The concept of finding a soulmate has been thrown around for years. But what is a soulmate, anyway? The idea behind it is simple: There’s someone out there who is perfectly suited for you and only you. While the idea of finding the one is romantic, it’s just not realistic. In fact, many relationship therapists flat-out hate the idea.
“The concept of finding your soulmate has ruined some marriages,” says psychologist Barton Goldsmith, PhD, author of The Happy Couple. “The reality is, there are probably 10 or 20 people on the planet that would work for you, maybe more. But there’s no one exact right person for you for the rest of your life,” he explains. Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, PsyD, agrees, calling the concept “toxic.”
Subscribing to the soulmate concept is devastating because if you split up or something happens to your so-called soulmate, it can keep you from seeing other people who are a perfect fit for you but may not check all of your boxes, Goldsmith says.
That said, there’s definitely a right person for you out there. Here are the biggest signs that you’ve found the perfect partner for you.
You know deep down that they’re right for you
“Knowing that you’ve found the right person is not always clear,” says licensed family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago and author of You Are Not Crazy: Letters from Your Therapist. “There are many factors to finding an ideal partner. Some of them are instincts.” Goldsmith cautions against solely relying on your gut when choosing the right person for you, but he says you should still trust that you know deep down if someone is a good match for you.
The timing is right
If you happen to meet someone amazing when you’re still hurting from a breakup or just aren’t ready to settle down at a certain time in your life, it’s clearly not going to work. But if it feels like you’re both on the same page, commitment-wise, and you’re a good fit in other areas, it’s a good match, Klow says.
You feel incredibly comfortable together
“This is one of the most important things,” Goldsmith says. “The difference when you are with someone who adds comfort to your life and being with someone who doesn’t make you feel comfortable is pretty much the difference between breathing and drowning.” It doesn’t just feel good. Being able to kick back around each other is a solid sign that your relationship is healthy, Klow says.
You can pick up on their emotions easily
They call it couples intuition: You can read your partner without them even saying a word. That’s pretty powerful stuff, and it can help you out in the long run when it comes to dealing with some of the tougher issues in life. “Feeling emotionally connected is an essential part of a healthy relationship,” Klow says.
It feels like they just “get” you
Sure, you can date plenty of people and have a good time with them. But when you feel like someone really understands what makes you tick, it’s kind of life-altering. “When somebody gets you, that’s a really good, affirming feeling,” Goldsmith says. Feeling heard and understood also helps the relationship work well, Klow says.
You have the same values and goals
You may come from different backgrounds or have different tastes, but being on the same page about what really matters in life is crucial. “You have to have the same values and goals—that’s paramount,” Goldsmith says. It’s also one of those things that really matter in the long run, Klow says. “Having similar values and goals helps couples find clarity about creating a life together,” he adds.
You want them to be happy
That may mean spending a Saturday afternoon outside in the cold to cheer on their fave footy team, cancelling plans to help nurse them back to health, or sitting through Star Wars for the zillionth time because you know how much they love it. (And, by the way, they should do the same for you, too.) Wanting your partner to be happy, even when it’s an inconvenience for you, “is a sign of true love,” Goldsmith says.
You respect each other
Respect is one of the weird things that’s usually unspoken, but you definitely know when you don’t have it. “If you feel like your partner is disrespecting you, you haven’t got anything,” Goldsmith says. “You will feel so bad.” Having respect, on the other hand, helps build a solid foundation that will last, Klow says.
You’ve got a lot to say to each other
There are always going to be lulls in the conversation, but it’s important to be able to have a long chat with your partner and still feel like you haven’t run out of things to say. “If you can have a conversation from dusk ‘til dawn, that’s a very good sign,” Goldsmith says.
You can navigate your different opinions
Being with the right person doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything—far from it. What it does mean, though, is that you know how to handle and accept the things you don’t agree on. “Being able to tolerate your differences and accept one another for who you each are is really important,” Klow says. If you can’t, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of unnecessary arguments in your future.
You love them, even at their worst
That means accepting the fact that they snore, letting minor things slide when they’re grumpy, and pitching in when they morph into total babies over a cold. “You have to be able to love someone at their worst if you’re going to be with them,” Goldsmith says.
They add value to your life
According to popular thought, soulmates “complete” you, but in reality, you’re pretty complete just the way you are. Instead, the right person enhances your life, Klow says. That can mean making your good days even better, and doing little things to make you smile. Sure, it’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but if they add value to your life as a whole, you’ve got a good thing going.
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.
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