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Love conquers all.
Who hasn’t heard that time-honored phrase?
It’s a very comforting thought, isn’t it?
Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but there are some things love may not be able to overcome.
And those who have suffered the torment of having met the right person at the wrong time will be among the first to agree that love is just not enough to make the timing right, no matter how much both parties might wish that it were.
Typically, the situation goes something like this…
You meet someone who you think is nigh on perfect and the feeling is reciprocated. You share many interests and values, conversations flow in an unstoppable stream of shared consciousness and you feel as if you’ve known them for your whole life.
You find yourself smiling and joyful when you are with them or talk to them on the phone, or even just when you’re thinking about them.
They just fit right into every facet of your existence and complement your personality perfectly. You can’t stop thinking about how incredible they are, bringing a light into your life and making you feel so alive.
So far, so very good.
Here comes the BUT… one or both parties is held back by current circumstances, meaning this potential liaison with Mr/Ms Perfect is impossible. Doomed. A non-starter.
It may be that you are in another complex relationship which you are unable to leave.
You might be about to relocate to another state or even another country.
There could be family or religious barriers to your relationship.
Your demanding career may prevent any romantic involvement for the foreseeable future.
Or you may not be ready to open your heart fully to another because of a recent emotional entanglement which is far from resolved.
The right-person-wrong-time conundrum is a much-debated topic. Some believe that this vision of perfection who stole your heart is not actually ‘the one’ at all and would have it that you’ve fallen for the wrong person.
By contrast, there are plenty of optimists out there who remain hopeful that happiness can be snatched from the jaws of misery against all odds and your would-be dream partner can still be yours in time, even if current emotional, geographic, or practical circumstances would suggest otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, there is no ‘right’ way to negotiate your way through the timeless dilemma of meeting the right person at the wrong time.
Here is some advice that may help you adjust mentally to deal with the fallout if you decide that you have to walk away:
1. Tell them how it is.
If this person really is the living, breathing embodiment of all your romantic fantasies, and yet you know that you cannot launch yourself into a relationship with them, then don’t just leave them dangling. Be kind enough to be honest and transparent about your feelings.
Tell them how wonderful you think they are, but also explain the circumstances which make a relationship impossible at this time.
Honesty is always the best policy and it will gain you their respect, even as they come to terms with their disappointment.
And, if you keep their respect, then maybe there is the slimmest chance that, at some time in an uncertain future, the stars will realign and you’ll be able to be together.
2. Consider the possibility that they are actually the wrong person.
There may be ticks in all the required boxes: values, attraction, goals in life, location, etc, but if the timing is flawed, that is something neither of you can control.
Maybe it is better to accept the harsh and painful reality: far from being the right person, he/she is actually the wrong person and the relationship is doomed to fail.
The fact is that the ‘right’ person needs to be on exactly the same page as well as fulfilling the desired criteria. Indeed, both parties need to be ready for love.
If one or other is not able to enter or maintain a romantic partnership at that time – you/they may be dealing with some unfinished business or are not yet ready to settle down, for example – then they simply may not be the right person and it is better to accept that reality.
Timing is what ensures the prosperity, longevity, and success of a relationship.
However, the emotional struggle of processing the right-person-wrong-time scenario and coming to accept that they are actually the wrong person can be painful, and you’re likely to experience feelings of confusion and depression.
You’ll need to confront your grief as you begin to accept the reality, extract some lessons from the experience, and then move on.
One way of helping to resolve this pain could be to write a letter to the person to help process your emotions, whether or not they actually read it (or you even send it).
3. Hold on to the good memories.
Just because the ideal relationship you dreamt of has come to nothing, you don’t have to banish the person from your thoughts entirely.
It sometimes happens that a good relationship is necessarily fleeting, but this doesn’t make it less meaningful.
Indeed, being forced to let someone go after only a short time condenses and intensifies all those good times and can make them all the more significant.
Focus your energies on looking back at the positives in the brief relationship rather than dwelling on the fact that it had to end.
