Relationships

How Do You Know Your Partner Is the One?

kiss-at-door

We’ve talked about dating, heartbreak and what to ask before you get married. But lately, I’ve been ruminating over one question even Google can’t answer: How do you know when a relationship is right? (Yes, I typed that into multiple search engines, yielding many lists, but not much help.)

So I sought the counsel of committed friends (and some acquaintances, and a few strangers) and asked: HOW DID YOU KNOW? Was it a moment? A feeling? A decision? Some of their answers really surprised me…


We laughed at each other’s jokes.
“We had both recently read the same weird sci-fi book series. My husband always says that’s how he knew. I knew because no one had ever made me laugh as much as he did, and no guy had ever laughed as much at my jokes. We were each other’s ideal audience.” — Gemma

It was a choice.
“Maybe this is just semantics, but I say: Forget about ‘knowing.’ Perhaps some people experience that, but every time I thought I did, it turned out to be an illusion. It didn’t last. The difference with my wife was having that ‘knowing’ feeling, but also a feeling that together we could make a relationship that was the one. That would adapt to and incorporate us both changing. I feel like knowing who’s ‘the one’ is just as much a life choice as a love choice.” — Colby

How Did You Know Your Partner Was the One?

It felt inevitable.
“I met my husband on the Chinatown bus. I am normally SO shy about talking to strangers, so I had my earbuds in and my face turned to the window and my work in my lap — a wall around me. But he sat next to me, and somehow we ended up chatting without a pause from New York City all the way to D.C. I wouldn’t quite call it love at first sight, but rather this strong feeling of ‘but of course,’ or inevitability, but in a good way. I just had this instinct from that very first conversation that this person was going to be important in my life; that he was, well, the one.” — Laura

We became a team.
“I didn’t have one of those singular moments where a lightbulb went off. For us, we just went through the process of being together, until we gradually solidified into a team: Team Us, Team Weirdo, Team Let’s-Just-Stay-in-and-Watch-a-Movie. When we first started dating, we reveled in that blissful early stage — the one where you each see the other as beautiful, brilliant sex-deities and you become pretty sure that, before you met each other, you were just two zombie pod people wandering aimlessly through the world, waiting for soulmates to open their eyes and show them what it means to live? — and all of a sudden we were in love.

“Several months later, we reached that slightly less exciting, but much more comfortable (read: sweatpants) second phase of the relationship, the one where you realize you’re just two human beings trying your best despite numerous faults and shortcomings. We didn’t have a choice. We were a unit, and life has become an amazing, joyful, silly, scary, confusing, bittersweet thing for us to figure out together.” — Liz

He made everything better.
“Being with him felt like being on vacation from real life.” — Thérèse

How Did You Know Your Partner Was the One?

Everyone else knew.
“There was definitely a powerful feeling right away, and yet we didn’t get engaged for seven years. When my husband finally announced our engagement, his friend famously said, ‘Congratulations on not being the stupidest person on Earth.’ The point is, even if it’s clear to everyone else in your life, sometimes it’s hard for you to just know. Because it’s not so much a knowledge but a continuous process, choosing to share your life with someone, day after day.” — Jessica

It was never a question.
“Unlike my previous relationships, I wasn’t haunted by deeper, nagging questions of whether or not I wanted to be with him. Disagreements didn’t threaten to end in a breakup — it was always just assumed that we would keep going. Dating my husband was the only time I never saw the period at the end of the sentence.” — Megan

He made plans.
“My fiancé and I had been dating for a month when he told me, two weeks in advance, that he’d made reservations for Valentine’s Day. I was like, ‘He’s so organized, I love it. I’m definitely marrying this guy.’ ” — Ilene

I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
“In our twenties, after we’d been together for a couple of years, I considered whether we should take a Ross-and-Rachel-style ‘break’ so we could date other people and see who was out there. Or just to be out there. Not because I was getting bored — quite the opposite — but I was a little freaked out by the growing feeling I had that we might be together forever. The more I thought about it, I realized there was this choice: I could see other people, some of whom might be totally decent, and then go back to him, knowing with more certainty that he was the one OR I could see other people and never be able to get him back, because he could have moved on. Forever. The minute I gave those scenarios any thought, I knew I could never risk it. I remember welling up with tears just thinking about it. So that’s how I knew. By realizing I already had what I could never give up.” — Ruby

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I still don’t know.
“Describing the moment I realized my relationship was ‘right’ is impossible because there are days when I’m still not entirely sure. We’ve been together for eight years — through four apartments, two career changes and one wedding — and yet expressing authority on this subject isn’t something I do easily. Doubt is a part of life. I’m not sure you ever really know something as big as that.

“That said, I’ve always thought of love as an action, not a feeling. I believe in my relationship because of the small things we do for one another every day. Like yesterday, when my husband sent me a weird cat GIF at the exact moment I needed to laugh. Somehow, he just knew. I’ve never been a particularly romantic person, but that felt pretty special to me.” — Danielle

He was the nicest.
“With my fiancé, it wasn’t the crazy roller coaster I was used to. He was kind. For instance, very early in our relationship, he schlepped an air mattress all the way from the Upper West Side to my downtown apartment when my girlfriends were staying for the weekend. It wasn’t anything hugely significant, but I remember being surprised because all the previous jerks I had dated would never have offered. I just kinda knew this guy was a keeper.” — Danee

It was love at first sight.
“Funny, it’s hard to break down the feeling I had, the certainty, into words, because when I come up with a list of characteristics that ‘made’ me fall in love with her, it sounds like there could be a bunch of people out there who would fit the bill, but really, the first night we met, I just knew that she was the one. It was the energy. There was so much positivity flowing in both directions. I loved what she was saying, and how she was responding to what I was saying. We laughed so easily, we got each other. If I could have married her that first night, I would have.” — Alex

Everything felt okay.
“In a nutshell, soon after I met him, my whole life felt better. I started to see myself the way he saw me — I felt funnier, prettier, smarter. I was those things when I was around him. We brought out the best in each other. The minutiae of my day felt interesting and worth sharing. Nothing felt scary anymore. There was just this overwhelming sense that as long as this person was in my corner, everything would be okay.” — Eliza

How Did You Know Your Partner Was the One?


Unscientific as the business of love may be, I was amazed by the breadth of everyone’s responses. Indeed, talking to actual humans proved to be quite helpful. So I’d love to open up the floor for anyone who’d like to share their story…

Are you currently in a relationship? How did you know your partner was right — or not? Have you ever had doubts?

P.S. How to keep the sparks alive and 12 relationship tips from a wedding reporter.

(Top photo by Angie Royer; Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson at their wedding reception, 1988; couple on the beach via The Pie Shops Collection; stills from When Harry Met Sally)

  1. Lo says...

    My boyfriend and I met 5 years ago, in a bar with friends, and proceeded to have a dance off to see if boys or girls were better. At the end of the competition, we kissed, and I had butterflies. So then the shallow girl in me reared her head, and we were friends for 4 years. 4 years of frequent ‘check ins’ from him, and cute conversations. It wasn’t until we both finished work early and met up for a long overdue coffee when I looked over to him across the table and felt like there was a firework show in my stomach. It felt like I saw seeing him for the first time, this guy who had been there for 5 years through everything. Somehow, I just knew that there right in front of me was the guy I’m spending the rest of my days with. I’m kinda super proud of that guy and the way he makes me feel.

  2. Susanne says...

    it felt like coming home. and still does.

  3. I could of read these forever. They are such beautiful stories and I’m such a sucker for true love. I’m a real romantic. I know I found the one, it was almost instant with me. The most heartbreaking thing about it though is that I don’t know if I’m his. We broke up 6 months ago and although we talked about maybe one day we could find our way back, there is something telling me he’s gone now. It’s quite lonely being in love like this but I have every faith that I will someone will one day come along who will love me for all I am and I’ll be their “one”
    These storied definitely gave me good thoughts about it all

  4. Stan says...

    I liked the story about the couple meeting on a bus from NYC to DC, because my spouse and I also met on a bus the day after Thanksgiving 1994. It was a group tour, a weekend trip from Boston (our hometown) to Montreal. Ted was the one who made funny remarks that made everyone laugh – not at anyone’s expense (except sometimes his own), which impressed me. They were creative twists of words and events, never laughing at anyone. We had lots of firsts that night: first time either one of us had French snails for dinner; first time we met anyone whose previous partner had died at about the same time; first time we ran for our lives when chased by huge brown squirrels in a park. We married on the front steps of Cambridge City Hall on May 17, 2004, the first day that we could marry, and thus making us one of the first same-sex couples to marry in the U.S. We “camped out” in City Hall with other joyous revelers. Three things stand out about that day: neither one of us planned to marry that night and had to borrow money from the female couple and a straight couple in front of us to pay for the marriage license. Neither one of us asked the other, we just got in line like it was meant to be. We had gone to Cambridge just to join in the festivities! Second, as we walked down the steps of City Hall, someone from a floral shop reached out and handed us flowers – ordered by a straight couple from Wisconsin with instructions to “give the flowers to the first married same-sex couple that you see.” We were both greatly moved by that gesture. So unprepared were we that we just wore casual shorts and did not even have a camera with us for photos. Thirdly, we now like to joke that we lived in sin for ten years, but have been living out of sin since we married over eleven years ago, together for a total of twenty-one years.

  5. Molly says...

    As someone who had never said “I love you”, he made is so completely wonderful. He said it the night before we went rafting with my parents, and I knew he was a bit nervous (because whitewater rafting is no joke) but his nerves made us explain exactly how we felt and we haven’t looked back!

  6. Natalie says...

    A lot of ups and downs. Some really low moments for the both of us and I didn’t know for a while. I’ve always been self conscious about myself and my flaws and one day I was complaining to him and he told me “Stop. You’re perfect. Everything about you is perfect.” I know that I have some attributes that I wish were better (I’m sure he’d be able to point them out privately :)) but for the first time I really believed that I was perfect. He makes me feel like I can do anything and be anything I want to be.

    Also, definitely glowing just thinking about him.

  7. Funny… My first boyfriend was a super nice guy .. But there were no sparks … My second it was all sparks but no niceness… And then I met my husband… And it was the perfect blend of crazy sparks and oh the niceness … That’s it I knew when I saw that he literally had everything I wanted in a guy.. Heck i always wanted a left handed guy who had good looking hands.. He does!! Can’t get more right!!

  8. Sarah says...

    I knew he was the one when he still loved me and continually believed we would get married one day, even after I made a huge mistake that consequently hurt him in the process. And quite frankly, I didn’t deserve for him to unwaveringly love me as he did at that moment. And as a side note, I also knew when we were (and still) plan our lives together, I love it. Nothing makes me happier than the idea of growing old with him.

  9. CeeBee says...

    Two ways to know if he’s The One: 1)Whenever he annoys the shit out of you, you don’t care. And you haven’t ever cared. It’s not that you pretend not to care or that you’re martyr -ing yourself in the name of love, you have just never been bothered by his quirks. 2) You become profoundly sad when you realize that you will never have enough time on earth with him. We could be married 70 years and it will never be enough.

