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4 Ways to Figure Out If You're With the Right Person

... and why it doesn't have to be perfect to be right.

Key points

  • Many couples can’t articulate their reason for “knowing" their partner is "The One," but they all have high relationship satisfaction in common.
  • A lingering feeling of dissatisfaction may indicate one needs to do some self-work.
  • Mental comparisons to past relationships can become toxic.
Source: bedya/Shutterstock

For men and women in the early stages of a relationship—dating, moving in, or even engaged—there’s often one lingering question in the air. Skeptical friends and risk-averse relatives alike may ask it. Your girlfriend’s mother may turn to you at a dinner party and ask, "I just have to know…what makes my daughter The One?" Or your bachelorette party may be coming to its sloppy conclusion when your maid-of-honor blurts, "Are you sure you wanna spend the rest of your life with him?"

That question all newly-committed couples face is this:

How do you know you’ve committed to the right person…how do you know?

The question hangs in the back of some people’s minds as if it’s a great philosophical mystery—on par with “Why are we here?” And adequate explanations are hard to come by.

"Gosh," you might reply, "I just love her.” Or, "He just gets me." If you're not in a sharing mood, a simple, "It's just a feeling; you know when you know" could get people off your back.

But how do you know?

As a relationship coach, I’ve worked with dating and engaged couples that are absolutely sure they want to get married—but couldn’t for the life of them tell you why. Of course, love is inherently hard to define and can be easily confused with lust, infatuation, or friendship. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that this question lingers.

But despite the fact that many of the couples I work with can’t articulate their reason for “knowing,” I’ve noticed that there is a common thread among those couples that can’t wait to get down the aisle. They all have this one thing in common—a high level of satisfaction with the relationship.

Satisfaction, in its simplest terms, means that both partners are getting what they need from a relationship. It’s often the basis of that this-is-right feeling that men and women can sense but can’t communicate well. It’s one of the hallmarks of a romantic relationship that’s working.

So, how can satisfaction help you understand if you’re with the right person? Use the four tips below to understand how.

1. Assess how satisfied you feel in your relationship.

This can be challenging. To make the task more manageable, I recommend breaking down the relationship into separate aspects—sex, finances, emotional intimacy, communication, etc.—and then assessing how satisfied you feel in each one. If you feel highly satisfied in the major aspects of your relationship, you are more likely with someone who’s an excellent match for you—and hopefully, knowing this will soften any doubting voice in your head. But even if you find some important aspects of the relationship are lacking satisfaction, don’t fret; there may be ways to address that...

2. Ask yourself: Have you been more satisfied in another relationship?

If you've directly experienced more satisfaction in a previous relationship than you do in your current relationship—for example, you found it much easier to express yourself with an ex than you do with your current partner—it would certainly benefit the current relationship to tell your partner what could make you feel more satisfied. You may not know exactly what you need to feel more satisfied, but starting the conversation is a good idea, as such mental comparisons to past relationships can become toxic.

3. Or can you easily imagine being more satisfied?

If you can easily imagine more satisfaction in a particular area of your current relationship, it would very likely benefit the relationship to tell your partner what you wish for. For example, if you know your sex life could be better with just a few changes, start making those adjustments happen: This is how you take your relationship to a dreamier state.

4. Determine if you need to do some self-work.

If you can't easily imagine more satisfaction, but you have an amorphous, lingering sense of dissatisfaction, this often indicates that you don’t yet know what you need from a relationship—and of course, it’s very hard to get your needs met if you don’t know what your needs are.

This lingering feeling of dissatisfaction may indicate that you’d benefit from some self-work. It could help to be single for a while to connect with your deeper individual needs and values.

Give these tips a try and let me know in the comments if that little voice in your head is starting to quiet down!