Time and time again, whenever the topic of love comes up, at least one of my psychology students asks me how they will know when they have found “the one.” As a professor, I explain that there are only so many things we can predict in life and that no study (yet!) has shown that we can be absolutely certain that we’ve met our perfect match. After all, there are so many elements involved, including our own personal preferences!
All we have to do is check our friends’ updates on social media, read the latest celebrity-focused magazine, or watch the current season of The Bachelor to know that, while most of us are looking for love, it is not always easy to find. We might meet someone who has traits that we like but, ultimately, ends up being incompatible. Still, we can’t give up hope. For as many breakups we witness, there are just as many weddings and babies being born. Clearly, some of us are finding happiness.
So, how are we supposed to know? Does our intended’s name shoot across the sky like a lightning bolt? Will we hear trumpets blaring and birds chirping when we come face-to-face with the person of our dreams? It’s unlikely that there will be a single, Disney-worthy moment when it does happen, but here are a few real-life signs that the man you’re with is totally the one!
You aren’t chasing him down
We’ve seen these scenes in countless romantic comedies. Guy meets girl, they have a great time and exchange phone numbers, but then the girl sits by the phone waiting to hear from him. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes it never happens at all, leaving her to wonder what went wrong.
In those early days of courtship, it can be pretty exhilarating to feel like there’s a bit of a game of cat-and-mouse going on but, over time, our need to hunt and be hunted is replaced by a need to feel significant. We need to know we have become a priority in his life. The right guy is going to be an active participant in your relationship by returning texts and calls in a timely manner (— not necessarily instant!), initiating plans to spend time together, and not bailing on dates. You shouldn’t feel like you are chasing him, especially in moments when you truly need him – he should want to be with you!
He loves you exactly as you are
Make no mistake, when we first meet someone we really do make an effort to be at our best. We get dressed up, try to find interesting topics of conversation, and maybe even agree with things we don’t agree with for the sake of avoiding conflict too early in the relationship. And then, one day, we give up the act and become comfortable enough to reveal the more authentic version of ourselves. It can be a scary moment when we let down our guard since this will be when we know exactly where we stand.
Will this new person in our life accept us or will be we left alone, once again? Billy Joel nails it in his song “Just the Way You Are” when he sings ‘don’t go changing to try and please me.’ The right guy will love you exactly as you are, flaws and all. Part of this comes from maturity — his acknowledgment that he’s got imperfections too — but it’s also about his respect of your uniqueness. If you feel like you’ve got to change to make him happy, you should probably move on.
He’s proud of you and includes you in his life
Have you ever felt like a guy’s dirty little secret? If so, you will know that it’s a terrible place to be. You feel so insignificant and insecure and you can’t help but wonder if there’s a reason (another girlfriend, perhaps?) why you haven’t been included in more areas of his life. The sad reality, though, is that it’s often a pretty clear message that you shouldn’t ignore.
No one wants to introduce someone to their closest friends and family unless they think the relationship has staying power. Our loved ones will be the most critical of our romantic partners so, usually, we don’t include a crush in our inner circle unless we think there’s potential for this to go to the next level. If you’ve met all of his friends, siblings, and (gasp) his parents, don’t take that lightly. He obviously cares deeply about you. Bonus points if they also know all about your work, hobbies, and greatest achievements. It shows that he’s been bragging about you!
You feel respected and valued
Considering how Hollywood glamorizes romance, it’s easy to be confused about what a genuine, real relationship should look like. Are the signs of a strong union dependent on whether he draws you a rose petal-filled bath after a stressful day at work or that he enlists the help of a flash mob to show you how much he cares? Probably not. Remember, the gender-based stereotypes perpetrated in the media go both ways and just as women shouldn’t be expected to have the perfect body, men shouldn’t be held to unrealistic expectations either. Almost anyone can go through the motions and take you dinner, make you Facebook-official, and remember your birthday but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel valued and respected.
Instead, ask yourself if there are signs that he considers you an equal in your relationship. Does he ask your opinion about decisions he’s making in his life? Does he listen to your point-of-view without mocking you? Does he seem to know and understand the goals you have in life, while willing to be supportive of them? If so, you might have a keeper on your hands!
He makes an effort to communicate in a healthy way
As we grow up, we are all influenced by our families’ communication styles. Some families share and openly discuss everything while others are more conservative or can even be more inclined toward keeping secrets. These patterns, of course, affect how we relate to our romantic partners as adults.
One of the biggest challenges in a relationship is learning how to find a mutually agreeable way of communicating. The importance of this early compromise cannot be overestimated, since a gap in communication can interfere with your ability to deepen your bond and can cause arguments about anything ranging from finding a parking spot to whether marriage is on the horizon.
It’s a really good sign if the man in your life makes an effort to get on the same page in terms of communication since this will determine how you both navigate your relationship. You will appreciate this even more when you have arguments since the right guy will want to fight fair so that you can come to a loving resolution.
You share similar goals and priorities
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and, for the most part, things are going okay, but you realize pretty quickly that you just don’t want the same things in life? It can be a real bummer and many people will continue dating in hopes that the other party will change their mind down the road.
You should never commit to someone with the hope of somehow altering what they want out of life. First of all, it’s an unfair and selfish expectation. Each of us has the right to decide how to live our own life. Second, it’s unreasonable. Even if you succeed at getting that other person to join you on your path, you risk them forming resentment toward you later.
When it comes to the right guy, he doesn’t have to perfectly align with every single one of your goals and priorities, but it’s best if you can agree on most things. If you find yourselves painting a similar picture of the future, while being respectful of your differences, you may have found your forever love!
He’s thoughtful and wants to please you
Often, we hear that we should learn to speak up and ask for what we want and need in a relationship. That is absolutely 100% true! We shouldn’t expect someone to be a mind reader because, if we’re being honest, sometimes we don’t even know what we want! That being said, it’s nice when the man we are with is thoughtful and actually goes out of his way to please us.
What does that look like, though? When he goes grocery shopping, he remembers that you’ve been wanting to try almond butter and he picks up a jar. He makes note of your favorite shows and sets a series-record on the DVR at his place so that you never miss an episode. He’s willing to sacrifice seeing a movie he wants to watch on date night because he notices and appreciates how often you’ve tried to do the same for him. The right man will show you that your shared happiness is more important than his own!
Your loved ones see how good you are together
There’s a reason why, on shows like The Bachelor, there are “hometown dates.” It gives that person’s friends and family an opportunity to see them interact with their romantic interest, which can yield some pretty valuable insight. Undoubtedly, the people who care most about you will be looking for a few key things. Does the relationship feel forced? Does this person seem to respect and accept you as you are? Do they appear to get along with the people in your life? Will they be the right person at your aside as you continue down the path you’ve chosen? Do they, somehow, enhance who you are and bring out the best in you?
Those are some of the questions your friends and family will be asking when they meet the man you are dating. Listen to their feedback, even if you disagree, since they may see something that you don’t. If after their vetting they give you the greenlight, you might have already found the one!
Trust your gut
You can scour the internet looking for a million articles and quizzes to help you determine whether the man you’re with is “the one.” While these resources can be truly valuable, ultimately, only you will know how you are feeling about your relationship. If your friends and family love him but you have reservations, trust your instincts. You know him better than they do.
But if he treats you right, supports and aligns with your vision of the future, and has earned a stamp of approval from your inner circle, your man could totally be the one!