Finding a partner with whom to share your life can be a hopeful, difficult, invigorating, and challenging process. Seeking an appropriate mate is considered as one of the primary responsibilities of adulthood, and whether their approach is to flirt in line at a coffee shop, peruse hundreds of online profiles, or ask friends or family to arrange dates, people devote enormous amounts of thought and energy to the task. To find someone you’ll be comfortable with for the rest of your life, though, it may be necessary to go far outside your comfort zone.
The Laws of Attraction
Human attraction is driven by biological and evolutionary factors, but it can also be idiosyncratic. We may find ourselves attracted to many people, at least momentarily. Determining whether our interest in or connection with someone reflects a temporary infatuation or true love can sometimes be challenging, but research suggests that there are revealing clues in the other person’s behavior, and your own. One key early signifier that you may be serious about someone is stress: Repeatedly interacting with someone whose opinion matters deeply to you can fuel anxiety.
Finding the Right Partner
Even people who date often and remain open to new people may not have an easy time finding long-term love. Research finds that the most successful couples meet through shared social networks or while pursuing a common interest, and couples with weaker social ties outside of each other may take longer to commit to marriage. Novelty can also be an important factor in relationship success: Someone who pushes you to consider new activities or beliefs that expand your self-concept may be a partner with whom you can have a relationship that stays fresh for decades.
How We Commit
Deciding to get married, or to commit to each other in a less formal but equally emotionally significant way, is the biggest step many couples will take. If one believes that one person can never truly know another person, romantic commitment will always be a gamble. But when partners feel like they are equally devoted to each other, and express that through their words and behaviors, especially those that are less conscious, they can move forward with greater confidence and hope.