Belief in the existence of “the one” often keeps hope alive when your love life hits a dry spell. But, even people in steady relationships struggle to determine if their significant others are worth committing to. Here’s what to look for in a life partner
“The one”: Fantasy or reality?
Many romantics firmly believe that they are destined to meet “the one”. Others feel that a certain person is right for them at a particular stage in their lives. According to Cape Town-based corporate coach and psychotherapist, Mary Ovenstone: “A person that we are strongly attracted to will complement the best in us, but conversely may reflect those aspects of ourselves that we are in denial about… When we are sure we can eliminate what might be the wrong reasons for our attraction, then we can trust that someone is a right ‘one’ for us.” For example, women who are abused repeatedly become involved with men who exhibit this behavior, as it feels familiar and “right” to them. They need to break this dysfunctional cycle.
He’s “the one” if …
No matter what you believe about soul mates, when you consider committing to somebody, there are a few elements that should be present in your relationship. Ovenstone suggests asking yourself the following questions:
1. Do you feel safe and at home around him? It’s the only way you’ll be able to be yourself in the relationship. You shouldn’t feel self-conscious or stressed about trying to please him. He should build you up, not put you down. You shouldn’t need to compromise your identity for him.
2. Do you feel a genuine love for who he is aside from how he makes you feel about yourself? If your love is only based on how you feel about yourself then your love is self-centred and will fade when he stops pleasing you.
3. Do you feel unselfish love? This means that you admire him for who he is and want what is best for him.
4. Do you feel like a better person because of him? He should bring out the best in you and support the fulfillment of your purpose in life.
5. Can you be playful and laugh freely with each other? You shouldn’t have to feel serious and “adult” all the time. There is a spontaneous, joyful child in each of us and she needs to be part of the relationship too. Someone with whom you share a natural and fun chemistry is worth holding on to.
Trust, friendship, complementary emotional energy levels and common goals and values are also important components of a healthy relationship.
While you may love your man with a fiery passion, if he exhibits any of the following behaviours he is NOT the one:
• He emotionally or physically abuses you.
• He cheats on you.
• He lies.
• He has difficulty holding down a job.
• He hates your family and friends.
• His friends come first.
Keeping love alive
Although you may find the person you feel is right for you, cultivating a lasting relationship requires effort and mutual respect. “Both partners must have the ability to reflect on their own actions, feelings and words after a conflict. Each person must take responsibility for him or herself, not blaming anyone else for the results of their own behaviour. One must also be able to offer gratitude and appreciation to one’s partner,” explains Ovenstone.