out of the rut—bear with our mushiness here, please—can be focusing on you. Not in a tour-the-world Eat, Pray, Love sort of way, but in a figure-out-what-you-love-to-do-and-do-it way. Martha Beck compares each of us to a bell curve: "The skinnier, upper end represents your greatest gifts, the areas where you are most talented and extraordinary. The few people who share your most exceptional characteristics are your tribe, the population that is most likely to contain your heart's partner."
The more you tap into those traits, the more likely you are to meet someone who restores your faith in what's out there. After all, before Zooey Deschanel's "adorkable" qualities made her the New Girl, she was the eccentric sidekick to Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl.
Is this the real thing?In a way, this is one of the happier questions to be faced with—after all, it only comes up when there's someone with true potential around. It's also one of the cloudier, since it requires you to define what you mean by "real." It can also be Whitmanesque, containing multitudes of other, smaller questions, like "Are we going to get married someday?" "Is this really going to last?" and "Am I settling just to settle down?" The "real thing" can feel vague and unquantifiable at first, but when you whittle away to what you're really asking—or maybe by going through some of the previous questions—this one often answers itself.
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