    I would have married my husband after our first date nine years ago. He was different than other guys I’d dated and I definitely was hoping we could find some depth together. At the end of that first night, he was driving me home and we ended up singing The Golden Girls theme together. Talk about hilarious! We’ve taught each other a lot over the last 9 years. We built a life together that is really fulfilling and we’re happy together. It’s so easy to be together. It really doesn’t get better than that.

  10. Isabella says...

    I knew right away that my now-fiance was the proverbial one. I didn’t meet him until I was 35, and I’d had lots and lots of time to date lots and lots of not-the-ones. I remember on our first date thinking, “Wow, this feels totally unlike anything I’ve experienced before,” and also feeling that I basically never wanted to be apart from him from that day onward — like I’d finally found my very best friend on the planet, very much an “At Last” feeling. It was mutual, and four years later I’ve never doubted, and being together is still the easiest and sweetest thing I’ve ever experienced.

  11. I came from a background where people still do arrange-marriage. Would that make their partner “the one” in some way? Or they actually never met “the one”? People don’t always get to end up with “the one” do they? :(

    http://www.theeyetraveler.com

  12. Daniela says...

    My boyfriend and I have been together seven years. I know he’s the one because we can talk about anything. I would never ever worry about him judging me, and even at my absolute worst he is completely patient and understanding. He just takes care of me and is always there. Sure I have doubts because it’s such a big thing and he’s my only serious relationship, but when we took a break for a year (long distance is hard!) we still talked constantly and when I was sick during that time he’s the one I texted to feel better. Now when I think of being without him I feel a deep sense of terror.

    Oh! My mom also said that if you can deal with someone when stuck in a hotel room while it’s raining and you can’t do anything, that’s how you know. Passed that test!

  13. Addie says...

    Fate led us to one another and above all else it was easy-we didn’t have to try to be anything other than ourselves – he was also so kind and we had so much fun together and we quickly became a team – we are certainly the lucky ones

  14. Margaret says...

    I had known my husband for four months my freshman year of college. I liked him and we were friends, but he hadn’t expressed any interest. We went away to the beach with friends for Easter weekend and I remember trying to time our walk down the beach so that it would be the two of us. I remember vividly thinking, “I could follow this man anywhere, I want to walk down the beach with him forever.” I think that was my moment, even though he was completely nerdy and staring at the washed up jellyfish. Five years and one major breakup later we were married and now we’ve been married for eight years and have three kids. I think for us it was just inevitability. We couldn’t not be friends, we couldn’t not get together, we couldn’t stay apart even when we were. He is just the one, and has been since that beach weekend thirteen years ago.

  15. i had never believed in soul mates or “meant to be” until I had been married to my husband for 4 years. We were actually in kindergarten and second grade together, we reunited and started dating when we were 22 and ever since I’ve felt like he was the one but we work every day on our relationship. It wasn’t until recently that I felt certain that it was no accident we had a childhood together. Not that each person has only one right match, but we were lucky enough to make this good one work.

    • Emily says...

      I love your story because I met my bf when I was 2🥰we were best friends until we were 14. Then everything changed and we both knew what was happening. I tried to hide my feeling but it didn’t work. When we got older we decided to date. We’ve been together ever since. I can’t imagine my life without him. I would follow him to the ends of the earth.

  16. Kate says...

    I love this post! My husband and I talk about this often…. We were a long distance relationship. On one of his trips out to visit me, my husband said it was a moment we were talking about a book we were reading together. He said it hit him that he wanted to do the reading and talking every night. We were tired of phone conversations. I guess for both of us it was a “we hate being apart” Let’s fix this! Also, for me, it was realizing that he was the one person I wanted to be around 24/7. I never tired of hanging out or being near him (as an introvert that said a lot). I think our relationship went quickly due to the distance and I would not have it any other way!

  17. Shari says...

    I believe in true love and fate. The connection between my husband and I is just too cool and was unbelievable when we first met. I’ve seen this connection between many of my friends and their partners too. We’ve all been married between 10 and 15 or so years now so don’t really go over those romantic stories anymore, but you can see the love often. All those cliches about puzzle pieces are true.

  18. Tyler says...

    Oh man! Like one of the interviewees said, it was because he was so kind. He would help my friends move their furniture, spoonfeed my ailing mom, push my car to the auto repair when it died.. There was just nothing he didn’t step up for. And he continues to be that man.

  19. Really great post, as always, Caroline. I’m loving reading these responses and the comments, too. I’m three years into a relationship and wake up with more questions than answers every single day (yikes!). I know that sounds bad, but we have a lot going against us and I find myself regularly considering the “what ifs” just to be safe. The only thing that I know for sure, based on past experiences, is that I know nothing for sure. Haha :)

  20. martha says...

    I knew from the very first date with my now husband. I was so over the dating scene, that I made a promise to myself that before I went out with him, I was going to be my real self, from the start. So, on our first date I behaved with him the way I would’ve with a good friend, without trying to be too cool or any of those other things everyone does when they first meet someone they’re interested in. On that first date, eleven years ago, we spent the entire evening talking, and were kicked out of the cafe we were at. I knew at that moment he was the one.

  21. Anna says...

    With my husband, it was the first relationship where things were basically easy. We had disagreements and misunderstandings, but I didn’t ever worry about what would happen to us in the future because we just seemed to be already moving in the same direction. It was like we just took it for granted that we would work through any obstacles. Even though we had that new relationship excitement, we could also see that there was a stable base upon which real deep love could grow, without much fuss or hassle.

  22. Cynthia says...

    I’ve been with my husband for 38 years and married for 37 years. I almost didn’t go out with him, but I changed my mind at the last minute. By the second or third date, I knew he was the one. I felt as though I had known him forever, and l what I loved best, was that he didn’t care I was a Latin teacher. (When I told guys I was a Latin teacher, they’d look at me like I had antennae sticking out of my head.) I accepted him for who he was, and he accepted me. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, and we’ve managed to stay together. We have two adult daughters, and we are enjoying our empty nest. Not quite empty, we have a cute dog, the son we never had, but he’s adorable.

  23. It literally clicked. We worked together for 5 years and I never thought of him as anything but Danny who I work with. Then a fellow co-worker mentioned she had a dream about him (she was younger and all dramatic about it – as teens tend to be). While she was playfully appalled, I suddenly noticed his appeal – smart, cute, funny and nice. I suddenly had a huge crush and it’s never gone away.

    6 years later I know it was timing. We were both maturing and changing at the same time and in ways that brought us together. It wouldn’t have worked any earlier than it did and now it’s perfection.

  24. I had doubt’s while we were dating. Just regular feelings of wanting to be “totally sure.” After a breakup just months before we got married, I knew then. During that breakup, I missed him so much and didn’t want to live my life without him. It sounds kinda crazy but that time solidified it for me! He, on the other hand, claims he knew we were going to get married after knowing me for only a week!!! Haha I still think he’s nuts!! :)
    http://www.sweetlytattered.com

  25. Stephanie H. says...

    I don’t know about love at first sight, but I definitely had attraction at first sight. I met my fiance at a New Years Eve party at a mutual friend’s apartment and I remember seeing him for the first time and just feeling like I wanted to know more about him, like he had some wonderful secret I was meant to learn. And I think he felt the same way, because I kept catching him glancing over my way from across the room. But he had a date – a REALLY pretty date. Still, the attraction was strong enough to bring us together and we had our first ever kiss shortly after midnight.

  26. Julie says...

    joanna, you ask the best, most insightful questions. I knew when, two months in, he casually (jokingly) asked me “wanna get hitched?” one morning. I felt my heart skip a beat because I so immediately wanted to say yes. That’s when I knew. And when he asked me for real years later, I couldn’t wait to say what I wanted to all those years before.

  27. Laurel says...

    When I tell our story, most people look at me like we are nuts. My husband told me he loved me on our second date. And I knew he meant it, that he wasn’t crazy and that I loved him too. Like many of the people interviewed and who’ve commented, it was just that right chemistry.
    I should also note that when I met him, I was so frustrated with guys in general that I’d nearly sworn off dating. I’d come to grips with just being alone (which is a little sad for a 24 year old!) and was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. So meeting him was a bit of a shock, because all of a sudden my life made so much more sense with him in it than without.

    We’ve been together eight years and married for seven. We’ve started, ran and dissolved a business together, moved from the U.S. to Australia, had a child and have another on the way. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs through all of that but the assurance that life is better with him than without has never changed. I know I am not unique in the hope that our marriage lasts and sometimes I feel like the odds are stacked against us. But I show up to this marriage every day, ready to roll my sleeves up and work through any problems that arise. And I know he does too. He’s just as committed as I am and my trust in that gives me hope that we will make it.

    • Ashley says...

      Love this! You aren’t nuts. :)

  28. Denise says...

    When I dated my husband, it felt completely different than any other relationship I had had. I remember likening it to the ocean; instead of the dramatic crashing waves (of emotion) I was used to, it was peaceful beautiful seas ahead.

  29. Kassie Zott says...

    I could’ve read this post for an hour. I did not want the stories to end.

    • Kayla says...

      Ditto!!

    • Ewie says...

      Same! I just wanted to read more and more stories…x

    • I agree!! I kept reading hoping that the scrolling wouldn’t stop.

      I know with my boyfriend within the first 10 days. And I think Laura explained it perfectly…it just felt inevitable. Especially on top of his thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy, sense of humor and the “za za zhu” (to quote Carrie Bradshaw)!

    • Diana says...

      yes!

  30. I married my husband of five years after knowing he existed five weeks. Funnily enough neither one of us believed in getting married. However, I felt a deep alignment all around me forming. Things kept merging together in my life as soon as I met him, totally random things with correlations to my past. It culminated one night and I looked at him and “just knew”. There is no other way to describe it. It felt like the Universe was poking me in the forehead like “doink”. “Hey idiot, make a move. This is a trajectory point in your life”. I asked him to marry me that moment. Best decision of my life, it all…works!

  31. Jessica says...

    Every relationship before him was full of infatuation but a bit frightening because I knew in my gut “this guy wouldn’t be good long-term.” I couldn’t imagine them as a father or a husband — just a boyfriend. Also, a couple of the guys before my husband didn’t share my faith in Jesus and that was my biggest red flag every time because God isn’t a hobby to me. God is my life.

    My husband was different. He didn’t pursue me – he befriended me. And I knew immediately he would be an amazing father. His faith seemed even stronger than mine and he expressed a genuine love for everyone he encountered. A love that reminded me of how Jesus loves. We obviously were attracted to each other, but we said “I love you” as friends on a daily basis before we began dating. He also had a strong respect and love for his family. Before asking me to be his girlfriend he talked to each of his siblings and parents to hear their thoughts. It’s hard to generalize what it was that helped me know this relationship was “the one.” But there were so many green flags, and no red flags.

    • Shanna says...

      Beautiful!

  32. j says...

