I’ve been with my boyfriend for the last three years. We have stable jobs, we live together, and we get along with each other’s friends and family.
We have a good relationship, but I’m at a point where I’m starting to ask myself: Is he the one?
None of us are getting any younger and I’ve been thinking about my future, being married, etc.
Nobody’s perfect and we do love each other, but how do you really know if he’s the one I’m meant to be with?
I thought about your question for a while and since this is a pretty significant question, I want to be really thorough in how I answer you…
When a woman is with a guy, it’s almost inevitable that she’ll ask herself, “Could he be the one? Is he who I’m meant to be with?” at some point.
I’m going to tell you something that usually drives people nuts when they hear it… and I’m going to bet that I’m not the first one to tell you.
“When you meet the one, you just know…”
So let’s first talk about this “just knowing” aspect of being with the one:
What does it mean to just know you’re with the one for you?
When you’re with them, your attraction goes beyond just excitement about having a relationship. It goes beyond just lust. It goes beyond trying to get them or get a relationship title.
There’s a quality of your relationship and how you interact that just fits… it just feels like “home” to you.
I’ve worked with and talked with people about their relationships for over a decade now and at this point, that amounts to thousands of men and women all over the world.
So when someone tells me about their relationship, I can almost immediately tell if it’s a relationship that will work out or not…
How can I tell whether or not it’s a relationship that will work out (with stunning accuracy, mind you)?
It’s all in the way they talk about their relationship.
If they have a good relationship with someone who’s compatible with them, their question and description of their relationship is pretty short and concise.
The doomed relationships are nearly always the ones where “it’s complicated,” and the person sends me a 10 chapter novel describing it themselves.
I can always tell the super-long questions are a disaster-waiting-to-happen because the writer is desperately hoping somewhere in the mountain of description there is some glimmer of hope or a sign that the relationship could somehow work…
The sad truth is that wanting something… even wanting something really really bad… will not make it so. Neither will worrying about it. Neither will trying really hard to “make it work”.
This sounds sacrilegious for someone who writes about relationships to write, but:
Good relationships fit, they make sense in your life and they have an effortless quality to them.
I’m not saying that they’re perfect, that they’re always exciting, or that they don’t take work.
However, I am saying that the following qualities in a relationship are major red flags to let you know that you’re not with “the one”:
- You don’t like yourself when you’re in the relationship. You feel insecure around him.
- You feel like you’re always chasing him, but never have him.
- You feel like you need to play games in order to keep him.
- He balks at the idea of love or being in love with you.
- He actively avoids, shuts down or dodges any conversation about a future with him (after being with him for several months).
- He doesn’t “get” you.
- He won’t (or says he can’t) be in a relationship with you for some reason…
So all of those are major red flags to tell you he’s not the one.
MORE – Ask a Guy: He Says He “Doesn’t Want a Relationship”
The biggest trap that women get into that prevents them from being in a great relationship is believing that having a good relationship is difficult.
Let me explain what I mean here with a metaphor…
If I tie something to a string and dangle it in front of a cat, then keep pulling the object just out of reach, the cat will go crazy chasing this hanging object. It will jump on furniture. It will climb things. It will run and run and run some more… as long as it thinks it can finally catch whatever is tied to the string.
When you finally decide to let the cat have the object, something very interesting happens: If the cat finds the object interesting (such as food or catnip), it will enjoy the object. But if the object isn’t interesting at all (such as an inanimate mouse toy), it will paw at it for a second then walk away, completely uninterested.
Humans are very similar in this way. Sometimes (especially when we don’t know better), we end up chasing something and are determined to have it. Not because we think the person is even that great, but because we’re in the mode of chasing them.
Disastrous relationships have a quality of always chasing, never having. This is usually because the other person knows that what’s truly keeping you around isn’t even them… it’s your wanting of them or wanting to possess them.
People can get so caught up in “chasing the string” that they trick themselves into believing the other person must be the one. They say to themselves, “Why would I be chasing them and trying to win them over so much if they weren’t the love of my life?”
The reality is that it’s just a common trap of human psychology. If you feel like you’re chasing someone, it is extremely likely that they are not the one… and probably wouldn’t be a great relationship if you did manage to catch them.
Enough about signs that he’s not the one. Let’s talk about how to know he is the one…
Signs He Is The One
In relationships between truly compatible people, drama is rare
First and foremost, you are comfortable with each other.
That means a few things…
First, it means that you both communicate genuinely. Neither of you are wearing a “mask” or putting on a persona to impress the other person. Neither of you are afraid to be exactly the way you are… and you both totally accept each other as you are right now.
Let me say that again: You both totally accept each other exactly as you are right now.
