There's no perfect partner but some partners are closer to perfect than others. The question is, is he close enough to last a lifetime with you? Who we choose to marry will have far reaching implications into our lifestyle, finances, family dynamics, health, and more. While most of us think of love and white picket fences, marriage is a legally binding contract with the expectation that this other person will fill a certain role.
Finding a long-term partner is a lot like finding the right person for a job. They need to be naturally inclined to the tasks you are asking. Does this person have the innate characteristics you are looking for? Do you even know what you are looking for? Get clear. Would you ask a Golden Retreiver to be a protection dog? Would you tie a poodle to a sled and expect them to pull? It takes roughly twenty minutes to get into a marriage; and no less than six months, attorneys, and huge costs to get out of one. Who you marry can have both positive and negative consequences for the rest of your life. So, how can you know if he's the one? Here are some important things to consider:
1. Do you like him? I know you love him, but do you like him? Some people invest more and more time thinking things will change. "Everything will be alright once we get married" or "He'll be more responsible after we have kids." Don't do that to yourself or him. People tend to try hardest to impress their mate before, not after, they are married. While children are little blessings, they also exponentially increase the stress on couples. People do change in degrees, but they rarely shift too far from the essence of who they are. If he's dark blue, he may soften to a lighter blue or shine up to a royal blue, but don't expect to turn blue into red. If you are intimate with him, you are receiving large doses of oxytocin (see: Why Women Can't Have Casual Sex) which is increasing your bond and clouding your judgement. If he was dating your friend instead of you, would you genuinely like him? It's important that you like him. It won't last for either of you if you secretly desire to change him to someone he's not.
2. Is there chemistry? So maybe you genuinely like him. He's reliable, honest, and sincere. That's great, but do you feel that spark? You can't expect that spark to be there every moment of every day, but it does need to be there consistently. If you don't feel it now, it likely won't ever develop. Having chemistry with someone can be a complex equation, but for a relationship to stand the test of time, both liking who he is and having strong chemistry have got to be solid. If you like him, but you don't really love him, you will be left vulnerable to the day when someone else comes along who strikes your fancy better. In my opinion, lack of chemistry is a deal-breaker. Whoever he is, he deserves to be with someone who can truly love him in every sense of the word. If you know that's not you, it's a greater kindness to give him the chance to find that love with someone else.
3. Lifestyle: How he spends his time, how he spends his money, his idea of physical fitness, what he likes and doesn't like will all have an impact on you and vice versa. If he likes to travel abroad for holidays, you will likely be expected to go with him. If his idea of a night out is a pizza parlor and beer, hopefully that works for you, too. When it comes to lifestyle, no particular type is right and no particular type is wrong. It is the lifestyle fit that's important. If he's thinking Ritz Carlton in New York while you're set on camping in a tent in Yosemite, distance is sure to build with time. Make sure your ideas of a comfortable and healthy lifestyle are not diametrically opposed and you'll set yourself up for a happier and easier future.
4. Family: Where does he stand on family? Where do you stand? Does he want five kids while you want one? This topic might be awkward early on while dating, but as soon as you find out how he feels, either accept it or don't waste any more time. Consider also, will this person make a good father? The two of you may bring a life or two into this world. That child is counting on you to make the right decision. How your man treats you may be an indicator of how he will likely treat his children. Consider this point carefully; it's important.
5. Is he attentive? Think diamonds are a girl's best friend? Wrong. What every woman wants and needs from her man more than any tangible item, is his attention. Does he take an interest in you? Does he ask about your day? Does he surprise you every now and then and do things that make you feel special? Just like with chemistry, if your man doesn't give you the attention you need, some day in the future another man may. If he's too busy or self-absorbed, you are bound to get lonely. That's no way to spend a lifetime. If he's the one, he'll pay attention to you.
6. How does he handle adversity? Ideally, relationships last a lifetime and in that much time, bad things are bound to happen. Money comes and goes, people get sick or injured, it's not all fun and games. To be the one, he'll need to stick with you and you'll also need to stick with him. The grass is rarely greener and adversity strikes everyone if you are with them long enough. So, notice how he handles the tough stuff. Is he loyal? Does he come through? If he does, you like him, you have chemistry, your lifestyle and family ideas are compatible, and he gives you the attention you need, he's likely a keeper!
7. Can you accept his faults? Whether the faults are large or small, can you live with them? Does he fart? Does he swear when he's working on a project? How about snoring? Does he like to get high before going to bed? Does his job require a lot of travel? Remember, love is blind because of oxytocin, but once your hormones eventually simmer down, the question is: can you accept your man as he is without griping at him or building resentments? Think hard and be as objective as you can. It's ok to have standards and if he violates yours, now is the time to get real about that. Otherwise, this is the package you are signing up for. And...vice versa. Can he accept you as you are, or is he on your back about every little detail? If you can accept him, and his warts, and he can accept you, it's a good start to a happy ending.
There is no perfect person and there is no perfect match. What's important is, is he close to perfect enough to be compatible with you? You'll need to have some give and take. My man is an airline pilot. He is gone for weeks at a time...but he gives me lots of attention and I both love him and like him A LOT. The only person who can know for sure if he's the one, is you. If he's YOUR one, that's all that really matters.