Is My Relationship Just Too Good To Be True?

I’ve quite recently become engaged. My fiance and I are very much in love; we haven’t been dating long — just shy of a year — but in that time, we’ve come to learn much about each other, and find ourselves very evenly and happily matched, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. To use a more trite expression, I’m everything he’s been looking for, and vice-versa. As his friends and family can attest, he’s selfless, kind, and devoted to a fault. The way he behaves around me, toward me, is no different, except that it’s in a romantic context. He’s told his friends and family about me, they liked me immensely when we met, and he’s made it perfectly clear that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. His friends tell me how crazy he is about me. He tells me how crazy he is about me. He is the most attentive and caring person I’ve ever known. Have you ever heard the phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is?” Well, that tiny phrase has been gnawing on my nerves for some time, Evan. It’s not a question of my not loving him reciprocally, and not wanting to be married to him. I just can’t help but feel a bit wary about the situation. Am I setting myself up for disaster, or have I hit the proverbial “jackpot”? I love him, but I don’t want my feelings to blind me in the event that I’ve wound up in a situation that will end up hurting us both in the end. What potential “motives” can a man have for being so incredibly enthusiastic about a woman / marriage so soon? Neither of us is terribly wealthy, and neither of us want children, so I think we can safely rule those two “motives” out. Thank you for your time and consideration. –Mary

Dear Mary,

I only wish that my clients who fall in love would have the same sense of wariness about relationships that you do.

Because, whether you want to hear it or not, there IS something that is too good to be true – the unexamined marriage.

I was on the phone the other day with a friend who is unhappily married. To be fair, he’d be a difficult guy to be in a relationship with, but his situation is sadly predictable.

Whether you want to hear it or not, there IS something that is too good to be true – the unexamined marriage.

I remember going out to lunch with him when I was engaged and he was first dating. He told me how the chemistry was electric, how the sparks flew, and how he just knew that she was the right one. Part of me felt jealous, because I never felt that intensity with my wife… the other part knew that it was precisely because of this that I was more clearly able to assess our long-term compatibility.

My friend was not.

He was caught up in the throes of passion, and, like most people who let their feelings override their intellect, ended up getting married and pregnant after 16 months together.

He’s now miserable because he didn’t contemplate a vast number of things – how they work as roommates, how often they want sex, how they’d raise a baby, and on and on and on. In a marriage, there are hundreds of things to fight about and they seem to be covering most of them. And why?

Because they thought that a “feeling” had anything to do with managing a marriage.

Scientific studies have shown that the honeymoon feeling tends to wear off of new couples after 18-24 months together.

It’s not until that time that you’ve truly gotten a glimpse of what married life may really look like.

After two years together, couples…

Scientific studies have shown that the honeymoon feeling tends to wear off of new couples after 18-24 months together.

-Have told all their stories so it’s a little harder to find new topics of conversation.
-Don’t necessarily have sex every time they see each other
-Have learned about their partner’s bad qualities
-Have often started to obsess about those bad qualities
-Don’t have the same spark or excitement each time they talk
-Have learned about differences in compatibility – early/late, warm/cold, thrifty/lavish, that weren’t obvious at the beginning.
-Have dealt with conflict, disagreement, illness or failure and seen their partner’s reaction.

If you have a boyfriend who seems too good to be true, that’s wonderful news. It definitely beats the alternative (men suck, there’s no one out there!)

Just don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ve seen the full picture.

If you’re in no rush to have kids, you don’t have a lot of assets, and you’re not getting up in years, I’ve got GREAT news for you!

You don’t have to get married right away.

You can live together, travel a bit, and enjoy the beginnings of a long, beautiful relationship. There’s no rush whatsoever.

The reason that the majority of couples under the age of 25 get divorced is because they move too fast. And if you’re moving too fast, you miss the signs – just like driving 100mph on the freeway.

Take your time, enjoy your guy, and you’ll know a lot better in two years if he is, in fact, “too good to be true”.