Not for who you or they could be or will be someday… you both accept each other right now, exactly as you are.
Communicating with each other without a mask, that means you are both communicating authentically. If he’s truly the one, it’s highly likely that both of you share parts of yourself with each other that you don’t share with anyone else… and if that’s the case for your relationship, then it’s one great indicator that he could be the one.
In a relationship where there is authentic communication, the thought of playing games is the furthest thing from either your or his mind. It’s not about “looking perfect” either.
MORE: Do Guys Actually Love The Chase?
The energy of your relationship has an obvious quality of you and him revealing who you truly are to one another, authentically connecting and appreciating one another as you are at every moment.
One of the Best Indicators He’s The One: You Enjoy Him
That might sound like I’m over-simplifying things here, but the truth is: Great relationships really are simple.
Relationships aren’t rocket science. The only reason anyone thinks relationships are difficult is because they’re trying to force a situation to work when it’s just not going to.
There’s nothing wrong with a relationship not being “the one”. Think about it: you’ve met hundreds or even thousands of people in your life. How many did you really like… as in, like enough to care whether or not you actually saw them again?
It’s only a small percentage. And here we’re talking about the one for you – the one you want to be with as far into the future as you can imagine.
Here are some major signs that he’s the one:
- You tell him everything.
- You enjoy your conversations with him.
- You enjoy your physical intimacy (kissing, touching, sex, etc.)
- When they’re not there, you think highly of them.
- You’re proud of them in social settings.
- You enjoy being with them, whether you’re doing fun things or everyday routine things
- You enjoy simply “being” with them
In short, you enjoy him and you have fun with him. Aside from just enjoyment, you understand how he cares for you and you understand how he shows it.
MORE: Signs He’s In Love
When you’re apart, you genuinely miss having him there. You’re constantly imagining what it would be like if he was there with you, seeing what you just saw and hearing what you just heard. You love spending time with him.
However, great relationships are more than just a bunch of fun times and enjoyable moments together, which brings us to…
How Do You Handle Conflict As A Couple?
In general, he handles conflict and stress well… whether it is in his life or within your relationship. I’m not saying the guy is a saint (I’m certainly not), but he has the ability to be patient and he can go with the flow when the situation really calls for it.
When you do argue, your arguing is always with purpose and both of you communicate with resolution in mind. Even in arguments, you respect each other’s opinions and you communicate out of care and concern, not out of judgment and criticism.
It’s a definite red flag when one or both people argue with an air of disgust for the other person – sometimes this is shown in barely perceptible facial expressions, sometimes it’s extremely surface and obvious… either way, signs of disgust from your partner are a huge warning sign that your relationship is headed for a bad place soon.
Even great relationships have arguments and disagreements. Frankly, I would be concerned if there was never an argument ever (I would be inclined to think that one or both partners are afraid to have any conflict with one another, which would suggest a lack of comfort and trust in their partner… and that’s a red flag)…
… so I’m not saying that great couples never argue. I’m saying that when great couples argue, they do it with respect for one another and with resolution in mind. Even in arguments, they’re still a team.
Great relationships have a quality of respect and admiration for the other person, regardless of whether or not you’re even with that person in a relationship. You’re just plain happy that they exist in this world of ours.
When you’re with the one, you naturally appreciate and focus on each other’s good qualities. They see the best in you and you see the best in them.
I’ve said many times before that your happiness is ultimately your responsibility. However, in the relationship, they understand what makes you happy and you understand what truly makes them happy.
Moreover, doing what makes the other person happy is something that is natural and effortless for both of you – it’s not some chore for you and doing what makes them happy doesn’t force you to go against your own nature.
Like I said, great relationships aren’t always perfect – there are occasional arguments, concessions to be made and things you must accept about your partner. However, if you’re with the man you’d call the one, then at any given moment in your relationship, the good far outweighs the bad.
Men and women sometimes make the mistake of thinking that a failing relationship will improve if they commit further. For example, I’ve seen cases where there are multiple red flags are present, but instead of the woman or man leaving the relationship, they say to themselves, “This would be better if I just committed further… then maybe they’ll change their actions, understand how I really feel about them and they’ll feel the same way…”
I’ve seen a guy propose to a girl to try and save his relationship when he felt she was slipping away (it didn’t work). I’ve seen a girl start paying a guy’s rent and car payment when she felt he was slipping away and possibly cheating on her (he was… and continued to after his bills were being paid).
It comes down to this simple point: Great relationships never need to be forced. Great relationships never need games. Great relationships never involve chasing.
At the end of the day, part of what makes people great at relationships is knowing when to walk away from a relationship that only works when you force it to work. Like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with walking away from a relationship with an incompatible person in order to find one who fits (this is not legal advice – if you’re married or have a child… talk to your lawyer and other relevant professionals.)
