You hear it so often, either from potential partners telling you why it won’t work, or friends talking about their relationships, or from your own mouth, to someone else.
Right person. Wrong time.
But in reality, there’s no such thing.
On the one hand: Yes — CONTEXT IS KING!
And there are totally going to be people you date due to timing!
There will be people who represent what you need most at that point in your life; people who look and feel like living and breathing manifestations of what you want.
Like the flaky musician when we just need a little music, the person we have nothing in common with (including life goals and values) when we want to be brought out of our shell. The flakey “fuck boy,” before we’re actually serious about settling down. These are people we date when we’re (consciously or subconsciously) prioritizing other things, or trying to get our needs met indirectly.
There are dudes I dated at different points in my life that I dated simply because they offered what I needed at the time. The high school sweetheart, the hippie slash bad-poet ski bum after him (who introduced me to Real Music from the 70s), the aspiring musician who made me laugh, the mechanic slash art director who smelled freaking amazing, the dude I met while studying abroad in London, the midwestern banker, and several engineers.
Looking back, I see the context on a lot of them: how I dated logical dudes when I was using “logic” as a defensive mechanism (overcompensating for withdrawing from people.) I dated “doers” when I needed help getting out of my own head; a sensitive adventurer when I wanted someone to show me “all the human feels.”
And I’d never date any of these dudes again — even the one or two I may have mourned by sighing: “if only we’d met in the future.”
Because that’s all make believe. You’re lying to yourself, and worse: you’re selling yourself short.
There is really no such thing as “the right time,” and when you meet the actual right person, that will be apparent.
As Heidi Priebe wrote,
“Here’s a simple truth that I think we all need to face up to: the people we meet at the wrong time are actually just the wrong people.”
And to clarify:
“The truth about the timing being wrong is that it’s nothing more than the world’s flimsiest reason not to try. It’s the simplest excuse to pack it in. It’s a pre-designed reason to bow out. Saying that the timing is wrong is saying nothing more than ‘You aren’t worth any inconvenience.’”
The right person is always
Because good love is always.
There’s no such thing as, “I just wish I’d met them two years later/one year sooner/some indistinct other place in time and maybe space where the things I’ve made into blockers would magically make this meant to be.”
It’s not “time,” sweetie, and it’s not space. It’s us. We decide.
I never dropped everything to “make it work” with a dude. More fighter than lover, I’m the type of person who deliberately throws a monkey wrench into a perfectly good thing — and, looking back, this was always pure and obvious deliberate sabotage. Or, at best, gross negligence.
I let one boyfriend think I was moving across the country with him, and then didn’t follow him until a year later — and only after I laid the decision out in spreadsheet, careful to reassure myself that I was doing it for me and not for him.
I moved away from another boyfriend, jetting from the midwest to San Francisco, leaving him a bit bewildered for three months while he waited for me to decide if I was staying or coming back. (Eventually, it was neither: I dumped him and moved somewhere else altogether.)
I always thought this was partly due to personality. And the reason I tell you this is to illustrate that it wasn’t, and how it goes when it’s right…
Rather than excuses, you only see opportunity
Rather than blockers, explanations, gating items, walls, or other reasons “why not,” you only see options and open road and avenues and outlets; you see the wide open horizon where the river dumps into the sea.
Here’s how it went with the guy I’m dating now: we knew each other for years and I’d always been into him (and, apparently, him me. But whatever.) He invited me to visit, finally made a move, and it was clear we could both be in for the long haul. Only kink in our love-groove? We lived on opposite sides of the country.
Here’s what you do when it’s right: you make it work.
You don’t even think about making it work, or how. You just do.
I moved across the country for my partner. I rode my motorcycle across the country in a day, in the middle of midwest winter. I shipped a bag ahead of me, and then got on my bike and went. I could have made all kinds of excuses — about the weather, in the very least! — but I didn’t. I just went.
I did it without thinking about moving, and certainly without frenzy or mania or obsessive highs. I don’t even know what I thought about during that ride, and as far as I recall, I thought about nothing. It felt zen. The assured, quiet energy of knowing, and then simply doing — obvious, composed energy, like it had been the plan all along. Because in my head? It had.
As Priebe wrote,
“The right people are timeless. The right people make you want to throw away the plans you originally had for one and follow them into the hazy, unknown future without a glance backwards. The right people don’t make you hmm and haw about whether or not you want to be with them; you just know… That no matter what you thought you wanted before, this is better. Everything is better since they came along.”
