How Do I Know if My Girlfriend Is Right for Me?


There comes a time when everyone in a relationship wonders, "How do I know if my girlfriend is right for me?" Understanding what makes a relationship work and what makes for a healthy relationship can help you answer that question. Learn these answers from the advice a dating coach gives this reader.

How Do I Know if My Girlfriend Is Right for Me

Reader Question

I will first start with my question. Is it sometimes better to make logical choices about whom you date instead of going on your feelings? I am divorced and I recently began a relationship with someone else. She is the perfect match for me. We are close friends and have the same goals in life. However, I am not experiencing the "in love" feelings that I normally have with a girlfriend. She is in love with me, tells me on a daily basis how much she adores me, and wants to spend her life with me. She meets every need a man could want, except I am not attracted to her physically. We ended up together in a very unconventional way. She was the wife of the guy my wife was cheating on me with and when I lost everything, she basically took me in and gave me a place to live. She saved me and I feel indebted to her in so many ways. I know that we could have a future together and that she would never do the things that my wife did to me. However, I am not sure that I can be perfectly happy not being "in love" with her. Who is ever "perfectly" happy anyway?

Is it okay to be with someone that you don't feel fireworks for or will I eventually end up hurting her anyway? If I am habitually attracted to people who cheat, how can I trust my feelings? I don't want to be alone, but I don't want to ever experience the pain I felt in my past relationships.

-- Contributed by: John

Expert Reply

Dear John,

Like many people who have chosen partners who later turned out to be a big disappointment, you're trying to figure out how not to make the same mistakes again. For this soul searching I commend you, but I think you are confusing romantic love, lust and infatuation. While all three can be part of healthy long lasting relationship, you definitely can't have romantic love without infatuation. Nature has made infatuation a pre-qualifier for choosing a mate. Infatuation is what attracts us to a mate and sets up the sexual desire (sometimes referred to as lust) in order for us to procreate. Not all romantic love has intense infatuation, but it does have some. This may sound all scientific and it is, but that doesn't make it any less the truth.

You can have lust without romantic love or love of any kind. Lust is an intense desire or craving for self-gratification. As in, he lusted for power, control, or sex. I wouldn't say that lust is bad or even unhealthy. He lusted for a great life, sounds very determined and personally satisfying. When the behaviors associated with lust hurt others then it is wise to rethink the choices we are making and the consequences of our actions.

While I commend you for trying to make different choices in how you select a partner, logically you know that you can't tell by looking at a potential partner whether or not she will be faithful. The truth is all of us have within us the potential to behave in ways that are wrong, and that includes being unfaithful. Most people however don't act on their impulses; they think about how their behavior impacts others and make choices accordingly. Sadly for you, your previous partner did not think about how her behavior would hurt you, and if she did take this into consideration, then she didn't care enough to control herself.

Since you're trying to apply logic, you know that you can't be guaranteed that the woman you are currently involved with won't cheat on you. Although the chances are good that she won't, those same chances are good for a woman you'd be attracted to as well. That's because most people don't cheat on their partners. In a loving relationship, your partner will become more attractive as your love for her grows. Since this has not happened for you with your current girlfriend, it is safe to say that this will be a problem for your future.

In a new relationship, physical attraction is what helps to ignite the chemistry we all hear about. What really sets up those explosive fireworks is when the physical attraction of the outside is matched with the attraction on the inside. Physical attraction is also very important to sustaining a healthy relationship, but attraction is not a steady constant. As with all emotions in a relationship, attraction ebbs and flows over time. Couples fall in and out of love, but attraction (internal and external) is what brings them back to each other and what sustains them through the hard times.

You know all that I have said to be true. What you are trying to do is talk yourself into being with this woman out of a sense of obligation for the kindness she bestowed you during a very painful time in both your lives. You are grateful to her and that is nice, but it is not romantic love. Don't underestimate the power of romantic love. Moreover, don't for a minute think you don't deserve to have it in your life!


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How Do I Know if My Girlfriend Is Right for Me?