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"You'll Just Know When You Meet 'The One'"

Dear CMR,

I am single.  Some of my dating friends recently told me that when I meet “the right person,” I'll just know they are right for me. I've heard that advice before, but is it true?

Signed,

Looking for the One


Dear Looking,

That is a great question. That advice is really common, and for some reason, people seem to think it is spot on. You’ll “just know” when you meet the right person … that’s what they try and tell you. “You lock eyes as you glance across the room at each other. All of a sudden, somehow, you just know.”

The worst dating advice I’ve ever heard comes from the people who tell you you’re going to “just know” when you meet the person you’re going to marry. “The right person will give you all the right feelings,” they say. “You’ll get that indescribable feeling, and somehow, you will just know.”

But that’s simply not true, and it certainly isn’t advice you should apply to everyone. Speaking from personal experience, I had no clue when I met my husband that he would be the man I would end up marrying. He was just a really nice guy who I could see myself becoming friends with. Thank God I didn’t follow the bad dating advice that I would “just know,” because I would have walked away from an incredible future marriage without ever realizing it. The problem with this mentality that “you’ll just know” is that you end up chasing a feeling rather than a person.

"The problem with this mentality that “you’ll just know” is that you end up chasing a feeling rather than a person."

You allow feelings to be the one and only compass to lead and guide you into and out of relationships, without taking into consideration that in a healthy relationship, just as quickly as feelings come,  feelings go. That’s an expected part of the ritual of real relationships.

There’s no such thing as a one-time feeling that will carry you through a lifetime. If you’re looking for that, you’ll likely find yourself filled with doubt or even ready to bail the moment that feeling wavers.

Now, while a small minority of people do claim to have had that “I just know” feeling, the people  I have interacted with who are in the healthiest marriages affirm that their decision to marry someone was not a “one-time feeling,” but a series of observations, emotions and character traits they witnessed over a significant period of time that led them to  believe that this person was going to be a great match for their life. It was about compatibility more than it was about chemistry.  And the right amount of compatibility is often the best recipe for chemistry.

That’s not to say that you should ignore feelings because feelings are a valuable part of the process of discerning if someone is a good fit for you. Feelings are important; you just can’t let feelings lead the way.

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