Getting into a committed relationship is scary. As much as we hope the person we’re with is our “one and only”, everybody knows the reality of divorce rates.
Even so, I remain appalled by how many people willingly jump like lemmings off a cliff into an exclusive relationship—or even marriage—with Mr. or Ms. Wrong.
The crazy part is most people who settle are fully aware they’re doing so. Such bad relationship decisions may be driven by a biological clock that’s ticking, ulterior motives (e.g. money, citizenship), low self-esteem or even gnawing loneliness.
But how ironic is it that we have so much trouble positively identifying the right relationship when it comes along? Indeed, I get asked all the time how to be sure one’s significant other is really significant enough.
That’s because, good grief…I’m the right guy to ask. After a turbulent first marriage and a devastating divorce, why in the world would I ever get married again…especially when I had successfully crafted a lifestyle of dating many high-quality women at once?
I had to be sure.
So perhaps this piece is overdue. After all, Emily and I have been blissfully, monogamously exclusive for nearly eleven years. Our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up in December.
But then again, maybe writing this wasn’t appropriate until we’d indisputably passed the test of time. In the early days, I’d get schadenfreude-laden messages from marriage naysayers warning that Emily was sure to cuckold me, take all my money, cry “rape” or whatever before long, and they’d get the last laugh.
Those e-mails stopped coming several years ago.
Were there relationship problems, even as Z-list public figures it would be nearly impossible to camouflage them. We’ve never been shy about branding ourselves as a team, and we’re practically omnipresent in each other’s social media.
I don’t care what anyone says, show me a couple with a public presence who doesn’t mention each other much, and I can guarantee you something’s up with that. Argue with me if you must, but my radar has become fine-tuned over the years.
That’s why we confidently go out of our way to be transparent: because we can. That bit about “walking the talk” as dating and relationship coaches is important to us because we know it’s important to you.
So then, how did we know we had discovered the “holy grail” of true love? Having both (barely) survived a rough patch before meeting each other, how could we have been so sure of ourselves?
I’ve given due diligence to this post, knowing full well that it would be serious business for many. Therefore, what follows can be considered a rock-solid compass to navigate by. If you can be honest with yourself, you’re all but sure to get in the right relationship with the right person.
Enough, already. Here are the ten ways I personally knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Emily was “The One”. Note that I alternate between first-person singular and plural as appropriate, but were you to ask Emily about any of this I’m sure she would agree because…
1) …we “get” each other
Once in a while I’ll receive an e-mail from someone asking me to decode their boyfriend or girlfriend’s thoughts, words or actions. Usually, my standard answer is, “Have you asked him or her? He or she would know better than I would.”
If a relationship is built to last, the true love of your life won’t be completely enigmatic to you. On the contrary, you’ll be able to read his or her thoughts as if they were your very own. And for sure, there won’t be any awkward roadblocks to simple communication.
This phenomenon will happen sooner than later, too. If you’ve been dating someone for a couple months now and you still have no idea what’s going on in their head, that’s not likely to change.
I have always felt from the beginning that Emily was “one of me”. We’re not only on the same team, we’re on the same wavelength.
Practically speaking, this goes way beyond merely finishing each other’s sentences during interviews. We each also instinctively understand what’s going on when the other is tired, hungry, cranky, etc. We get it, because we get each other.
It’s astonishing to realize that assumed cornerstones of a solid relationship, like communication and even trust, are greatly simplified when a couple “gets” each other. You could even say they’re subsets of the overarching principle defined here.
2) I’ve never had to rationalize being in a relationship with her or talk myself into anything
Neither one of us has ever second-guessed being together. Even now, after more than a decade, I’ve never even once pondered the thought of having made a mistake by marrying Emily. I’m more psyched–and optimistic–than ever.
There was no frustration over her being “almost perfect, if only…”. There was no “civil war” within over whether or not I could somehow overlook what drove me nuts, because there was nothing to be conflicted over to begin with.
Never were there any contingencies on pursuing the relationship. Nobody leveled any change ultimatums. Neither of us viewed the other as a “fixer upper”. There were no hard pills to swallow.
3) It isn’t about whether or not I can live with her, it’s a matter of not living without her.
Emily isn’t merely “enough” for me. I enjoy my entire life more when she’s in it, every hour of every day.
Some find this fact amusing, but there have only been five or six times in our entire marriage that Emily and I have been separated from each other for more than, say, a day.
No kidding, it’s like Bob and Doug McKenzie in Strange Brew. We’re like, lost without each other, and stuff.
Am I some sort of pussy-whipped weakling? Hardly. It’s just that I absolutely adore that little chick and I want her around. The feeling is mutual, of course.
There’s never any talk about needing a “break” from each other. We were once asked in an interview how we tolerate working together in close quarters all day long, and my honest reply was that I didn’t understand the question.
4) I almost immediately stopped wanting to spend time with other women
Don’t get me wrong. Dating multiple women was one hell of a run. I loved every minute of it.
But when I met Emily on a Saturday, all I could think about was seeing her again on Sunday.
On Monday, there was no consideration about which woman to spend time with. It was Emily.
Which woman did I want to see on Tuesday? Emily, of course.
Soon it was obvious that I had no room in my calendar for any other woman, and I still don’t. That last part is the clincher.
5) We’re compatible in all areas of major importance
I can’t believe how many people get into a serious relationship with someone whose faith, philosophies or even personality are in diametric opposition to their own.
If you’re in it for the long-haul, you’ve got to agree on matters of religion, having and raising children, finances, overall lifestyle and future planning.