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  1. 1

    Why not go and attend a pre-marital counselling session? Everything will be thrown on the table by then. And you can decide.

  2. 2

    Some guys like having serious girlfriends.  They like being loved, and can be good boyfriends in return.  When you ask about “Why is he so serious?”…
    Is he always serious?
    I think a good conversation to have about this would be to ask about his exes (if you haven’t already).  Is he a serial monogamist?  Did he have back-to-back long-term relationships?  Has he considered marrying and/or did he want to marry previous girlfriends?
    But, I don’t think you are setting yourself up for disaster if you feel the same way about him.  He is probably not as perfect as you think.  Maybe he can’t handle crisis well.  Also, have you talked about the future?  At some point, on the entire timeline of your life, you are bound to disagree about something at some point.  Have you seen him “disagree” before?  Are you certain he is fully the man you’ve always wanted and no part of him is deceiving you or being overly agreeable b/c he wants you to like him? (Guys do this as well).

  3. 3

    i wonder – and by no means is this a criticism to our op – if maybe she is overthinking it a bit? be it observing our parents’ relationships, influence of media, etc. i think we sometimes get the idea that a relationship must be fraught with tension, conflict, and drama to be the real deal. and certainly relationships to have some conflict. and its possible that he may just be a good guy and she is blessed. however i do like the idea of pre-marital counseling if she is that concerned. marriage is also a huge life change and i know that i went through a period of doubt and questioning after the initial glow of engagement wore off. it’s human nature. big change can be unnerving even if this is the right guy for her. 

  4. 4

    Mary, this guy sounds like a keeper. I’m not interested in adding to the doubts you are having. Instead, maybe you could use that questioning you are having to consider a few things.
    Have you had disagreements about anything? How has he handled conflict?
    What are this guy’s weaknesses? I say this because everyone has weaknesses, or flaws if you like, and that’s fine. But if you can’t see your partner’s weaknesses, even if they aren’t an issue to you, then there might be a problem later on.
    Have you had discussions about things like finances? Do you have any sense of how compatible you are in terms of housekeeping and maintaining a living space? I was quite different from one long term girlfriend on both of these issues. Her free spending ways didn’t match at all with my tendency towards frugalness and minimal need of possessions. And furthermore, she had no problem living in a totally messy apartment, whereas I prefer neat and orderly. These issues aren’t impossible to reconcile, however they can easily become hot button pivot points once the intense passion and romance period has calmed.
    Unlike Evan, I don’t think you have to wait another year or two to get married if you don’t want to. Finding some answers to the questions I and others have posed could happen more quickly than that. Regardless, now is the time to dig into some of these issues, before you say you want to spend the rest of your life with each other.

  5. 5

    I think it’s reasonable to have doubts when everything seems so perfect. You wonder if it can really be that good. It’s also understandable to be afraid of losing the wonderful thing you’ve found. All your insecurities kick in. What if it all falls apart?

    As you get to know each other better, you’re bound to discover a few flaws. But better to start from being very much in love. If you’re really in love, it can make it easier to weather the bad times. I don’t know how old you are, but give yourself a chance to really get to know each other – perhaps a long engagement. Shouldn’t be hard to do, especially if there’s no ticking biological clock.

  6. 6

     You can do premarital counseling, wait two years etc etc whether he is too good to be true is something only time will tell.  Marriage is a gamble because we never know 5, 10 20  years down the road what life will throw at us and how our partner will react. 
     I read somwhere that one should look very closely at one’s potential mate family his parents marriage, his relationship with his family etc.

