Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

August 1, 2011

“How do you know when you’ve met the right one?”

Filed under: Family,Love — admin @ 10:21 pm

I was asked the following by a friend who is in the process of making life and relationship decisions: “How did you know when you met the right one?“ My response follows.

We first contacted on Fran’s user name “Serendipity rules” and “Risk taking but not thrill seeking.”  My user name “Find happiness” and “Chance favors the prepared mind.”  I was not using “Quaker pacifist revolutionary socialist” — too much for folks. I said re my age interests “Any age, as long as you can keep up with me.” We were both in our 50’s then; I’m currently 68 and Fran is 63. After Fran first contacted me online, we had two days of increasingly intense phone calls before our first meeting for a hike in the woods on the proverbial “dark and stormy night.” We were already psyched.

After our first meeting/hike, I knew we were on the way for a significant relationship. Fran had no idea. I immediately stopped other dating and emailed friends that I was “off the street and on the roller coaster.”  An issue, particularly after my first marriage, was mental health. That could only become apparent with time. There were some unusual things about Fran, and I approached them directly and aggressively. My best friend is a psychiatrist, and he is always appalled at my approach of asking intimate questions.  People don’t have to answer my questions, but it’s amazing how often they do. And I respect, and return, that trust.

To find the right person, it helps to have experienced enough dating but not to  be burned out by excessive dating. We were both there – we were ready. I had previously met one dear lady where I knew we were well matched. She was in remission from cancer (sad, complex) but we each did a lot for one another. Having met her, I knew that the possibility of finding the right person was real. Drop all assumptions and preconceived notions of what that person might be like. Don’t waste time with folks that are obviously not right, but don’t have a fixed picture that you are trying to match with.

Our first meeting was so impressive that a few weeks later I listed what I had learned by the close of that evening. The list still stands. BHCGPI  IOU.

Bright.  Something like that becomes clear quickly, and is important for me (and us).

Happy. This is so important. There are some unusual things about Fran, but she always recovers wonderfully and is basically a happy person. That is SO important – I don’t think it can be overstated. Again, that is something that, if you are at all alert (and not blinded by things like sex), should be readily apparent.

Courageous. We were hiking in the dark. I dared her (sounds like Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher) to cross the creek on a large and slippery fallen tree. She left her cell phone on one side (willing to risk her body but not her tech support) and we helped one another across without falling into the creek (totally soaked already anyhow).

Great mental health. At least, it appeared this way, and I inquired intensively re her strange family situation, lack of stability, no female confidant (never knew a women without a valued confidant), marriages, etc. This history was not inherently bad. The question was, did these things have reasonable explanations, and how had she handled it all.  I really dig in.

Physical. She had energy and enthusiasm. I am a hand holder – I always ask, and you can tell so much that way. We still hold hands. This is a likely precursor for a sexual match, but that comes later. Some can learn to be less inhibited, but they cannot learn desire.

Interesting. Yes, obviously. So many stories. And I have my own stories, of course.

I believe that we have these six things in common, which is important. Also very important, we have shared values (Fran is good) and expectations re money (we live modestly but appreciate value/quality). Our vacations are mostly camping and hiking or with my family – inexpensive. We tend to talk things to death. We have big debates over the meaning of a word. Some might think this was arguing. We have disagreements at times. I have faith in our love, and we always recover well. I don’t think we’ve ever yelled at one another. We’ve been fortunate re health.

Okay, the IOUs – they are what you make of them.

Intense. And how, at times. But, like I mentioned, she recovers well.

On focus (Obsessive, but not clinically). When she is on something, she is really on. The flip side is, she disregards everything else. She doesn’t do maintenance (told me that straight up). She’s on bees now – bees will likely still be around in the future, but in a couple of years the focus will be on something else. She doesn’t burn bridges behind her, but she doesn’t look back and so the bridges simply decay and fall with time.

Untidy. Her old SUV was full of camping gear from taking her two boys camping weeks earlier. I was impressed by the gear and camping more than by the mess (although taking note).

So quite quickly I saw that Fran could be right for me and that I was right for her. In some ways, she really needed me (even though she had no idea of that at the time). This must sound very egotistical.


  1. Although we each have our own ideas of things at times and Fran can try VERY HARD to convince me of her truth (and she is often, but not always, right, and she is a very tough editor of my writing and I appreciate it – although not always easy for me), we are not controlling of one another’s personal lives. Twice I have gone on brief solo backpacking trips (three days, two nights) on obscure trails where I saw no one either time. My best buddy was very worried for me, while Fran was “Have fun.” Leaving for arrest for civil disobedience “Any idea when you’ll be back?” (See August 6 post, and she was my constant resource/ear/support through all my advance planning for this.) I have maintained friendships with past girlfriends because they are truly nice people and true friends. No problem for Fran. Be sure to search for my blog post on Journey of a Quaker Marriage if you have not already read it. Important for health of our relationship: We not be apart for more than a few days at a time, and that infrequently; We share a double bed (no larger).

    Comment by admin — August 7, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Here’s a variation of the above comment, that I posted on a friend’s blog:

    We do a lot together — a great deal. Couldn’t stand one of these work relationships where you’re apart much of the time (especially at night). But we each have some of our own activities, and this brings a lot to our relationship. Notably, I remember a couple of times when Fran was working and I had an academic break. I went on three day backpacking trips where I saw no one while hiking. No cell phone most of the time. Fran was “Fine, see you in three days.” I said “If I’m delayed, it might be four, but if not back after that, get someone to look for me.” She says “You’ll be fine.” So we don’t peer over one another’s shoulders, although I’m more concerned for her than she is at night when her volunteer work has her in some high crime areas of the city.

    Comment by admin — March 10, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

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