How’d You Know? 5 Couples Share Those Key Moments When They Knew They’d Found ‘The One’

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“It’s just a feeling I have,” some people say. “I just knew he/she was the one.”

“When it’s right, it’s just right.”

“I knew he was The One the moment I met him.”

All of these answers to the epic question, “How did you know you wanted to marry him/her?” are vague and elusive, making it seem like you’ll just have this mind-blowing moment of clarity one day. You’ll step back and say, “It’s right, I should go buy a ring,” or, “If he proposes, I’ll say yes.”

But if you stop and break down that sense of “It’s right,” there’s a little more to it. There are decisive feelings and thoughts you have that inform your decision, but you just may not be conscious of them. For those who do ask you, “How did you know?” the reality is, there were probably lots of ways. And if you haven’t found the person you want to marry just yet, there are certainly qualities to look for in the relationships you have that may help you come to realize you’ve found something truly special. Here are some of them:

When anything goes wrong, you feel better because you have him/her.

Kalen George, 24, has been married to her husband, Jeremy, since 2012. While she admits she really did think she would marry him when she first saw him because he was “six-foot-four and had a great smile,” she confesses that she actually knew because she could turn to him whenever anything went wrong. They moved together from Virginia to New York City to California, all within two years, and through all of the associated challenges and changes, they prevailed, “growing together.” He pushed her to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress, to take the risk of leaving a job that wasn’t making her happy, and to take on the challenge of building a name for herself in a new city. When she didn’t get a part in a play, he was the first person she called. When she walked miles in heels to a job interview after living in NYC for a day, and the interview was a bust, he was the first person she called. He was her undeniable source of comfort.

You would be willing to make major sacrifices.

Jessie Nastasi, 29, has moved with her military spouse husband, Kevin, from New Mexico to Ohio to Los Angeles, and is preparing for another move to Virginia. They’ve only been married five years, but Jessie knew he was the one because she was prepared for these moves. While she admits that there was a “gut feeling” behind all of it, she also adds that she was willing to move because it meant being with him. That’s how she knew it was right. “Through it all,” Jessie explains, “I knew I could move with him and be okay. I think it’s because I knew I could depend on him to do what he said he would do. He always followed through on plans we made and knowing he was reliable made me feel safe about making big changes in my life.” Once Jessie knew she would move, sacrificing jobs, friends, and family to be with Kevin, she knew he was the right person for her. “I wouldn’t do this for anyone else,” she admits. “But yeah, when you love someone, you really would do anything to be with them. It’s a cliché because it’s true.”

You argue sometimes.

Debbie Abramson, 62, has been married to her husband, Art, for over 35 years. There’s been conflict in the marriage, and there was conflict when they were dating. “But that’s ok. I liked that he disagreed with me, and that I could disagree with him. Argument doesn’t have to mean yelling, screaming, and being awful to one another,” she explains. Art agrees that her willingness to argue was one of the things that helped him know she was the person he wanted to marry. He explains, “I liked that she was ready, willing and able to say ‘No, I won’t stand for this.’ That takes guts, and she had it. Sure we argued when we were dating, but that also shows that we cared enough about each other to argue.”
Think about it, would you really take the time to have an argument with someone you had no feelings towards? Perhaps, but more often, arguments arise from a desire to reach a consensus … to help the other person come to an agreement with you and resolve the difference you have. It’s always good to have something you would fight for.

You want, and try to, begin and end your days together.

Jessie explains a situation she recently encountered with a friend who wasn’t sure he should move in with a girlfriend: “He didn’t know if she was the right person, so he didn’t know if he wanted to be with her like that — you know, almost all the time.” She says that she told him he could give it a try, but that when you really are serious about someone, you don’t have to think so hard about it. “You should just want that opportunity,” Jessie adds. “You don’t really get sick of each other, even when you might get tired of everyone else around you.” That’s right, even if beginning your day with them means smelling their morning breath, and ending your day with them means hearing them snore next to you on the pillow, you should want it. If you don’t love that you get to bookend your busy day with time together, that’s a red flag.

You trust that person (this is nothing new, but oh so important).

Jeremy George, 32, considers trust the fundamental element of his relationship with Kalen that led to marriage. “I knew with all my heart I could trust her,” he confesses. His job took him to New York City while she remained in Virginia for months, and through it all, he realized he had no concerns about the distance. He knew she would remain loyal, without any tangible proof except gut instinct. This level of trust certainly helps into their marriage. “Now, I might kiss guys in films I’m in, or on stage, and Jeremy accepts it,” Kalen adds. “He knows he’s literally the only one for me.”

You’re open to their radically different ideas.

Jessie and her husband, Kevin, initially disagreed financially and politically, which can easily be two major points of contention in a marriage. She grew up in a more liberal household, but came to understand his conservative views, and even share them. “Politically, I changed a lot in my time with him, even before we were married,” she says. “As we talked, I realized I just believed what I was raised with in my parents’ household. Then I started to see the other perspective, and it really made a difference.” She valued that they were able to discuss these matters, and that he helped her to understand other ideas without forcing them upon her. “And I did the same for him, which really told me something about how open-minded we both were when it came to one another,” Jessie adds. “Financially, I was much more conservative than him. But as we were together for longer, we talked about it and he read up on financial planning, and I became more open to spending on things that were worth it. It ended up that we balanced each other out.” This is one of the key facets of a relationship that leads to marriage; seeing other perspectives, and adjusting one’s own view as necessary.

You don’t see them through rose-colored glasses.

Deidra Denson, 50, has been married to her partner, Alice, for several years, and has been with her for much longer. She says that she knew Alice was the one because she was able to see the relationship realistically. Instead of romanticizing it, she just “went along with things at first,” Deidra admits. “I looked at it practically, and that enabled me to see us working together, realistically. I saw her as a very close friend, and then that evolved.” Jessie, too, admits that she didn’t see things with Kevin in a romanticized way. She saw it, at its core, as a friendship, “because that’s what you have when take away the sexual element,” Jessie admits.

Kay Songer, 29, agrees. She says that she knew Scott was the right person for her because they were able to just hang out with each other. “I’ll never forget how, one night, we just stayed up late watching the dumbest videos on the Internet. We stayed up laughing and fell asleep cuddling. It wasn’t romantic or particularly exciting, but it worked,” she explains. “We were friends, and we were more.”

We are more apt to see our friendships practically, as a give-and-take built on shared experiences, shared ideas, and a genuine desire just to spend time together. You have to be practical about who you choose to marry, and knowing that your relationship works as a friendship makes it clear that it can endure.

The idea of “The One” may be abstract, ill-defined, and unrealistic. More likely than not, we’d be compatible with more than one person in a lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that every good relationship should lead to marriage, and every seemingly problematic relationship can’t be fixed and lead to marriage. It’s never that cut-and-dried. “The One” may live in shades of gray, but these elements do help to define it a little bit, helping us to understand that there are key qualities in certain relationships that can lead us to, in the wise words of Beyonce, “put a ring on it.”