    I definitely got that spark the night I met my boyfriend (soon to be fiancé) and I just knew something was different. We met in college and I had seen him around a couple of times but we had never really interacted. Looking for a way to engage him, I asked him if I could take a photo of him. It’s blurry and actually a really terrible photo but there was just something in that moment that I couldn’t shake. We started dating not too long after that, but we had a rough start and I remember telling him I couldn’t see him because I knew I would fall in love with him and I didn’t want that at the time. We’re very different personality wise and he’s not at all what I had imagined my “one” to be (at that time in my life). But it was really just one of those things that as soon as I met him, I just knew I would be with him forever.

    I think someone in the above comments said something like it was “inevitable” and I absolutely agree with that sentiment. It was like as soon as we gave in to the inevitable, we fell in love and haven’t looked back since.

  33. Kristin says...

    I’ve known my boyfriend for more than half my life (14) years. We dated on and off in high school, but called it quits because we went to different colleges and we were young. We remained friends, and for the first time in ten years, we spent time together when neither of us was dating anybody else. And that was it. That first night. Given half a chance, the spark that had always existed blazed. From the minute we knew each other as single, available adults, it was clear why we’d remained friends. We’ve always valued each other but never tried to impose on the other person’s other relationships over the years. But I’ve always trusted him, and respected him, and appreciated all the ways he’s been supportive. And now we’re ready for forever.

  34. great conversation! i love reading this post :)

  35. Allison says...

    I’ve been with my husband for three years, married for almost two. It only took me a little while after we met to be pretty darn sure I’d marry him if he asked me. :) But ultimately, I don’t think he was *the one*.

    Back when we were dating, in the lovestruck phase, I was willing to decide that he was the one I’d marry and be with for the rest of my life. And he was willing to decide that too. The longer we’ve been together the more OPPOSITE it turns out we are, haha, but I’m of the persuasion that true love is more of a choice than a feeling. I like what one of the other commenters said about the person being willing to be there with you on your absolute worst day. He’s chosen me, and I’ve chosen him. Case closed, we’ll see you at the end of our lives, probably scarred and a little worse for the wear, but holding hands all the same.

    • Oh man, this one got me! I love how you phrased this!

    • Jessica says...

      Yes, yes. I totally agree with love being a choice. A daily choice we both make. Sometimes hourly. Hah. I’m learning more and more to let my feelings fall to the wayside. They’re like icing on the cake, but they shouldn’t be what’s leading me. Thanks for expressing what I hope more people come to realize!

  36. belinda says...

    definitely “it was never a question” resonates with me. and that he feels like home, and i couldnt live with out him, and that he’s perfect and beautiful and makes beautiful children :)

  37. Betsy says...

    I never had a moment when I consicously thought/realized/decided that my fiancé was “the one.” Rather, I caught myself wondering when he would just buy a ring already (we hadn’t even been together a year) so that we could get married.

  38. A.Zarraga says...

    Knowing he is the one has occurred to me in surprising ways. It happens over and over. The time is caught me most by surprise was after I found out that he had thought about cheating.

    In the movies, on tv, and with certain people you know, you always assume that it would be some dramatic falling out. That your world would be forever change, trust forever broken, and that you’d have a messy divorce. I know he was the one even in that painful moment because I wanted to fight for our relationship. I was not blind by love or trapped by the idea of marriage–I simply knew that this was a test for the both of us.

    Years later, we are still working on building a stronger emotional foundation for our relationship, but loving him and knowing he is the one has never been work–never been a question.

  39. Dee says...

    As others have already commented I can’t subscribe fully to the idea of ‘the one’ (for me it’s unfair on the bereaved and those who suffer unrequited love) but I knew I would say yes to marrying my beau (now husband) because right from the start I always wanted to hang out with him above anyone else… At a house party, if I was talking to someone else I wanted to be talking to him, on a night out (at a certain point in the evening and after a certain number of drinks) the rest of club might as well not have been there I only wanted to dance with him. The parties and the clubs are few and far between for us now but it is still exactly the same feeling, my favourite days are just us, hanging out. I know he has faults, and in fact in our first year of marriage there was difficulty and a betrayal, but even having to live with that (with the sheen well and truely removed from our relationship), I am still so grateful everyday that we met each other. Would my life be better if I hadn’t married him? Or would I find better? No, I wouldn’t, even with the difficulties, my life is better with him.
    (Also a comment on the comments about not being able/ wanting to marry for risk your feelings might change in the future… Marriage isn’t a declaration of a fixed state of emotion, it is a tool to help you stay together. All you are saying when you get married is that you think what you have with this person is so special that despite Life’s inevitable hardships and sadness -some of which they will bestow on you or make worse for you- despite that, you will be better with them than without.) there is help you resist th

    • Nicole says...

      This is so well said. I agree with Dee that in many ways, framing a relationship as ‘the one’ can be unfair or even dangerous to the relationship in the way that term idealizes your partner (when you go through something difficult, you decide ‘I guess this person really isn’t the one’, and then are free to leave). Also, these statements on what marriage is– brilliant! Have Dee write a guest post :)

  40. molly says...

    I’m assuming that Alex is Joanna’s Alex, and what he said is the loveliest thing ever! How precious. xo

    • Was wondering that as well, Molly! I hope it is Joanna’s Alex as well :)

  41. TC says...

    Love this question. I moved in with my husband at 23. He wasn’t the one. At 25 he wasn’t the one. But then around 27/28/29, I started to realize, hey, we are really making things work. And even after all these years, we can still have interesting conversations together when no one else is around. And he still made me laugh (and vice versa). And the things we wanted for our future were the same, so finally we both realized, “We can do this.” And we got married. :)

  42. Some people wait their whole lives to have children or visit some far away place or accomplish some specific goal. I didn’t realize it, but I had been waiting my whole life to meet him.

    I finally knew when we were in a long distance relationship. It was heart-breaking but and unforgiving test of the strength of our relationship. We made it through four years and got married a few years later (we definitely didn’t get married right away either, much to the ire of our families. What’s the rush?).

  43. I knew my husband was the one because there was never drama. Our relationship was so easy right from the start. We never had to “work” on our relationship. It just always worked. That’s how I knew.

  44. I stopped worrying about what I was going to say. Every time I’d say something and have a quick flash of “Oh no, that was too nerdy,” or “Shouldn’t have said that, he’s going to think I’m crazy,” it would turn out fine. I still love that, even though sometimes he purposefully ignores me. That just means maybe I actually DID go too far!

  45. janelle says...

    the timing of this post is so spot-on for me. The comments from Danielle sound very familiar. And that is comforting. I’ve always doubted with every guy and always wondered “if it was enough”. But with my current boyfriend I can see past it easier for many reasons previously mentioned: we are on a team, he makes me feel better, we laugh, and he always is first to make up after arguments.

    For several reasons I like this piece by Pamela Druckerman, but mostly for this:
    “• There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. (“Yes,” said a colleague, when I informed him of this, “and I’m trying to sleep with all of them.”) In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/opinion/sunday/what-you-learn-in-your-40s.html

  46. I moved far from home after I graduated college. I met my now-husband in my new city, and knew he was “the one” because he was the first person who made me feel like I was home.

  47. Katherine says...

    My friend who was married said that her husband was her favorite person. And this is lame but I read an article where an actor said his wife was his best friend that he wanted to sleep with. When I thought about both those things he was the person I kept going back to. We actually met at 22, broke up and then got back together 6 years later. Best decision I ever made.

    • molly says...

      Katherine, I think this is so sweet!

  48. KJ says...

    Great question! Even though I loved my husband pretty much right away, it took me a little while to decide he was the one I wanted to marry. My main hangup was his crushing amount of student loan debt – I knew that marrying him would require tremendous sacrifice, and we would not be super comfortable. However, when I pictured him living all alone in his parents’ basement, I just knew I could never abandon him to that fate, and that I would rather struggle financially with him that be comfortable all by myself. Haha, that’s like the least romantic answer possible and sounds like I married him out of pity, but that was my epiphany.

    One year in, and we couldn’t be happier. Our apartment is tiny, and our summer vacation was tent camping, but we laugh so much and enjoy being together immensely. I feel so lucky to be with him and it never feels like a sacrifice – our life together is far richer than I could have dreamed.

    • cg says...

      So interesting, your take on it, because mine was sort of opposite. When I met my husband in college, I knew he was a different type of guy, he didn’t brag, boast or try to get attention but when he spoke it was interesting and would make me smile. Instantly I knew that he was the *type* of guy I would want to marry -but though I was attracted to him and we ended up dating, it wasn’t until a few years out when I realized that I loved him enough to actually marry him. He was the one a bit concerned about my (crushing) student loan, hahaha. A few months ago we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary, and our 22nd anniversary since our first date.

    • Wendy says...

      Beautiful

    • gayathri says...

      This is really sweet!

  49. Brittany says...

    I had just turned 17 when I started dating my husband. It was our senior year of high school and we both had totally different outlooks for the future. On paper, it didn’t seem like it would last, which made me feel so sad because I liked him so much.

    Two months in, he asked if he could see me on my lunch break and he told me that he was considering going into the Air Force, but wanted to make sure he didn’t lose me if he did. A lightbulb went off in my head at that moment…a certainty that we would be together a long time. Something about the way that he looked at his future as our future clicked for me.

    He ended up choosing college over the military and we are now 24 and graduated. We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and are getting ready to move to Turkey to start our careers!

  50. Emma says...

    Is the “Alex” who was quoted Joanna’s Alex?

    • Jenny says...

      Good call! I would love to know too, please tell us! That was a very sweet answer too :)

    • I am curious too! :)

  51. Jen says...

    This post is lovely. Before I met my husband I pondered the same thing.
    For me it was never a choice. As lame as it sounds I feel like my soul is tethered to his and it has been since we met. There’s a strong pull. Logically I could talk about the things we have in common or even the things he does that get on my nerves, but it all comes back to that deep chemistry that’s infamously hard to describe. That’s why people say, “you just know.”

  52. Laura says...

    I think the idea of “the one” is a dangerous concept in our culture that prevents people from allowing a relationship time to grow and deepen. This is an unpopular opinion, but I think that arranged marriages can really work. Maybe being committed to a person who is kind and shares your beliefs and values is enough to be happy. I met my fiancé in college when I was 20 years old. He was my first boyfriend. As a previous commenter said: no big sparks, just a constant glow. We started dating and just kept dating. We moved in together after college because being together all the time was just better than living apart. No big fuss or drama or declarations of undying love. It was easy and fun. About 4 years into our relationship I started to realize that this was the only man I’d ever be with and I began to panic, but there was never a good enough reason to leave and when I thought about how it would break his heart, I just couldn’t go through with it. Eventually that feeling faded and now that my quarter life crisis has ended, I can see that the grass is not always greener. Our relationship is not perfect or immune to problems, but every day we make the decision that it continues to be worth it. I think it’s important to always question and doubt so that you can continue to make the conscious choice to love each other.

    • lomagirl says...

      Yes! Love is very much a choice. It doesn’t always work- and sometimes we have to choose to remove ourselves- but I married a kind man- who drives me crazy sometimes, but who I choose to be with. I choose him to be the one.

    • Linda says...

      I don’t disagree with you about arranged marriages. If you’re in a non-repressive situation/culture, and the matchmakers truly have your best interests at heart, I think you can learn to love someone over time. I certainly love my husband much more now than I did when I married him 15 years ago.

