How do I know if he’s the one?

Hey Meredith,

From the ages of 18 to 26, I was in a series of relationships that ended up not working out for various reasons.

My last breakup was the hardest, and that's when I swore off dating. I wanted to focus on myself and my career (I was getting a degree at the time). Just general self-care.

Enter a new man. He was someone I had met three years prior, but life happened and we lost touch. When I met him again, I think I was looking for a rebound and someone to make my ex jealous, but we ended up having a great time hanging out, even though I made it clear that I didn't want a relationship.

It's now been a year and four months together. Most of this time has been spent apart because we live in different cities. We've traveled to see each other multiple times, and even spent a month living in together when we could. But I just can't tell if he's the one. I have a list of things I value in a person and he checks off all but one. The feeling with him isn't quite the same as it was with my past relationships. I loved my exes but I was also around them consistently, which isn't the case here. And I can't tell if I'm not into it, or if I now have a more level-headed way of handling relationships.

Can love feel neutral or it is supposed to be this magical spark? I care about this man, but I don't love him in that wild way. It makes it difficult for me to decide if he's the one I'm supposed to be with for the rest of my life.

– Is he?

First, there is no one. There are zillions of people in the world, and many of them might make great partners. It's all about finding someone you like (and love), and building a something great.

You've put so much pressure on yourself to figure out if this man can be your everything that you haven't had the chance to ask the right questions. For instance, how can you be together – for real? Does he want to live in the same part of the world? Are you on the same page about what might happen in the next year? You'd benefit from making some immediate, practical plans.

I do think that as we mature, sparks present themselves in new – and maybe more subtle – ways. Sometimes the sparks come later, when you see that a relationship really works. Also, sometimes those big sparks we feel in a relationship are about fear. Or not having feelings reciprocated. It's OK if this relationship allows you to relax.

Also remember that what you have with this man started with a slow burn. It was something you thought would be meaningless, but grew into something more. It was never about fireworks.

Your goal right now should be getting to the same place. Distance is making it impossible to answer the big questions. Focus on that.

– Meredith

Readers? Are sparks necessary?