“You’ll just know.” That line was the most frustrating thing to hear as a single, young adult. It’s so vague. “But HOW HOW HOW do you know?!” I would scream in my head in frustration. There has to be some objective criteria.
I made lists of attributes I was looking for in a spouse. I observed my friends’ relationships. I had a lot of guy friends and a few boyfriends until I met my husband when I was 23. What did I learn? You just know. BUT, good news! After 4 years of marriage, I do believe I have some objective criteria to offer you!
Here are 5 tips to help you figure out if the person you are dating is the “the one.”
1. Find someone who is committed to making it work.
On Scrubs (admittedly not a source I would usually recommend for dating advice) Dr. Cox explains why some relationships last a lifetime,
“Bottom line is the couples who are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else, but, the big difference is, they don’t let it take them down. One of those two people will stand up and fight for that relationship every time. If it’s right, and they’re real lucky, one of them will say something.”
That’s what it takes. Find someone who is willing to fight for your relationship, no matter the cost, and committed to “till death do us part.”
2. Keep your checklist big picture.
I would focus on 3-5 big picture things you think are the most important. I once made a long list of really specific attributes that I wanted in my future husband, but I don’t necessarily recommend that strategy. Mainly because I wouldn’t have married the man I did if I had stuck to it strictly. The whole point of a list is to keep you from being blinded by feelings of love, but at the same time, you don’t want your list to blind you when real love is actually there either. I definitely don’t regret marrying my husband, even though he didn’t meet all my pre-established criteria. There are 2 other reasons I don’t recommend an exhaustive list.
Reason #1: You are creating someone in your head that you will love, based on specific attributes that might not say a whole lot about who that person actually is as a person. Physical attributes, job descriptions, and even hobbies could change years down the road. What if he meets every criteria now, but then didn’t after a couple years of marriage?
Reason #2: I found that my list included a lot of things I valued because I was raised to value them. But that doesn’t provide for a relationship with balance. For example, I initially questioned if my husband was hard-working enough for me because he could sit down and relax when there was more to do. I couldn’t. But over the years he has taught me that there will always be more to do and now I can choose to relax and deal with the endless list after recharging. I have found this to be a much more balanced way to live and I am happy for this discovery.
3. Find someone who doesn’t have any “deal breakers.”
Dating is really the process of getting to know people, determining your deal breakers, and finding someone who doesn’t have any of them. No one is perfect, so don’t bother looking for that. Instead, find someone whose flaws you can live with for the rest of your life. In my experience, marriage makes you a better person, but there are no guarantees anyone is going to change. This is one area where limiting a lot of physical stuff until marriage is critical. Sex makes vision cloudy, it makes the deal breakers seem less important, but they always resurface after the chemical buzz has worn off and you might find yourself wishing you hadn’t had blinders on!
4. Find someone who will lovingly call you out on your weaknesses.
Life is about growing to become a better person. Your spouse will know you better than anyone, and allowing him or her to help you develop into an “improved you” will make your life much easier. You have to be able to listen to the hard stuff and not want to make his or her life miserable for saying it.
5. Marry someone you know loves you.
Your future spouse should be head over heels for you…moon and back kind of stuff. If you have difficulty receiving love, this one might be hard for you to figure out and you might need another approach or some counseling to be sure you don’t make a mistake. But, in general, you should not have any doubts about his or her level of faithfulness and commitment.
All this being said and important to consider, I have to admit that to some degree you do “just know.” Otherwise, it takes some of the romance out of it. What fun would that be?