    • Meredith says...

      “I think the idea of “the one” is a dangerous concept in our culture that prevents people from allowing a relationship time to grow and deepen. ” Agree x 1 million. :)

  53. Next week my husband and I will celebrate the day we met 15 years ago. It’s an anniversary more significant to both of us than our wedding day. It’s called Realiversary. I still remember, the night we met, this feeling I describe as being struck by lightning (If that ever actually happens I’ll have something to compare it to!) and I’d only heard his voice as he directed my friend on how to parallel park her car. I don’t know what it was in his voice. A familiarity? A recognition? Who knows. All I know is I stepped out of the car before my friend had even put it in park and the rest is history. HOWEVER, relationships take work. Add kids: double work! I don’t think you can yield anything close to a romantic comedy -esque relationship if you’re putting it on auto-pilot. You get what you give.

    • jess says...

      lindsay, i experienced something similar. when i first saw my partner i got a feeling kind of like the wind being knocked out of me (but not as violent? or painful!). it was powerful and delightful. it took us almost 2 years from that time to become more than just friends but we’re about 2.5 years in now. While I don’t get that struck by lightning feeling often anymore, I’ve found that the depth that comes with really sharing a life with someone and the mundane, boring stuff of the day-to-day along with all the ups and downs has been more powerful and special to me than any lightning bolt!

  54. Annie says...

    I’ve been with my husband for 10 years, married for 8 of those 10. I think the most important question to ask with regards to your significant other, is, “will this person show up for you on the worst day of your life?”

    If you don’t know, or can’t answer in the affirmative, it says a lot.

    • Jenneth says...

      I love this – so true.

  55. Carly says...

    This resonates with me so much. I met my husband at 20, got engaged at 24 and married (two months ago!) at the young age of 25. We’ve gone through some serious stuff, been on opposite sides of the world for huge chunks of our relationship and have moved together 5 times. It has not all been sunshine and daisies and there came a point in our relationship-about 2 years in- where I realized that our mutual persistence was the backbone of our relationship–and that we weren’t going to give up on our relationship even when things got really tough. That was such a revelation and was comforting in a way, knowing that your person wasn’t going to throw in the towel at a moment’s notice. We love each other fiercely and I feel so lucky to be able to call myself his wife!

  56. Danielle’s response resonated with me the most. To claim any authority on this seems a bit silly. Think about all the people who talk about finding “the one” only to divorce. It is so refreshing to be reminded that doubt is a part of life and relationships. I would rather not declare that there is just one person for me, and I would rather not declare that I will feel a certain way about someone forever. If I turn around in 60 years and realize I have spent it with one person, hurray, but to proclaim it ahead of time makes me feel like a fraud. We don’t really do that in any other aspect of our lives “this is the only house I ever want to live in”, “this is the only job I will ever have”, “I will love pizza forever”. Maybe we feel this way about family members but I am not sure we create events (like weddings) where this is the main focus? If I ever have vows I think they are going to look something like this: “you are a ton of fun, lets keep doing this for as long as we can”.

    • Emily says...

      I agree with everything here except the comment about pizza. Clearly everyone will like pizza forever ; )

    • Totally agree. I went to the wedding of a friend – the second marriage for the groom – and there was something in the vows about “the One” and all I could think of was “did you say that at your first wedding?!?”. But happily their marriage has lasted almost 20 years and 4 kids, so maybe she really is The One.

    • ellie says...

      Thank you for your eloquent comment. I also agree with you. How can we just declare someone “the one” from a feeling? I’ve had two serious boyfriends in the past who I was also convinced were “the one” until they weren’t! With my boyfriend now, I am way more skeptical about labeling him. Rather, I know he is a wonderful man who will always do his best not to let me down, who will be a great dad and is the best teammate I could ask for at the moment. To me, that’s enough to make the next steps with him, though it doesn’t mean I’m not nervous. I guess what I’m saying is that love is not enough – sparks, whatever. There’s more than goes into it than love.

    • Agnes says...

      But when you get married, your husband becomes your family member. Not really comparable to choosing a pizza…

  57. I felt like I came home…I didn’t have to be anyone but myself around him and I knew that I could build my life that way.. that he would let me be me and I could let him be him and we could grow old together

  58. i love this post. i’m in the midst of a self imposed challenge to get out into the dating world (whatever that means…) and push myself to be less shy when it comes to guys i’m into. its been really discouraging and really challenging, but reading this makes me feel like there is hope out there. of course all of these stories and different but they all kind of point to the old adage “when you know you know” which feels really comforting and hopeful to me.

  59. I love this question, even if it feels a bit unanswerable. There were several things that lead to me knowing my husband was “the one.” We had known each other, but not well. We were barely acquaintances. One day, when we hadn’t seen each other for a long time, we saw each other across a crowded room, and it was like everything blurred except him (and he said the same about seeing me). He asked for my number, and we went out. It never occurred to me, even a little bit, that he was the one. We were college sophomores and not looking to date anyone seriously. After that, it just kind of became this force, and we fought it pretty hard. We figured we would date for a few months and then go our separate ways for summer break, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to end it, so we didn’t. Our relationship just kind of kept going, and we kept trying to keep it casual, and we just couldn’t control it. That summer break was the best thing, it turned out, because I thought he was was a hot, but not so bright, kind of a jerk, jock. That summer apart meant all talking and no sex, and he was awesome. That was 12 years ago. We moved to Texas together 10 years ago. Were married 7 years ago. We have two darling babies (and hopefully we’ll have even more)! Now on the the doubts…

    We were young, so that alone gave me some pause. It’s scary to devote yourself to someone at 20 years old. There was another guy who came before him and I had been sure he was the one, and that was REALLY hard to shake, even though I intellectually knew he wasn’t. We’ve had some hard times. Some inappropriate actions, some deaths in our families that put a lot of strain on us. Our kids…I love them, but babies can be hell on a marriage. There have always been moments when there is doubt, and I 100% believe they are there in every relationship.

    I don’t really believe in soul mates but I think “the one” is a combination of a lot of things. For me it was super hot sex, feeling comfortable being myself, similar intellect and sense of humor, similar life goals, and intellectual choices like looking at his family life, how his dad was, how he treated his mom and sister. It sounds like a lot of things that you have to get right, but it just kind of works out and we’re a huge source of comfort for each other, and life is so hard that comfort is really the best thing you can ask for. I just feel calm when he’s around (and I’m not a calm person).

    • Also, the way I can tell when other people have met their one…they are with someone completely different. I knew my sister would marry her husband the moment I met him because he was so unlike anyone she had dated before. It was like something greater than her type had brought them together. I think it’s important to be open to different types of people than you would expect to be your one.

  60. Kate says...

    Caroline, this post is awesome! Fascinating discussion. Also, could that picture of Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks BE any cuter?!

  61. Jessica says...

    We met five years ago. We were both working at 5 Guys (yes, the burger joint). He worked days and I worked nights and we only saw each other in passing. One night, he and some other day shift guys came back to help clean for our first store inspection. Apparently this guy that worked the night shift with me liked me and tried to embarrass my guy by asking him, “What’s the biggest joke ever?!” across the restaurant. My guy yelled back, “Woman’s rights!” Being the feminist that I am, I marched across the restaurant up to him and asked him, “So do you have a girlfriend?” “No..” “Well, maybe that’s why.” And I marched back to finish whatever I was doing. I was impressed with someone who was so sure of himself and didn’t care what anyone thought of him. We started hanging out, went on some dates, and have been together since.

    Though I also, wanted to take a break for bit a couple years ago to determine if he was “the one.” My parents are divorced and they didn’t date a long time before they decided to get engaged and get married. The break only lasted about 7 months because I honestly couldn’t find someone who understood me as much as he did.

    *Note: Today is my due date and we are expecting our first child (baby girl) at any moment :)

  62. Kat says...

    I just knew. The night we met at a mutual friend’s birthday we talked the entire night in our own little world. After our first date, I said to my friend that I was going to marry him. I’ve never felt more at ease with who I am or more understood. My love for him is so deep and comforting. I know that you can never anticipate the curveballs life throws at you but I know that we continue to choose each other and our life together everyday, what more can you ask for?

  63. I had broken up with the “LOVE OF MY LIFE” and was still a blob of drama goo, pulling myself out of the mire of 20 something love when I met this man. He was instantly laughing with me, at me…teasing me and making me smile when I didn’t want to. He helped me move, showed up on time, spent hours with me on hikes not speaking at all, brought his dog to my apartment to lure me out for breakfast, brought me flowers and a Bart Simpson card that read “I won’t be a JERK!” when we argued for the first time…It dawned on me one morning that I just couldn’t picture my days or nights without him anymore…like a limb would be missing if he went away. That’s when I knew. 23 years later, 2 children, more moves and changes, fights, follies and laughs than I could ever have counted and I love him more today than I ever thought possible. Blessed.

  64. Joanna. You always make me cry. I’m glad you have a link up there to “Heartbreak.” These are lovely though…

  65. Kate says...

    I was talking to my therapist about some of my frustrations with with my partner, and she asked if I was doubting our relationship. As a chronic worrier, I said, “No, but I feel like I should be!” She said that maybe enough is “right” that the “wrong” things are outweighed.
    It made me think of this quote I saw on tumblr or somewhere:

    “What is bad now, is bad now only. What is good now, is good always. We make that choice.”

    So empowering I think!

    • wow. lovelovelove. this is really the ticket “What is bad now, is bad now only. What is good now, is good always. We make that choice.” !

  66. S says...

    People often talk about whether or not there is a “spark” when they meet someone and begin dating. But I wouldn’t characterize the relationship my fiancé and I have like that. I was shy and skeptical when we first started spending time together, but his persistent kindness quickly brought me around. A few months into dating, when I had a big, stressful meeting the next day and a lot left to prepare, he came over, poured me a glass of wine and busied himself cooking dinner in my kitchen. No attempts at conversation as I worked, just pure support. And I looked up and thought, “OK, fine. You’re right. This is it.” I’d characterize our relationship and a slow and steady glow. Not sparks, not drama or games, but rather built on kindness, and the safety and contentment that grew from that. At the same time, the fact that we shared so many shared life experiences, values, and complementary interests contributes to that sense of partnership and nourishment. At some point, to my own surprise, the words “marry me,” started to bubble up and want to come out of my mouth instead of “I love you” when we were curled up at night. But I stubbornly waited for him to pop the question.

  67. Jaclyn says...

    My husband and I were teenage sweethearts and the night I met him we were with a big group of mutual friends at a diner. Seating was limited so I scooted onto half of of the chair he was sitting on and introduced myself saying, “hi, I’m Jaclyn, I’m gonna sit here, ok?” I’m pretty sure he responded with, “whatever”.

    Another guy neither of us knew sat down across from us and looked at us funny before stating, “this is weird and I don’t know how I know this but I can tell you guys are a couple.” I responded with, “what?! yeah right, I just met this guy!”

    16 years later and I didn’t know it at that time, but I think that’s the moment I should’ve known he was “the one.”