  7. 7

    “Marry Him! – The Case For Settlig for Mr Good Enough” by Lori Gottleib, and your chap sounds way more than “good enough”! Need I say more??? 🙂

  8. 8

    A year is an appropriate amount of time (unless you’re in your teens) to be determining if this is a relationship that will lead to marriage.  In my case, my husband and I were engaged after only six months.  We both “just knew” it was right, and went with it, and six years later are very happy together.  I acknowledge that it was a bit of a leap of faith, but it’s worked out well for us.
    I’m wondering if Mary has a tendency to question herself this way whenever she’s feeling like something is going especially well.  Some people can’t fully trust or accept that good things can and do happen.  I’ve always felt like I live a charmed life; but there is also a tiny part of me that wonders, “When will the other shoe drop?  Aren’t I overdue for some terrible thing to happen?”  I believe that’s human nature, even among us relentless optimists.  Still, I would ask Mary to examine whether this is a pattern with her.  Does she feel other fortuitous things in her life are “too good to be true”?  Like when things are going amazingly well at work or school?  Or is this an isolated thing?  If that’s the case, then it might help for her to meet with a counselor or therapist on her own to examine why she’s having these nagging little feelings of doubt, and get to the bottom of where they’re coming from.  I wouldn’t bring the boyfriend in for joint counseling, as this doesn’t seem to be a relationship problem; it’s simply a brewing feeling within Mary.

    1. 8.1

      Me thinks BeenThruTheWars has all this advice and insight..yet those rules don’t apply to her. Your magical thinking is so hollow and false… here is some of your silliness…

      -“A year is an appropriate amount of time”…..”my husband and I were engaged after only six months”.

      Who says a year is the appropriate amount of time? There is no designated length of time. Bonnie Kaye jumped into her marriages quickly and they were all disasters. Then there are others who married quickly and have had long happy marriages. It’s not about the length of time, it’s about who you are as a person, your rational thoughts, your emotional connection, taking the time to get to know the person inside, etc… Time has no meaning in these regards.

      Here’s another…

      -“I’m wondering if Mary has a tendency to question herself this way whenever she’s feeling like something is going especially well…come people can’t fully accept that good things can and do happen.” ….and then you write.. “I’ve always felt like I lived a charm life; but there is also a tiny part of me that wonders, “when will the other shoe drop” Aren’t I overdue for some terrible thing to happen?

      Sounds like you have the same probloem Mary does.

      I absolutely agree that processing these things with a licensed professional therapist is a great idea. Just don’t fall for being duped by fake therapists like Bonnie Kaye

  9. 9

    Completely disagree with Kate. She seems to be an “in love with love” “marriqge at any cost” person. And in my opinion, LLori Gottleib iis SO awful….”Settle! Strive for the Mediocre! How desperate is that???
    I completely agree with the excellent advice Evan all of the other posters have given…WAIT, get some counseling, give it more time, there is no rush, and there ARE weaknesses that you have not seen yet. I love the idea of another year of engagement!

  10. 11

    It’s a FABULOUS book.  I recommend it to my clients all the time, especially the ones who are picky to the point where they will never get married if they don’t cut it out.

  11. 12

    Hat’s off to Evan!  I only wish MY premarital counselor had suggested we push off our wedding date for a year!  Waiting is NEVER EVER the wrong move. 
    I began to see potential issues surface about 14 months into dating.  If there is no reason to get married for some arbitrary deadline, take your time.  If he is perfect, he’ll continue to be perfect.  If it’s an act or he’s hiding something, it will come to light eventually.
    Oh, and confirm his FICO score.  It’s another good piece of advice I wish my counselor had suggested!

  12. 13

    Not a fan of arbitrary time limits.  Yes many things reveal themselves in time but everyone is not going at the same pace.  Just try to learn as much about each other as possible, beyond the bliss.   You may be at 12 months where others may take 2-3 years. 

  13. 14
    Raymond Bork

    I think BeenThruThe Wars was fortunate her relationship worked out well. In my case I remember well how, 12 month’s into our relationship we still couldn’t keep our hands off each other. The relationship was great, and life was wonderful.
    We came up against each others flaws and negative traits when we moved in together 6 month’s later. That’s when the arguments started. There is nothing like the cold wind of ‘real life’ and an unpaid utility bill to test a relationship. 
    I don’t wish to put you off Mary. Just take your time and enjoy your engagement, there’s no rush to marry is there?

