Relationship Pillar #4: TIME reveals a mate’s true nature

Pillar 4 - TimeTIME, Relationship Pillar #4, is often the most challenging one. TIME refers to consistently practicing each of the three preceding pillars for at least 6 months. After 6 months of regular and sustained interaction you can be fairly certain you have witnessed the full range of behaviors in your potential partner. You can then rationally evaluate whether this is the person for you. To recap – If you have no agenda, have eyes are open and willing to see, and you are practicing the various skills and concepts relating to relationships (the 1st three Pillars) for 6 months or more, you will KNOW the person you are with.

Why TIME is so important in KNOWING the person you are with:

  • Sometimes someone is very gifted in “reading” what a potential mate wants, especially when that quality is not an actual part of their character. The deceptive person demonstrates that false manner to attract a partner more easily. The more time that goes by, the more likely the deceptive person will become less “on guard” and will let their hidden negative qualities slip out. The general population has trouble consistently hiding their true nature for more than 6 months. If their true nature is not evident within this period, it is more likely the one being deceived is not seeing the clues clearly. Or they don’t want to see the clues.
  • We all put our best behavior out in front, especially with new people or situations. However, we don’t lose our true Self. There is a difference between trying to impress someone and trying to deceive someone. Deceit involves a negative motive to be other than we truly are to gain something from another person.

Examples of Missing Clues:

Let’s take someone we will call Clara and her dating partner is Pete. Clara wants to be married sooner than later. Her “eyes” are fairly open, but her ears are not tuned in. For example, Pete says that he would never cheat on someone and finds this very distasteful as a trait. However, if Clara were really listening to Pete, she would notice that she mentioned this in the past, and Pete reflects this to her in later conversations over TIME. She forgets that she mentioned it previously and finds this “charming” or admirable in Pete because she believes these are his ideas.

Another example of missing clues would be that Pete’s plans “often” change with Clara. He is caught at work, or his mother is sick and he needs to bring her groceries. Or he forgot that he made a prior commitment with a friend. Or perhaps he is “not feeling well”. Clara is missing the clues of his inconsistency in keeping commitments and that his actions are not matching his words over TIME.

Another Example of Missing Clues:

Let’s stay with Clara and Pete a bit longer. In the first two months Pete was a gentleman. He opened car doors for her and walked on the outside portion of the sidewalk. Clara always saw him as being considerate. He never lost his temper, and rarely complained about anything Clara did. She saw him as a non-judgmental person which she admired greatly.

Three months into the relationship, Pete and Clara are on a dinner date. The manager of the restaurant says there is a 1 ½ hour wait to be seated because Pete did not make a reservation. Pete raises his voice and criticizes the manager for not being able to “move” the clientele along more quickly – that he obviously did not train his staff well enough. Clara is shocked at hearing this. Rather than acknowledging that he may have overreacted, Pete defends his position and criticizes Clara for not “supporting” him with an “outsider”.

If Clara had thought back, she likely would have recognized his critical comments about others. But up to this period of TIME he had never been critical of Clara….until now. Chances are he had been critical but Clara did not realize it because he was not showing a temper. This is important to Clara because her father had a severe temper. Fortunately, Clara has committed to Pillar #4, and has the TIME to evaluate the temper issue and the criticizing issue.

Last Thoughts about TIME:

  • The pillar of Time is important because we get to look for consistency in one’s behavior.
  • It is very difficult if not impossible to deceive a person for more than 6 months without holes beginning to show in a person’s words and actions.
  • As with the other three pillars, we need to be willing to see what is in another person. Whether our eyes are open or not, what is real is still going to show itself eventually.
  • It’s a good idea to encourage your prospective mate to be around your friends and family. They are much less likely to be as invested in this relationship than you, especially your friends. More eyes and ears are a very good thing in this case. Just make sure your friends do not have an agenda, such as holding you back from a happy and lasting relationship until they also have one.

Action Items:

  1. Have you been in a relationship where you or your mate rushed through Time? Do you recognize how you did that? What were the signs?
  2. Have you overlooked unhealthy signs earlier in the relationship and just let it go on? If so, why?
  3. Can you think back in a relationship where you now can recognize inconsistencies in your partner’s behavior? What were the signs?
  4. Have you allowed time in a relationship for things to play out as they are? Did you talk about what you were concerned about with your partner? What was the outcome?

NEXT BLOG: Moving From Parent-Child Relationship to Adult to Adult in the 30’s

(How Self-Esteem affects this Process)

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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