Evaluate Your Relationship, Not Your Partner
At risk of embarrassing myself (and a friend of mine), I’m going to share with you a conversation I had in 2008 when I was debating whether or not I should get married. It contained some priceless advice that I want to share with you.
Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues. I read self-help books, I take seminars, I’ve gone to therapists. You name it, I’ve done it, all in the name of gaining self-knowledge and pursuing happiness. In other words, I try to practice what I preach. Don’t complain life’s not working for you; figure out how you can tackle it more effectively.
Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues.
Anyway, since I am a notorious worrier/navel-gazer/overanalyzer, I had some deep concerns about my future with my then-girlfriend. She and I had been dating for a year, and, since she was 38, I really had to come to some conclusions fast. I could think of no better confidant than my close friend, Scott Greenberg.
Scott is not only one of my first friends in Los Angeles from 1996 and a nationally recognized motivational speaker, but he’s also been married for ten years. (He met his wife at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room, the same way most nice Jewish boys end up finding love).
Anyway, while I was pouring out my heart to Scott over tofu scramble at Swingers, he sat back and watched me with a bemused look on his face. Needless to say, this pissed me off. I asked him what he was smirking at.
“You,” he said, “have absolutely no problems whatsoever. You’re creating them yourself.”
This took me aback. “Having serious questions and doubts about the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with isn’t considered a problem by you?”
He smirked again. “You don’t have any doubts about your girlfriend. You only have doubts about yourself.”
He was right. If there was one thing I knew, it was that my girlfriend was the single best person I’d ever met. My question was whether that was enough. Shouldn’t she be more ambitious, more well-read, and make more money? Shouldn’t she be a few years younger? Shouldn’t we agree on concepts of God and religion?
More smirking. “I’m going to give you one piece of advice that I used myself. You ready?”
“Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship. You can always find someone younger, cuter, smarter, richer… But that doesn’t mean you’ll have a great partnership with her. So even if you could say that your partner is a “7” or “8”, if your RELATIONSHIP together is a “10”, that’s really what matters most.”
Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship.
DO YOU WANT TO FIX YOUR BROKEN MAN-PICKER?
I took this in for a second. Scott saw me processing. “So?” he said. “How’s your relationship?”
“10,” I replied, without a moment’s hesitation.
“You know what to do,” he smiled.
That advice, from a very wise and happily married man, changed my life. It is no disrespect to my wife to say that I wasn’t positive if we were meant to be. All relationships are a choice. The easier choices come when you’re intoxicated by passion and you’re not thinking clearly. Sometimes those relationships work out; more often, they don’t. I thought I was thinking very clearly while I was courting my wife. Turns out I was wrong.
There was never anything wrong with her; there was only me, looking for reasons to run away from the best relationship I had ever known.
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t think I knew it all – and more glad that I have friends who know more than I do…