When it comes to relationships, I feel like I’ve experienced it all. As a 20-something living in New York City, I’ve been on many a first date, chatted online or on apps with countless prospects, found comfort and compromise in actual, full-fledged relationships, and have even experienced the whirlwind of the are-we-or-aren’t-we, undefined courtship that is only possible in today’s dating culture — a world where ghosting is alive and well, and “hanging out” is considered a legit status.
The good news is, I’m not completely jaded from my past experiences. While I’ll be the first to admit that my trials and tribulations throughout my quest for a partner are not always the most promising, I assure you that I have not lost hope in love completely. I may not necessarily believe in the idea of soulmates, exactly, but I do believe in the notion that real connections are possible, and real love exists. It is rare, but I guess that's what makes it special. And while finding someone to share drinks, dinner, and laughs with isn’t always difficult, finding someone we want to share our lives with is a bit more complicated. That’s why we partnered with Real Is A Diamond to help you determine if that person you’ve been wondering about is the real deal. Here are eight signs you’ve finally found the real thing.
1. They Wait For You To Watch The Next Episode
In the age of streaming services, it’s easy to marathon multiple episodes of a new TV series in one sitting, and I know more than anyone how difficult it is to cut yourself off after a run of particularly cliffhanger-filled episodes. Equally difficult, though, is waiting for you and your partner’s schedules to line up so you can continue your viewing spree together. While the temptation is strong to sneak a few more episodes (#UltimateBetrayal) when one partner has to leave the couch and the other doesn't, it's a real sign of love when they care more about watching together than finding out what happens next ASAP.
2. They Want To Care For You When You’re Sick
Sometimes when we’re sick, we don’t just feel miserable — we’re also probably not the best company. Our bodies malfunction, we complain, and the furthest we may be able to move is the short distance from our beds to the bathroom and back. Yet a significant other who truly cares about our wellbeing will stick by our sides (or at the very least, deliver us chicken soup) no matter how phlegm-y or wretched we feel.
"When I first moved in with my [then] boyfriend, we both got a terrible stomach flu one after the other just two weeks into living together," Jen, 27, explains. "It was the best and worst thing that could have happened to us, the idea being that if you still like someone — or even like them more — after suffering through that, then I’m pretty sure it’s love."
3. You Can Read Each Other's Signals
Love means never having to suffer through stifled yawns at a boring dinner party as you wait for your S.O. to finally get the hint that you're ready to make your exit. Even in noisy rooms full of people, it's like you two can have your own wordless conversation.
"I think one of the worst things that can happen to a person is to get stuck at a party because the person you came with isn't ready to leave," says Hannah, 29. "And so I will forever be grateful to have ended up with someone who usually wants to leave a party at the same time I do. We have a series of glances we give each other that go kind of like, 'You done here?' and 'Oh yeah, let's get an Uber.' And then we go home. And it's perfect."
4. Your Needs Are Just As Important As Theirs
This goes for everything from satisfying your appetite when you’re hungry, to fulfilling your needs in bed. The person you want to be with, and who truly wants to be with you, will be just as enthusiastic about taking care of your wants and desires as their own. One word of advice, though: Don’t forget to return the favor! Communication and reciprocity is key.
5. You Hate The Same Things
Whether it’s a mutual dislike for sports, a certain political party, or something as innocuous as lemon meringue pie, the fact that you and your partner turn your nose up at the same things means something. For one thing, it means never having to act remotely interested in a football game when all you’re really interested in is the food that disappeared before halftime rolled around. It also means bonding over rolling your eyes in unison, and establishing an escape route any time someone suggests one of your mutually disliked activities.
6. They Make You Feel Comfortable … Naked
Of course, the person you’re dating should make you feel comfortable all the time — but especially when you’re at your most vulnerable. And that means they should make you feel safe, secure, and confident when baring it all because they love your body the way it is.
7. You've Figured Out How To Simultaneously Be In A Relationship Without Losing Your Independence
This is perhaps the most important sign that you’ve found "The One." A difficult thing to navigate in any relationship is developing and growing your partnership without losing your sense of self, whether it's hanging out with your own friends or pursuing your interests that may or may not involve your S.O.
"You don't get overwhelmed when your significant other starts taking up more and more of your personal time, either," says Allison, 26.
While this can be tricky, you’ll know that you’ve found real trust in a person when you don’t have to sacrifice who you are to be half of a whole.
8. You Start Thinking About Your Future Together
Even as you maintain your independence within your relationship, it may get harder and harder to picture your life without your significant other in it. You might start thinking about making your commitment more permanent, whether it's through small gestures, like exchanging keys to each other's apartments, to bigger ones, like adopting a dog together — or even making plans to put a 💎💍 on it. When you've finally found the real thing, you can't take it for granted — it's important to keep finding new ways to grow together.