4. Acknowledge the bitterness.
This may seem counterintuitive when bitterness is perceived as a corrosive and unhelpful emotion, but it really is better to acknowledge your right to feel bitter, sad, resentful, and angry at the way things turned out.
The fact is that all emotions are valid, and denying their existence just makes them more intense. Feeling emotions and grieving a loss is an essential part of the human condition.
Much as we may want to protect ourselves from unnecessary hurt, we cannot control every facet of our lives. It is through such painful experiences that we come to understand that fact.
It also teaches us how to cope with these intense emotions and gain the knowledge to make wiser life choices. Far from shunning the intensity of your feelings, own them.
5. Stay true to yourself.
When you meet the person you think is right but the timing is off, it’s tempting to try to change your goals and change yourself in an attempt to remodel your life, thereby preserving the doomed relationship.
Give in to this urge, however, and you will find yourself on a highway to nowhere.
Eventually, your true self will re-emerge and the relationship will fail anyway, wasting your own time and the other person’s too, and causing a whole lot of pain along the way.
No matter how hard it may be, when you believe that true love awaits with this person, resist the urge to change yourself to make it work.
Stay true to your own values, desires, and life goals. Authenticity is all, so don’t give in to the dreaded Fear Of Missing Out.
6. Stay strong and walk away from what is not right for you.
One of the hardest life lessons in our earliest years is that of understanding that we cannot always have what we want.
Having the strength of character to walk away from something we really, really want but can’t have requires a good deal of emotional maturity and is a life-shaping experience, in spite of the pain that may come with it.
Dealing with the emotional trauma of meeting the right person at the wrong time and having to walk away is a painful life lesson.
But, when a fair bit of water has passed under the bridge, most people tend to look back with the benefit of hindsight and see why things worked out the way they did.
Oftentimes, that is because they go on to meet the right person at the right time.
7. Keep them as a friend.
This is not an easy option, for sure, especially if your head is already full of fantasies about how great life could have been with this person.
What is does allow for, though, is to keep the channels of communication open until that perceived ‘right time’ should arrive, if ever.
In the meantime – and let’s face it, it could be a while – there’s a chance that one or both of you will lose interest in any idea of a romantic relationship between you.
But it would be better to let nature take its course, maintaining the possibility of a future liaison, than to embark on an affair at the wrong time which is doomed to fail.
8. Go ahead and date them anyway.
If your conviction is so strong that this person is The One in spite of the barriers, then why not test the water anyway? It is only a date or two, after all, not a trip down the aisle – not yet.
The fact is that mutual compromise is a necessary component in all relationships, let alone those which are victims of poor timing at the outset.
Perhaps, as you tiptoe through a few dates and your relationship and mutual commitment deepens, you will discover that you are both willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to get around the random logistics which seem so insurmountable from your current perspective.
Maybe, just maybe, you can turn the wrong time into the right time by sheer force of will and love.
A final word.
The reasons are many, but the pain of having to let your would-be partner go is always the same.
And, because it is very much unfinished business, that pain can linger long, for years or even a lifetime, which is why making an effort to process the trauma makes sense.
But the key to dealing with the right-person-wrong-time dilemma, as with just about everything else in life, is not to get carried along on the tide of your emotions.
Perhaps you will decide to flee from the situation, or maybe you will opt to move mountains to create a right-person-right-time scenario against the odds.
Either way, you are likely to regret any decision which is made hastily or impulsively, so take your time.
Journal about it, consider your options carefully, and even talk to a professional who can help you navigate the conundrum you face.
Still not sure what to do when you meet the right person at the wrong time? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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- Should You Wait For Someone You Love? Is It Worth It?
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- On-Again-Off-Again Relationships: How To Decide What You Really Want
- Real Love Doesn’t Always Last A Lifetime (And That’s Okay)
- Is True Love A Choice Or A Feeling?
- How To Make A Long-Distance Relationship Work: 20 Pieces Of Advice
- How To Know If You’re Ready For A Relationship: 13 Clear Signs