“Nothing is sadder than meeting the right person at the wrong time”. Is it actually possible for this to happen?
Memes are a fascinating creature. Last week I saw so many memes pertaining to a particular contestant on the current Australian season of The Bachelor, comparing her to Donald Trump and Jabba the Hutt. Personally I thought she was pretty attractive and didn’t really get the mass hate she was getting, but thanks to some female friends at a party it was explained to me that she is seen as massively unattractive because of her cruel/shallow personality (thanks girls), and memes were the primary way people were expressing themselves. In fact, a university recently started an Internet Culture degree, citing the justification that memes and internet culture are a primary way society now expresses itself. Not too wrong there actually as our poor friend on The Bachelor is finding out.
And so with this in mind, I was amazed at a particular set of memes going around in the last few weeks on topic to the title of this post, namely about meeting the right person at the wrong time.
This sentence and response was so fascinating to me that I did a quick search, and a few hours of reading later discovered just how much of a concern this idea is to a whole lot of people.
We all have to make big decisions in life, and arguably one of the biggest decisions is around a life partner. As such, it is also one of the decisions we scrutinize more than any other. So, how about this idea then? Is it possible to meet the right person at the wrong time?
Boy meets girl, but then…
I think we’d all love our romantic episodes to be as simple as the classic Boy Meets Girl. You know, they both lock eyes, they both immediately receive the confirmation and validation of the heavens, and they embark on an effortless journey towards happily ever after.
Unfortunately, real life really isn’t all that much like that. I mean, sure, it is for some people, but obviously not for everyone. You wouldn’t be reading yet another post on the internet about this topic if it was, would you?
This is one of the reasons I love the movies about more realistic love stories, like Something Borrowed. Another movie in a similar vein suggested to me a while ago that was literally about this issue of right person wrong time was called Love Rosie, where the characters meet as childhood friends and both go through years and years of other relationships before finding each other.
Most people don’t have to go any further than their own parents or friends to be struck with the reality that true love isn’t always truly lovely, but it is real.
Defining the right person
I think the fact you’re using the terminology “right person” immediately highlights just how profound a person it is that you have come across. Whether you are the one frustrated with someone else’s sense of the timing, or you’re considering your own issues in the face of someone who seems like a really good match… This obviously isn’t someone you should take lightly. Many people search their whole lives for a set of desirable attributes in the opposite sex, and to encounter someone ticking all or most of your boxes is certainly someone worth paying attention to and treating very seriously.
Some authors I read on this topic actually put forward the fact that you’re even considering it wrong timing is a sign that it’s also the wrong person. It’s a bold idea. Maybe they’re right. Maybe the right person would make your heart sing and cause you to drop everything.
But as you get older and you’ve gone through a few of those “big loves” in your life, and you see people in their 50s and 60s still holding on to the dream of instantly being captivated and swept off their feet, you realize that maybe that’s not a realistic expectation for everyone to have. Or rather, maybe our expectation should be broadened to include the reality where your life partner could be the person you’re considering here, through what seems like a complicated mess.
What’s making this the wrong timing?
I guess the next harsh question to consider is this – what exactly about right now is making this the wrong timing? Some people have said maybe they were too sick at the time and weren’t able to process what was happening in the moment of opportunity. Wouldn’t that be sad? Would you get another chance later when you’re feeling better? Another person who greatly resonated with her readers says she wished she could take this guy, put him in a box for 10 years, and then come back once she was done on her career and travels. I dunno about you, but I don’t know a lot of people to wait around for 10 years, especially without being asked.
“Oh well if they were really the right person they would wait and if they don’t it proves they’re not”. Well maybe, but that’s also kind of a cruel attitude on your part then. That’s like telling someone to be okay with the fact you are going to be deliberately 7 hours late to their small birthday party so you can finish some video game. Sure, they’d be a great friend to you if they were okay with that, but it really makes you the bad friend in the relationship, and you shouldn’t expect the party to still be going whenever you decide to rock up. You shouldn’t be expected if your attitude has affected the relationship, or maybe even broken it.
