For many, trying to find “the one” is an epic journey filled with pitfalls, quicksand, twists, turns, and lots of surprises. But if you know what to look for, the journey might surprise you.
In just a few months, I’m getting married to the perfect guy for me. We laugh together, play games together, and, even after all these years, we want to spend all our time with each other. My friends always tell me I’m so lucky to have found my soulmate, my other half, “the one.”
And while I feel blessed in my relationship, I don’t think I’m lucky because I found “the one.” I think I’m lucky because I found someone I’m compatible with, and over the years, we were able to grow together and get closer until we got to be a such a great fit. Finding “the one” isn’t a matter of finding one specific person, it’s about choosing someone who’s a good match and fostering a life-long relationship.
Romantic comedies are movies, they’re not exactly real life.
When I watch romcom movies or read fairy tales about meeting “the one,” the couple always falls in love at first sight. The two have an unbreakable bond instantly and they know they’re meant to be together. Usually the rest of the story includes outside forces keeping them apart or a long journey to find each other again, but in the end they always live happily ever after.
But that’s not how it happens in real life. Stories give many of us unrealistic ideas about love, and leave couples disappointed when finding the best partner isn’t so easy.
A relationship doesn’t just mean being the right “fit” and feeling a connection. Relationships also mean learning how to be a great partner for each other and work together as a team. Your mate’s ability to be “the one” depends as much on them as it does on you.
So, while you shouldn’t give up your search for your soulmate, you might need a new road map.
Here are some traits to look for when searching for “the one” and tips to make that relationship last forever.
1. Find someone you can disagree with… in a healthy way
So many people think that living with their partner should be a jaunty skip through a field of flowers… which is why so many couples are disappointed when the honeymoon phase ends.
No one can agree with another person completely (and all the time). To be human is to think and make decisions and have ideas. There are so many opportunities everyday to make choices, and there’s no way someone else will have all the same ideas as you.
And even if you did: dating them would probably be pretty boring.
You need to be okay with the fact that you’re going to disagree sometimes, but you should also recognize when an argument isn’t healthy.
My fiancé and I have a lot of similar ideas, but we still disagree on plenty of things — from what to eat for dinner to which color we should paint the living room. And while arguments are bound to happen, it’s important to remember to address differences with patience and understanding.
Sometimes my fiancé and I might get mad or frustrated when we don’t agree on something right away. Still, we know that it’s important to always treat each other with respect. We make it a rule to never raise our voices and to try to look at any situation from each other’s point of view.
However, if you find that you and your partner fight all the time, you don’t feel listened to, and you’re often frustrated with your communication, it might not make for a lasting relationship. Either seek professional help, or recognize that maybe this isn’t the right person for you.
2. Find someone with similar long-term goals
One important part of a relationship is priorities. No matter how well you get along, or how much you love each other, if your giant, ride-or-die, lifelong priorities don’t line up, it’s probably not going to work out in the long run.
Of course, in any relationship, you’re going to need to compromise. But in order to be truly happy together, you shouldn’t compromise too much on the big things. Remember: there are plenty of people out there, and if you’re going to make a relationship last forever, you’re allowed to be picky with the big things. The key is to be realistic in your search without settling too much.
One great thing to do, if you’re wondering if your partner is really your best match, is to make a list of long-term, super important, priorities for yourself. You should have two, or maybe three, tops. These are things that you’ve always dreamed about doing and could never, in a million years, live without. Have your partner make a list too, and compare.
For my fiancé and I, we both want to travel and both would like to have a family. While nobody can agree on every little thing in life, it’s important to us that we have similar opinions in the places that count.
If you’ve always dreamed of having kids, and your partner is actively against children, no matter what happens, one of you is going to end up severely disappointed. Neither of you deserve that.
Keep in mind: it’s okay if your lists don’t look exactly the same. One of you can be super into the idea of having kids while the other has always dreamed about becoming a doctor, but as long as they don’t directly conflict, you can probably work it out.
Everything has some wiggle room for the right person. If your partner’s education means putting off kids for a few years, or vice versa, keep an open mind.
3. Look for similarities in spirit, rather than interests
In an era when it’s so easy to “swipe left” when someone doesn’t listen to the right music or like the same movies, remember that interests and hobbies aren’t as important as personality.
My fiancé and I met in our high school theater class and, at the time, we were both interested in plays and music. While having common interests may have helped us bond in the beginning, since then, we’ve both developed other hobbies. Recently, he’s gotten into taking improv classes while I’ve been more interested in literature, but we’re still as compatible as ever.
Similarly, you don’t need to find someone who shares your love of rock climbing or needle point. In fact, it can be beneficial to have different hobbies. What really matters is that you have complimentary personalities and a similar spirit. It’s not a common hobby that sustains a relationship, it’s your personalities.
Think of it this way: if you love watching football but your partner isn’t a huge fan, that’s okay. It’s more important to find someone with the same sense of humor as you or someone you can talk to easily. Those things are much more important than sharing an interest in sports.
Focus your interests on finding someone with a complementary personality. Hobbies come and go, but attitude is forever.
4. Find someone that accepts your faults and celebrates your successes
Support is incredibly important in any relationship. It helps you and your partner feel like a team, and lets you know that you have someone to depend on. For a long term partner, find someone who supports you through the good and bad. And practice supporting them too.
For me, it’s so important when my fiancé supports my education. While he might not know exactly what a certain class is about, or how important one particular paper is, he’s so supportive of everything I’m excited about, and comforts me whenever I’m feeling down about a class that’s giving me trouble.
Of course, you might not understand your significant other’s work drama, and maybe he or she doesn’t realize how important it is that you got into the robot-building championships. Still, you both root for each other and show your support. Whether it’s sitting in the front row of a tournament your honey is playing in, or being a shoulder to cry on when things get tough, being supportive (and getting support) will help your relationship go the distance.
The search for your ideal partner isn’t like in the movies. It’s not about covering as much land and meeting as many people until you find that perfect-incredible-super-wonderful person. It’s more about finding someone great and going on a journey together.
With these tips, you’ll find that special person to create a life with and, hopefully, you’ll see each other as soulmates too.
You can read more stories like this such as How to Win at Online Dating and Spot Your Soulmate in a Crowd.