How to Figure Out "The One" Before You've Figured It Out

8:00 AM

Everybody writes about "how to find The One" in retrospect. A week after the honeymoon, a year after I do, married women get around to sharing their story of how they found The One.

That's no fair. That's not helpful. Hindsight's 20/20. How do we figure out the figuring out?

Here I am to the rescue, transcribing my decision-making process as I am actively still asking myself that very question -- Is he The One?

Surprise, surprise, I want him to be. I love him enough to make him The One. But there's that whole wisdom/God's will thing. Plus, he hasn't put a ring on it.

Being the overanalyzer I am, I think about this all the time...when I'm not pinning wedding decorations on my secret Pinterest board. (Look, I told you dating was weird.)

The #1 stress in our relationship has always been what other people thought of us. "Other people" included random people on the internet, acquaintances at school, anyone we interacted with, and especially residual dating principles from dating manuals, Christian relationship sites, and conventional dating wisdom.

My boyfriend is absolutely impervious to outside criticism. He comes to his opinions slowly and intuitively and then refuses to budge on them unless someone he respects says otherwise. I'm not impervious at all. One little doubt sent me into panicking reevaluation of our entire relationship. We only had two or three legitimate reasons to reevaluate in the past two years, resolved through patient discussion and understanding. The rest of them revolved around me freaking out over what other people said. 

Dating an even-keeled, strong personality taught me the necessity of ignoring other people's opinions and only listening to the opinions that matter -- otherwise I would go crazy

There really does come a point where you have to decide what you think and then not budge -- especially in personal decisions where the answer does calculate out to a black-and-white answer. Big life decisions involve so many subjective variables that outsiders especially cannot understand. Sometimes I don't even understand all the variables involved in making my own big life decisions!

With dating my boyfriend, I knew right away that I needed help figuring out just what the variables were. I'd never dated before, I was almost the first of my friends to start dating, and neither of us had any clue about what we were doing. We eventually figured out that we needed to focus on spiritual and emotional compatibility -- beliefs, personalities, communication, all that mess. 

My mother wins the gold star for best outside counselor in my relationship. Since she knew very little about my boyfriend, she only told me what variable I needed to figure out in our relationship -- not how to figure it out or what answer I needed to arrive at. She merely reclarified the issue. We talk about my relationship almost every phone call, sometimes about the same thing. She always guides me back to the question I need to answer or the issue we need to work out...or the answer I arrived at a couple weeks ago, remember? 

Figuring out the variables -- figuring out where the real questions lie -- is the best way for a mentor removed from the situation to help someone out with her boyfriend decisions. 

My roommate third-wheeled my boyfriend and me all the time. As a firsthand witness, she could help me work out the answers to the questions my mom guided me to ask. She never told me what to do or think unless I flat-out asked her. She too asked more questions but also brought in real-life observations from a knowledgeable, objective standpoint. She would often see good in our relationship when I felt ready to quit. She would tell me our relationship inspired her to love better. She would fend off people confused about how an ENFJ fell in love with an ISTP, and console me with truth when I felt like everybody judged us.

As you can see, it's so, so important to me that my mentors do not tell me what to think but instead give me information and questions to equip me to make the final decision about my relationship. This led me to several (personal) conclusions on how I seek advice for my relationship:

01. I chose two women who knew me best, my mother and my roommate, and kept them informed about everything. They had the final word, so to speak, the final influence on my thought process.

02. I ask specific questions of specific married men and women when I want practical help or a real-life perspective. I rarely just spill about my relationship to other people. I'll ask about how to handle a situation without disclosing any personal details that led to me asking that question.

03. I don't ask advice from people who make relationships black-and-white. If someone makes absolute statements like, You need to date multiple people before you can make wise dating decisions or Dating must be done like this, then I don't ask them for relationship advice.

04. I stopped reading relationship articles about what he must be or 5 signs you're headed for break-up. They got me in a funk of comparing my boyfriend to imaginary men and gave me irrelevant issues to hunt for in my relationship. 

