A young bride-to-be recently wrote to me asking if uber-successful, driven guys can also be "good" at relationships. Well, good question isn't it? It's June, and that means the bells are ringing you towards wedded bliss, but many brides-to-be have been quietly coming to therapy or bringing their special guy in for a pre-marital "fix." Thinking I can turn him into THAT guy who will be everything -- her knight, THE one, her forever and ever. The shower, the dress, the ceremony, the registry -- it's all so exciting, 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 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 the date is fast approaching, and on you go. Fear, I believe, is one of the worst possible reasons to marry now when it comes to picking your possible life partner. Unfortunately, there is so much noise in our society and from parents and friends, as well as concerns about being judged by others -- these are but a few of the reasons that so many young women will settle for a not-so-great partnership. As I listen to you talk about THAT guy, and as you excitedly tick all the boxes, something is missing. It all looks good on paper. The question should be: is this THE guy with whom I can have a wonderful relationship? Instead, I hear that he's on track for partner, will soon be making six figures several times over and so on. Seductive, sexy stuff right? I'm really trying to save you here and I'd hate to see you disappointed, years later, and with a couple of children in tow, because you feel empty and lonely. Despair 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 the kind of guy who is also as available as you'd like for friendship and a relationship. THAT guy works crazy hours, is focused on moving the career needle and carving a path to the top. If emotional connection and intimacy is a need for YOU, then figure that out sooner, rather than later. Can your man can deliver the goods? You may get other things from THAT guy like tons of cash, a big condo in the right zip code, a stash of great shoes and bags, but unless he can duplicate himself, it's unlikely that he'll have the bandwidth to do all those other things. Figure out who you are. 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 hoopla for now. You may not get that, but you may set the stage for something deep and sustainable. You may get happiness; your friends who married "Mr right on paper" may be getting divorced. I see this often.
So, to answer the original question. No, it's unlikely that you can have it all. The masters-of-the-universe-in-training, bad boys and other emotionally available types rarely change. The trappings are appealing, but may leave you lacking, in terms of the quality of connection. If you're a lady of substance, then you may need 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 you dream of. In my opinion, the only fear that you should have is spending the latter two-thirds of your life unhappily partnered, with the wrong person.