Last week I had mother-daughter date night with my daughter Lisa, usually dinner (with catch up conversation) and then a movie. This week it was Eat, Pray, Love. I thought the movie was so-so but it was the trailer for an upcoming romantic comedy that got me thinking. It posed the question how do you know you’re in love.
I can’t answer that question for everyone, but here’s my story. I knew I was for-sure in love when I came home late one night to discover that my boyfriend Dale had stopped by to wheel my trash cans to the curb. As I rounded the corner about midnight and reminded myself that trash pickup was in the morning, and saw that Dale had done it for me, I thought, “Wow! I love this guy.” Dale had done everything right from the get-go.
Two days before our first date he called to say he was looking forward to it. The morning after our first date he called to say he had a great time and hoped we could do it again. He was the first to use the word “love.” And if that’s not enough, he was a great cook and for someone like me, who lived on microwaved baked potatoes, that was a deal clincher. Yep, he was a keeper. Or was he? Oh, I was in love all right but, truthfully, that realization scared me to death because now I had to think about the bigger question—was I in love with the right person for the right reasons?
Love, as I had so painfully learned, was not enough. I had been in love before. I was divorced. And it wasn’t just marriage I’d gotten wrong. More than once Mr. Right had turned out to be Mr. Oh-So-Wrong, My relationship self-confidence was 2 on a scale of 1-to-10. I wanted to get it right this time but so shattered was my self-confidence, that I came very close to simply assuming I was wrong this time, too, no matter how effectively Dale had swept me off my feet. As time went on and I fell more deeply in love with Dale, I asked myself time and again, how can I know if he is “the one”?
I thought back to the committed relationships that had gone wrong and asked myself if I’d missed any don’t-do-this cues. I had. I realized that each time I had committed myself to a relationship that didn’t work, I had ignored those little voices that, had I listened and trusted rather than rationalized away, would have protected me. Those cautionary voices—my intuition—had always been right. Hmmm . . . was I onto to something? Yes, indeed.
Turns out that scientific studies prove there’s a lot to this intuition stuff but I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew then was that in every situation where my intuition had spoken, I had ignored it. I rationalized my gut feelings away and convinced myself that everything was super peachy keen. This time, however, I invited those little voices to speak up. “Come on,” I said out loud, “talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong with this picture.” Nothing. Silence. “No, really,” I begged, “talk to me.” Again, silence. Well, whaddya know? There were no little voices telling me to run and run fast. Every bit of me—my brain, my heart, and most importantly my intuition—said, “Go for it!” That was 14 years ago and I’ve never had a moment’s regret.