05. I never read or consider advice from someone not in a relationship unless she's dated before or been heavily involved in advising/observing other couples. 90% of the time, inexperienced single people are just regurgitating impractical "principles" that nobody actually follows in real relationships.

06. I seek encouragement. Several friends love to hear all about my relationship and are vocal about the positive aspects of my relationship. I also read positive articles about improving communication, showing affection, and strengthening the relationship.

07. I don't listen to people who do not know me. Acquaintances or the internet world may question, but I'm not listening anymore. I don't have the emotional energy to consider an outsider's perspective on such a personal issue, especially when I have access to so many solid advisers who know me and my boyfriend firsthand. 

08. I'm clearing out all these distracting voices and listening to the ones that matter because I need to hear what God wants me to do. Despite my frequent freak-outs, He's graciously made relationship decisions clear ever since the day I fell head-over-heels in love. 

As to whether my boyfriend's The One...well, I guess we'll all find out eventually. :)

How have you/are you/will you figure out the figuring out of The One?

P.S. Do I need to do an FAQ about my relationship and my boyfriend in particular? I've received so many worried emails from my readers that I'm wondering if we're all on the same page with whom I'm actually dating. If all of you are this concerned about my boyfriend, I'm happy to field some questions. He's hands-down the most amazing man ever + my bestie, and I have nothing to hide about him or his relationship to me. Your call, readers!

Photo creds to Style Me Pretty.

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21 impressions

  1. This may be a matter of semantics, but I'm not sure there is such a thing as "The One". I believe there are many men (many, but not any) out there with whom I could have built a strong marriage. However, once I said, "I do," then Dave *became* THE ONE. Forsaking all others and all of that.

    1. I totally agree! I guess I was using "The One" as shorthand for "one of the ones who could become The One." ;)

    2. I figured as much. I simply wanted to clarify.

      Anyway, I love lists--and this is a good one.

      Also, I've been reading up more and more on personality types of late. Fun stuff!

    3. Oh, and without shortening to "The One", the question to your readers would have to be...

      "How have you/are you/will you figure out the figuring out of one of the ones who could become The One?"

      Say *that* five times fast! ;D

    4. Hahahahaha! Strunk and White would KILL me with that kind of sentence!

      Speaking of personality types and relationships, I love love love reading this site: Apparently I'm the personality type who will smother her relationship to death, and my boy's type is the one who rarely gets married. Who knew? It's fascinating and super helpful!

    5. LOL...Strunk & White!

      That website would have helped me quite a bit in the beginning. We have learned to drive separately to social events (when reasonable). He and the other introverts leave early (E & J), while I stay later with the extroverts (L & S). At times I simply give him permission to not go at all. I've learned not to take it personally. *Sometimes* I even choose to stay home and not go to the social function. (Now *that's* love.)

    6. Wow. You go, Jenny! Because Erich and I are socially similar (even though he's an introvert and I'm 50/50), we don't have this exact problem. We just hate attending each other's social functions. One of us always wants to go home early. ;)

  2. I can *totally relate!* Actually, after reading this to my hubby (and laughing all the while) I wrote a post based on it. I hope you don't mind.

    You see, our dating days were very turbulent because of this exact problem! I couldn't let go of what I *thought* other's thought, what the courtship books said and what I expected my romantic relationships to look like.

    D was not what I planned. He is an INTJ which comes with a lot of unique, wonderful attributes which I am so thankful for! But at this time, this ISFJ had a hard time standing by my man and our love -- especially when there were any signs of questioning from other people.

    I'm a jellyfish, what can I say?

    Thankfully, my man loved me through those times and with a lot of good discussions, honest communication and trust I overcame and we blossomed. And now, a year and three months later, I'm happier and more at rest than ever.

    Anyways, long story to say that I really appreciated this!

    1. Oh, my goodness! A fellow jellyfish! (Love that term! Gonna use that. ;)) I'm going to look for your post right this second. I'm so relieved/ecstatic someone overcame this!!! Was it hard to transition out of once you got married, or was it an instant non-issue once you said "I do"?