All of that’s at the very baseline. If one of you is uber-organized and the other is a slob, that could present problems, too. And if you’re a vegan, do you really want to marry a meat-a-tarian?
It’s safe to say that the morning Emily and I met both of us felt a powerful sense that we may have met “The One”. But the reason we dated for nine months is because it takes time for true compatibility to be established.
While she doesn’t have to like the same music I do, watch the same movies or even care about sports at all, it would have really put a damper on our world travel dreams if one of us was deathly afraid of flying.
6) She is a composite of all my favorite girlfriends and even celebrity crushes
Some may say it’s crass to compare one’s wife to other women. But I believe that’s only so if you’re wishing the woman you’re with was more like someone else.
The spirit of this point is that Emily is actually the culmination of everything I’ve ever liked about certain women in particular, all in one complete package.
It’s rather stunning, really. For example, my celebrity crushes have always been Mary Lou Retton and Valerie Bertinelli.
My favorite girlfriend in college had the world’s cutest hiccup and an even cuter giggle. It’s 100% true that Emily is the only other woman I’ve ever met who hiccups and giggles like that.
7) She’s my best friend
Yes, sex is important in a relationship. One could easily argue that our sustained hots for each other could easily be the 11th bullet point on this list.
But the problem is too many relationships are built on that single dimension of sexual chemistry.
Extreme, off-the-charts sexual attraction was a given. But if you look up the definition of “best friend”, which could be a separate blog post in its own right, it would describe our relationship brilliantly.
We’re there for each other. We don’t let each other down. Heck, we not only love each other, we actually like each other. There’s nobody I’d rather hang around with than Emily.
Perhaps the greatest testament to our deep friendship is that we never insult or belittle each other, in public or private. Not even behind each other’s backs.
8) The relationship never, ever feels like “work”
One of the most infamous bits of oft-repeated but ridiculous relationship advice is that “relationships are hard work”.
Ours isn’t. Being with each other is nearly always big fun.
Moreover, the sum total of 1 + 1 invariably equals 5, 10 or 20.
Whenever life’s inevitable puzzles come along, they’re never on account of the relationship, per se. Rather, we support each other and solve issues together, and that’s invariably more fulfilling than getting hung out to dry.
If your relationship is “hard work”, that may be clear sign you’re in the wrong relationship. Just sayin’.
9) We add value to each other
Some people joke about their spouse being their “ball and chain”. It’s almost as if they’re either proud of it or it’ll somehow build rapport with their same-sex friends.
I never even so much as joke like that.
Emily does not “weigh heavy” on me. I’m not restricted by her. Life does not feel limited in any way.
Because we are generous toward each other, we both gain more from being together than even the harshest narcissist could ever expect to leech from whomever they’re victimizing in a one-sided relationship.
Think about that last point for a second.
About a year ago I was on a panel of dating experts who each dutifully advised singles to have all of their fun and go on all of their adventures before “settling down” in a marriage, let alone having kids.
I went last, and proudly represented the only dissenting opinion.
Indeed, Emily and I have been to more countries, crossed off more “bucket list” items and flat-out had more fun together than we ever did before meeting each other. Our two youngest kids have long since come along, and the adventures have only continued.
10) We can be our authentic selves around each other
Remember when I mentioned the idea of “transparency” above? That applies to the Internal Affairs Department in a relationship also. We never feel the need to hide from each other, sugar-coat the truth or even live up to some arbitrary standard. We simply are…and that’s always enough.
By now you may be standing up and cheering, throwing rocks at your computer screen, or something else in between.
But regardless, I bet I’ve made you think. That was my primary intention.
If you’re in a relationship now, what I’ve written may seem like a strict yardstick to measure by. So be it. Every bit of what I’ve presented genuinely plays a role in making our relationship last.
That doesn’t mean you have to agree with me. You may vehemently oppose one or more of my points, perhaps thinking I’ve confused personal taste and/or circumstance with universal truth.
Or you may be shocked that I left something out that seems obvious and/or foundational to you.
Like, for example, love. Why isn’t that #1?
My simple answer is that all ten points above when gathered together add up to true love. We’re talking about blissful, mad-about-you, hot and horny, unconditional, consistent positive concern and passionate feelings backed by the comfort and security of logic and trust.
And why not more than just a passing reference to sexual attraction? That’s a prerequisite, of course. But I was reticent to dedicate a spot on my list to it because it’s the #1 way people get fooled into thinking someone is “The One” when he or she is actually dead wrong for them.
Then there’s the “elephant in the room”. Conspicuous by its absence from this post is the word “soulmate”. What’s up with that? Let’s just say I’m uninterested in validating a trite, subjective buzzword that might imply fairy-tale searches for one needle in a haystack of seven billion. The ten items above are far more objective.
Regardless, I’m sure you have thoughts on all of this, and they’re probably passionate, firmly-held ones. So let me have it in the comments section below.
Likewise, if you’re not yet in a relationship, you’re probably either encouraged or discouraged by what I’ve written. I could understand your viewpoint either way, but suffice it to say that once you’ve met the right person, your whole mindset is altered and the big picture often becomes crystal-clear.
The established “rules” of dating might very well go out the window. And for sure, it’s a hell of a lot easier to agree with my ten points above when they start appearing before your very eyes.
So if you’re single, let me know what you think also. You’ll likely have a perfectly valid, reasonable contribution to this conversation.
P.S. If you crave more detail on how to have a blissful relationship with the right woman, get your hands on this.