Ahhhh Love…the wonderfulness of finding that person that makes your heart jump, your butterflies flutter, your eyes sparkle! Finding that person that significantly impacts the way you feel about life, the world, the future, your self. It can be an intoxicating, exhilarating and sometimes a frightening vulnerable experience (afterall, the loss of love is one of the largest and most common of human fears!)! Such a wonderful contradictory rollercoaster with comfy pillows kind of altered state that may leave you wondering if you are truly so fortunate to have found THE ONE, or perhaps you are just delusional with hopes and soon the lights will come on and the stark reality of being in a relationship with someone with bad breath and a lint-picking obsession will smack you upside the head.
So How DO You Know?
In working with dating couples, the question I hear so often is “how do I know is he/she is the one?”. This question even pops up during pre-marital coaching and, yes, even in long-term relationship coaching of people who have been together over a period of time but wonder if they somehow “settled” and missed out on something (someone) better. To me, this means that this is a good question to spend some time with!
Never having been one who is comfortable thinking that I know all of the answers, I rely more on the experiences and knowledge of the many couples and individuals that I have interviewed and personally worked with who have married or otherwise committed and then spent the better, longer portion of their lives together. So, here are a few of my favorite answers from those interviews to the big questions of “how did you know?”
“At the time I just knew. I couldn’t explain it, but there was something special about him where I felt deeply connected right away. Later on I realized that I just got lucky. The things I thought were so amazing about him in the beginning ended up not being important at all.”
“I didn’t think about it too much. We were young, crazy in love or maybe even lust, and life was exciting and full of possibilities. I didn’t know enough to know better and then once we were together and spent the first few years fighting, we finally got tired of the drama and learned how to love each other.”
“I didn’t know if she was the right one, I just knew that I loved her and that we were both willing to try all that we could to build a happy life together.”
Traits to Look For
There are several more that sound a lot like this and a common theme that has run through the interviews I have conducted with happy relationships. Based on this information, my best answer to this question is that in order to be THE ONE (or an exceptionally good choice), there are some traits or attitudes that are most helfpul to possess:
1) Willingness to commit to the “us” you will create together. There are three components to relationship: You, Your Partner and the “Us” you create together. The “Us” often starts as a friendship, a connection or bond that you feel together that doesn’t exist without both of you adding to it. The “Us” requires commitment from both parties and will need to be nurtured and cared for as if it is a living, whole entity. It is your connection, commitment and bond. Choose someone who is true to their word and believes that commitment matters.
2) Willingness to grow together. Every person changes throughout their lifetime. We all have life stages we go through, physical changes, changes in interests, experiences, etc. Being willing to grow and focus on growing your “Us” together is incredibly important to the longevity of the closeness you will have together in your relationship. Does your mate take an interest in what interests you at least to the level of being interested when you talk about it? As romantic as the “you are so perfect, please don’t ever change” line might sound at the moment, it will not translate well over time. You are both going to change, are you both looking forward to the journey? Choose someone who never wants to stop learning about you.
3) Chemistry. This may seem simplistic, but it matters. Forever is a long time if you don’t have the chemistry flowing between you. Being attracted to each other and enjoying physical intimacy is one of the healing parts of the relationship with your special someone.
4) Willingness to be unselfish. This is different from willingness to put yourself last. Choose someone who has your best interest in mind and who shares easily with you. Choose someone who does not see you as an extension of themselves, but who instead appreciates you for who you are and loves how you both are together.
5) Ability to withstand discomfort. Life throws curveballs every now and then and tough times happen. Choose someone who can withstand the hard stuff without blaming, or running away. Choose someone who does not expect you to be perfect and who can see past your less than stellar days.
6) Ability and willingness to be vulnerable. This requires a great deal of trust. This can’t be over-emphasized. When determining if someone might be THE ONE, you will need to be able to be completely real about who you are and they will need to be able to be completely real with you as well. This requires vulnerability. This requires complete honesty, not hiding and not avoiding difficult subjects or places where disagreement or opposing beliefs might crop up. An ability to step into that place together where you are figuratively naked with each other and trust each other to really look with love and total acceptance of each other is the ultimate connection.
If you suspect that you and your partner are capable of all of these things, but just don’t know how to facilitate exploring them, then ask yourself if you are willing to talk honestly to your partner about it and explore ways to get help in your discovery together! If you are not able to bring this up and talk it out, then one or both of you may not be truly ready to be THE ONE.
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