Does your perfect partner exist?


I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’d be willing to bet that among the problems most frequently submitted to agony columns is the kind that goes like this: “I’m seeing this woman, or man, and everything’s perfect, except for one thing…” The one thing varies, of course. Maybe her politics are the opposite of yours; perhaps his personal hygiene’s appalling, or you have totally different attitudes to money. But what all such dilemmas have in common is how utterly insoluble they feel. Everything except the one thing feels amazing – a chance you must seize, lest you spend the rest of your life regretting it. And yet the thing itself isn’t a minor flaw; it’s a true deal-breaker. “I’m thrilled and happy and we’re already talking about moving in because we ‘just know’,” as one man wrote to the therapist Lori Gottlieb, at New York magazine, the other day. “Except one thing… she has very strong feelings about not having children.” He wanted to know: could he change her mind? Or would two people madly in love with each other have to call it quits? To read more from Oliver Burkeman, click here.