Fairytales and rom-coms have long perpetuated the idea that there's this one single person in the universe who's destined to be your forever partner, your soul mate, but as a relationship therapist, I'm here to tell you that's not the case. But wait—it's a good thing!
I'm not even talking the whole cliché "there's so many fish in the sea," "it's a numbers game," argument. I'm taking an even more realistic approach, which I actually find incredibly settling.
You see, at their core, a relationship is supposed to help you learn and grow. When you enter into a relationship with a person, you naturally adapt and evolve a little bit based on what they bring out in you—you are, in short, impacted by your partner (hopefully for the better). Which means that you can theoretically meet many "The Ones," since neither you nor they are steadfast in who you/they were before you met. Isn't that kind of cool?
That said, especially in the early stages of dating—when you're hyped up by hormones, lust, and what could be—it can be all too easy to mistake a match for a meant-to-be mate. So to save yourself some confusion, here are 15 signs you've found The—or, in my opinion, "A"—One.
1. The One will be a relationship-oriented person.
Okay, this should be an obvious sign, but in modern dating, it's often not (ugh). If you're questioning whether a person you've been hooking up with or dating (exclusively or not) has till-death-do-us-part potential, it's really important that they are looking for a relationship. Otherwise, you're going to end up putting a lot of pressure on yourself trying to keep them engaged and interested in you, and that should never be the precursor to lasting love.
2. The One will be someone who is set on you, too.
I have to point this sign out because so many people love a challenge, which means they might end up chasing someone who isn't as into them. And unrequited crushes (and even love) happen, and yet you'll still hear people say, "But I know deep down that they're The One." Do yourself a favor and trust that The One will be somebody who is just as excited about you as you are about them.
Sure, sometimes emotions build and one person might be more interested in the other in the beginning, but if after a few months of being around this person, they're openly lukewarm about you, they are not your person.
3. The One will be someone who you can trust.
Trust is huge in a relationship, and that never changes—in fact, it only becomes more important the longer you stay together, when life will test the strength of your 'ship (or marriage). If you see red flags early that make you question your partner's truthfulness—or you have any reason to doubt their fidelity—it's going to very hard to trust them for the long run.
4. The One will be someone who makes your body feel happy.
I don't necessarily mean there needs to be total sexual compatibility (that can be worked on), but there should be a mutual sexual attraction and a sense of "body comfort." That might mean you orgasm easily with them, or you just feel safe and peaceful cuddling in their nook. Whatever your body is looking for, you've found it in them.
5. The One might not have everything in common with you, but they'll respect any differences.
Perhaps you're Jewish and they're Catholic, or you're vegan and they're a proud carnivore. No worries! As long as they don't shame you for your beliefs and values—and rather support you in them the best they can—they have real long-term potential.
6. The One will be someone whose flaws you're able to acknowledge—and still tolerate.
There's a difference between straight-up ignoring someone's shortcomings because you're otherwise infatuated with them and seeing their flaws and loving them anyway. You never want to ignore things that could be red flags (good example: financial recklessness or alcohol issues), but you do want to be with someone whose weaknesses you find manageable for the long haul (their tendency to pack at the last minute).
On that note, if you find yourself not particularly peeved by things that would bother the heck out of you if someone else was doing them (like, constantly blowing their nose), that's a good sign you may have found a lifer. Just know that after the butterfly phase, those rose goggles will be a little less opaque.
7. The One will be someone with whom you don't feel pressure to be perfect 24/7.
Obviously, no one is perfect, not even you. That said, you likely want to be the most perfect version of you when you're around your partner—that's a good sign!—but you also need to have moments and days when you're not your bubbliest, shiniest self. If you find someone who you feel totally comfortable being a little off on appropriate occasions, that's an even better sign.
8. The One will be someone with whom you can transition between having fun and being serious.
You want (and really, need) someone who can relate to you on the full spectrum of life—that means a person who can be casual, silly, funny, and affectionate, but also strong and insightful when life calls for it. Having a partner who's there for you in one area (be it the fun times or the serious stuff) but not the other will leave you wanting more.
9. The One will be someone who makes you laugh at yourself.
On the note of someone you can have fun with, your ideal forever person will also help you take yourself less seriously. Humor is a clutch way to be able to step outside yourself and see things with a greater, fresher perspective—and anyone who can help you do that is a keeper.
10. The One will be someone who works through conflict with you.
A person who threatens the relationship or shuts you out when a scuffle comes up isn't The One. If you constantly find yourself having to apologize or put your needs aside, that will only continue as the relationship goes on. Even if they don't have the best resolution skills, they'll at least work on improving them...for the both of you.
11. The One will know how to fight (and make up) with you.
Speaking of scuffles, a great sign of a solid match for you is a fighting style that doesn't make mountains out of mole hills. Whether this person either just gets you, what makes you tick, and how to come to common ground from the get-go—or they figure it out by learning about you—they will do their d*mnedest to communicate and compromise.
P.S. The easier you're able to work through conflicts or differences together, the better, but for some couples, that takes time.
12. The One will take a genuine interest in your life, and you will, theirs.
You could fall for a person who is all about you all the time—that is, until, you try to integrate them into other areas of your life. The One will take a true interest in your family and friends, your childhood, your career, and your interests—the things that take up your every day—because, simply put, they want to be part of your everyday.
Similarly, you will want to learn as much as you can about who they are outside of your relationship.
13. The One will lean on you for support, and let you lean on them.
Life is not easy. I don't need to tell you that. A lifetime partner is someone who is strong enough to be there for you when sh*t hits the fan—and is also strong enough to come to you when they need support, too. A lot of people (men especially) build and keep emotional walls that prevent them being vulnerable. But if you both can't be vulnerable with each other, you're missing out on a deeper connection.
14. The One will share a similar vision of your future.
Where you'll live, whether you'll get married and/or have kids, who will support the fam, how often you'll travel—all of these topics are things you'll want to be aligned on for your relationship to work out for the long haul.
I believe that people evolve and their goals and visions for their future sometimes change, which can cause some couples to grow apart. But when you're with The One, you're able to picture the day-to-day in pretty similar terms. That's not the same as compromising: Compromising on big life desires (like having children, for example) for someone else often ends up being more of a sacrifice, which can lead to resentment.
15. The One will put in the work to make you feel loved.
Above all, know that The One will give as much as they take. Relationships aren't one-hundred per cent equal, one-hundred per cent of time. But when you find The One, you'll know. And not because you get some magical feeling (I don't entirely subscribe to that idea), but because they'll make an equal effort to understand your fears, your love languages, your needs...just you. And they won't stop at anything short of making sure you know that you're their One, too.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.