Mama M: How Do I Know

Columnist

Dear Mama M,

I don't know why, but I keep dating people who "aren't good for me." That's what my friends and family tell me. I don't even know really what they mean, but I am starting to wonder about it as I get older. In general, I just know we are attracted to be together a lot, and we enjoy each other's company most of the time. What should I be asking myself, to know if I am choosing the right person to date, and even maybe to commit to, someday?

Sincerely, How Do I Know

Dear “How Do I Know,”

I was married once, to a crazy-assed, homeless Englishman.  The reasons I got married are long and complicated and have to do with living in NYC in the ’80s, Green Cards and what not. But, one thing I will say, I had an amazing run of crazy, wild, fun and adventure.  Was he good for me? Was he the “right” person? Did I need to live in a tent and wander around the country laughing my ass off and living on coffee and cigarettes? I think for me, yes, I did!  Do I want to live like that right now? Probably not, but what a way to learn to grow into what I do want.  If your mind persists in asking questions about the right person, try these:

  • Am I connected with myself? Am I connected with my joy?
  • Does this person know how to connect to their own self and their own joy?
  • Do we like each other? Do our bodies like each other? Our spirits?
  • But most importantly, am I having fun?

Often, as I read these heartfelt questions, I hear another question behind the words written in front of me. Mostly, underneath a question is a fear or a worry. With you, sugar, I am wondering what you really fear?  Do you fear the opinions of others? Do you fear making a mistake of love? Are you afraid of wasting time with attraction if it does not lead to commitment?  I think love is a cliff you just have to fall over. … You either get bruised and broken bones or you don’t. There is no way of knowing until you jump. That said, you can know more about the terrain before you jump, if you so choose.

I also wonder what your friends mean, when they say you are dating someone who is not “good for you.” Do they mean, “You don’t look happy sweetheart, maybe you should dump your lover.” Or are they saying, “We are worried that you are getting lost. We can’t find you anymore. We think this relationship is changing you in ways we don’t understand.” Or, are they saying, “You know, you didn’t used to smoke crack and your new partner seems like a bad influence on you.”  So, I guess if you want to use your friends and family as guides, you need to get clarification on the ways in which a certain person is not good for you.

The heart has its reasons whereof Reason knows nothing.

Let me admit to you that I am no expert on love or doing what is good for me. I have dated some of the craziest people on the planet and I can only tell you that they have all been important.  To be perfectly honest, sugar, I am not sure that we are even having relationships with other people. I am of the belief that most of our relationships are projections and that if we want to connect with another person in any meaningful way, we need to claim ourselves.  It is not a romantic or popular view, and you need to discover what you believe.  But, I think it makes sense to examine the ways in which we engage with the world to see what we are here to learn.  Sometimes we project all of our amazing qualities on to another person and then “fall in love” with these qualities, thinking they belong to someone else. Conversely, we also can project all our shadowy qualities onto someone else and become “attracted to people who are no good for us.” I am of the belief that there is no right or wrong person. Primary process: We make a choice. Secondary process: We react to that choice.

Life arises and then we assign meaning to what we experience.  We can either have solid, loving relationships with ourselves and see that in other people; or we can look to others to fill in our spaces.  The latter is the more popular path.

You ask: What should I be asking myself, to know if I am choosing the right person to date and even, maybe, to commit to, someday?  Well, sugar, these are just my own thoughts, my personal way of answering your question, using the reasoning that comes from my heart. … What you need to do  is to listen carefully for the reasoning that comes from your own uniquely wise heart. And remember, it may not always seem logical, but your heart will be your most trusted guide in this journey.

“The heart has its reasons whereof Reason knows nothing.” —Blaise Pascal

Good luck in your adventures my dear one.

Mama M