“When I first met him, I didn’t see him as anything more than a friend.” Have you ever heard a woman who’s been happily married for years say that of her husband? You probably have, and often. And then, on the other end of that, how many men have you met who you believed would be the one and then…were not? Love is tricky like that. It often hides the truth, one way or another, for a while. There’s also the issue that we develop patterns. Good or bad, we develop ways we behave in the initial dating stages of a relationship, and experiences that we associate with romance. Even if those patterns have ultimately led to breakup after breakup, we can still, on a subconscious level, feel that “Oh, these are the things that form the foundation of a relationship.” But, maybe they shouldn’t.
The “one” is the “one” (though many argue you have several “ones”) because he’s different from the rest. It’s common to hear that the person someone spends her life with was not the type of person she thought she’d wind up with. She broke away from her usual type when finding that partner. Though at first, that seems odd, it quickly makes perfect sense. If sticking to your “type” hasn’t been working, then when you meet the one, there may be elements of that person and that experience that surprise you. In fact, you may not even be romantically interested at first. We spoke with Tiffany Rae’Shan, licensed therapist and life coach, about how you can meet the one and not realize it.
Should you feel “Crazy” in love?
“We often mistake chaos for chemistry,” notes Rae’Shan. “Therefore, sometimes when a person brings stability, calmness, and certainty into our lives, initially we may not associate this with romance. However, these qualities can serve as the foundation for a great love.” While chaos may be exciting at first, one survey actually found that women prioritize kindness and supportiveness in a partner. Of course, that may be absent from the rollercoaster relationships that initially catch one’s attention.
Fireworks can go up in flames
If you’re used to looking for fast fireworks, try to remember the relationships that did have those, well, they’re over now, aren’t they? “If we don’t feel the spark right away, we may dismiss the person altogether not realizing that for some of us our love stories will unfold gradually over time,” says Rae’Shan. “Not everyone will have the instant fireworks. For some of us the flame will begin slow and steady.”
Chemistry is cheap
Too many individuals rely on what they perceive to be chemistry – aka that initial spark – in determining whether they want a second date, or a third, or even the start of a relationship. But it is important to know that, our brains are wired to find chemistry where there may not be long-term compatibility. Even something as simple as prolonged eye contact can increase feelings of chemistry. And you can engage in prolonged eye contact with literally anyone (a trick your date may be using on you).
The one may not be a big flirt
“As women we’ve become accustomed to men being forward and quick with expressing their desire for us,” says Rae’Shan. Though the jury is out on whether or not women like dominant men, studies have found that they like assertiveness and confidence. So to Rae’Shan’s point, you may be used to looking for a man who states his desire for you immediately. But she adds, “A man desiring you does not always mean he values you. The one may not come on strong or even express desire initially.”
Can your ego handle the one?
If you’re used to men giving you a lot of attention for your looks at first, the way the one behaves can be confusing. “He may try to get to know you as a friend first. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t find you attractive but that he sees beyond your beauty. While he will make his intentions clear and known when the time is right, his pursuit may be more strategic and less impulsive,” says Rae’Shan.
Are you ready for that type of love?
For some women, dating men who only appreciate their physical traits is also a form of protecting themselves. You need to be ready to let someone into other areas of your life to recognize and appreciate the one. Studies have found that the happiest couples show enthusiastic support for each other’s goals, pursuits, accomplishments, and passions outside of the relationship. So the one may want to talk about your career, or things that don’t feel “flirtatious” in nature.
Research says you should marry your friend
Extensive research has been done on married couples and what leads to long-term marital satisfaction. Studies have found that married people are able to weather some of the storms of life better than single individuals, but, that’s mostly only true for couples who report they are happily married. And, studies found that happily married couples tend to also see their spouse as their best friend.
In fact, marriage is mostly friendship
If you do look for that urgent, gotta-have-you-now, explosive passion in order to pursue a relationship, know that that’s not the stuff lasting marriages are made of. In fact, research has found that the happiest married couples have sex once a week. Having sex more than that did not correlate with increased reports of marital satisfaction.
Flattery only goes so far
On the opposite end of mistaking chaos for chemistry is mistaking a flatterer for a good fit. “A man who lets you have your way all the time and is always agreeable may seem like a dream at first, but this may be a sign that he is indifferent and not invested,” says Rae’Shan. “The one will likely challenge you and correct you in love because he cares and wants to see you grow.”
A little arguing is healthy
If you are looking for a perfectly peaceful relationship with a partner who never challenges you, you may not only find yourself feeling dissatisfied – you may even suffer for it. Research has found that couples who argue occasionally live longer than those who avoid difficult topics. The important thing is to approach arguments with a solution-based mindset.
If you are used to relationships in which major issues were avoided or arguments typically resulted in yelling or saying hurtful things, then this new, calmer relationship may catch you off guard. But Rae’Shan says, of the one, “The quality of your relationship is important to him so he will want to have the difficult conversations. He may have a level of emotional maturity that you’ve never experienced before, which may throw you off.”