They are “the plan.” The plan is them. You rewrite your story so that they are the spine.
And sure — sure — maybe it’s still timing and context. Maybe I was just at a point in my life where he made sense — maybe he just happened to be what I was looking for, but I doubt it.
Because if that were the case, I wouldn’t have had feelings for him for years prior. I wouldn’t have seen us making it work in the future. I wouldn’t, in other words, have made it work the minute he was ready, over the span of 30 years, forward and back. I didn’t care.
With him, I borrow the words of Priebe:
“When it comes to you, I’d wade through limitless eras and time zones and alternate realities and Universes trying to find you.
I’d wait for decades or ages or centuries or lifetimes. I’d wait through wars and resolutions and tsunamis and ice ages and apocalypses. I’d wait indefinitely. I’d wait forever.
But the brilliant thing is, I don’t have to do any of that. Because here we are, right now. At this time. In this Universe.
And as long as you’re alive here and I’m alive too,
the timing is right enough for me.”
The Question of Infidelity
“What if when one of you are in a committed relationship?”
And here’s my answer: whether someone leaves their partner for someone else depends on their value system and, to an extent, their definition of love.
The only time someone else other than your partner would even look like the “right” person is when your current person isn’t, as defined by the above.
So: either they were never “right” or at least one of you didn’t build and foster and commit to the relationship, but either way. There is no “right until proven wrong,” “right until better right comes along,” or “forever until I change my mind.” If they suddenly seem replaceable, it’s because part of your heart always thought so.
This also means you almost certainly chose your partner based on other measures and values.
And what you do with meeting someone new really depends on what those measures and values are — how you view relationships, partners, people, and love. The “right” person is going to be someone who best aligns with you living your values.
If you’re someone who values tradition and security most, the “right” person is the one who best fosters this in the long run.
If you’re someone who values status most, you’ll choose whichever person offers more.
If you value harmony, the “right” choice is the one with fewest hurt feelings and least disruption to the peace in your life.
If you’re someone who sees life (and other people in it) as fluid, you may not see partners as static, one and done, til-death-do-us-part commitments, but rather companions in life to the extent that it’s mutually enjoyable, and in that case the “right” choice is whichever one that supports your personal journey.
If you’re someone who simply values connection and sees love not as “romance” but as a daily decision, you’ll choose the person who makes that work feel most like a labor of love.
And if you’re someone who values your specific partner (and your connection with this specific person) most, you wouldn’t be incentivized to build a competing connection with someone else. Nothing else would stack up — even the temptation of attraction.
I know what I would do. My guidance to anyone else is the above.
But regardless of what choice is made… If you operate from a place of authenticity and honoring your real values, you’ll make the decision easily — and honorably. If you operate from a place of fear, you’ll do it poorly, or in despair.
Context still matters
But mostly? It’s our mindset.
We have to be emotionally and mentally ready; be well-equipped with good standards — and mostly that means framing up a partner as a human being, not a physical manifestation of our ideals.
We make the timing forever when we are the sort of people who are open to forever, who ready ourselves by not waiting on the universe to hand us things, by getting our shit straight and our heads right, for seeing people in healthy ways and not using people to fill gaps in our hearts.
But after that, yeah, when we’re ready, we’ll find someone that doesn’t even make us wonder whether “now” is right. It just will be.
And Heidi Priebe wrote something beautiful when she captured what we forget when we say the timing was wrong:
“Let’s talk about how our timing’s off.
You see, we couldn’t have planned this out worse.
It would have been infinitely easier to meet you two years earlier or three years later or in a different space or place or country or time zone.
It would have been simpler to meet you in a world where I could wake up nestled tightly in beside you and you could join in each adventure I took on.
It would be marvelous to have all our fates aligned and to see the timing play itself out flawlessly.
But I’m inclined to say we ought to count our blessings.
Because here’s the absolute miracle that we cannot allow ourselves to ignore: out of the billions of years that earth has existed for, you and I ended up alive at the exact same time.
I wasn’t born on your 90th birthday. You didn’t die an untimely death at age 3.”
We were both here now, and the right two people get that.
For people that truly want to be together, they don’t waste another of the few precious moments we’re given to coexist.