Mr. Right, Prince Charming, your soulmate ... whatever you call him, finding the right man is no easy task. It can be even harder once you've found him and start wondering, "Is he the one?"
Many women have a clear idea of the exact kind of guy they want to fall in love with; others feel they'll know him when they see him.
Some of my dating coaching clients even carry extensive lists to help them recognize Mr. Right when they start dating.
Regardless of how you approach finding the right man, my dating advice is to not get lost in the process of wondering whether he is "the one". Sometimes women are so busy qualifying a guy against their complex criteria, they overlook all the good that exists in the relationship.
It's most important to stay objective, to avoid getting attached too quickly.
In fact, I'm a big fan of dating multiple guys until you get to exclusivity with one. Keep all your options open ... that's just smart dating.
This way you'll spend enough time with a man to know he's truly worth releasing your other suitors.
The problem is, when trying to determine which man is best, women typically focus on the negative.
You look for all things he's NOT doing and how he DOESN'T measure up, so you can move on if needed.
That's OK. It's a natural (and necessary) part of any selection process, but it can also overshadow all the good in him that you might be taking for granted.
So, I'm cautioning you — make sure you don't miss out on a wonderful man because you're too focused on disqualifying him. Keep your eyes (and heart) open to noticing where the men you date excel.
Find someone who does.
It's easy to list what you find unappealing in a potential mate, but identifying the qualities that make someone desirable for the long haul is a slightly tougher task. What exactly qualifies a person to fulfill the role as your life partner?
Not everyone runs a mental checklist before taking the ultimate leap — some just know. But regardless of whether or not you choose to follow that instinct, it doesn't hurt to validate that he or she is your soulmate.
To distinguish between someone who's good for right now versus someone you want to wake up next to every day, consider the following list. If there's someone in your life with these 20 qualities, don't let go.
1. They support your passions and decisions.
He or she should be your biggest cheerleader and encourage you to pursue any endeavors despite how it may affect them.
2. They add value to your life.
Not in terms of monetary value — your partner should contribute a quality that inspires you to grow, whether that means he or she is smarter or more ambitious than you. (But make sure you can provide the same.)
3. They can be completely silly with you.
"Til death" is a long ride that should be filled with the most fun moments. Along the way, they shouldn't have a problem being playful with you or exposing their inner child without inhibition.
4. They adore you.
Even if you're not one who needs the validation, your partner should show how much they love and adore you without necessarily putting you on a pedestal.
5. They are willing to compromise.
The two of you will never not disagree on something, so make sure he or she is open-minded to your needs and desires, too.
6. They treat your family just as well.
If your partner shows zero respect for your friends and family, it's hard to ignore, even if he or she has no problem showing their appreciation to you.
7. They value your opinions.
Your partner doesn't have to agree with you at all times, but he or she should be able to respect your beliefs (without imposing theirs on you) despite them being different from their own.
8. They love themselves just as much as they love you.
The best partner is someone who can stand alone without constantly depending on your company or attention. He or she should be comfortable with themselves and be totally secure without you there.
9. They are trustworthy.
Even if every other aspect of your relationship is solid, the power of doubt is hard to dismiss. Problems down the road will be inevitable if you're constantly second-guessing their honesty (and vice versa).
10. They exhilarate you, not deplete you.
Your partner should make you excited about life and its offerings. He or she should never make you feel bad about yourself or diminish your spirit in any way.
11. They have a life outside of the one you share.
It's important for your S.O. to understand that you have a life of your own and to encourage you to enjoy things without him or her.
12. They don't hold grudges.
Despite any bumps in the road, your life partner should seek to improve your relationship rather than dwell on any setbacks.
13. They bring out the best in you.
Your partner should not provoke your inner worst qualities — only the ones that make you a better you.
14. They love all of you.
This includes your flaws, especially. Your personality traits don't come à la carte, so he or she should be able to embrace you as a whole, shortcomings and all.
15. They can be held accountable.
He or she should be able to put aside their ego to be held accountable for any mistakes. Your partner should own up to them rather than place blame on someone or something else.
16. They allow themselves to be vulnerable to you.
Communication will prove to be the hugest challenge if either of you have a wall up. Your S.O. should feel comfortable enough to confide in you with all of their fears and secrets.
17. They keep you in check without dictating.
It can get boring when someone is in constant agreement with you for the sake of not wanting to upset you. When you're out of line, he or she shouldn't be afraid to challenge you and should respectfully point out your wrongdoing when necessary.
18. They allow you to be you.
It's difficult to be fully happy in a relationship when you're forced to suppress any part of you. You shouldn't feel restricted whatsoever, whether that includes being able to freely pursue your hobbies or to be your silly self.
19. They are dependable.
You should always be able to rely on your partner for anything, from emotional support to upholding their commitments. You don't want to have to waste time worrying about if they're acting irresponsible.
20. They are easy to be with.
Every relationship comes with its battles but by no means should it be a daily war — that can get exhausting. Although the need for improvement is never-ending, your partner should be your counterpart, teammate and best friend, and mutual happiness should come with little effort.
So, I already found one and the only one!
What about you?
Ready to have one?