    It’s strange to think about now and I don’t even know that guy’s name but I’d love to chat with him all these years later and see if he remembers us.

  68. A T says...

    I love your blog and read it several times a week. Because I love it, I wanted to let you know that it makes me sad that all of the images you posted for this lovely piece on love feature heterosexual, white couples. I’m sure it was an honest oversight, but wanted to point out this omission of a variety of “partner” imagery. Thanks so much :).

    • p says...

      I respectfully agree! A quick scan shows me that the majority of the reader comments seem to be women writing in about their men – I wonder if not seeing themselves in images in this post or the blog content more generally deters a more diverse readership? It’s so subtle sometimes, but so pervasive. I am otherwise a fan of the blog, and hope this feedback is constructive. It’s offered in a spirit of caring.

    • Shay says...

      The photo in the middle with the man in the white tshirt and the man in the red/white striped shirt is two men…

    • Becca says...

      Shay is right – that was the photo that I thought was two men, convinced myself it wasn’t, and on checking again see that it was! I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed that before on this blog, so I’m happy to see it changing/continuing :). I vote for even more diverse, awesome photos!

    • Madie says...

      I’m not sure, but I think the photo of the 2 people lying in bed are both men?

  69. Jenna says...

    Gosh, this comes at the best time. I just got engaged and have wedding vows on my mind :)

    The first time we hung out, we just talked all night long. It was a first and on the way home I realized that I wasn’t trying to impress him at all, I was just myself…because I wanted him to truly like me for who I was, no games! That’s how I knew, it was so natural.

    • Elizabeth says...

      That’s exactly how I felt when I first met my husband and still do. We can both be 100% us and we both absolutely love each other as we are. It just feels right and comfortable. I love his company in a way I’ve never felt with another person.

  70. It’s the little things for me. The guys I dated before were all wrong- too skinny, (as in, I’d maybe break him if I did a running, jumping hug) too critical, didn’t enjoy coffee shops, hated dancing… things that by themselves aren’t huge, but together, they matter. I love exuberant hugs, encouragement, coffee and dancing. I couldn’t imagine spending life with someone who fundamentally was against things I love. My husband are opposites in many ways too though, which means we compliment each other well. I feel like the best version of myself when I am with him.

  71. JCR says...

    The way I “knew” is a hybrid of many of the answers in this post. We did have one moment–we shared our favorite books and found we shared the same one, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankel, which helped us both through our grief of each losing a brother earlier in life. That was certainly the moment where I felt we actually had something meaningful in common that I don’t find with everyone… But we were just friends for a few more months after that moment. When we finally began dating, he was certainly nicer, more thoughtful, more organized than any of the previous guys I’d dated–the only guy to send me flowers, the only guy who was unafraid to bring up “the relationship,” the only guy who thought ahead for my birthday and special occasions. It wasn’t quite the intense chemistry you read in books and see in movies (which had me thinking twice at first), but it was easy, friendly, comfortable, steady, fun–and I realized I wanted that more in a relationship than the exhausting emotional ups and downs I’d experienced in some of my more passionate relationships. Because it was so easy and comfortable, we eased into the relationship naturally, and there was no real “the one” moment. It just worked, and we liked that we helped each other be better people. At some point we were just on the same page that we were choosing to be with each other and would continue to choose to be with each other. Our three years together so far have been my happiest, and we were married last fall.

  72. Claire says...

    The day I met my husband we were both 16 and working at our first official summer job. It felt like someone shook me the first time I saw him. It’s a feeling I have never experienced before or after that.
    I didn’t get how momentous that feeling was until people would ask “how did you know?” and I’d tell them about the shake feeling and they’d look at me like I was nuts – and it’s not even like we met and fell in love at 16 and lived happily ever after. We didn’t even start dating until we were 23, but I have tell you, if this is the only gut reaction I ever have to something or someone, thank God.

  73. AJ says...

    I never expected to fall for my partner. We met by chance, I’d sworn off men, and didn’t think I was interested. But for some reason, I liked being around him. We laughed at each other’s mostly awful jokes, being in his company was so free and easy, and after a while it dawned on me that I was in love. What struck me most was how full of promise life felt just being together, and I could be totally myself with him, and emotionally so honest – I’d never had that before, nor felt so, just, secure and confident in the relationship, none of those niggling ‘what about this…. What does this really mean’ questions I’d always had before. I also respected him so much as a person, and was totally rooting for him. In turn, he was rooting for me, and even after four years, my heart warmed to see him. When he proposed, I was literally walking on air for days – I didn’t know it was possible to feel so happy! I pictured us growing old together, two crazy fools laughing at inappropriate things, obsessing over cats, sampling all the world’s burger joints and dancing in the kitchen with our future children. Then, nine months before the wedding, overnight, he called it all off. Cold feet, doubts, who knows – suddenly he wasn’t 100% sure and couldn’t go through with it. It was one of the most intense griefs I’ve ever experienced. And it didn’t make sense. But what could I do?! Weirdly though, while it was the best relationship I’d ever had – and lost – I also coped with the breakup better than any previous. I think that’s because I’m more self-assured and have more respect and love for myself now I’m in my 30s, and know better how to be kind to myself. Maybe that’s partly thanks to him too. Funnily (well it’s not really funny!!) he wants to get back together now (six months on) and is sure he made a mistake. I still love him – I have no doubt about that – but now I realise things aren’t that simple. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I guess my point is, when it comes to relationships, things are never entirely definable. There are curveballs, and no matter how much we love each other, we’re humans: confused, sensitive, emotional. We don’t always react in the ‘best’ ways, and can let each other down. But…we can also laugh, trust, forgive, cry with happiness and feel on top of the world, all because of love. It’s a package deal. Do we opt in or out? Think I’ve left you back at square one there, right?! Love huh. Sheesh! No matter what though, I’ll never stop believing in it 8)

    • Cait says...

      AJ I just want to give you a big hug. What a painful thing to have to go through, but you seem very strong and have a great attitude. All the best to you.

    • Leah says...

      This is a sad but wonderful story and your resilience is astounding.

  74. Grace says...

    What a sweet post. My moment was 4 years into our relationship and happened in the most mundane way possible. It was late one night and he was fiddling with the cable box because it’s always on the fritz and I remember just looking at him and feeling overcome by love and the though “I’m going to love this man forever” just floated into my mind. So funny how such an everyday activity elicited such a strong emotional response.

  75. Leslie says...

    we are both products of strong marriages – brought up to be confident low maintenance grateful self-fulfillers of our own happiness. He makes me laugh but I make me happy vice versa for him. Some see the glass half full or empty, we’d both just be happy to have a glass. we’ve been together for 17 years (I’m 33) and its been easy only gets easier. The only time we have trouble is when our egos start turing us into assholes and that’s when we burn all of our belongings and smear the ashes on each other’s naked bodies… I’m kidding of course, but metaphorically speaking that’s what steers us out of a rough patch.

  76. i know everyone is saying this, but this such a great post.
    i think i knew my husband was the one from two things – 1) everything is automatically better when he’s around. 2) i’m my best self with him.

  77. Kelly B says...

    When I thought about and imagined everything I wanted to do in life, he was there, and it was all better because of it.

  78. Amanda says...

    Thank you! I ponder this question often myself

  79. Julie says...

    We were in the same friend group growing up & had many tipsy make-out sessions several years prior to committing to each other. I was a transitioning college grad dealing with the ups & downs of post grad life when things started to get serious.

    Like others have said, it was more of a choice than a feeling. Everything seemed so easy with him; there was no drama or worry about the status our relationship – I always knew he would be there for me, even on our bad days. We are on the same team, each helping to make the other better & keep a smile on their face ( most of the time ;) ). And it really is the little, day-to-day things that reassure me of any doubts… as little as making the bed or bringing home a chocolate bar to share.

  80. Kristin says...

    I remember lying in bed, just before falling asleep, and realizing that the concept of “forever” didn’t scare me anymore, the way it had with others. And I fell asleep with such a sense of relief.

  81. My husband and I had met briefly (I mean 15 minutes of talking at a party, and that was it) in the States when I was here on vacation. Months later he found me on social media, and eventually we started chatting every day. He flew to Australia to see me, and within days, we knew this was it. It was easy and comfortable with him, and I just knew I loved him.

    He proposed six months later, and our families must’ve though we were completely insane. It’s now nine years later, we’re still very happily married and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I never wanted kids before he came along, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else being my partner in life. He’s the best man I could’ve ever hoped for, and I couldn’t imagine my future without him.

  82. I love this! For me, I see elements of how I “know” in almost every example above. The funniness, the kindness, the living life with one another, the calmness. Love seeing these thoughts on “the one.”

  83. lindsay says...

    i love this post. my husband and i have been together for 4 years and married for 9 months. we’re both introverts, and while we love seeing our friends and family, after too much time with people, we just need to be alone. but there’s one exception to our people-are-exhausting belief: each other. we can be together nonstop and never feel worn out by it. we both think it’s because we so enjoy doing nothing together! and we’re comfortable with being together, silently.

    • Meredith says...

      Omg, SAME. I’m a tried and true introvert, but being with my husband never drains me. Thanks for bringing this up, it’s so true!

    • Leticia Centeno says...

      I was reading the post and so many comments “trying to find my answer” as if my boyfriend is the one and read your comment.

      I have never tough about it but this is true for my relationship as well.

      I get tired of being among too may people or spending too much time with a person (even if i love them to death) but I’m never ever tired of my boyfriend. Ever.

      :)

  84. It felt like the best kind of inertia – I never thought once to do anything but to continue on seeing him. Like others have said, it felt inevitable. I must have sounded crazy when I talked about it only 3 months in, but I knew neither of us were going anywhere. When my husband talks about us, he’ll say he fell in love at first sight. But for me, it was this like leaving on a trip one day on impulse, and never once considering returning home. 13 years later it still feels like I’m away from the home I once knew, like I’ve permanently settled in another, beautiful country.

  85. i knew my husband was the one for me because he made me the best version of myself. he never wanted to change me. just enhance the most beautiful parts of myself. and i did the same for him! though i do wish he’d learn how to properly put away our dishes… ;)

  86. Stacie says...

    After a few dates with my now-husband, I threw away a shoebox full of mementos from former boyfriends. I had never been compelled to do that with any other new guy. And then a few weeks later while hitting golf balls with my grandpa, I turned around and saw my now-husband giggling away with my grandma in the golf cart. That’s when I specifically remember saying in my head that I was going to marry him.

  87. Barbara says...

    I LOVE this. Thank you to everyone who shared and who is posting.

    I started dating my now-husband in high school as a senior. We went to different colleges, with no expectations, but thinking that we would stay together until other relationships took us apart (which they never did). He says he knew that he was going to marry me the day I left for college, but it took me a bit longer to figure it out. We did the long distance thing all through college, and then through my graduate school – about 8 years. I figured out partway through college that he was the one – because he was worth hanging on to, even though we only saw each other a few times during the year, and no one that I met in college was ever worth breaking up over. I really related to what Megan said above, about how a disagreement was just something you got through. We got through the long distance because we just had to, there was no questioning it.

