Dream Guy :: Is He Enough for you?
“He’s THAT guy you dream about,” she writes, and I think to myself, yes, seems too good to be true, and is he enough for you? A young bride-to-be recently sent me an email asking if the uber-successful and driven guy can also be "good" at relationships. Good question. It's June, and that means that bells are ringing many towards wedded bliss, but many new brides have been quietly coming to therapy or bringing their special guy in for pre-marital sessions. Hoping I can steer him towards becoming the guy who will be her everything—her knight, the one, her forever and ever. The shower, the venue, the dress, the ceremony, the registry—it's all so exciting, and scary, I know. You are of that age, many of your friends are doing it. You tell me "it's time, I don't want to wait. I pass my friends pushing carriages in their yoga clothes and I want that too.”
I want to be happy for you, really I do! But it's painful when I see you both sitting on opposite sides of the couch, trying so hard to make it work. In our work together, we struggle to find shared values and goals, and even qualities that you like about the other, and yet that date is fast approaching. When picking a life partner, fear and desperation are the worst possible reasons to marry. Unfortunately, our society is noisy, as are parents and friends when it comes to marrying sooner rather than later. Concerns about being negatively judged and evaluated by others are but a few of the reasons that so many young women will settle for a less-than-ideal partnership. As I listen to you talk about THAT guy, and as you excitedly tick all the boxes listing his marriage-worthy attributes, something feels wrong, missing. He is perfect on paper. You also raise the concern that he’s demanding and self-centered. His career is everything. Will I be deposited in a suburb somewhere raising children, alone. Maybe, I don’t know and it’s impossible to predict the trajectory of your life, but as a couples therapist, I’ve seen plenty. The question you should be asking yourself is this: can I have a fulfilling relationship with this guy? Is he even relationship capable?
What I hear from you is that “he's on track for partner and making six figures. Seductive, sexy stuff right? I'm really trying to save you here and I'd hate to see you crushed, years later in couples therapy, pre-divorce and with children in tow. Despair and loneliness sucks—really it does—and so does divorce, for you and the kids.
What you need to know about THAT guy is that he may not be available to you for friendship, intimacy and a relationship. For many reasons, not limited to his constitution and personality and his drive and goals. THAT guy works crazy hours, is focused on moving the career needle and carving a path to the top. Perhaps he’s already assigned you to a role without sharing his fantasies with you. If emotional connection and intimacy is a need for you, then you are well-served to figure that out sooner, rather than later. Can THAT guy support your needs? You may get other things from him like money, a condo in the right zip code, great shoes and handbags, but unless he can duplicate himself, it's unlikely that he'll have the bandwidth or desire to take care of your real needs. And If material goods are all you need, well you’ve found your match. However, if you're a lady of substance, you may need to slow down and really rethink where you're headed and what you want for yourself, even forgoing the beautiful dress and all the societal demands for now. You may actually be setting the stage for something deep and sustainable. You may get happiness. Your friends, the girls with the lives you idealize, who appear to have married THAT guy may be getting divorced. She is sad, lonely and unfulfilled, he doesn’t understand what’s missing for her, because to him, she has everything she needs.
So, to answer the original question. No, it's unlikely that you can have it all with THAT guy. Those master-of-the-universe types, bad boys and other emotionally available types rarely change. The trappings are appealing, but may leave you feeling empty in your life. If you're a young women and your gut nudges you that you may need more, I ask you to look at the bigger picture. It's hard to watch your friends marry one by one. It's not easy being single. You may fear that you'll never have the wedding package of your dreams. In my opinion, the only fear that should have is spending the latter two-thirds of your life unhappily partnered and with the wrong guy.