    2. I can't find the post!!!! Is it simmering in the scheduled folder?

  3. Hahaha, yes, it is simmering! But I'll release it tomorrow morning! :)

    Hmmm ... honestly, it was a slow transition. Because I was so used to looking to /// what I thought others wanted of me /// I had a hard time adjusting my scope to just one person. I caused myself a lot of needless stress and a few unnecessary arguments.

    I particularly struggled after two friends mentioned that, when they first met D, they didn't like him (since then they've told me their opinions have changed :). All my life I had based most of life's decision on being at peace with fellow peers and family. (Not the big, important theology type decisions but the smaller, more day-to-day stuff.) I believed that their approval equaled blessing. (Which, sometimes it does ...)

    So, you can imagine the mental dramatics I put myself through ... not to mention how angry I was at their insensitive, needless words.

    Thankfully, my even-keeled man always reminded me to love people even when they said thoughtless things. He also reminded me that God's approval was far more worth pursuing.

    The most difficult challenge now is focusing on admiring the man I loved and *letting him know that I admire him.* Because I had let other's opinions turn me into a "I must analyze everything about you" person he didn't really feel that I fully accepted him for him.

    And the best part is that we are so happy with the knowledge that we are loved by a good God and love each other. There is now peace between all who had before created some tension (due to some misunderstandings/lack of communication). And above all, he is happy because I am happy being his wife and knowing that *God smiles down upon it.*

    1. I love this! This is so good for me to hear. I too am so used to analyzing my boyfriend that I forget to just appreciate him!

      I'm so sorry your friends were thoughtless with their words. :/ And I'm so happy you're married to such a patient man! Those guys are the best for us jellyfish types. :)

  4. Those were some good tips. They makes sense. Why take advice from people who don't know you or your exact situation?

    As for your P.S., I'm more interested in "the whole story" than an F.A.Q. post. We've only gotten the story in bits and pieces, and it seems wonderful, but a bit opaque so far. You don't have to go into detail; just give us a timeline of events. That's what I'd like. :)

    1. Aww, thanks for your interest! I'm holding off on the grand story until (if) we get engaged. I mostly just wanted to alleviate reader fears that I'm not dating a jerk, which seems to be the greatest impression. But rest assured, you will hopefully get the full crazy, complicated story eventually! I'm dying to tell it!!

    2. I wondered what people were thinking, because he seems nice enough to me. I'm an ISTJ who gets along best with all my fellow ISTs (the J is negotiable, because my J mostly manifests as decisiveness, not forethought, which can make life interesting). So whenever you talk about Erich, I'm always just thinking he sounds like a great guy.

      And he's cute, so there's always that... :)

    3. Casvelyn, you're a sanity saver!! I find ISTs fascinating. And isn't he cute?! I'm a fan. ;)

    4. I hope the day comes, and before too long!
      In the meantime, an F.A.Q. would be great. But you've never made me think ill of him. He's always been the good guy in your stories. ;)

  5. love this! (actually I love alot of your dating/relationships/woman etc posts)...It an be so hard to not listen to the voices of others opinions that have really should not have any long lasting impact on your decisions anyway. As a people pleaser, it is still taking me a long time to get to narrowing down who I should listen too but thankfully I have the most patient husband who keeps gently bringing me back to the right track. After having a "courtship fail" (which totally devastated me cause wasn't I suppose to do it right? thank God for parents who didn't believe in the first time is the only time) when I began dating my husband I was much less focused on him "being the one" which is really hard when everyone is questioning your sanity in what you're doing. I'm also so glad he wanted a relationship not a checklist and not just marriage. :)

    1. I love this: "a relationship, not a checklist and not just marriage." I think growing up with a courtship mindset made it extremely difficult for me to accept my boyfriend as a human for that very reason - it was all about the checklist and all about marriage.

  6. An entirely off topic comment, have you ever looked into the enneagram? It's more perceptive than extrovert vs. introvert and more flexible than the Myers Briggs personality system. It promotes growth within your own personality, becoming the best version of yourself, per se. And, if there's any connection between this and your post, since it discuses the basic needs/drives each personality has, it really helps you deepen your relationships.
    In my experience, anyway. :)

    1. Whaaat? That sounds so cool! Looking it up right now!


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