    Now, almost a year into our marriage, I really think that I married my best friend. I feel lucky every day that I started dating my husband at 18, even though I would have never thought that I’d marry my high school boyfriend. You just really never know.

  88. Amy Lauree says...

    Was the “Alex” in your post your husband talking about when he met you??

    I met my husband one summer through mutual friends. We all would hang out together (with other people) and I thought he was cute but not much past that. Then it became clear to our friends (who are a married couple) that they could definitely see a possibility of us being a good fit together. I remember my friend saying to me one night, “You know, he would be such an amazing guy for you because he would be devoted to you for the rest of his life”. That one word, “devoted” had me sold, and after that I kept hoping he would like me too, and he did! And he has been exactly that, devoted- but not perfect, but definitely dedicated to be a caring, loving, intentional husband for the last 7 years.

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hi Amy! Yes, that is Joanna’s Alex. She was a little shy about including his answer, but I thought it was so sweet I insisted. ;)

  89. Megan says...

    I’m getting married in 17 days (not that I’m counting), and I’ve asked myself this question, too. How did I know? How do I tell my single girlfriends when they’ll know? But it’s so personal, and varied, and human, as you say. My fiance and I knew VERY early on (by week two we had even vocalized it), but there wasn’t a lightbulb moment. Like Megan said, there were no nagging questions, as there had been in the past. It was just assumed. It was easy. It was, and is, the most comfortable relationship — not to be confused with boring! He is kind. He has serious integrity. He is committed to us. I cannot imagine life without him on my team.

  90. Laura B. says...

    This post was so sweet, it made me tear up!

    I have been dating my boyfriend (and now roommate) for 2.5 years and I knew pretty immediately he was going to be someone I wanted to hold on to for a long time, but I definitely had one “aha!” moment.

    Jaime and I had been dating for approximately 2 weeks and he told me he had never been on a picnic or a roof in NYC (which seemed unacceptable), so I made us a roof picnic at my place. When we came back in for the night, I realized I had lost my earring on the roof at some point. We went to sleep and I chocked it up to a loss. The next morning I was awoken to him dripping wet holding my earring… He heard it start raining and didn’t want it to be lost forever, so he went up there in his work clothes and crawled around until he found it. It was definitely the most genuine, romantic gesture I had ever experienced.

  91. Alexandria Mitchell says...

    I knew he was the one on our first date. We were friends and around the time he wanted to ask me out, I started dating someone else. He patiently waited for me to realize I was in the wrong relationship and he would swoop in. My husband is not a patient man so for him to wait around all those months was a true test. He says he knew I was the one before we starting dating. On our very first date, it was so much fun and the moment he held my hand to cross the street I knew. I felt something special right through those mittens. The way he lead me across the busy street and looked back at me. The moment I noticed the Christmas window display with a bride, groom and the wedding party all in white in the background. I just knew. I was exactly where I was destined to be with exactly who I was meant for. It has been an adventure ever since.

  92. For me it was about knowing I could choose this person over and over again. I met my husband when I was 20 and we both went to the same college. He sent me a message on Facebook back when facebook was a new thing and we became friends immediately, hanging out, eating together, smoking cigarettes (awful, I know) outside the dorms , and it quickly snowballed into a relationship, then moving in together. He was my first real boyfriend–I’d dated a few guys before that but never brought anyone home to meet my family or really even interact with my friends. It was always casual and with Sean is was serious and fast. After that, it was a choice–we wanted to do this together, we could both see a future and we wanted the same future. We talked about the long game, openly and honestly. We’ve been together going on 11 years now, married 5 of those years, and we had our son last year. We have so much history and still have such a good friendship.

  93. Edie says...

    For me, it was not having to ask the question of myself all the time. In a previous relationship I spent a lot of time asking myself, asking my friends, asking my family– Is it right? I was always weighing the pros and cons. With my Sweetie, there simply was no need to ask all the time, Is this right? Is he right for me? Mental gymnastics and deep soul searching are unnecessary because there is a lovely sense of internal calm.

  94. Megan says...

    Thank you for writing this, it’s exactly what I needed! This has been at the forefront of my mind for the past month or so, trying to figure out if my boyfriend is ‘the one’.

    Some past coworkers told me that if you have to ask yourself if he’s the one, then it’s probably not right. But I think that is the worst advice ever! Everyone seems to have doubts in their relationships, but you have to figure out which ones are worth listening too. And the fact that no one talks about them doesn’t help either. I think the advice in this post, and all the comments is amazing, thank you for sharing!

    • Amanda says...

      I think having occassional questions can be typical but I think true, gut-feeling doubts are different and it takes a lot of bravery and honesty with yourself to allow yourself the opportunity to recognize the difference. I think, like everyone says, you can tell the difference between general anxiousness and real doubts if you allow yourself to but you have to give yourself the time and space to recognize and accept the differences. If you’re always thinking, ” I just don’t know if it should be this way” I think it probably shouldn’t.

  95. Christie says...

    I don’t think there really is such a thing as ‘THE’ one. It somehow implies that only one person is ever the right one for you, and if you lost them somehow you’d never find another ‘one’ again. It puts them on an unrealistic pedestal where as soon as the romance starts to fizzle you are doubting yourself.

    I think there are people that you love and you can’t imagine being without, and you want to be with them more than other people at that time in your life, and that’s the best we can really do. Being in love (or being married) is a choice that you have to make over and over – it’s not some airy lovey dovey feeling that always sticks around.

    Caroline, I came across this quote online and your post has brought it to mind. I think you’ll like it.

    http://imgur.com/gallery/XAixQ

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Christie, That quote is so sweet. Thank you for sharing it!

  96. Cait says...

    What do you do when you had that feeling about someone, that you knew, but they didn’t feel the same? Where does that leave me?

    • Kate says...

      I’m sorry. That stinks. I think it means that although you have a great capacity for love (cheers to you!), that person was not the one. Because a big part of s/he being the one will be knowing you are awesome and putting you first.
      In case you wanted my opinion. :-)

    • Cait says...

      Kate that was really sweet. Thank you.

  97. Rachel says...

    I had a real period of doubt where I wasn’t sure if my husband and I were meant to be together. But then I would meet other men i found attractive, and as I got to know them I realized that I would never have with anyone else the wonderful things my husband brings to the table. My life wouldn’t be as good with anyone else. It was a conscious choice to stop looking around for someone else, and I have never regretted it.

  98. I always wanted kids someday and when I became friends with my now-husband I knew that I wanted him to be their father.

  99. Samantha says...

    I believe it is a choice. At 40 and 45 we have three daughters, and we are a great unit collectively. There are days I blow through my list of “what ifs” and there have been really hard years in our 13 year marriage but I was given some great advice that I still carry with me: “if he is working on the marriage it is not worth giving up on”. We have both made the choice to stay and work based on love, attraction and family.

  100. Erin says...

    Ha- I think I once emailed this question in! The guy I was wondering about and I broke up shortly after (he was moving much faster than I was and I realized I needed to end it sooner rather than later so he could move on and find the white picket fence life he dreamed about). It was hard though, because on paper he was perfect: interesting job, shared interests, ALWAYS held the door open for me, financially solid…etc, but there was something missing that just made it not right. Right before we broke up, my friend summed it up so simply: he’s perfect, just not perfect for you. It’s not good or bad, it just “is”.

    Knowing when to recognize that he’s NOT “the one” was the toughest part for me.

    • Jenny says...

      I love that comment: “he’s perfect, just not perfect for you.” That goes for so many things in life. Whether or not something is right for you isn’t necessarily a judgment about the thing itself, in a vacuum – it’s about how it interacts with and relates to you. As Amy Poehler says in Yes Please, “Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

  101. My favorite piece of relationship advice came from a friend’s mother. She said: you know a person is the one when there aren’t any tiny “no’s.” At the time, I kind of got it, but it’s really stuck with me and makes more and more sense as I navigate relationships in my 20’s. I can now pinpoint 100 tiny “no’s” from my past long-term relationship — they were always there!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      That’s really great advice! So, so true.

  102. Cindy says...

    I thought I knew what it was like to “just know” he was the one…until he ended our relationship after 11.5 years…I am now wondering if we ever truly find “the one” or if there is even is a “one”…I have been pondering this and discussing with my girlfriends but am still skeptical that it’s more than someone being “the one” for that specific moment in time.

  103. My husband and I “met” online in 2005 or 6. He proposed within the first 15 minutes of our first “conversation” via instant messaging. 3 months later, I flew from Canada to New England to meet him. We’ve done long distance, visas, an international move, another cross country move, another inter-state move with a dog and 2 kids in tow.

    I knew when we met in person the first time that he was it. There was never a need to impress each try and impress each other, nothing was ever awkward or forced.
    We made the choice to make it work, and still do everyday. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

    We’re basically the same person, with the same sense of humor. We look more like each other than our siblings. We’ve been married for 7 years this week.

  104. Amanda says...

    I honestly never believed in love at first sight or even the idea of soulmates but there I was sitting unexpectedly in my cubicle one day, when someone came up behind me looking for a conference room and when I turned around to respond I saw him and I swear in that moment he looked so familiar I did a double take. It was a moment of instant knowing, like we’d spent years together. He smiled and spoke in a way I immediately recognized even though we were living in different states and would never have had the chance to meet before. We went to dinner together that night and it lasted 5 hours. We were living in two different states and I was already in the process of moving to another so starting to date at that point seemed crazy but I just don’t think it could have been any other way. 4 and a half years, 2 years of long-distance dating, 2 big cross-country moves, a wedding and a new house later we still believe we recognized each other as soulmates at the exact minute we met.

    • MrsD says...

      I love this! I could picture it in my head too!

  105. Sarah says...

    I met my husband when I was 25. I had been dating a bit prior to meeting him, and had recently moved back home post-college, and I think subconsciously imagined introducing these other guys to my family and friends. I would convince myself that I liked the differences we had in beliefs or sense of humor or, hell, taste in music. But really, they were just wrong for me. Before my husband, I had to sort of make excuses in my head for the guy I was dating. But then I meant my husband and I remember seeing a picture of him on social media one day. And it just hit me. No excuses, no rationale. He just fit.

  106. Kim says...

    So many of the above comments ring true (even though I think “the one” is a misnomer, as relationships are contextual and are all about timing and commitment and loyalty and wants and needs and so many other things – but for the sake of argument, let’s talk about why I married the guy I’m with)
    1) He’s the nicest guy I ever dated – amazing, right? If he likes you, he’ll treat you right. The assholes are NEVER worth your time. No games, no constant guessing if I was texting too much/too little/ keeping him on the hook/ keeping him too far off the hook. After not seeing him for a few days, I texted “I miss you” before I even realized what I was saying. The slight panic arose, that maybe he was like every other guy, and he’d leave me on the line, but it instantly faded. He texted back “I miss you too” instantly.
    2) Being with him is the easiest thing ever. What’s the saying? “Imagine sitting on the couch with this person for the rest of your life.” Yes. Sitting with him sounds amazing.
    3) I’d say my biggest moment of clarity was when he was dealing with family issues, and his mother – an alcoholic – was wrongly blaming him for something he didn’t do. It was such a heartbreaking thing to witness, and he was so upset that his family could be so awful to him. I immediately went on the defensive for him. I felt SO protective of him, that I almost felt like a mama bear protecting her cub. It was that moment that I knew he was my family, and I would do absolutely anything for him. When he went from “boyfriend” to “family,” it was like looking into the crystal ball of my future. That was the moment I knew he was it.

