Have you ever convinced yourself that you’ve met the right person at the wrong time? I’ve been there a couple of times. One resulted in me realizing that I was romanticizing the person to the point of ignoring very obvious red flags, and the second ended because we were just meant to be friends.
Similar to the one that got away, the adage of finding the right person at the wrong time can make it difficult to move on from a relationship (or potential relationship) that you strongly feel isn’t over yet. Unlike the one that got away, though, there is some truth to this phenomenon, but it’s important to navigate it in a healthy way.
The Truth Behind Right Person, Wrong Time
The short answer is yes – it’s possible to meet the right person at the wrong time. This can happen for several different reasons. Maybe one of you is in an unhealthy place, or one of you isn’t ready to be in a committed relationship just yet, or maybe you’re in different phases of your lives. Relationship coach Shula Melamed says, “Sometimes [people] don't have the bandwidth to commit to a relationship or we are in a different phase of life than the person we love/that loves us. We can fall in love with a lot of different people, but they aren't always going to be the people we can build a life with.”
While it’s possible to meet the right person at the wrong time, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to sit around and wait for that person. None of us can see directly into the future, so there’s no guaranteed way to know that he’s the right person for you, and fixating on the idea that you met the right person at the wrong time can quickly become unhealthy. Relationship expert and mental health counselor Juliann King says, “You may feel like you have to do whatever it takes to make the connection work, even at your detriment, because it's the 'right person.'"
Whatever circumstance makes this the “wrong time” actually makes this person not the completely “right” person for you.
How To Avoid the Romanticization Trap
Remember the 2007 song “Wait For You” by former American Idol contestant Elliot Yamin? In the chorus, he sings, “So, baby, I will wait for you / 'Cause I don't know what else I can do / Don't tell me I ran out of time / If it takes the rest of my life / Baby, I will wait for you / If you think I'm fine, it just ain't true / I really need you in my life / No matter what I have to do, I'll wait for you.”
While my 13-year-old self thought this song was incredibly heart-wrenching and romantic, it’s pretty obvious that this song (which still slaps in 2023) doesn’t promote a healthy way of thinking. If you truly believe you’ve met the right person at the wrong time, it’s easy to fall into a trap of romanticizing them, which can make it difficult to move on. Romanticizing someone can also make you forget negative aspects of the relationship, preventing you from realizing how unrealistic it is to wait for this person. Whatever circumstance makes this the “wrong time” actually makes this person not the completely “right” person for you.
It’s important to remember that it can be unhealthy to romanticize someone or put your life on hold to wait for someone to come back to you. This line of thinking can also lead you to ignore red flags because you believe you’re meant to be together, making it difficult to move on with your life.
Have an Abundance Mindset, Not a Soulmate Mindset
Meeting the right person at the wrong time is a similar conundrum to finding your soulmate – what if you never cross paths, or you do meet them but don’t recognize them? These ideas are based in the worry that there’s only one person out there for you, and it adds pressure to dating. King says, "It's important to approach dating and partnership from a secure place. Instead of viewing things as the right person at the wrong time, try shifting that perspective to a right person at the wrong time. There are nearly eight billion people on Earth. There are so many people that you could have a beautiful partnership with."
Just because he’s a great guy doesn’t mean he’s a great guy for you.
It’s entirely possible that you did meet someone who could have been a great life partner for you, but it was at the wrong time for one of you. Maybe you even dated for a while. If you discover along the line that you weren’t meant to be together, it’s important to recognize that this doesn’t make the relationship any less significant in your life or make either of you a bad person. It’s something I’ve struggled with, but the truth is that some people aren’t meant to be together – even if you’re both good people and could work out together on paper. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic realization or breakup, some things just aren’t meant to be. Just because he’s a great guy doesn’t mean he’s a great guy for you.
It’s entirely possible for two good people to have a good relationship without ending up together in the end. Though this is a tough spot to be in, one of the best things you can do is move on and be hopeful for the future. A healthy relationship that doesn’t work out is proof that there are good men out there and that there is a better man out there for you, so try to see it as a blessing in disguise.
As sad as it may seem, it is possible to meet a right person at the wrong time. In fact, many of us will feel this way in our lifetimes. Don’t cave to the pressure to hold onto this person because it won’t work out. Let go and keep looking for another right person.
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