How to Know If You've Met The One

Do birds suddenly appear every time your beloved is near? Do stars fall from the sky every time they walk by? The Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen, shares 6 ways to know if you’ve met the love of your life.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
5-minute read
Episode #235
Man looking at city and night sky

Listener Anna from Toronto wrote in and asked how she could determine whether the person she's dating is the right match for her.

For millennia, we’ve partnered within our tribe, our village, or our neighborhood. If we were lucky, the number of eligible partners we had to choose from reached maybe a dozen. Fast forward to today, however, and we can connect with untold numbers of people with the right-swipe of a finger.

But choice can be a double-edged sword. It breeds the illusion that we can find our soulmate if we sort patiently and diligently enough. In turn, this leads to second-guessing, high-pressure first dates, and rampant perfectionism in pursuit of The One.

So what does a diligent mate search look like in the 21st century? And how do we know when we’ve found The One? Do birds suddenly appear every time they are near? Do stars fall from the sky every time they walk by?

The bad news: there’s no foolproof formula.

The good news: there are some rules of thumb to follow (though you can still find true love even if you break them all).

This week, here are 6 ways to find your match:

Tip #1: Like Pairs With Like

When looking for a mate, people are, shall we say, optimists. A study in the journal Science Advances examined heterosexual online daters across four major U.S. cities. They found that people have a general idea of how attractive they are, and from there, tend to punch up. The study found that both male and female mate seekers tended to contact profiles who were about 25% more attractive than themselves, and when doing so, strategically compensated by writing a longer message. 

Despite all this optimism, in the end, couples tend to “match” on all sorts of variables, including attractiveness. This is a phenomenon called assortative mating and it’s the overall tendency for all animals, from poison dart frogs to black-headed gulls to humans, to pair like with like. 

We humans often, but not always, pair up by age, education, social class, body height and size, and many other factors, including attractiveness.

There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule—ugly rock stars marrying supermodels is just the beginning—but in general, your perfect match will be exactly that—a match on many different variables.

Tip #2: Shared Values Set You Up for a Shared Life

Even more important than matching on physical and demographic stats, shared values set you up for the long haul. Again, exceptions abound, but agreeing on, for example, the importance of education, how you spend money, the place of religion in your lives, your political leanings and more can create a solid foundation for a future together. You don’t have to agree on everything, but connecting on the fundamentals means smoother sailing through the years.

Tip #3: Will They Cheat?

Infidelity is a dealbreaker for many relationships, and while there’s no crystal ball for cheaters, you can read your partner’s personality with some accuracy. 

In personality research lingo, individuals low on conscientiousness, low on agreeableness, and high on openness are more susceptible to cheating. What does this mean exactly? People low in conscientiousness are careless, disorganized, and unreliable—they’re the ones who may or may not show up when they said they would. Folks low in agreeableness are unkind, distant, and uncooperative—they’re basically the opposite of kind and considerate. And those high in openness can be thrill seekers always looking for something new and different. Together, it’s a high-risk mix for cheating.

An even redder flag is a partner with traits from what’s called the Dark Triad—narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. These folks tend only to look out for number one and make lousy partners across the board. Avoid these schemers, liars, and manipulators at all costs.


Medical Disclaimer
All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. 

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