Wedding season is fast approaching for those in the Northern Hemisphere and since my head is often in the clouds I have been thinking about the subject of romantic love and the related concept of “just knowing’. I am always interested in love narratives, why people decide to get married and to their partners, how they met, why it worked out or didn’t work out once they’re divorced. I find even the most clinical arrangements interesting and when there is no one to probe or if couples are cagey about details, I look to my own string of failed attempts at relationships and try to be objective about the reasons why they didn’t work out. Especially when most of them are now beginning to fill my Facebook timeline with pictures of their married and paired up lives in what seems like loving and healthy relationships. In my digging and probing, I am actually searching for that illusive “I just know” moment.
All the couples I have asked about how they knew that their partner was the one they were willing to commit a sizable portion of their lives to, the answer has always been and without exception “we just knew”. This answer has been nagging me for years, how do you “just know” something like that? I have had many instances in my life when I could have said “I just knew” but since I am single, I must have clearly missed something really important. My mother and I laughed till our bellies were sore and the potjie on the stove almost turned into coals this weekend when we watched Ugandan comedienne Kansiime Annes’ skit, in which she took matters into her own hands and proposed that her partner of five years upgrade her to the status of fiance right there and then on a night out at a restaurant. She brought the ring, wine glasses and a bottle of wine for the décor and a happy smile with giggles to complete the mood while her partner remained perplexed. The clip was a follow-up to another skit where she had to literally position herself at the door for the man of her dreams to notice her and even then he had to be thoroughly persuaded.
Later in the evening I showed my father the proposal video which made him laugh and after we were tired from laughing I asked my father how he knew. He replied and said you guessed it: “you just know”.
There it is again, none of the couples seem able to offer an explanation or elaborate further on just how they “know” exactly. To put salt to the wound they say these words “just know” with such a mysterious sense of self-satisfaction, it makes me feel as if I’ve been left out of the world’s biggest secrete. How do all these people “just know” something so important and I don’t?
So I decided to change the question a little since I was not making progress with the how question. I asked my father “when do you know or more specifically when do men know?” I must admit I didn’t expect the answer to this question. “The first day you meet the girl” he replied. The first day? I was incredulous, I thought that maybe one would know after three months or so but on the first day? How do you know anything on the first day? I was shocked to say the least. “Yes” my father replied calmly hiding a smile. ” You know on the first day and the rest of the time you’re just confirming what you know or making preparations or arrangements to get married” he said moving the food on his plate methodically.” Really?” I repeated just to be sure I heard right, now all my failed relationships made sense, everything made sense in a new and fresh way, a new feeling swept over me… complete relief. “If a guy hasn’t proposed or talked about marriage within a few weeks or three to six months of meeting you, then they’re still not sure” He said diplomatically. But I knew what he meant.“when they know they have met the one they want to marry, they don’t waste time” he said.
So this is most probably the most useful piece of information on love and romance I have ever received in my life. I wondered to myself why I didn’t ask him sooner. I lamented all the wasted time with people who knew from day one that I was not what they wanted. At the same time I thought this is wonderful news, finally I have confirmation. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. If a person knows that they want you “forever” on the first day read: day one that they meet you there’s very little you can do about it, except to say yes or no once they ask. Of course I have observed that men especially and women for that matter can and will do and say just about anything to get what they want. So if he’s decided you’re his wife ( because that’s already decided the first day you meet) he won’t let anything or anyone stop him except of course, you.
So while this is enlightening it still doesn’t answer my all-important how question. How do you know if someone is the right one for you? All my 13 years of “dating research” corroborate my father’s statement. He’s right. I have seen people I’ve liked make a bee line for my friends as if I didn’t’ exist. Or seem to show interest in me one day and then introduce me to their fiancé’s the next. This has led me to one conclusion.
You arrive at a place of “just knowing” when you know yourself, when you fully accept all about you good and bad. Once you know who you are, what you want and where you want to go in life then you’ll “just know” when you meet someone who is right for you. And the odds are you’ll probably be, as I am now, the last one to know about it.