Another comment on conflict and knowing if he’s the one: He owns his own baggage.
This means that he doesn’t expect you to rescue him, he doesn’t expect you to solve his problems or being his “virtual mommy”. He is responsible for himself and doesn’t blame you, others or the outside world for the problems and circumstances of his life.
Granted, blaming others is so rampant and socially acceptable in our culture that expecting someone to never blame others is a tall order. The main thrust is that when it comes to what he feels is a problem in his life, whether it’s in the relationship or otherwise, he owns it and takes responsibility – he doesn’t blame you, he doesn’t make it your fault, and he doesn’t put it on you to fix it.
Being With The One Feels Like Love, Partnership, and Friendship
One major sign that you’re with the one is: He inspires you to be your best. In your relationship with him, you feel empowered, like you can do anything. He brings out the best in you, not the worst.
He’s with you, not against you, and you have 100% trust that he’s there to support you. If things get messy in your life or you have a major problem, you don’t even have to question that he’s got your back. You know he won’t leave you or condemn you.
If you really, truly need him to be there, he’ll be there… and this is either going to be true for your relationship or it’s not. The question is: Will you be able to be honest with yourself if your instincts know that he wouldn’t be there?
There’s a lot to be said for knowing that he’s on your side. You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve seen women with a guy who is extremely jealous or undermines her for his own selfish reasons. If you feel this might be happening in your relationship, then that’s a serious red flag (chances are that it won’t be the only red flag though…)
I understand that passionate relationships can develop with someone you don’t necessarily trust or believe to be responsible, but when it comes to being the one, he’s going to be someone who trusts you and who you can trust. It’s been said that trust is like glass: once you break it, even if you piece it back together it will never be the same. Being able to trust him and be trusted by him is a huge piece to the best relationship for you.
Your Lives Line-up and “Fit”
Another major factor that tells you he’s the one is: You have matching priorities and values (for the most part).
This means that you agree on the most fundamental things. Sure, you might like salsa dancing and he might like… well… not dancing… but when it comes to the things that are most important to both of you, you see things the same way.
For some people, they put family above all else. For some it’s work and aspirations. For some it’s education, fitness, fun or traveling.
Whatever your values and priorities happen to be, the one you’re most compatible with is going to have similar values to yours. Additionally, his values might compliment yours… one of you might want to be the family breadwinner while the other wants to be the caretaker for your future children – that’s an example of complimentary values.
Similarly, your future plans line up. Do his plans for career, children, lifestyle, etc. line up with yours?
If he’s dead-set on traveling the world for the rest of his life and your ultimate dream is to raise a family in a quiet suburb, then there’s going to be an expiration date on your relationship at some point.
Then there’s the more obvious indicators that he might be the one:
- Do you have an official relationship title?
- Do you say “I love you” to each other?
- Does he talk about the future?
- Does he do little loving, in-the-moment things with you (such as holding your hand when you’re walking, rubbing your back, hugging you when you’re sad, etc.)?
- Do your friends like him? Does he fit right into your group of friends?
- Do your parents like him?
- Do you like his friends? Do you think they’re good people?
If your answer to all of the above questions was “yes!”, then that’s a very good sign. If your answer to some of them was, “I don’t know,” then maybe you’re reading this at a point where it’s still too early to tell if he’s the one.
Bottom line: One very strong indicator that he’s the one is that you fit in each other’s lives easily.
(Of course, that’s assuming that both your lives are reasonably stable and together. If that’s not the case, then the first priority would be to each have your lives in order before you ask yourself if he’s the one.)
The Most Overlooked Factor: Are You Ready For The One?
If he proposed to you tomorrow, what would you say?
Stop and imagine it – being with him and only him for the rest of your life.
No more dates with other guys. Never sharing a sexual experience with any guy other than him, ever again.
Does that make you feel relieved and excited… or does it make you feel unsure and terrified?
Sure, you might joke about baby names with each other and imagine a fairy-tale wedding, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for the uncomfortable, boring, or normal relationship stuff…
Part of knowing that he’s the one is checking in on how you feel about him and a future with him.
You’ll want to ask yourself:
- How do previous boyfriends compare to him?
- How do I feel about his faults?
- Do I totally and completely accept him as he is now, even if he never changes?
When it comes to love and true long term success of a relationship, you really want to make sure you don’t have any lingering doubts or wishes about him.
True love and relationship-growth isn’t possible if you wish he was some other way or want him to change. When you want someone that you love to change or be different, your love is being clouded by your own fantasy image of what you wish was reality (but is not)…
True love, true communication and true intimacy require you to… (continued – Click to keep reading Ask a Guy: Is He The One?)