  107. lindsay says...

    My fiance and I met online. We did lots of chatting on the phone before our first date. I told my friends “this guy is nice, but I think he’s too square for me.” I even had other dates lined up for the weekend of our first date! But once we were in the same room, I felt a ZING that I’d never felt before. And when he put his hand on my back as he kissed me for the first time, I thought “this man is going to take care of me for the rest of my life.” I cancelled my other dates and have never looked back. We’re getting married in 45 days!

    • Meredith says...

      My husband and I met online too. I know of so many wonderful relationships that began that way.

  108. Kash says...

    Totally agree with all the comments about it being more of a choice than a feeling! For me, yes! I can’t get totally away from doubt, but I can make a choice and trust myself to have made a good one. And a continuous choice, too: sometimes I am like “oh, yeah, definitely this is the one NO DOUBT ABOUT IT” but when we are arguing I’m more likely to feel unsure–but even in those moments of doubt I think it’s important to keep choosing them.

    Also, I read an interview with Olivia Wilde once where she said the sweetest thing about her husband: she said “I could never imagine life without someone I respect, someone who offers me infinite possibilities.”
    That resonated with me a lot in terms of making the choice about someone being “the one.” It’s important that my partner is someone who doesn’t just support me in accepting who I am, but who makes me strive to be kinder and more generous, to be more honest, to try harder at the things that are important to me. “Possibilities” doesn’t have to mean actions or tangible things, I don’t think, it can be more abstract things–but I do think that a partner that is worth choosing is someone who lifts you to a place from which you feel able to be better, not “for them” but because of how a relationship with them makes things possible for you. :)

    • I completely agree with this, it really echoes my own experience.

  109. Meredith says...

    Caroline, I love that you have a wide breadth of answers here, because everyone is different! I had a lot of anxiety surrounding marriage, and I think it was because I believed that I had to have a lightbulb moment, I had to feel like I had been hit by lightning. How wrong I was! For me, deciding on my husband was absolutely a choice, and it’s still one that I make by loving him and by being married to him. I totally identify with Danielle about “I still don’t know.” That answer is certainly not as romantic as “it felt inevitable,” but it rings true for me, and I’m sure for others. I think it should be talked about more.

  110. Rachel says...

    Being currently engaged and trying to figure out how to mesh our lives together has made me realize that no matter how different we are, we fight for one another. This may sound silly, but no one is holding us down forcing us to get married, but for some reason or another we find ourselves going through the motions of walking down the isle. Our first date for us felt like a sigh of relief. He told me instantly he wanted to marry me. From then on, it was clear that that’s the path we were going to take. We never really questioned it. No matter how many “breakups” we went through, the end result was clear – we would still be getting married. Everyone always says that a spouse has to bring out the good in you, but I think a spouse should bring out a good fight in you. Meaning, nothing in this world will be easy and we will share a good deal of heartache and struggles, but in our relationship we’ve built each other up to be strong as a team.

  111. I knew there was some strange magic when I liked him terribly, and so did my mom…

  112. Maria says...

    I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 2 years. And I knew it the moment I realized, that the small stupid things that drove me mad in previous relationships didn’t bother to me anymore (i.e., put the toilet seat down!) :)

  113. I’m on the eternally single plan right now, but with Jason I knew because we had so many of the same dreams. I was very wrong, but in another time and place, perhaps it could have worked.

  114. Jenny says...

    After a few long term relationships and several years of horrifically bad dating that had left me jaded and disheartened, I had written off relationships and decided to focus on feeling complete and content all by myself. After years of oscillating between feeling like there was something missing and dealing with the upheaval to my equilibrium that careless people brought, I finally felt content and at peace. And then eventually, out of nowhere, there he was.

    There are countless little parts of the whole that sort of clicked into place. There were the 1st tier checklisty sort of items that I had always considered my baseline (yet had foolishly made allowances for on many occasions, much to the chagrin of 20/20 hindsight): he had a job, his own place, shared my passion for education, etc.

    Then there were the 2nd tier items – the things that spoke to my own specific wants, needs, and peculiarities: he was truly kind and I was proud of the person he was (unfortunately not a given in some previous relationships, I found, and something I became keenly aware to look for), he made plans in advance, he had long-term friendships, he was very communicative and straightforward, and he wrote me letters! (probably my main “love language,” and something most previous partners had failed to reciprocate, let alone instigate).

    And then ultimately, I think the deciding factor was that he never made me feel anxious. Every other relationship I had had, if I was very sure about my feelings for them, I was never certain that they were sure about me. Insecurities, false starts, and baggage crept in right from the very beginning. And in other relationships, I was the one who felt anxiety in my gut that I was settling for less than I wanted and that the relationship had an expiration date. But with him, there was this incredible calm right away. No games, no maybes, no anxiety. It felt very organic and self evident that we cared for each other and of course we would be together. It just felt obvious that whatever difficulties came our way, they would be bumps in the road that we would face together rather than insurmountable obstacles that would throw us off course. It was clear that we were on the same side.

    Megan’s answer really resonated with me: “[it] was the only time I never saw the period at the end of the sentence.”

  115. It was Valentine’s day 2003 and the fella I had a crush on invited me to dinner with him and some friends. At the restaurant him and I instinctually sat next to each other at the table, this was the first time we did that and I instantly knew he was the one because it felt so natural sitting down next to him, like that is how it was meant to be. It sounds so crazy, but after we got together he told me he felt the same thing in that moment! We celebrate 12 years married this September. :)

  116. Michelle says...

    I had just been broken up with because of my uncertainty about marriage. I loved the guy, was attracted to him, loved his parents, and loved how “right” for each other we seemed on paper. But when he mentioned marriage I felt absolutely panicked and could not imagine spending my life with him. I remember asking my friend’s mother how she knew about wanting to marry her husband of 25 years (“Were you nervous?” “How did you know?”). She said she just KNEW. She didn’t feel nervous at all. Even though, deep down, I knew I didn’t want to marry my boyfriend at the time, I likely would have kept dating him had he not broken up with me…I’m grateful he did. Shortly after that devestating break-up, I met my now-husband. I first noticed his kindness, humility, and reliability. He grew on me slowly as we kept bumping into each other with mutual friends. Once we started dating, he mentioned marriage early on (after just 2 months!) and I felt complete confidence that I wanted to marry him too. It didn’t scare me at all; I felt nothing but excitement to spend my life with him and certainly didn’t feel compelled to ask for outside advice. He was it for me and we married very shortly after. After 9 years of marriage and 2 kids, I still don’t have any doubts.

  117. jen says...

    I think it’s the talking that is the common thread. We talked on the phone every night for a year, then married. Altho I also know people who marry someone they are super attracted to and it also works well.

  118. I think the moment I met my husband, I knew he was “the one.” We could talk about anything and everything–and being around him, I just felt completely at ease.

    Really though, I think what makes him the one is his willingness to work every day on our marriage. In every argument we’ve had, every tough spot, every moment of frustration, sadness or confusion–I’ve always felt firm in our commitment to each other and to our marriage. It’s the best feeling, and it’s how I know what we have will last.

    Aleah
    lovelyliterary.com

  119. Alex says...

    I didn’t have a love at first site moment, or any great epiphany with my husband. And we had a rough start with 9 months of long distance – to AUSTRALIA! Literally the opposite side of the world! But as things progressed – he moved to New York, we got an apartment, we got engaged, married, etc etc – it all just seemed to happen so naturally. Like every life changing move was just a little thing – no big deal. And I wasn’t stressed or panicked about any of it. And now we have a kid one the way – which also just felt natural…

  120. MrsD says...

    We “broke up” once…for only a couple of hours. I started to imagine seeing him with another girl and I could not bear it!! I knew I didn’t want to be without him in my life. When he hugged me, my soul calmed, and I felt safe. He was the only person to ever make me feel that way…so we got back together and that was that for me. He is the best thing to ever happen to me and is truly my best friend through all the things life has thrown at us. I’m going to give him a big kiss when he gets home!! I can’t wait to read everyone else’s stories:)

  121. Paige says...

    I once heard that the answer you give when someone asks you “How is your relationship going” shouldn’t often be one extreme ( “Incredible!” “Amazing!” “He is the breath to soul!”) or the other (“Drama!” “I am so mad at him!” “Listen to what he did the other day…”). They key to a healthy relationship is when the answer is often “Things are good” “Not much to report” “We are doing fine!” I have had a my share of dramatic and intense relationships in my life where I felt I was living in extremes. With him, things are usually (“Just fine!”) and that is how I know it’s working and will continue to work…for us.

    • S says...

      Yes, so true! And part of that is the willingness to address and work through the challenges directly with my partner, instead of just venting about them outwardly to others.

  122. I knew my husband was the one about a month into dating, when he came to a brunch I was throwing for some friends. He just instantly meshed with them so well, it was like they were already his old friends too. He also brought a cut-up pineapple in a big metal bowl, and when the party was over, he accidentally left the bowl at my apartment. I never gave it back. In my head it was like this crazy collateral. I thought, he can’t dump me or disappear–I have his bowl! We laugh about it now. He’s like, if I had wanted to break up with you, that bowl would not have held me back. Eight years later we still have it.

    • I laughed so hard at this and read it out loud to my husband, who cracked up too!!

  123. Amy says...

    It was a conscious decision for me. I remember wondering if he was the ‘right’ one, and making a pro and con list, and in the end realizing that I was choosing whether to make the commitment, not waiting to realize if he was ‘the one’ (neither of us really believe there’s only one person out there for us, although we’re both very committed to a lifelong marriage). Six years of marriage and I haven’t regretted my decision once. Yeah, it’s had its tough times, but I’ve never regretted marrying him. Phew!

  124. Katie says...

    “I wouldn’t quite call it love at first sight, but rather this strong feeling of ‘but of course,’ or inevitability, but in a good way.” Exactly.

    When I look at Alan’s face, it just makes sense to me. Like, the way it looks… it just makes sense.

  125. Christine says...

    Joanna great compilation of quotes, thank you! The best quote was the One makes you feel “funnier, prettier, smarter”. The flip side and as equally insightful is you know he’s NOT the one when you don’t feel this way, and rather the opposite.

  126. I love this post so much! I knew my husband was the one because we weren’t play any games. I could just be myself and didn’t have to deal with any of the stupid drama that can happen in the early stages of a relationship. (Like what does that text message mean, should I call him, I don’t know how he’s feeling, etc. etc.) It was so easy to just be with him. He’s since become my best friend.

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  127. Rupa says...

    This was fantastic, thank you! It is so refreshing to read a pice that is balanced and about the spectrum of these feelings. I could relate to far more of these responses that I expected to. I got married a week ago today and it was that which cemented it for me. That was when my heart felt full.