  14. 15

    @Maria – If I was advocating that Mary marry the guy after they’ve only known each other weeks or a couple of months and was all starry eyed then yes you cld be justified for thinking I was “in love with love” – that however is not the case Mary seems well grounded if a little prone to second guessing herself. As for you comments about the book I think EMK has dealt with that already.

    BTW I remember a similar question that you answered Evan where your advice was “go for it” are you becoming more wary???

  15. 16

    Jake and I also “just knew” after 6 months, but we waited until we had been together over 5 years and living together for 3 before eloping.  We would have waited 6 years (which is still the “official” wedding) if not for some other factors.  Like the LW, we are not well-off and don’t want children, so this timeline worked for us.

  16. 17

    LOL confirm his FICO score wish I had done that before I got married!

  17. 18

    There’s a difference in being cautious and looking for an excuse to fail. A guy can’t be perfect, but he can be “perfectly compatible” with you.
    I “just knew” when I met my partner a year and a half ago. He felt the same way about me, but was divorced from a woman he rushed into things with. So we moved in together after 6 months and lived together for another year before we got engaged (getting married in September). Here’s the thing: i knew from the beginning that we were compatible, that we got along, that we would do well together. Although he never said it aloud, he wanted to wait and see how well we worked together as a team before he proposed. I respected his approach, even though at times I wanted it to move faster. I did learn things in the 12  months – 16 months period, but that didn’t change my initial assessment.
    That being said, it just sounds like you’re not feeling completely solid if this is your “forever” guy, so take your time, move in together and wait until you feel sure, instead of casting doubts or looking for things wrong, wait till you’ve stood the test of time.

  18. 19

    Good post. Good advice.

  19. 20

    I was in a relationship that seemed too good to be true too.  We were intensely into one another.  After our year anniversary he dumped me.  Exactly a year later he married his new girlfriend.  I realized that although I was trying to take everything natural and slow, he had a pattern of being very smitten very fast with ALL his gf’s.  He had left his college “fiance” after knowing a girl for a week in Vegas and married her. A year later they divorced. 
    He was married a second time for 6 years but I believe after the intensity feeling had left, he didn’t know how to handle it – and then assumed his 2nd wife was unhappy with him and started withdrawing from the relationship.  I met him only 2 weeks before he signed his divorce papers and again I believe he was enamored with all the intense passion until everything started to even out (like it should). After about 9 months together, he believed I was now unhappy with him, same story as the 2nd ex wife. 
    I found out he started seeing someone very quickly after dumping me.  They married last month …about a year after meeting.  I highly suspect once his “honeymoon phase high” wears off, he’ll be miserable with his third wife.  I consider myself lucky to have figured out that this guy isn’t serious about relationships.  He’s addicted to how they make him feel until the passionate period starts wearing off.

  20. 21

    I’d be wary of anyone pushing for marriage too quickly. I think pre-marital counselling is a great idea. They can really help see the “issues” that may arise in the relationship. Evan’s comment about the “unexamined marriage” is spot on 🙂

  21. 22

    @Raymond 15, we were mid 30s/mid 40s at the time, and I’d been married before; the stage of life you’re at colors your expectations and can make a big difference in terms of whether making a leap like we did is a good risk or merely foolhardy.

  22. 23

    Just wondering, Evan always suggests us to see the best in men.He also says that men are looking for woman who are easy going and attractive. If, there are no deal breakers with my new boyfriend ( our values and future plans align, I accept him the way he is, etc) As long as we are both commited to make a relationship work, shouldnt 1 year be enough to know the other person? And sometimes, dont we just have to take a leap of faith?  

  23. 24

    @24 – People get married all the time, if you are ready to discuss starting a family and having a children, then there is no need to wait.  Go forth and procreate!  If you think the Man will be a good husband and more importantly a Good Father, then keep him because Good Fathers are difficult to find and all the Good Men will be taken as you get older. 

