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How do I Know if a Guy is "The One"?

QUESTION: Do you think it's possible to know right from the start if the person you are dating is the one? Here's my story. About two years ago, "Rob" and I were working for the same company and a couple of girls told me that he had been asking about me. I thought he was very cute, but I was in a committed relationship so it didn't go any further. As it turned out, I broke up with my boyfriend several months later, but Rob had already left the company.

Two months ago I ran into Rob at a 7-Eleven. We've been dating ever since, and we are head over heels in love. He treats me like a queen! I have more in common with him than with anyone else I've ever met. We think alike, have the same sense of humor, and share similar morals and values.

I'm 28 and have never been engaged or married, although I've had a couple of long-term relationships (two and a half years and two years). I never thought that I would meet someone and almost immediately know that he was the one, but everything seems to be right. The only doubt I have is that it still seems too early to know for sure. But my gut is telling me that with Rob, "What you see is what you get."

Rob has already told me that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He's said that he's going to ask me a lot sooner that I expect. How soon is too soon? Am I crazy, or is it possible to immediately know when you've met the person you're going to marry?

ANSWER: Clearly you have been around the block once or twice! You are not new to dating, and you have established your ability to maintain commitment in two previous long-term relationships. Why shouldn't you trust yourself on this one?

Important decisions are always informed by our gut responses. Certainly, if you had not had previous experience with relationships, it would be less likely that your gut was informing you correctly! But in this case, your instincts are likely to be a reflection of the depth of your life experience. What you like and don't like in a man is more apparent to you by this age, and you are probably ready to settle down. The combination of these two ingredients can naturally accelerate a relationship.

You are right to consider whether Rob is who he appears to be. Getting to know his friends and family will help you answer this question. There is no short cut to intimacy; you must spend time with someone in order to learn how the two of you will fare together. While it is important to share things in common and have good times together, one key to a successful marriage is the ability to negotiate differences and resolve conflicts when they occur.

To be more certain that your boyfriend is the one, it would be good to see what he is like under pressure -- and, more to the point, how the two of you react when a disagreement comes up. Experiencing one another under stress will help determine if you have what it takes to make a team.

You may also benefit from determining similarities and differences in your respective family backgrounds. Get to know his "down" sides, and be open in letting him know your weaknesses. The greater your honesty, the greater the chance that you will be able to grow through the hard times as well as the sunny periods of your life together.

Given that you do not have a pattern of falling rapidly in and out of love, two months is a significant amount of time to continue feeling positive about this man. And it is potentially a good sign that you both feel very strongly about the relationship. A healthy relationship is based on give and take. And so far, the good news is that your boyfriend reciprocates your good feelings!


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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