“He’s the one. I just know it!” my friend exclaimed over lunch.
I felt my jaw begin to clench, noticing how my teeth were beginning to grind at such a radical statement. I almost snorted, so it was probably for the best that my instinctual response was trapped behind a case of lock-jaw.
I chose my next words carefully, trying not to choke on my sandwich, “But…haven’t you guys only known each other for three weeks?”
“Well, yeah. But that doesn’t matter! I mean, when you know, you just KNOW!”
I carefully arranged my features to be as blasé as possible, wiping the incredulous look from my face so I wouldn’t offend my friend.
When you know, you just know.
If I had a dollar…
Before I tick off a whole bunch of people and everyone labels me unromantic, let me begin by saying that yes, sometimes people meet and fall in love very quickly and it all works out just fine. I’m not discrediting that it CAN happen, nor am I discrediting your story if that’s how it happened for you. That’s awesome, seriously.
However, more often than not, statements like “when you know, you just know” are cop-outs. These types of statements are offered as justification or “get-out-of-jail free” cards to those close to us. We hope that our absolute (and blind) certainty will allay any fears or cautionary advice our friends and family may try to offer so that we can continue down a path to marriage at break-neck speed.
There’s a reason they call it break-neck speed, you know.
We coin phrases like “When you know, you just know” because there’s no reasonable explanation why you SHOULD know after three weeks. What exactly is it that you know? How do you know it? It’s as if the people who claim this are privy to some sort of magic Pegasus that predicts the future but they aren’t allowed to tell us. So they just have to be vague about it. I mean, if you’ve found a future-predicting Pegasus that talks I will accept that you “just know” because your Pegasus told you. At least that’s a valid reason. Sort of.
It is wise to spend time getting to know someone before you decide with certainty that they are “the one” for you. It is extremely hard to “just know” when you have spent very little time getting to know the person you are dating. I’m not even saying that you can’t have a very strong inclination that they will be the person you’ll spend forever with…I’m just saying that it’s best to wait until you truly know them until deciding you “just know” anything else.
This may seem obvious, but in order to know someone you need to spend extended time with them. Spending time with them is HOW you’ll truly know.You need to see them in every season of life. How do they react to stress? Have you seen them in a confrontational situation? How are they with their finances? How do they treat their family? How do they react to you when you’re stressed or emotional? What are their real priorities? How do they respond to changes in plans? These aren’t traits that you will uncover in the first 2 weeks when everyone is on their best behavior.
Can you “know” some things after a few short weeks? Sure. You can know there’s potential. You can know if there isn’t any at all. You can find out a lot ABOUT someone in a couple weeks’ time, but you do not fully get to see how they ARE and how they DO life. These are only discoveries that come with time and familiarity.
If I’m being honest, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
A few years ago, I rushed into a relationship before I had all the facts. My mind filled in the missing blanks with information that I wanted to be there and I made the decision way too early that this was “it”… Because “when you know, you know.” Except I ended up not knowing anything at all. (I didn’t have a magic Pegasus.)
Family members urged us to slow down. Not even to break up, just to stop traveling at light-speed so we could slow down and properly do life with one another. Their suggestions were ignored. Because claiming “I just know” is also a way of saying, “No, it doesn’t matter what wisdom you may have. I ALREADY KNOW. I’ve made up my mind very early on and all red flags will be ignored now. Because I just know.”
Instead of approaching the relationship with an open mind and an open hand towards God, I gripped it too tightly and willed it to be my future. I forced the puzzle pieces to fit, even as I began to realize that they did not. For a while, warning signs were ignored because we were already much further down the path than we should have been at that stage. We didn’t spend enough time getting to know one another before deciding “we knew”. And as God began to open eyes…we had to back-pedal. And then slam on the brakes. And then get off the bike all together. (I don’t know when this became a bike analogy. I was hoping to still have the Pegasus around here somewhere.)
It saves everyone a lot of heartache and turmoil when you take it slowly. Allow the relationship to develop naturally and organically. Getting to know someone is fun, and it is a process. Dating someone should be enjoyable, not pressurized to know everything (including the future) all at the beginning. And ultimately, if they are the person you are going to spend forever with, you’ll still get to all of those stages you’ve been hurrying toward. But this time…you’ll be totally confident and ready for them instead of realizing halfway there that the relationship is not as you originally thought. And if they aren’t that person, you’ll be glad you took it slow and got off the bike before it sped down the hill and crashed.
By all means, get swept away in all the magical feelings of a new relationship. But take it slow. Getting to know the intricacies of another human being takes time and effort. And through this time and effort, you will eventually “know” one way or another…but you won’t have to claim you “just know”. It won’t be a blind claim. This time, you’ll have reasons upon reasons why they are the person you want to march towards forever with. People are worth getting to know. And your future is worth protecting and savoring by walking towards it, not sprinting…
You miss all the good sights if you travel too quickly.