For some, dating is simply a means to meet someone new and possibly make a connection that leads to friendship or a potential relationship. Others, however, can take a more intentional approach and use dates as vehicles to drive you to your soulmate. If you're in the latter category, you are well aware that said journey is not without its fallbacks and endless questions, the main one being: how do you know you've found the "one"?
Simply asking yourself this can send you down a rabbit hole of debate, self-doubt, and confusion. That's probably why there are countless books on the topic of finding life partners as well as dating and relationship coaches to literally encourage and guide along the way. Yet, even with all the resources and counseling at our fingertips, the questions and tell-tale signs that point you to "the one" can still feel murky and unclear — and according to Lauren Cook, MMFT and therapist, that's totally normal.
"When it comes to your partner being 'the one,' it does not mean you won’t have doubts,' says Cook. "If you are mindfully choosing a spouse, it’s normal to carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship. No relationship is perfect and it can actually be harmful to convince yourself that a relationship is 'perfect.' Rather, you choose this partner and accept them wholly, flaws and all, for who they are. That is what it means to choose someone as 'the one.'
Fair enough. But for those who need a little extra guidance in making this choice, ahead, relationship therapists and coaches sound off on 10 obvious signs you might have found your partner for life.
You Can Be Yourself
While this may be an obvious one, it's important enough to bring up. Your partner should be someone who sees you for who you are wholly and completely — cracks and all. "Many people feel the need to change for their partner or keep up an unrealistic, 'perfect' image," says Jonathan Bennett, co-founder of Double Trust Dating. "If the person you’ve met is 'the one' you can feel comfortable around them and not feel like you need to hide your true self."
April Davis, owner and founder of LUMA Luxury Matchmaking seconds this notion, adding that your significant other should know every part of your life and "not only be accepting but love you fully without you having to ignore any hobbies, values, likes, opinions, traits, etc. You can be authentic with them without the fear of judgment or scrutiny."
You Connect At A Deeper Level
Yes, dating these days is often a game of attraction or lust at first sight (which is still important), but to truly do life with someone, your connection needs to hit below the surface. "You share the same core values, ideas, and ways of thinking," says Davis. "You genuinely like each other's personalities and can't get enough of being around each other. And you also see yourself building with each other and life taking you in the same direction."
You Can Talk About Anything
Riding on the above point, having a deeper connection with someone means all conversations topics are open for discussion. "A great partner will not belittle you for sharing honest opinions, thoughts, and feelings, especially when it pertains to the relationship," says Bennet. "If you have an open line of communication and nothing is off limits, then it’s a good sign that you’ve found 'the one.'"
You Are Their First Priority
When a partner is actively and openly incorporating you in their daily life, that could be a sign that this one is in it for the long haul. "If your partner makes you feel like the first priority in a relationship, that person is a keeper," says Bennet. "You shouldn’t have to beg for attention or feel like you’re constantly on the back-burner to other people and priorities."
This principle also pertains to decision-making and future planning. "If the person you are dating starts bringing you up-to-date with their schedule, you may be on to a keeper," explains Davis. "This means that he or she is really opening up to you. Not only are they diminishing their privacy by giving you access to this information, but it also implies an amount of self-imposed accountability. It’s like saying, 'I have nothing to hide from you and I have no issues with you knowing where I am.' When someone starts to include you in their upcoming plans, whether it be day trips, weekends or even just making plans to meet up for lunch, they probably see some sort of future with you and might be looking for a relationship."
Their Relationship History Is, Well, History
Everyone's past is riddled with heartbreak and disappointment. When someone is serious about you, all the "ex files" should be null and void. "People who are ready for a new relationship don't have a ton of baggage from their past relationships," says Davis. "They also shouldn't be bitter about their exes. You should be with someone who is mature and can treat their ex well and talk respectfully about them. While keeping their boundaries and building with you."
Your Friends & Family Like Them, Too
While you can never guarantee to please everyone, if a majority of your loved ones are fans of the person you're with, it's usually a good thing. "While we can get caught up in all the feel-good chemicals associated with being in love, your close friends and family won't... and they'll be honest with you about your partner's character and behavior," says Dr. Kathy Nickerson, licensed psychologist.
You Handle Conflict & Turbulence Well
With every relationship comes conflict. How you handle said conflict could be a determining factor in whether or not you have a keeper on your hands. "You've experienced some highs/lows and difficult situations with the other person but you still know that you can count on each other and work through things together." says Dr. Nickerson.
You Value Your Time Together
This aligns with the above point on prioritizing each other, but part of doing just requires you to truly make the most your time together. According to Cook, one key sign you've found "the one" is that, "you can put your phone down. When you’re that interested in your partner, you’re not finding yourself in scroll mode. You are present with one another and you actually look at one another and talk. In fact, you may even find yourself losing track of time and just feeling totally immersed in the present moment with your partner."
There's Healthy Independence
Just as important as quality time together is quality time apart. "When your partner is 'the one,' there is still a healthy sense of independence and separate identities are maintained," says Cook. "When love is present, each partner can maintain respect for the other’s space while still coming together."
You Talk About The Future
When you've found someone who wants to share their life with you, conversations about the future should happen naturally and easily. "When you’re dating someone, sometimes you can feel afraid to talk about plans together, whether it’s an upcoming event in six months or getting married," says Cook. "When your partner is 'the one,' there is no fear or hesitation about talking about the future because you know you want to spend it together."