How can you tell if your partner is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, if you're into that kind of thing? Or, to rephrase, how do you know if someone is "The One"? Not everyone is crazy about that term — some argue that relationships should be more fluid, and that we might have multiple "Ones" in our lifetime. "As a relationship counselor, I’m one who does not believe in 'The One,'” marriage counselor Jessica Wade tells Bustle. "Many partners can be compatible options, and I think any couple willing to mutually put in the work to keep it healthy for both partners can have an amazingly enjoyable relationship."
Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” also isn't a fan of the phrase. "We're living much longer lives and we grow and change,"she tells Bustle. "'The One' in our twenties may not be 'The One' in our sixties," she says. "If you believe you found 'The One' and it doesn't work out, don't worry, you'll find 'another One.'" Phew! That is a great outlook, and helpful to anyone who has had or will someday have that experience.
But our purposes herein, let's say "The One" refers to a partner with whom you want to be for the long haul. And, it should be added, that person feels the same way about you. I asked some illustrious love and relationship experts how exactly they would advise you to discern whether or not you've found "The One" at last, and their answers struck me as being truly beautiful and poignant. In short, you know when you know, but there are tons of little things you can tune into if you're in a place where you'd like to ascertain whether you want to continue to move forward with this person, and whether you really think there is a future for you and your boo. Here are 11 ways to figure out if your partner is "The One" or not.
1. You Like The Person You Are When Your Partner Is Near
"It's really not about them, as it is about you," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "It's all about what kind of person you are, become, and feel like when you're in their presence." How do you feel when they're near? Does your anxiety go up, or down? "Love can sometimes bring out our insecurities, and while it might feel good in the moment, it's not a good long term setup," Rogers says. "Love should bring forth confidence and security."
Pay attention to how you feel, and "when you're wondering about whether they are "The One," ask yourself instead, 'Am I the version of myself I want to be for the rest of my life right now?' That's the best way to tell," she says. So smart!
2. You Can Live With The 3 Things About Your Partner That Bother You The Most
"Everyone has an inner voice," Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. "Follow it. Pay attention to the immediate feelings you have when you think of the person." Those feelings will lead you to the answer to this question.
"Next, realistically name the three things about the person that bother you, and expect that those will remain." Whoa — mind. blown. This is such a good suggestion! "If the feelings are there and you can live with those three bothersome traits, that is a good sign."
3. You're At Peace With Who They Are
"The person we dedicate energy to is The One for us," zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. Very zen. "If you find that it is easy for you to dedicate energy to their trials and tribulations and can be at peace with them as they are, then you might be with 'The One,' for sure." Just like Wegner, Paiva points out that you have to be able to accept your partner for who they are — with all of their great qualities and everything that you perceive to be bad. If so, you're certainly in a great partnership.
4. You Know They'll Be There No Matter What
"They listen and support you in a way that no one else can," Danielle Sepulveres, sex educator and author of Losing It: The Semi-Scandalous Story of an Ex-Virgin, tells Bustle. "They provide you with a feeling of love and comfort that feels incomparable to anyone else." If you are going to be with someone long-term, you need them to make you feel safe. And no matter what, she adds, you know they'll be there for you: "They also instill a confidence inside you that no matter what obstacles arise, you’re going to be a team and face it together." Yes, please.
5. You Can Talk About Anything
"I've heard that you just know," Gestalt life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. Finding "The One" "means that you're really on the same page and can discuss anything," she says. "You respect and admire each other and want the best for them, as you would yourself." If you can wish for your partner all of the things you want in your own life, you're willing to both give and receive. "Plus, you're attracted to each other and enjoy each other," she says. Always important!
6. It's Easy
"Your partner feels easy to live with, and thinks you are too," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "You feel mutually loving and caring." You're living a simpatico life together. "You can work together to figure out issues and plan for the future," she says. "Things are calm and pleasant between you." If all four of these boxes are checked, you're in the right place at the right time.
7. This Feels Different From Everything That Has Come Before
"There is a genuine difference in how you feel about this person," psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. "The things that have annoyed you in the past about people [are things] you are willing to overlook with this person, or they do not seem to matter." In other words, you don't sweat the small stuff in this relationship.
"Their happiness is your happiness, and you feel very supportive of them accomplishing their goals, and they feel the same in return," she says. "You are comfortable with them in a different way than you have been before, conversation comes easily, and you pretty much always look forward to seeing and talking to them. You have great communication skills, and are able to resolve issues that come up more easily than has been your experience in the past." As Tessina points out, if your relationship feels easier than relationships past, this is a great thing: Easy is good.
8. They're Willing To Put In The Work
"If you meet someone who you’re attracted to, treats you well, is willing to put in work in a relationship, and can respectfully manage the differences between the two of you, they’re a keeper," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. Rather than basing your thought process as to whether this person is or is not "The One," try to focus on these more practical aspects. "Too many people base their decision about 'The One' on a feeling, but the problem is that infatuation fades for everyone," she says. Focus on how the relationship is unfolding, and go from there.
9. You Have The Same Core Values
"You could meet someone instantly and know immediately that they are 'The One,' or you may not know until your tenth date," executive editor and founder of Cupid's Pulse Lori Bizzoco tells Bustle. "Love is complicated and there is no right or wrong way to meet your soulmate." But when you know, you know.
"Sometimes it is instantaneous and sometimes they grow on you," she adds. "However, the basic characteristics will include familiarity, being yourself, growing as a person — and you should have the same core values and ethics." If you've found that, congratulations. "If you find someone who meets that criteria and are ready to settle down, you are on the right path to happily ever after," Bizzoco says.
10. You've Been Dating For Long Enough To Know One Way Or Another
"If you’ve been dating for a year or more, and you’ve discussed your future together, and everything seems compatible and happy, and you love this person — they’re 'The One!'" New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "Chemistry is one thing, but compatibility is what makes 'the hot one' [turn into] 'the real thing.'" According to her terms, you really can't know if you're with "The One" until well into the second year together, so don't rush.
"Use time as a tool to figure out if someone is 'The One,' and don’t cheapen those words — "The One” — by using them freely," she advises. "Be deliberate and surefooted with 'The One.'" And once you find them, keep them.
11. You Have Common Ideals — And You Feel Safe
"This might not be a popular answer, but I believe that there is not just one person for you," psi counselor Laurel Clark tells Bustle. "If that were true, people could never have another relationship after a partner dies." That being said, there are some important criteria to consider if you're trying to figure out whether your mate is your life partner. "To determine if someone is a match for a long-term commitment, it is essential to have common ideals," Clark says.
"Although people want a fiery spark, those hot flames burn out after a while, so it's also essential to feel comfortable with your partner, to be friends, to enjoy his or her company." If you and your partner have all of these things together, you're in a wonderful groove. "Feeling a sense of security, knowing that you like each other and not being afraid of losing the person are also signs of a healthy potential for long-term commitment," she says. When you find that, you can rest assured that you've found "The One."
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