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Have You Found “The One?”

How to Know if This is the Relationship Worth Keeping

At some point in every long-term relationship, both parties look at each other and wonder, “Is this it? Is this the person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with?”

For some people, hopeless romantics, the answer is quick and unequivocal. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they’ve found the person they want to be with—sometimes just a few weeks into the relationship itself.

But for a lot of other people, myself included, there’s a lot more that goes into that decision than just a feeling. The feelings are there, to be sure, but the feelings aren’t all that matters; there is also a strong desire to find someone with whom there is a compatibility that can actually last a lifetime.

So how do you know if you’ve found that?

With my husband, there were a few things that really stuck with me—things that I knew made him the man I wanted to be with. For one, we’re both pretty logical people; we look at the world in the same way, and make decisions based on the same factors. That may not sound as ooey-gooey romantic as you would like, but it was something I knew could carry us both through good times and especially the bad.

A compatibility in how we approach the world around us.

Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, I knew he was a good person with an amazing heart. I knew he was kind, and thoughtful, and someone capable of sticking things out through the tough times.

And I knew that was the type of man I wanted to be with forever.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that he’s funny and hot!

Realistically, though, I knew he was the one when I was able to sit down and look at what we wanted from life and how we approached challenges, and realized that we were compatible in all the areas that matter most.

For me, feelings matter, of course—but compatibility is essential for long-term success.

So how do you assess compatibility?

Well, you talk. You talk about everything. You talk about what you want from the future, you talk about how you want to raise kids, or chase a dream job, or travel the world. You evaluate your short and long term goals, and you pay attention to how those align.

Then, you listen. You watch. You assess everything from communication styles to how the other person shows and feels love. And you keep track of what about this relationship seems to work, and what areas you could probably use some help in.

Because that’s the thing—every relationship has problem areas. You will never find your perfect match, because there is no such thing. Life and love are all about compromise and sacrifice. And hopefully, if you choose right, you gain so much more than you give up. But ultimately, you will give up something—you will have to sacrifice somewhere.

So it’s all about looking at this relationship and deciding if the sacrifices involved, and the things about your partner you don’t necessarily love, are overshadowed by the things that work and those attributes you do value and adore.

I wish there was a simple answer. I wish I could tell you to apply this formula, subtract x from y, and divide the result by two in order to find out if what you have is lasting. Unfortunately, I can’t—obviously, no such formula exists.

But what I can tell you is that when it’s right, you’ll know. So long as you talk. And you listen. And you pay attention to compatibility, not just to feelings.