M: Patricia is a bank executive in a relationship with Norman. She’s already 36. She feels though that Norman is not the right person. They’re in a relationship for a little over a year. He only communicates when he wants to. It’s now even more obvious now that he’s working from home. He promises to change but communication is still his weakness. She’s just putting up with it. Should she call it quits? She might be on her last trip and will end up an old maid. There is a saying, “winners never quit and quitters never win.” But Patricia should not consider her state of life a game or a battle that is won or lost if she makes the last trip. It is scary to grow old alone but shouldn’t she instead be grateful that she is growing older? And being married doesn’t automatically mean happiness ever after. Sometimes, it ends with “once upon a time.”
DJ: Everyone deserves love. Not the perfect one but just the right one. My question for Patricia is whether Norman’s way of communicating is short of what she wants or of what she deserves? I can’t answer this question for her. So instead of rationalizing, I suggest that she ask herself why it’s hurting. Is it because Norman can’t seem to understand it? It’s been a year. Is there a pattern of him dismissing or invalidating what she’s feeling? Doing so makes it possible that she’s indeed settling for less than what she deserves.
M: If Patricia has a feeling that Norman is not the right person, most likely it is true. Being in a relationship for over a year, one should already have a good gauge if a partner is the right one. Unfortunately, it can also happen that your partner will not agree with you. Or will need more time to see if you are the right one. How to resolve this dilemma? Talk. If you don’t talk, then you have a problem. Communication is very important and with technology, there is no reason why one cannot get in touch with you. Unless, one doesn’t want to. Patricia should not waste any more time. If she is just putting up with him now, what’s the assurance that he will change according to her expectations, or that she will continue to put up with him when he stays the same?
DJ: People who are single after a certain age may be seen as too picky and are often urged to lower their standards. Perhaps it’s because society often marks marriage as the passage into mature adulthood, and that we are incomplete until we find our other half. There’s also that “biological clock” on women. Patricia might want to take a step back and ask herself why she’s with Norman? Is it because she thinks she’s close to being too late to find the love of her life? Having this as a main motivator makes it likely for her to prioritize being in a relationship over the quality of that relationship. Any seat will do just so she won’t be left standing alone and this makes her prone to ignore the warning signs. But if she believes she’s becoming a better person having him around, then perhaps this is one part of him she’ll have to learn to accept. And if Norman is the right one for her and if she’s the right one for him, accepting someone’s shortcoming doesn’t really feel like settling.
M: Patricia, don’t get married just so you can take the “last trip.” Remember, Norman is not the last guy on earth. And even if he is, are you sure that you want to end up with him? Don’t settle or you will regret settling down with the wrong person. Yes, 36 is old. But so is 35, 34, 33, 32, 31 if one thinks he or she is old. Why do you want to get married? Because you are getting old? Don’t equate marriage with age. And don’t equate happiness with marriage. There are so many happy singles who appreciate their current state of life. Do they wish they were married? Probably yes. But there are also many who are married who wish they are single, again. If Norman doesn’t communicate the way you want him to, accept it. If you can’t, then accept it too that Norman is not the guy for you.
DJ: It’s unrealistic to expect that a relationship can meet all hopes and expectations. But for the most part, at least Patricia’s needs are met in other ways. It’s good that she’s paying attention to the changes he is and isn’t making. Because at the end of the day, Norman is not who he can or should be but who he is today.