Stephen & me in front of the Chicago Bean!
Recently I wrote a post on how to know when it’s time to end your relationship. Not the most uplifting topic but from conversations I’ve had with y’all it was something I wanted to share my personal experience with. I think a lot of times we are in certain relationships and we’re not quite sure if we should stay with that person and while every relationship is different, I hope that blog post may have given you some clarify or reassurance if you’ve been feeling similar.
So onto the more “fun” topic–how I knew that Stephen was the one! This is another question I get somewhat frequently, so again, while I don’t know what you’re going through, I wanted to share my experience on how I “knew” that Stephen was it.
First, I thought I’d share with y’all how Stephen and I met and go from there. So kind of picking up from my last post, I got out of a long-term relationship and really just wanted to be single for a while. I was 26 and for the last 8 years I had pretty much been in relationships and so I just wanted to be by myself. I felt like I needed that time.
I was in nursing school at the moment, and over that summer I had a nursing externship at Duke where I basically shadowed a RN the entire time. So I was living in Raleigh for the summer and like I had mentioned before, I wasn’t looking to be in a relationship. I honestly just wanted to have fun, go on dates–you know, keep things casual. One of my best friends suggested that I download the dating app Hinge. So I thought, sure, why not? It would be a good way to meet people and casually date over the summer.
Well, what I thought would be a summer of dating turned out to be the exact opposite LOL. So I got on the app (it was like a Sunday night) and I actually started messaging with this other guy a day or so later, and we made plans to go out on that Friday. The next day though Stephen’s profile popped up and I just remember thinking that I thought he was really attractive (and tall haha), and he had a witty one-liner in his bio (shocker). So I had “liked” his profile (or whatever you did 5 years ago lol) and luckily he had done the same with mine.
Right away I had a good feeling about him but obviously you never really know. I mean I could say, oh I knew right away when we were messaging that he was the one but that just wasn’t true lol. As we know, people can put on a very good show 😉 But I will say, some of the things that stood out to me right away that were important to me in a relationship was his sense of humor and his directness. He was funny (I’d literally be LOL’ing by myself reading his messages haha), and he also didn’t waste any time. We started chatting within the app that night and the next day we were texting. I remember him asking me point blank what I was looking for in someone and it kind of caught me off guard that he was asking that already, but again, his directness was something that I was looking for and it was a quality that I liked. That night he had asked me when I could go out and at this point it was Wednesday, and I had that other date Friday. So between that and my work schedule I was like, well I can meet tomorrow or next thursday. He wrote back “tomorrow.” I share all this because these are things that stood out to me right away. I know it was just a couple days of texting but I appreciate his sense of humor and directness/assertiveness without being overbearing or controlling.
We met up for a drink for our first date–Stephen said he never did dinners on a first date because what if it’s a nightmare? You’re stuck with someone for at least a couple hours and you’re spending $60+ on a meal that you aren’t even enjoying LOL. So, here is when I can start to tell you how I knew he was “the one.” I honestly never believed that BS of “I just knew as soon as I met him” or “when you know, you know.” I’d be like, yeah okay, how do you know after meeting someone for the first time for like 1-2 hours? But I left that date and met up with one of my good friends for dinner and I told her, I know this sounds crazy but this is who I’m going to marry. I’m going to cancel my other date tomorrow–I just know that I don’t need to go on it.
Okay, so yes, I probably sounded like a crazy person at the time but during that first date and over even just the next few weeks there were things that stood out to me that I knew would make us great partners. When you’re dating, I think it’s important to know characteristics and qualities you want in someone so you aren’t settling for someone who is just “good enough.”
1. Sense of humor. I feel like everyone says this is important to them but Stephen knew how to make me laugh (still does) but he was just so funny! (I hope he doesn’t read this because we don’t need anyone else telling him how funny he is haha).
2. We had very similar life goals. This is something we talked about early on and we would always say (still do) that this is an important pillar/part of our relationship. We both had the desire to live a certain lifestyle–the kind of home we would aspire to have, vacations and travel we wanted to do, our view on kids, how much money we wanted to make and what we wanted to do with it (ie. we wanted to have nice things but also felt like it was important to donate/give back, etc), how we approached finances/our spending habits, views on a healthy but balanced lifestyle, open to starting a business, not deeply religious but felt like a relationship with God was important, etc.
I say all these things not because I think you need to be aligned on every single thing in life. I mean, trust me, there are plenty of things that Stephen and I disagree on! However. If you are someone who wants to start a business and your partner is very risk-averse, that is something to be aware of. If you really want kids and your partner is on the fence, that is something that could cause a lot of conflict later. If you have a desire to live a certain lifestyle and your partner is content with working a lower paying job, that is something you need to acknowledge and decide if your lifestyle goals align. Again, nothing wrong with wanting one thing vs. the other but if you’re going to be together long term you should be aware of where you and your partner stand on certain things. I have seen these issues come up later on in the relationship with people I know and how these differences can cause more problems in the long term than you might think. I mean, in my relationship before Stephen, it always bothered me some that my boyfriend at the time didn’t believe in God. Even though I wasn’t deeply religious it was always something in the back of my mind that I wondered how it could possibly affect our future. So I just bring these up as things to think about, and how they helped me know that Stephen was “the one.”
3. He didn’t play games. There was no back and forth. I never wondered where I stood with him. He was open with how he felt about me and SHOWED that he cared. Words are one thing but if you’re with someone that isn’t showing that through actions that is something to think about.
4. I trusted him. Trust is HUGE! Bottom line: I think trust is the foundation of any good relationship.
While I can point to all these things as reasons that I knew he was the one, it also comes down to a feeling. Someone can be perfect on paper but you just don’t have chemistry and that’s okay! On our first date I obviously couldn’t have known all these things about him but I just had a gut feeling that based off our chemistry and conversation that he was who I was supposed to be with. If you ask Stephen, he didn’t know quite as soon as me but he did let “I love you” slip after a month or so of dating haha. So I guess you could say he knew pretty soon as well.
Bottom line is this (again just my opinion):
1. Trust your gut. In my past relationships, even when nothing was wrong and the relationship was what you would deem as “really good” there were still moments that I would second guess things. They seemed small and insignificant, and at the time I was always like “am I over analyzing?” In hindsight, I wasn’t over analyzing–they just weren’t “my person.”
2. Do your lifestyles–your life goals and aspirations–actually align? Like I said, I don’t think that you need to agree on every single thing but when it comes to the big things I think you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if this is going to be something that bothers you later? It’s fine to be different as long as both of you acknowledge the differences and can appreciate them vs. letting it lead to conflict.
I know this is kind of a nebulous topic but hopefully this post helped answer some of your questions on this! xxC