The question: I am newly single and the mother of a young child after having been married for seven years. Currently, I'm dating two very different men. One is passionate, mysterious, commanding and charismatic while the other is tender, compassionate, communicative and emotionally connected. However, I don't always feel supported by the first man and the other occasionally bores me. How do I choose between following my heart or head? When do I need to make that choice, if at all? And lastly, is it wishful thinking to imagine that any one person can fulfill all my needs and wants?
The answer: The one coveted person that fulfills all of our relationship needs and wants can only be found in one place: the magical land of unicorns, mermaids and fairies.
The fantastic thing about my job is that I have the honour of being able to hear the deepest and most honest inner thoughts people have about many aspects of their lives.
I have yet to meet anyone in my practice or otherwise who has a partner that fulfills all of their needs. Yet we, especially women, have been raised to believe in the myth of finding "the one,"our true, lifelong soulmate.
In spite of this, we are fundamentally social creatures – we want, need and thrive with social connection through friends, family, and romantic relationships. These interactions tend to be a great source of distress and confusion in our lives, yet also the most fulfilling elements. We can certainly find happiness with someone who fulfills many (but not all) of our relationship needs and wants.
Choosing between your heart or head is a deeply personal decision that depends on where you are in your life currently, your insight into what would truly make you happy, and what you want for the short and long-term. It sounds as though you are not yet in a place to make a commitment .
In theory, could you continue keeping both of these men in your life for the foreseeable future? Of course. Honesty is the best policy and as long as all parties are eyes-wide-open when it comes to where you are at (i.e., not committing to either, and dating others) you could continue to have the best of both of your current worlds.
Likely, however, things will eventually get complicated. Unfortunately, our emotions enter into the mix, no matter how hard we may try otherwise. At some point, you and/or either of the men you are dating will want to take things to another level. The reality is that on balance of probabilities, this is going to mean a monogamous relationship.
You are recently out of a long-term relationship, and clearly not feeling persuaded to commit to one relationship. Trust your intuition. Be up front with both of the men (you owe this to them from a respect perspective). If they are okay continuing a more casual situation, then it could potentially work as-is for a while. Your gut will eventually tell you when you need something different.
When your heart and head align, you will know you have met the right person. when you get to that point, keep in mind that your relationship needs (the fundamental, must-haves you require – such as stability and emotional connection) should hold more weight than your relationship wants (the extra, nice-but-not-necessary-to-have things).
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational & media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network's Million Dollar Neighbourhood and is the psychological consultant to CITY-TV's The Bachelor Canada. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra
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