by the Rev. Peter K. Stimpson

QUESTION: A lot of relationships blossom due to the romantic appeal of Valentine’s Day or the flowers of April. I remember movies about “April Love.” Is that enough to keep a relationship going? I suppose it isn’t, but how do you find the right person?

ANSWER: Even knowing what love is, you may still have a hard time finding the “right” person. It is amazing to me that living in a sophisticated society, one where everyone realizes that hard work in college and on the job is essential for success, that we still cling to the notion that there is a perfect person out there somewhere, and that the fortunes of fate will somehow magically enable you to bump into one another. And, if you luck out and meet a nice person, often people think, “What can go wrong if the chemistry is right?” The answer: Plenty!

Hence, why not take luck out of the process, and begin to decide what is best for you, then using your dates to see if Prince Charming or Cinderella actually “measure up.” What does that mean? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Are they available? If you are drawn to someone who is either married or separated, trouble abounds. Oh sure, they tell you tales of woe about their miserable, soon-to-be ex-spouse, but all too often, your feelings will be crushed beneath the surprising news that they are going to try to "work it out" with their spouse. So, unless they are free, flee.

2. Are they mature? If you feel like they are selling a product, don’t buy. Look for someone who is reasonably confident in their self-worth, as evidenced by them admitting their flaws, instead of endlessly telling you about how big their job, house, car, or bank account is. If they are talking about how they are going to take care of "poor little you", that is a sign that they are attracted to you because of your perceived weakness. Once you grow up, you will grow out of them.

3. Why are you in love? What qualities of the person attract you? When people are unsure, but respond that "the chemistry is right", I get the wrong feeling. As I said a little while ago, if someone felt unloved by a parent, they subconsciously are often attracted to someone who has a similar personality, the hidden hope being that if they can get this person to love them in the present, maybe they could have gotten their parent to love them in the past. This often explains why someone puts up with abusive behavior, long after family and friends have advised them to "dump" this person.

4. Will they wait? Often, men and women feel pressured to have sex, if not on the 1st date, certainly by the 3rd or 4th date, their fear being that the other person will leave them unless they "put out". Why "sell out" for love? If someone truly is mature and truly loves you, they will wait, realizing that to physically "make love" to someone before you are psychologically "in love" is irrational.

5. Do you love yourself? To plunge into a relationship too early and too deep is a sign that you may be too insecure, feeling that if you do not act now, all will be lost. Yet, true love is based on your true value, namely, such qualities as your kindness, sensitivity, intelligence, responsibility, and commitment. Act in haste because you feel desperate, and you will have to repent in leisure with a painful divorce. So, go slow for a relationship that will last. The point is, you deserve it!

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