How to know when “the one” is “The One”

I sat for a conversation with a friend yesterday, and we got to talking about relationships. I told her about that one relationship I had which almost drove me into the ground in so many ways a few years ago. But then I told her about my marriage, and how my wife and I started dating nine years ago this summer and have been married for five years. My friend asked me how I knew that my wife was “the one.” It was a good question, and one that took me a little bit to answer.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “She just was.”

Yeah, the actual answer is a little more complicated than that, actually. But it wasn’t like I had this one moment where a switch was flipped and I knew that my wife was the one. Rather, it was a process, one that took several years to work itself out. In that time, we learned to see each other as more than mere objects of attraction. The natural processes of biology were there, and they still are, but we were then left with a feeling of deep friendship and understanding. My wife and I are a team.

We’re not “two parts of a whole” or anything like that. That’s all metaphysical babble that is not grounded in reality. So is “unconditional love,” by the way. Only parents love their children unconditionally, and, even then, there are plenty of parents who don’t love their children because said children are just not lovable. (Some children can be jerks.) Our love for each other is very much conditional. I don’t cheat on her and she doesn’t cheat on me, and we love each other. I do some chores and she does others, and we love each other. I show her respect and she shows me respect, and we love each other. I treat her well, and she treats me well, and we love each other. You get the point.

If either of us falls short of those conditions, the love would be eroded.

So I guess the best answer for when you’ll know that “the one” is “The One” is that you’ll find yourself in a position of pure love and understanding and respect towards the other person. You won’t see them as perfect, but you’ll see them as striving for perfection. They will be on your side but gently remind you if you’re being a jerk. And, most of all, they’ll push you to new heights in whatever it is that you want to do with your life. For us, I pushed her to get her second master’s degree (this one in mental health counseling) because I saw how much it meant for her to be prepared to deal with the mental health issues of her patients. In return, she is pushing me through getting the doctor in public health degree because she knows how much it means to me to try and save the world.

Yes, you’ll go from one failed relationship to another in youth and even in old age, but that’s just life. Before you know it, there’s this pretty awesome person who sees the best in you and wants to bring it out. And you’ll see the best in them and want to bring that out. The process with “the one” will be easy, with little to no drama. We don’t live in a romance novel or a romantic comedy. There is not going to be that moment when either of you runs to other’s house and stands outside in the rain to show how much you love them. That’s fantasy, and true love is real.

So tread lightly but enjoy the ride.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

6 thoughts on “How to know when “the one” is “The One”

  1. Our 33 year and counting marriage relies upon one thing, communication.
    I am quite well aware that my wife knows of my perfection. A perfect 10 on the Richter Scale.
    My wife, she’s a lot less extreme. Frankly, putting up with me when I’m far from at my best should qualify her for both the Nobel Prize for Peace and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
    My prize is just being with her and knowing her.

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  2. I learned early. From my high school graduation to spring break of my freshman year in college I encountered several toads. Then I met my prince. It was a kind of blind date orchestrated by a classmate of mine to meet a guy she new in high school. We lived in the same dorm complex and she arranged to have him visit her at a certain time.

    I showed up, and found that lots of our class/dorm friends were also crowding into room because she tended to explain what she was doing to others. But I saw him… and I was captivated. After this get together he took the bus home to his parents’ suburban house, and the I wandered in a daze to my dorm room. And then he called me on the phone, and asked me out… to the date he originally asked my classmate to go on, but she had declined because she met some other guy (her first husband, but that is another story).

    Long story short… Friday evening we are taking our three adult kids and hubby’s mother to one of our city’s premier restaurants to celebrate our thirty fifth wedding anniversary, and then spending the long weekend in the Napa Valley.

    And to those who are willing to do the work, we did get married on a Thursday. I canceled the idiotic June wedding when things got out of hand, and we were married by a justice of the peace in his parents’ living room. The down payment on the wedding dress I never wanted but was insisted on by others, was the best money I lost in my life. So after class on Friday May 23rd a classmate asked what I had been up to, and I said “Oh, I got married.” 🙂

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    • Heh, we did the Justice of the Peace thing as well. My parents weren’t happy, they wanted a big church wedding and reception.
      Both of our daughters are grown, with our eldest having three grandchildren and working full time as an RN.

      May you both be healthy and have a long, happy life together!

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    • Me not type good: “guy she new in high school” should be “guy she knew in high school”

      Stupid silent “k.”

      Oh, the selling points were: “He was the guy who carried a briefcase in high school” and the most important one, since I met her in a beginning computer programming class (we were still using key punch cards!): “He apparently doing special programming projects for this class because he already knew how to do it.”

      So yeah, obviously my genetics were evolved enough in 1976 to know that computer cognizant guys were the alpha males of the near future. And I was pretty much right. (he did not apply to work at Microsoft in the early 1980s, which was a good thing because the work environment there in the early days was brutal)

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      • Bleh on the typo. Only spall chalker prevents my most massive blunders.
        When fatigued, my dyslexia kicks in in overdrive. My mother drilled me mercilessly in my early years, when my dyslexia was first noticed, questioned to doctor and diagnosed.
        My wife was failed by our education system and unquestioning parents, with her dyslexia finally noticed during the first year of our marriage and confirmed by professionals.

        For us, the early ’80’s were, well, a bit interesting. Serving in SF under Saint Ronnie most certainly made it so.
        A few times, for both of us, me and my civilian wife.
        My sense of desiring a dearth of adventure springs from those rich fields of experience.
        For, I learned that interesting lives are noted for their brevity.
        An experience that was reinforced during these wars, shortly before I retired.
        The SOB’s held my retirement up for 8 months. Right until they realized I was studying flight schedules and that I know how to fly.

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    • We had a Protestant pastor, but the wedding was non-denominational, on a Sunday, on a dock in Fells Point in Baltimore. Totally non-traditional, messing with our parents’ wishes. But it was great, and, frankly, I think we’d do it all over again just for kicks.

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