At some point after meeting your partner, you may have gushed to your friends, breathlessly proclaiming: “They’re ‘The One.’” Maybe you just thought it to yourself. Maybe you boldly declared it to the object of your affection. Regardless, over time, your experiences with this person have proven your hunch to be true. When it comes down to it, you just fit — “like puzzle pieces from the clay,” as that popular Iron & Wine tune “Such Great Heights” says. But is it normal if meeting "The One" doesn't change you? The popular assumption is that meeting the one will have a dramatic impact on you, changing your life forever. And while it obviously will indeed alter how the course of your life plays out, it may not necessarily feel like it changes you as a person. So, what if meeting "The One" doesn’t transform you? Is that a bad sign?
First, let’s define what “The One” looks like. According to Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of the new book Training Your Love Intuition, this person will stand out from every other past love for a range of reasons.
“It's no surprise that mutually happy couples say that they can't imagine being with anyone else,” she explains.
Dr. Wish says you’ll know you have found “The One” if they understand and respect you; bring out the best in you; work as a team member to solve problems and other issues; feel passion for you; share common values, goals, and the same level of emotional maturity with you; and bring complementary skills to the relationship that you lack.
She also adds that timing is everything. There are times when people meet and do not realize they’ve met the one until something happens that shakes up their perspective, or they reunite later in life to find that they are more compatible at that point.
“Making a wise choice of partner also depends on each of your readiness for mature, healthy love,” adds Dr. Wish. “That readiness includes being able to face yourself and the pluses and minuses of your upbringing, as well as triumph, if necessary, over the shortcomings and behavior of your childhood.”
According to Dr. Wish, meeting “The One” is bound to change you at least a little bit, whether you notice it or not.
“You and your partner will become each other's guide and healer who bring out the best in each other,” she explains. “You teach your partner different ways of coping and seeing situations. Over time, you strengthen each other, calm past fears, reduce past hurts, and learn different ways of relating and thinking. You are now a team, where your opposite styles fortify each other.”
But what if you don't feel like meeting "The One" has had a dramatic impact on you or your life? Dr. Wish notes that it’s common for people to compare their feelings to what they observe in romantic comedies, novels and other media, which is often not realistic. As a result, they have unrealistic expectations for how meeting "The One" will affect them.
“You and your partner are not characters in a movie or book where you feel that thunderbolt of love, which suddenly makes you drop your defenses and overcome your fears and shortcomings,” she explains. “Yes, sometimes couples report feeling that bolt of recognition that this person is a great match — but when that dies down, what is left is a warm, positive, and calming feeling that life is easier, and that you feel safe, understood, and accepted.”
The bottom line is, if you don't feel that you have dramatically transformed as a result of meeting "The One," that's totally OK. In fact, rather than changing you instantly and intensely, "The One" will ideally fit into your life effortlessly, and you’ll be perfectly capable of continuing to pursue the same friendships, hobbies, passions, and goals that you were interested in before you met them. That said, it’s natural for meeting “The One” to have some gradual effects on you, and they may happen so subtly that you don’t notice them at first. Those changes will be the result of learning together and growing together, which happen over time. So be patient, be receptive, and above all, enjoy the ride. Meeting "The One" is sure to come with a wave of relief and excitement — and if you focus on riding that wave with reckless abandon, you’ll hopefully find that it only changes you for the better.