5 Steps to Find The One
Now that the Christmas season is over, stores are already filling their shelves with pink gifts, chocolates, and hearts. Valentines day is right around the corner which gets many of us thinking about our relationships. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to continue to foster a strong marriage, and I know some of my friends are resolving to practice healthy and positive dating habits this year. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on dating or marriage, but I was among the first of my friends to tie the knot and a few of them asked me 1. How I knew he was “the one”, and 2. How I got my proposal (i.e. did it happen naturally? Did I give him an ultimatum? etc). Based on my own experience and observations of both friends and family, here are 5 tips I think any woman can use when searching for love or deciding if their partner is “the one”:
Focus primarily on yourself, not looking for someone to complete you
The Real Chic life has a great chapter in her book about this, and in my experience love often finds us when we’re not looking for it. Focus on being the best version of yourself- pursue your career, take up hobbies, travel, spend time with friends and family. The more well-rounded you are and content with your life outside of your romantic relationships, the more attractive you will be to a potential partner. Many women make the mistake of settling for a partner who doesn’t treat them with as much respect as they deserve, because they would rather be in a relationship, even an unhappy one, than start over alone. This way of thinking is so detrimental to your well being. The more you focus on you, the more confident you will be. You don’t need a partner to complete you, you’re already a complete person.
But be open to new possibilities when they arise
Even though you should focus primarily on yourself, if you’re open to a relationship then also be open to new possibilities when they arise, and try not to bring your baggage from previous situations with you. Your partner will want someone who’s happy and engaged in the relationship, not weighed down by constant insecurity, bitterness, or jealousy. Putting yourself out there and risking disappointment is just part of the human experience. If a relationship doesn’t work out, trust me there will be another one.
Find a middle man
Before I met my husband I dated a string of guys who for the most part weren’t worth my time. They primarily fell into two categories- men who weren’t interested enough and men who were too interested. The men who weren’t interested enough either had trouble committing to a relationship, or committing to being an equal and supportive partner once we were in a relationship. Unfortunately this type of man can be very attractive, I know many who have fallen prey and continue to feed off of the drama this type of relationship brings for years. In Sex and the City we saw Carrie Bradshaw go back and forth in this type of relationship with Mr. Big. Everything works out (almost) perfectly in the films with Mr. Big, but in real life it almost never does. Instead women are left feeling heartbroken and like they wasted their valuable time when the man finally moves on and stops stringing them along. Just say no to this situation, you deserve much better.
The men who were too interested were needy, and sometimes insecure and jealous. This is not the type of relationship that will bring you happiness either, that person has his own issues to work on.
With my husband things were very different. He was always happy to talk or spend time with me, reliable about making plans, and clear about his intentions. But he wasn’t needy, he had his own life going on and would have been ok if things didn’t work out. I believe things did work out because I took a chance on my middle man, instead of falling back into old habits with men from the other two categories.
Run, don’t walk when you see red flags
This one is probably the most important general rule when searching for the one. When you’re getting to know a new person most of the time they reveal themselves to you (their personality, habits, and history) in layers. If they do or say something early on that doesn’t sit right with you, abort mission. This can range from signs that they might not be interested in committing or being monogamous (when you are) to signs of emotional instability. Or it could be as simple as a lack of compatibility. If you ignore red flags and keep going with the relationship, it can get harder and harder to extricate yourself from the situation as you become more attached to the person or to being in a relationship in general. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and move on as early as you can when you notice red flags.
Don’t date for more than five years (and have a marriage mindset)
I don’t believe in soulmates, but I do believe that two compatible people can build a loving and fulfilling life together if they choose to commit long-term. And if marriage is something you’d like to choose for yourself, you need to stand up for the fact that you want and deserve it. If a man truly values what you have together enough to not want to lose it, then he should be willing to make the ultimate commitment if that’s what you want.
For some people this happens very naturally and their partner proposes earlier than expected. That’s a very romantic outcome, but it doesn’t happen that way for everyone because women tend to want to head down the aisle sooner than men do. The latter was the case for me, and I didn’t give my husband an ultimatum but I made it VERY clear that I expected a proposal after we had been dating for about three years. I wasn’t shy about what I wanted, I was firm. And he valued our relationship enough to get down on one knee. Things are different when you’re young (I’m not advising any young people to rush out and marry their high school or college sweetheart today) but when you’re both living in the adult world it shouldn’t take a decade for your partner to decide if marriage is the next step for the two of you. That is usually a sign of a lack of compatibility or other problems. I’ve heard stories of women who dated men for ten years or more and then found out he got engaged to the next girlfriend after only a short period of time. I believe five years is the max you should let your relationship linger in one state if you’re serious about wanting to be married, but set your own cap, have a marriage mindset, and then stand up for what you want. If he’s “the one” he’ll develop a marriage mindset too.
Those are my tips. What are your tips for finding Mr. right and heading down the aisle?