Authenticity? Is it the Only Quality Needed in Long Term Relationships?

I can't even count the number of times I have been asked how I knew Doug was "the one." Too many times to count! For a long time I would tell the story of the time I was having a bad day at work so he had pizza delivered instead of flowers. This response generally produced a laugh from the inquirer and I would move on with my day. 

Eventually, I was tired of hearing the question. 

I wasn't sure why it was on the minds of people I hadn't seen in years. Yet, there I was on a Target pit-stop being asked it again. Fed up, I snapped back with, "Why? WHY are you asking me that question? Why is EVERYONE asking me that question?" The graceful woman asking (not phased by my dramatics) thought for a moment. She said, "Well, to be fair...maybe I should rephrase. I think what people want to know is: how did you know he was worth marrying since you were wrong the first time?" Lost for words (a rarity) I laughed and gave the pizza story...then somewhat sprinted to the checkout. 

Wrong the first time. That phrase kept ringing in my ears after the conversation was over. 

I'm not sure if I will ever be at a stage in my life where I look back at my former marriage as being "wrong". Not because I'm avoiding admitting failure, but because I was in a completely different head space the first time I got married vs. the second time. 

Also, I don't feel that it is fair to my 20 year old self to identify her as wrong or shame her for doing what she thought was best with the knowledge she had then. 

After years of still having the question plague me at social gatherings and grocery stores, it began to pop into Last Marriages various inboxes. I realized that I wasn't being fair to my husband or my readers by giving the "pizza" response because, well...any guy could buy me pizza. I knew that as a blogger, rattling off dozens of reasons explaining why he's "the one for me" wasn't helpful. I started to understand that most of us have been burned by a relationship. Many of us just want some type of sign to know that we can trust again. I decided to take a bit to think how exactly to answer this question in a way that was honest and helpful. 

Surprisingly, I can sum up the answer into a single word: AUTHENTICITY

Authenticity is exactly what my 26 year old self thanked God for on her second wedding day. 

I thanked God that I didn't have a man that sent flowers when I was mad. Instead, I was blessed with one that somehow in the production driven world we live in sees romance in a single white rose for no reason. 

I was given a man that makes me laugh so hard I think I'm going to pee my pants while raking. 

A man who doesn't have to hide behind the allure of fancy restaurant menus. A man who feels just as comfortable taking me to Buffalo Wild Wings as he does when looking at me across the table from a $40 steak. 

A man who is confident enough to say things like "I'm sorry" and "what can I do better" when he screws up. No gas lighting because he gets that a person's perception is their reality. 

A man who isn't intimidated by the fact that I blast the imperfections of our relationship on the internet because he sees value in the one person it could help. 

I could go on and on...but, you get it. Do we have passion? Do cheesy things like his eyes and love of sports play a part in why I love him so much? Of course. But, his personal authenticity and desire for me to be my authentic self trumps it all.

You can't work with matter how white they are. You can't invest in someone who is shallow. You can't work long-term with the blame game. You can't survive constant criticism unless you want serious damage to your mental health -- nor do you deserve to. 

There isn't a special quiz you need to take to find out if he or she is perfect for you. 
There's no secret formula...and there probably won't be a moment where all the stars align and you hear violins. 

Instead, look within. Look for the relationships that you can be transparent in. Look for someone who doesn't ask you to lose yourself in them. Someone who accepts you the same way you would accept them.

For part one of LM's dating series, click here


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