As an avid dater, initial chemistry can feel pretty promising, especially if you were raised on rom-coms and fairy tale love stories. It’s totally understandable to have your sights set on a potential soulmate and think that’s the end-all, be-all. However, that may not be the best way to determine whether you’re actually compatible with someone. Believe it or not, it’s possible you could do better than marry your soulmate. If you’re looking for a person that’s marriage material, you might assume this means fireworks or love at first sight. But if you’re intent on finding a life partner or even just a healthy long-term relationship, you might be better off seeking a match based on other qualities and attributes aside from just good chemistry.
Physical attraction, lust, and a deep feeling of love might make you think you’ve found your forever person. While these things certainly don’t hurt when it comes to relationships, there might be more reliable indications of a compatible partner. Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of Finding Your Perfect Match: 8 Keys to Finding Lasting Love Through True Compatibility, offers a practical perspective about finding the one.
Here are four signs you could do better than marry your soulmate.
1Your hormones could be blinding you.
According to Dr. Schwartz, "Your hormones are not your friend." She notes that when your pheromones flare up, you might not be able to think rationally which could lead to oversight or complete denial about potential red flags. So consider taking off those rose-colored glasses and start thinking about the qualities that make the most sense when it comes to locking down life partnership. Lust and for-life don’t need to be mutually exclusive, y’all!
2You’re ignoring red flags.
Speaking of red flags, initial attraction and undeniable chemistry do not mean you should totally disregard bad behavior or deal breakers. "When you are swooning over a ‘soul mate,’ you tend to ignore any non-conforming signals," says Schwartz. A person who appears to have a soul that mirrors your own might not actually be someone who’d be the best husband or wife for you. But don’t worry, that person is somewhere out there — and you might meet them when you least expect it.
3Your priorities are off.
So you love hiking, Thai food, and Cardi B. You swiped right and there they were: someone else who loves hiking, Thai food, and Cardi B. While aligned interests or finishing each other’s sentences might make you feel like you’ve met the person you should be with forever, Schwartz says it’s important to "remember that marriage requires loyalty, good decision making ability, stability, economic partnership, [and] consistency." Prioritize finding someone who shares your long-term goals and agrees with your definitions of loyalty and commitment. And of course, someone who loves you unconditionally with their whole heart.
4You’re diving into the relationship too fast.
It’s certainly true that many successful relationships start out with a bang, and it’s possible to have a successful marriage even if you commit within a few months of knowing someone. However, before walking down the aisle, Schwartz recommends knowing someone "long enough so that you are sure that they are indeed who you think they are." Of course, it’s totally possible to have a long and fruitful marriage with someone you haven’t known for very long — it depends entirely on the situation and the individuals.
Before jumping into a super serious relationship or marrying someone because it felt oh-so-right from the beginning, try to think about how their qualities will play out in the long-term. What will this relationship look like when adversity hits? Will this person have your back or bail when things get stressful? Schwartz says to "think about that person if you were sick, challenged in any way, or even if there was a need to follow your career for a while versus your partner’s."
To be fair, it’s possible to have a deep, infatuating connection with someone who also has the qualities it takes to commit to someone forever. Just make sure you cover all your bases and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you could do better than marry your soulmate.
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