Making the decision to spend the rest of your life with one person—a really big deal. It’s exciting, nonetheless, but not quite an off-the-cuff conclusion you come to when you wake up on the right side of the bed one Saturday morning. Countless factors come into play including how well you get along, your varying personal backgrounds, how long you’ve been together, and your hopes and dreams for the future. So even if you really, truly believe you’ve found the right one, whether it’s your high school sweetheart or a person you’ve dated for just a few months, it’s important to take the time and energy to consider if you two are meant to be.
To help streamline the process for you, we asked top relationship experts to weigh in on how to know if your S.O. is really the one.
You fight without blowing it out of proportion.
“Fighting is normal, but how people fight can predict a lot about longevity in a relationship,” says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me. “If couples can stay on topic when arguing to resolve the issues then the fighting is productive, but if couples start bringing up the past or result to name calling or even screaming, this can predict negative effects on the relationship.” One thing’s for certain: Fighting won’t cease once you’ve skipped down the aisle together, so it’s important to focus on fighting fair with some level of composure and respect now to ensure your future is filled with wedded bliss.
You don’t want or expect this person to change.
In other words, you know you love your partner for the exact person he or she is right now and not just because of his or her potential. To put it bluntly, if you’re marrying someone because they are so smart that you think they’ll make a lot of money in the future, you’re hand’s in the wrong cookie jar. “Sometimes we think if our partner could just get a better job, took more interest in our lives or would just make more time to spend together that things would be great,” explains Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., certified sex therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. “While certain issues can be dealt with, others may do a relationship in eventually.”
You share similar values.
If you haven’t discovered this in your relationship already, caring about the same things is incredibly important to your future happiness as a couple. This can be anything from where you prefer to live, perhaps in the country versus the city, how much time you like to spend with friends and family, and whether or not you want to have kids and how many you would like to have. “You should have a comfortable compatibility with your partner when it comes to your mutual goals,” says Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship. “Specifically when it comes to each other’s families, it should feel like each of you is expanding and gaining members, rather than leaving your own family.”
You have a sexual chemistry.
Sex and intimacy is like the glue that holds a relationship together. If you’re not having it that often or are not always in sync when it comes to when or how to get down, that’s normal, says Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of Different Loving. However, if you get to a point where you literally cannot imagine having sex with your spouse, it may be time to face the facts and move on. “Working with a therapist will help you figure out what went wrong and determine whether the attraction is really gone or is just hiding behind a wall of anger and miscommunication,” she says.
You’re making a conscious decision to marry this person.
“This means you've examined not just how you feel emotionally with one another but looked at practical issues as well, such as your value systems, life goals, communication and overall compatibility ,” explains Dr. Van Kirk. If you’re only with your partner for fear of being on your own, for example, this is no reason to get hitched. “There's a fallacy to the 'you complete me' line in the movie Jerry Maguire,” she says. “Everyone should be able to come into a relationship as a whole person so that both of you can feel like you have something equal to contribute