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.
There’s chemistry, but it’s just bad timing.
Right person. Just the wrong time.
In reality, there’s no such thing.
On the one hand: Yes, context is king
There are going to be people you date due to timing , people who represent what you need most at that point in your life, and 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 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 amazing, the dude I met while studying abroad in London, the midwestern banker, and a few engineers.
And I’d never date any of these dudes again — even though those I may have mourned by sighing: “if only we’d met in the future.”
Because fam, 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,
“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.’ And when it comes to you, that is untrue.”
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 even then, it was only after I laid the decision out in a 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 using psychological blocks and explanations (chemistry, but bad timing) as excuses, you only see open roads and avenues and outlets. You see the wide open horizon where the river dumps into the sea.
Here’s how it went with The Boy 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 the boy. I moved without even thinking, without frenzy or mania or obsessive highs. I did it with obvious, composed energy like it had been the plan all along. Because in my head? It had.
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.
You never meet the right people at the wrong time, because the right people are timeless. The right people make you want to throw away the plans you originally had, and follow them into a 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. You know that any adventure you had originally planned out for your future isn’t going to be half as incredible as the adventures you could have by their side. You’re certain that no matter what you thought you wanted before, this is better.
Everything is better since they came along.
And sure , maybe it’s still timing and context. Maybe I was just at a point in my life.
But 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.
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.”
Context still matters
But mostly? It’s our mindset.
We have to be emotionally and mentally ready, and be well-equipped with good standards . That means respecting 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.