The overwhelming majority of people who I read talking about this issue come back to one central topic – maturity. What if someone was too immature at the time the idea was floated, and that was what stopped it going ahead? I think if you’re children then sure, this is definitely something more likely to be the case. But dare I say this thought in our late teens onwards into our adult years should actually be a replacement of the word “mature” with the word “selfish”? Isn’t maturity simply the decision to move beyond just our own lives and consider the lives of others? I know it seems harsh, but at the end of the day, perhaps what’s making this bad timing is our unwillingness to put down our epic solo and learn to sing a duet.
How long should you wait around?
If you’re the “right person”, the one being considered but not confirmed, I guess you have a choice to make, and it’s this – how long are you willing to wait around? 1 month? Surely after 3 it’d all be sorted. 1 year? 5 years? 20?
I guess the reality is that if there’s been no commitment, you really don’t have certainty on what the other person could decide to do. Maybe this set up calls for one of those difficult, brave conversations where you put it all out on the table, and give the person a chance to make a decision, or to walk away. Either way, this one is a precarious and scary place to be, and requires a lot of wisdom to make the right move. For people in this boat, I wrote more about this experience in The One That Got Away.
When you’re the owner of the bad timing
For those on the other side of the spectrum, for those who think they’ve encountered the right person, but are the owners of the bad timing – your personal circumstances, your emotions, all the rest of it – allow me to ask you a question I have literally seen move couples from break up point towards a relationship ending in marriage:
Will you encounter this problem with the next one?
Sure, you might be really busy now. But realistically, will your life actually get less busy? People feel really busy during studies, then really busy during new job transitions, then even busier with mortgage repayments and housework, then even busier with larger career commitments, then…
You’ll likely never be less busy than you are now, and if you’re struggling to make one room for one more now, well then… you might never have room.
Or perhaps you’re just really not sure. Every time you look at him, every time she’s around, you just hesitate and have no idea what to do. Think about this – you have called this person the “right person”, or at least a “right person”. If they’re the right person, then you’ve got to realize then that the issue may lie with you, and perhaps your perception or ability to deal with what’s going on right now. Not a judgment, not something to go cry yourself to sleep about, but perhaps something that you have an opportunity to act on.
You know, as a Christian, I know so many people who just want to pray and for God to force them to feel amazing about the person they’re supposed to marry. But really, God isn’t a God who forces people to do things. Maybe you need to recognize that even after a period of time that this potential relationship is still on your spirit or mind, for whatever reason, you may need to recognize what could be the prompting of the Spirit. I was having dinner the other night with a couple who had this very experience – where one of them had made a move, the other wasn’t interested, and then they recognized that God was actually trying to do something significant with this opportunity in their lives – and they’re getting married real soon. Oh, and very happy.
What’s probably honestly going to make or break the relationship, the thing that’s going to determine whether it is always just a “what if” or if there’s actually something more there, is what you decide to do from here. What could make this the right person is if you decide to commit to exploring it, and what will 100% make it the wrong person is if you decide not to go down that path. At least with one there may be a chance.
Maybe it’s not them, maybe it really is you. And maybe this magic man or perfect woman that will mystically cause the stars to align in your life doesn’t exist, because what’s stopping you from entering into a great love is actually what’s stopping you with this one too, and you’ll just run into the same issues next time.
One of my pastors growing up said something of marriage that I’ll never forget, especially since so many wise people repeat this counsel, and it’s this – marriage isn’t so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person. If you find yourself in this situation, maybe this is your chance to trim off the things that might be holding you back and step into something new. And hey, why not tell the other person exactly what’s going on? So often we tell everyone else what we’re thinking except for the person who it affects the most, and they may even be able to help you out with it.
Or, it might be a time for a heavy conversation, but one that needs to happen. Either way, you need to open the door, or decide to close it. For your sake, and for their sake.
How about you? Do you think it’s possible to meet the right person at the wrong time? If so, what do you do? If not, why not?