  24. 25

    @ jason #24, not “all” the good men will be taken as women age. it may be true that the dating pool will be reduced and the number of “good” men limited even further in that context but older women find good men and get married all the time. evan has numerous stories of how older women have found good men. good men become widowers, divorced, or even if they were foolish when th were younger matured and grew and gave up jerky behavior. not all women are looking for the hot young stud who will also be a good husband and father. some women place character first and looks etc a bit lower (yes i know there has to be attraction). if i let age discourage me, i wouldn’t have gone back to school at 40.

  25. 26
    Darren Miller

    Hmmm this is a very interesting post. My first reaction is to say ‘well done for finding your soulmate.’ Why, just because it seems to good to be true, does it mean that he is being fake In any way?

    However, I do also understand why you are wary. This doesn’t happen every day. I would advise that if you feel this way, you hold off the marriage for a little bit longer. This won’t do any harm but will give you more time to get to know this guy. There is no rush.

    Maybe you should also talk to your partner about your concerns.

  26. 27

    Dear Mary,
    It’s funny to see this post because I had the exact same feelings not too long ago before I married my now husband. I can’t lie our relationship was like a whirlwind cinderella romance, all my friends and his female co-workers were jealous of the way he treated me and how we both gained a new found “glow” when we found eachother. We married after only 9 months of dating….but we basically lived together after a month (even though we waited a while to be sexually intimate), in that small time we experienced so much, and learned so much about eachother. I experienced a passion and chemistry with my husband unlike no other from the time we first met we just fit, and after only just 3 months of dating we became engaged. My friends would look at me and say they wish they could find a man like mine, “it was almost too good to be true”, it also stuck in my mind them saying that because I had experienced many bad realtionships before. The thing is the more i tried to find out if it really was too good to be true, the more I realized how much this really was my reality and destiny. I had finally WON. Time after time I tested him, he only proved to be double the man I thought he was…making me fall deeper and deeper in love with him. We got married in May, and I have no regrets. We already lived together…and parent my son (3) together. I just wanna say that not everything is always too good….maybe you truly just found the reflection of your inner person the same as I have. So let go of the doubt and just accept the happiness. Best of success in your future marriage. =)

  27. 28

    I feel that when you meet your true soulmate, it just clicks, its not forced, and it just happens. My parents married after 3 months of dating and will be celebrating 26 years of marriage this year. I really think when you find your soulmate its a connection that time plays no factor in, so take advantage of the blessing….most people will never have what you and I have found. It doesn’t take years to know if somebody is right for you or not, my opinion. Listen to your heart and seize the moment as long as it feels right…but if you have any serious doubts in your mind….then that is your que to wait.

  28. 29

    See, this is something that scares me too. I have good reason to feel that it’s too good to be true at times. I’m poor, or well I’m more toward the lower middle class, I’m not middle / middle class (if that makes any sense whatsoever). He’s from a more wealthier family. He’s been to college, twice. His entire family seems to do impressive things and mine is, well struggling.

    I don’t know any other reason to as to why I feel he is too good for me (at times) and that this is too good to be true.

    I love him, and hope things will work out. I know the future may be rocky at times, but I think we can weather anything. I love that he has come to accept me for who I am, and I him. We’re going to be living together for 11 months, possibly more before tying the knot. All I can do in the end is pray, and have faith in our love and understanding. 

  29. 30

    @ Miranda, your post makes me smile. My parents were like yours. They met, and married shortly after. I think it was four or five months later? She knew he was the right when because he loved on me as if I was his own flesh and blood. Here they are 27 years later, still happily married with three grown children and one grandbaby (not by me…yet =)

    I’ll say this much. When we held hands the first time, it felt like electricity coursed through my veins. And still, he gives me butterflies and no matter how upset I can be, a simple hello, a smile on skype can make everything better. And I seem to have the same effect on him. 

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