Vail Relationships column: Evaluating if someone is right for me
Editor’s note: This is from “The Best of Neil Rosenthal.”
Although practically every single person talks about wanting a relationship with the promise of happily ever after, a surprising number of single adults are actually not available for that relationship.
They are busy with their careers, their children, staying afloat financially or healing from an illness or injury. They are angry or hurt because of a previous romantic letdown, they are playing the field or they are exploring who they are alone after being part of a couple for many years. This dynamic appears to escalate dramatically as people get older.
A large number of single adults older than 40 are not emotionally or physically available for a healthy, monogamous, long-term love relationship. They have been burned by love — often several times — and either don’t feel worthy of love or they’re simply not prepared to make the sacrifices that a relationship requires.
Add to that the number of people who fear that an intimate partner will smother, misuse, hurt, betray or otherwise disappoint them, and you can see why some people think the whole experience is too much of a risk. They know they can get hurt giving their heart away.
There are, of course, lots of adults older than 40 who hook up and more than a few marry. But even then, a startling number (76 percent) of second marriages break up within five years, and 87 percent of third marriages do as well.
If you are a single adult older than 40, there are definitely some things you can do in order to help ensure that you are choosing someone who is good for you, someone who is less likely to turn into Mr. or Ms. Wrong.
In the getting to know you stage of a new relationship, ask questions that attempt to gauge the other person’s attitudes and temperament. Is he angry with women? Does he make himself available for you — emotionally, physically and with his time? Does he share his innermost self with you? Does she think that she was a co-contributor to what went wrong in her previous relationship(s)? What mistakes did she make in her past relationship — other than choosing the person with whom she got involved?
How trusting is she? How responsive is he to what you say is important to you? Is he letting his heart get involved with you, or is he going through the motions? How willing is she to blend with you and your tastes, your lifestyle, your family and friends, the realities of your career or income, your children, your needs, your wants and your dreams? How well does he communicate? How effectively does he work through disagreements and conflicts without destroying love, trust and good will? What’s she like when she’s really angry? Hurt? Hopeful? Depressed? Anxious?
Don’t jump in with both feet until you know the answers to the above questions.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit neilrosenthal.com.