Getting married is a big decision. In fact, it is estimated that 86% of young people think that their marriage will last a lifetime. But often, we are not fully aware of the implications of “for a lifetime”.
Actually, it means that if we live an average of 90 years, not only we have chosen this person and his family for the rest of our life, but also that we will share about 20,000 meals, 100 vacations and 23,000 days. Think about it!
So it is not surprising that several studies indicate that a conflictual marriage can cause serious health problems and that some women claim that their husbands are more stressful than children. Certainly having problems with the person with whom we share life doesn’t make us happier. At this point the question is, we are more or less aware of that? How we end up choosing the wrong person?
The three factors conspiring against us
1. The society gives us bad advices
If we want to start a new business the society tells us to study deeply this sector to take the maximum profit from it and reduce the number of errors we can commit. It is logical. However, there is no school to teach us how to choose the person with whom we’ll share the rest of our lives.
In fact, if we are too rational about this we will be considered “weird”. The society encourages us to trust destiny and be carried away by instinct. But the truth is that because a long-term relationship works you need much more than “chemistry”. Therefore, the plunge may not be based only from the heart, we must also think a lot about the issue. There is no doubt that love is important and helps overcome many obstacles, but it is not the only ingredient that will make survive the relationship.
2. The others push us
After a certain age, which can be 25 or 35 years old, depending on the country in which we live, everyone starts to wonder when we will get married. And there are also those who think that we are weird if we’re still single.
In fact, some people are very vulnerable to this social pressure, so they think it is time to choose a partner, without realizing that really doesn’t make sense choosing the first person passing by only to avoid being alone or try to meet others points of view. Fear and pressure are the worst enemies of good decisions because push us to act for the wrong reasons.
3. Also biology plays against us
Biology is not our best friend when it comes to choosing a partner for life. When we meet someone who makes us feel butterflies in our stomach, our brain immediately goes mad and certain hormones are released that ratify that love is indeed blind.
It is understandable, but the process of falling in love is not enough to justify the choice of someone to share all our life with. During this phase, our rational brain doesn’t think clearly because succumbed to the emotions. Therefore, it is better let matters take their course.
Obviously, when we combine all these factors, we can understand why so many people choose the wrong partner “for life” and end up entangled in relationships that make them unhappy.
The worst mistake: Do not know what you want
However, the worst mistake of all is not knowing what we want from a relationship. In fact, when we are sure of what we seek, social and biological pressures don’t have a great influence on our decisions.
In addition, several studies have shown that when we are single, we’re not very good at determining what we really want from a relationship.
In this sense, a very interesting study carried out at the universities of Essex and Oxford with people who attended a series of speed dating, has revealed that we are particularly unable to indicate what we want, since after only a few minutes we can contradict ourselves and change our mind. Apparently, our preferences are not as immutable as we thought, but vary depending on the person before us.
Another study conducted at the University of Texas sheds new light on the matter. People who have been analyzed completed a set of psychological tests through which were determined certain personality traits and interests. They also indicated the qualities they wanted to find in a partner. After eleven days, these people attended a series of speed datings. At the end of each appointment they had to indicate if the person seemed adequate to start a serious relationship. It is interesting to note that the attraction degree didn’t depend on the characteristics that the persons were looking in the others, but by the degree of similarity they perceived with themselves. That is, we are convinced to look for something in particular, but in reality, we are attracted by other features.
The truth is that these results should not surprise us because, as with most things in life, sometimes we don’t get what we want until we’ve been wrong many times. Therefore, the main mistake we make when choosing the person “for life” consists of not knowing exactly what we want, because we don’t know well ourself or we don’t have enough experience in relationships.
Of course, this is not to list a number of features that must have the other person absolutely, but it is important that we know what we want and expect from a relationship, what we are willing to give and what not.
There are no perfect people, nor people perfect for you, but when you meet someone who meets many of your expectations and, above all, creates new hopes and interests, then it is worthwhile to grow together. Or at least we must try.
Tidwell, N. D. & Eastwick, P. W. (2013) Perceived, not actual, similarity predicts initial attraction in a live romantic context: Evidence from the speed-dating paradigm. Personal Relationships; 20(2):199-215.
Belot, M. & Francesconi, M. (2006) Can Anyone Be “The” One? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating. IZA Discussion Paper; 2377: 1:36.