Everyone loves a romantic story. Or, more tellingly, people love a romantic story that has a happy ending.
But what about the perfect couples who don’t end up together in the end? This is where we encounter an array of right person, wrong time situations — where you meet the perfect person, but they’ve entered your life at just the wrong time.
Whether it’s the work commitments, life changes, or just plain old bad timing, even true love can’t make the relationship work. It’s quite a sobering thought for the romantics out there, that maybe true love can’t conquer all.
While some people put this scenario into the same category as the infamous “It’s not you, it’s me” breakup line, we wouldn’t be so quick to write this sentimental saying off.
“Often, what appears to be wrong timing might actually stem from a reluctance to make tough decisions that can enable your lives to harmonize,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.
“This could include relocating to a different country, finalizing a long-pending divorce, or confronting the issues of racism or homophobia within your own family. Incorrect timing is often less about circumstances beyond your control and more about summoning the courage to take meaningful actions.”
So, is there such thing as a right person wrong time situation? Or, can true soulmates make it work despite the odds?
There is a divided response when it comes to finding the right person at the wrong time, as both romantics and realists believe that when you find the one — you should be able to work things out.
While the romantics simply believe that this must be true, realists will say that people in committed relationships should be able to resolve to make things work. This might mean overcoming an array of issues, such as long-distance or an age gap, but if there is the right determination fueling the couple — nothing should stand in their way.
On many levels, this is true, as lots of people manage to overcome these hurdles to make the relationship work. As with your soulmate at stake, compromises are often made to keep the relationship afloat.
However, in reality, life can often be bigger than even the greatest love stories. In many cases, timing is in fact, everything.
This fact makes the concept of right person, wrong time a lot more believable.
Not everyone will experience this scenario in their dating life, as some people are lucky enough to meet the right person at the right time and that’s that!
There are no particular chances or statistics around timing getting in your way, but if this does happen, it can certainly feel like the odds are stacked against you!
Even though you want to make things work, it’s impossible to maintain a healthy relationship due to timing, outside interference, or greater responsibilities. Or, sometimes you could work things out but the changes required push you too far out of your comfort zone. For example, you’d be required to pursue a long-distance relationship with this person or abandon your own plans for the sake of someone else.
If you can’t figure things out, the heartbreak can hit you hard, as you struggle with the obstacles of timing. Everything else was perfect, but the break-up feels out of your control.
If you meet the right person at the wrong time, they’re often referred to as the ‘one who got away’ or even the love of your life that slipped from your grasp.
Even though some people are quick to proclaim someone as the “right person, wrong time”, how can you be sure? When considering the end of your relationship, there are a few signs that this is really the right person you’re losing.
“It’s important to think about why the two of you fit so well,” says Seeger DeGeare.
“This can help you understand that is this lust that feels especially hot because you can’t be together. Or did you meet someone that you feel so understood by, in a way you did not realize was possible that your entire body realizes that the deep love you crave is possible with the right person? Challenging yourself on what feels so connecting can help understand why you might be telling yourself this is THE ONE.”
Life transitions: One or both of you are going through significant life transitions, such as career changes, education, or personal growth, which make it difficult to commit to a relationship fully.
Emotional unavailability: Either you or the other person is emotionally unavailable due to past relationships, personal issues, or other commitments that require attention and healing.
Distance: Whether new or pre-existing, the distance between you makes things feel unsustainable. If you’re unwilling to close the gap, or vice versa, or other restrictions prevent the move — timing can corrupt your plans.
Different life goals: Despite having a strong connection, your immediate life goals or paths are divergent, such as one person wanting to settle down while the other wants to travel or focus on their career.
Personal growth: Sometimes you meet the perfect person when you’re in a period of focusing on yourself. In this case, your mental health and personal growth journey makes it impossible to sustain a relationship.
Existing commitments: Romantic relationships often collide with other commitments, and one person may not be willing or able to give these up for their partner. While they might be able to do so in the future, the timing just isn’t right.
Intuition: Even though you could make this relationship work, your gut feeling tells you that the timing isn’t right. It may sound like a cop-out (especially when you’re in a new relationship), but sometimes, when you know you just know.
Commitment issues: While the right person might walk in your life, it doesn’t mean that you’re ready for them! For example, you might be pursuing dating apps and stumble upon the “one”, but even so, you’re not ready to commit yet!
Prioritization: Both of you have conflicting priorities or are at points in your lives where personal goals take precedence over romantic relationships. (And it’s important to point out that such prioritization is okay!
It’s equally important to note that you can also meet the wrong person at the right time. This is commonly known as settling, where you just happen to meet someone at a point in life when you’re ready for a long-term relationship.
They might not have the kind of connection or compatibility that you always dreamed of, but the person feels certain insecurities around parenthood or other pressures that compel them to settle.
Timing is a funny thing, and while it might push you away from people, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get that second chance.
Even though circumstances pushed you apart, they could very well push you back together. You never know, in ten years, you could bump into them in the grocery store, and sparks fly all over again!
While many love stories deserve a second chance, remember not to put your life on pause for the sake of a relationship that may or may not re-emerge.
Remember — what’s meant for you, won’t pass you.