  128. Because life is SOOOO much better when he is with me.
    Everything is better when he is there.

  129. Emily says...

    I think it’s easy for me to say now that I knew all along my boyfriend would be the one, but that’s only in hindsight. When I first met my boyfriend we hit it off so well I ran home to tell all my friends I had met a guy and I felt like something would come from it. Looking back I feel like that moment could have been when I “knew”, but at the time I couldn’t have guessed how amazing the next two (and hopefully more) years would be! I just knew I had never met anyone as kind, adorable, and engaged as him and I definitely wanted to see him again. It’s fun to think back and remember how sure I was about our connection so early on (we only spoke for about 20 minutes total the first time we met!). But for sure the feeling of love and “he’s the one” developed over time and not in a moment. Getting through stressful times together, having his unwavering support and love, and his acceptance of my flaws, is really what tells me every day that he is the one.

  130. bridget says...

    i think it’s so interesting because meeting my husband when i was 29 sort of meant that we were past that crazy point in our lives where you have really dramatic relationships. we had a first date, and then a second date, and then a third, and then i couldn’t imagine not having more dates. it wasn’t immediate, but my attachment to him grew over time based on us being really truly right for each other. i never had to worry or guess about him, i just knew all along that he wasn’t going anywhere, and it made me stay put too.

  131. Whitney BG says...

    David and I met at the end of our freshmen year of college. We kept it light, hanging out as friends with the occasional kiss. Then suddenly it just clicked. We became a couple and within a few months I knew he was the man I was going to marry and spend my life with. From then on whenever we had a spat or went through a difficult period it was always “Okay, how is this going to work out?” because I know this man and I are supposed to be together. Ten years later, we are still together. We’ll celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary in October and we have two kids. David is my best friend and I love spending my life with my best friend. A friend once asked me “how did you know you could spend the rest of your life with one man” I knew when I didn’t look at it that way. It just wasn’t a question of whether I can spend the rest of my life with him, it was how could I not?

  132. Leah says...

    The words in this post are so sweet I’m welling up!

  133. J says...

    Caroline!! I feel such a soul sister connection with you, especially because I get a certain feeling that you feel very slightly lost in this whole world of relationships and love, just like I do. I feel like I’m at a point in my almost 2-year-long relationship where I constantly doubt he’s the one. It’s so scary!!! Everything with him feels so familiar, but we don’t have so many of these wonderful things that other people are saying. I should probably leave him, but a nagging voice is telling me that maybe there’s just something wrong with me- why can’t I just be happy with what I have ever? Or why can’t anyone love me the way these people above love their significant others? And also, here is the shameful thing- I am so scared to be alone and almost 30.

    Anyways, you seem to have a lovely, funny, tender heart and I wish the best for you. Something you really are going to meet someone who’s totally right for you, and then you’ll be all, duh, why was I ever worried?

    Btw, is that Joanna’s Alex up there? Melting over here!!

    • Another J says...

      You are taking the words out of my mind. I’m in a very similar situation (though it’s been 3 years – and I’m still not sure!) – especially that question of “Why isn’t this good enough for me?” when things feel so familiar and comfortable. Gah! Know that you aren’t alone.

  134. Emma says...

    I’m not particularly in the “one person for every other person” camp, but I am my goofiest with my husband. I’m not a particularly silly person 95% of the time, but with him I am. All my walls come down in the most lovely way. I never feel stupid around him.

    Also, five years later, I still love coming home to him. He is my favorite part of my day.

  135. KS says...

    It was instant. and at work. We had worked at different branches for a couple years and interacted, but never met face to face. He was going through a nasty divorce, but did not disclose that to anyone yet, I was going through a split as well- with very different circumstances, and as I was navigating things-resolving and dissolving, it was increasingly becoming tougher to swallow.
    We started being friendlier on the phone and working on a lot more projects together and things were feeling nice. We gradually (casually) learned how much we had in common, when I found out his situation, mine be came much easier to clear off. I was smitten. We still hadn’t even met face to face (nor were trying to, it was a crush.) Then a few ‘issues’ (not due to us!!) came up where he had to ‘pop in’ to my branch and I was done. I still feel that jolt- love at first sight. 7 years later and still going very strong and very smitten. He’s everything I’ve ever dreamt of, and it still astonishes me everyday.

  136. Lucy says...

    My Dad always said, “love is a choice you make everyday.” It wasn’t something I really believed until now, and I am older and married. I never had the epiphany moment that my husband was “the one”. I did, however, know that he was the first one that I wanted to make it work with, over and over. We broke up, we made up, he hurt me, I hurt him, and I always wanted to make it work. I never felt fed up, or taken advantage of. It was always worth it to me. And It still is. I choose my husband everyday, Every day he is worth it.

  137. Claire says...

    Meeting my husband- the moment I saw him an inner voice said “you’re gonna marry him.” To which I argued, “I can’t know that! If nothing else he would be a good friend.” We dated. We broke up. We became best friends. We became engaged. We married. My inner voice and my arguments were both right. There are moments when we have to stop and build up our friendship (because sometimes we forget, “oh yeah, YOU are my best friend!”) and other times we build up our romance- but always we are working. And playing. Living and growing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  138. ashley says...

    I’m a single New Yorker, which I can’t quite decide is a good thing or a bad thing (so many choices! but so many jerks!). I have no authority on the subject except to say that I got out of something that I knew was wrong. And that feeling isn’t one you should overlook either.

    That being said, I often refer back to the great post of tips from the Washington Post relationship reporter, and how so many readers gravitated to her advice on choosing someone KIND.

    So here’s hoping at 33 I can finally follow that advice. :)

    • S says...

      Yes! I was once describing my future fiance to beloved grandmother, and gushing about all the things we have in common, all the interesting and amazing things about him, and she stopped me and said, “Yes, but is he kind?” Luckily, he’s that too!

  139. Vanessa says...

    Being the floopy, doubting young woman I was (okay- real talk: am), after a number of months, I tried to break things off and my now husband (of 9 years) was a bit stunned of course. My reasons were because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be settled and finished dating. I knew in my gut he was right for me for a number of reasons, but I still had an urge to run. A couple of days into this break, we met to talk and he asked why I’d ended it. I didn’t have anything notable or intelligible to say, so I don’t remember what I said, but I’ll always remember what he said. Very coolly and confidently- and even with a lot of of compassion and understanding he said, “That’s fine. If you need time, you can have it. I’m not going anywhere. I know you’re it for me- I know we’re supposed to be together. Do what you need to do.” I was baffled by this. He waited and pursued me in that waiting. He fought for me! I was so used to my break up being accepted and moving on…I didn’t know what to do when my “no” got rejected! He chose to fight for me! That’s when I knew.

  140. Kellie P. says...

    These are so adorable, I just have to share my own. My husband and I were set up by… MY DAD. We talked on the phone a few times before we finally met in person. The moment we saw each other, we both laughed and then hugged. It felt like being reunited with an old friend. =)

  141. Laura says...

    I read once that both people in a marriage should feel like they got the better end of the deal, and I definitely feel that way with my husband–he’s super smart, emotionally mature (not to be underrated), ambitious, handsome, loving, and a great dad. I don’t know that I ever had a doubt that he was the one–even during bumpy patches in our relationship–but I certainly doubt I could find anyone better, so I’ve never tried!

  142. Karen T. says...

    I met my husband my senior year of college. I knew after our first date (a 5 hour comedy club fiasco) that he was the one. After that date (and subsequent dates) we’d spend hour upon hour on the phone just talking about nothing and everything. He listened and talked and communicated and cared about what I had to say. I’d never met anyone so open and kind–we were immediately inseparable. Nineteen years later, we’re still talking and he still cares deeply about what’s important to me (and now to our two boys.) (Did I mention he’s also the funniest person I know and handsome to boot?)

  143. Leanne says...

    In college, I was talking with some girlfriends about the stresses and hassles of being in a relationship. I was totally confused. My boyfriend was my calm space. When everything else was crazy he was centered. That was how I knew. (And why would you date someone who was creating havoc in your life in the first place?)

  144. When I met my husband, my intention was to just go on a date with someone (this was after I came out of a 3 year relationship) He was the first person to ask me out. After the first date, I thought “I would be dumb not to go out with him again. He’s pretty cool.” Every date after that I just kept thinking “he’s cool. It would be dumb not to go on a second date, third date, etc.” so it was never one moment. I just knew it would be silly not to go out with him again and that eventually turned into a relationship and now we’re married. I’m thrilled I told myself it would be dumb not to go out with him.

  145. Natalie C says...

    We met while working at a department store, I was working the Ralph Lauren counter and he was in Business Shirts. We used to get reprimanded all the time for chatting instead of serving customers! On our first date, we went from restaurant to bar to late night bar and talked and talked and talked until 4am. And that night, I just knew. It feels like I have always known him in my heart – it was a moment of recognition that he was now here.

  146. Jenna says...

    I always wondered if I would have that feeling that he was “the one.” I don’ t think it has to happen that way for everyone, this crystal clear “light bulb” moment, but it did for me. On our second date, we were eating dinner that we had made together. I remember looking at him across the table and something inside me said, “this is my husband.” I was so shocked that I hoped it didn’t show on my face. Eight years later, he’s still the love of my life.

    • MrsD says...

      I love that Jenna!!

  147. Laura says...

    Thank you! I totally needed to hear this right now. I think about this all the time, probably because I’ve never been in a relationship where I’ve known that he’s the one. Everyone says you’ll just know, but how?

  148. Lauren E. says...

    This is so, so sweet. And hearing the breadth of responses somehow assures me. I’ve been with my boyfriend 5 years and I’ve somehow known we’ll end up together but it hasn’t always been the perfect, blissful existence I imagined it would be when I found “the one.” It’s more like, this guy is going to give me the best life I can imagine in every way. And I’ve always felt like I want to give him the same.

  149. Laura says...

    I think for me it was that we could get along in the most mundane situations, like being stuck for hours at an airport waiting for a flight or during long car trips. I can have fun with him pretty much anywhere when we are together, and I think that’s important because a lot of life is mundane and boring and it makes it better to have a great partner to wade through all that with you.
    Also… I feel like I can tell my husband pretty much anything. We have been upfront and honest in our feelings and have had all our hopes and dreams planned out for a while now. I have friends that want to get married but haven’t really discussed it in depth with their partners! It seems so strange not to communicate about the most important stages in your life, like how you feel about marriage and having children.

    • PM says...

      So agree with Laura. All the little moments add up!

      Also: I was older (36) when I met my husband-to-be. We had both been in serious relationships before, and we’d both played the field. So we were really on the same page – wanting to find someone to grow old with, to lean on and to support.

      I will say, I still feel inCREDibly lucky to have found him.

      And, unlike other guys I have loved, I never had to “talk myself into” him. I always knew he was good for me and I was good for him. :)

  150. Mollie says...

    My husband and I went to the same high school, but didn’t start dating until a few years into college and he made a joke that when he ran into someone from our hometown he was going to say he married me and had a couple kids — except, when he said it, I had this rush through my body knowing that it wasn’t a joke, and that in fact it would be very much true someday. And that’s when I knew.