There have been several points during my dating career where I’ve come home from a date and thought, “I think they might be The One!” only to find out a few days, weeks or (eep!) years later, that this person was totally not The One. Although I always feel a bit silly when I make this realization, I think it’s a common thing to go through. You can’t have a successful dating life unless you’re somewhat optimistic about the future. Mix a little bit of hope with some butterflies and hormones, and you’ve got the perfect storm.
That isn’t to say you can’t meet The One online – you most certainly can (two of my friends who met online on OkCupid just got married last weekend!) However, if you find you’re always meeting people you think are The One only to end up disappointed soon after, it might be worth slowing down your dating process and asking yourself the following questions.
How long have you been dating?
Although a lot of people who are now married or in long term relationships will tell you they knew right away that they’d met the right person, for other people, the process or connection isn’t so instantaneous. If you’ve just started dating, it’s okay to NOT know yet whether someone is The One. That’s what dating is for — to actually get to know people. Instead of attaching the title of “The One” to people you date, give yourself the gift of time to let the relationship unfold. You don’t have to know where it’s headed right away. Enjoy the process!
Do your goals line up?
Years ago, I dated a man who I thought was “The One.” A lot of that had to do with the butterflies he gave me whenever we were together. When it came to our values and outlook on life, we were nearly opposites. He was a born again Christian, I’m more spiritual and don’t belong to an organized religion. He was conservative and an extreme introvert, I’m liberal and highly social. When those darn butterflies were swirling around my stomach, these things didn’t matter so much. But when we actually tried to make a relationship happen, we were completely incompatible.
If you still haven’t gotten to the part where you discuss your goals, values and worldviews, then now is the perfect time to slow down and have that conversation.
What about being with them feels good?
Do you feel happy with them because they give you butterflies or is it something deeper? When you first start dating someone you really like, it’s natural to experience a bit of a love high. That’s why they call it the honeymoon period. Every relationship goes through one. While this is a magical time when you’ll likely create lots of great memories together, if you think someone might be The One, it’s all about what happens after the honeymoon period ends — yet another reason to give the relationship time to unfold. If you still catch yourself smiling when you think of your relationship even after the butterflies subside, that’s a great sign!
Have you experienced your first fight together and/or undergone a major crisis together?
Some form of conflict in a relationship is natural, it all just depends on how you handle it. Does your partner fight fair or do they name call? Are you guys able to talk things through and come away from the fight feeling better about your relationship or do you stew in your anger for days? Have you guys experienced a major crisis together such as dealing with a sick relative, a job loss or something equally stressful? How did you handle it?
Determining whether someone is The One isn’t just about knowing each other in the best of times, it’s also weathering the rough patches together. My friend said she knew her husband was The One when she lost her father and he was there for her every step of the way. While I’m not suggesting you wait around for tragedy to strike in order to test your relationship, giving yourself enough time to experience a variety of life experiences – good and bad – is key to figuring out whether someone really is The One, or just feels like it in the moment.