You think you’ve fallen in love. All the symptoms are there, just like the last time — and that has you worried. It didn’t work then, why will it work now?
So, should you be willing to take the risk? The answer to that question is a definitive “yes.” You are worthy of the love of another. But love can’t find you if you aren’t willing and able to let it come back into your life. You can — and should — risk falling in love again.
That doesn’t stop you from wondering: “What guarantee do I have that things won’t go sour again?”
My answer is: “None whatsoever.” After all, there are no guarantees for anything we do in life. Still, you shouldn’t be afraid. Why not? Because you’re smarter this time around. While we all make mistakes, the key to a thriving relationship is gleaning what lessons we can from those less-than-successful past experiences so that we avoid making the same mistakes again.
That said, you still have the concern of recognizing love the next time around. Well, guess what? It’s really not all that difficult. Although your soul-mate won’t be pictured on a billboard with an arrow and the words “Hey! Over here!” painted over his/her head, his/her actions will speak louder than words.
Here are four telltale signs that it’s okay to get exclusive:
Sign #1: Your partner lives up to most (if not all) of your expectations. What expectations, you ask? Why, the ones you wrote down you to clarify what were looking for prior to getting back into the dating game. If you’ve misplaced that “soul-mate list” (or if you never created it in the first place), then take a moment to do so now. After you’ve made your list, if it turns out that your new partner matches at least 75% of your criteria, then he or she is definitely in the running for the next step: exclusivity.
Sign #2: Your partner is demonstrating respect and appreciation for you. After all, you deserve no less. Your partner should show how much he/she respects and appreciates you in actions — not just words. Acts of kindness, both random and otherwise, are also important in a relationship. By the way, if these criteria aren’t already on your list, go ahead and write them down.
Sign #3: Your partner doesn’t disappear during a crisis. Anyone can enjoy a “fair weather” relationship. The real test is when things go wrong: for instance, you’ve lost your job, you’ve had a medical scare, or there’s a family emergency. If he/she isn’t willing to stick it out, that’s fine; part as friends and recognize that it wasn’t meant to be. If he/she won’t leave your side until the crisis is over, then your partner deserves the same kind of commitment he/she has just shared with you.
Sign #4: You can see yourself living the rest of your life with this person. Your partner is the kind of person who will keep growing with time, never stagnating, emotionally or mentally. The thought of growing old with him/her doesn’t scare you, and you’re not scared of allowing him to see you growing old.
If you see these four telltale signs, the writing’s on the wall: this is the one.
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