It’s true that relationships are work, but the work isn’t trying to figure out if you should be with someone, or convincing someone to be with you.
For a number of long-term couples I’ve interviewed through the years, the expression, “When you know, you know,” rings true. Not all knew immediately, but ultimately, all had clarity that they had found their match.
I spoke with happily married men and women to find out if there was a moment in time and/or a specific feeling they had that their partners and their partnership felt different from all the rest.
Vicki & Lisa, married in Toronto in 2005
Over a decade ago, Vicki met her future wife, Lisa, at work and developed a friendship with her before having the courage to ask her out.
Vicki’s wedding ring is engraved with the word “Flutter” and she admits that over a decade together and two kids later, her partner still makes her feel this way.
Vicki knew almost instantly (on their second date) that she wanted to grow old with Lisa. She said, “I remember waiting for her at the corner, near my apartment. I saw her riding her three-speed bicycle. In her basket, which she had decorated with plastic flowers, she carried a huge baguette and a bottle of wine. She couldn’t see me, but her smile was so wide, I just knew I wanted to be the reason for her happiness. Eleven years later I’m still thrilled to see her first thing in the morning and last at night. “
Without question, Lisa was distinctly different from any other person Vicki had ever been with. In this way, the expression “When you know, you know” resonates.
“(Lisa) was the first person that ever made my heart flutter. I never grew tired of spending time with her. I woke up thinking about her and went to bed thinking about her. The first time she kissed me, I thought my chest would explode. This whole ‘love thing’ finally made sense to me”, Vicki said.
Ron & Sari, married in Los Angeles in 2008
Ron and Sari met online and a few weeks into dating, they realized they had relatives in common. (Ron notes, “I know that sounds gross, but thankfully it was just through marriage…but we get the joke that we’re kissing cousins.”) They’ve now been together for a decade and have two children.
Both Sari and Ron agree with the statement, “When you know, you know,” though they admit that they knew the other person was right for them at different times.
Ron said, “We both connected on our first date, but neither of us left that first date saying, ‘That’s the person I’m going to marry.’ We were excited to see each other again, but were both in the middle of dating other people, because that’s just how online dating goes… .”
Sari said she knew she felt a deeper connection after her third date at a Lakers game with Ron, when they sat and talked. According to Sari, it felt different to be with Ron because she felt so comfortable, “Like I had known him my entire life.”
Ron said, “For me, it was a bit later because I’m a dumb man. After our one-year anniversary, we got into an argument because Sari was frustrated that we’d never discussed our future together. I said I like to wait until I’ve dated someone at least a year until discussing a future because relationships change after a year. She shot back that relationships change after one year, two years, five years, 10 years-it’s not the fact that they change, it’s how we change together. That’s when I knew,” he admitted.
Ron continued, “(The discussion) forced me to consider my life without her and the thought of life without her scared me. My favorite quote from When Harry Met Sally popped into my head, so as soon as I realized I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life, I wanted the rest of my life to start as soon as possible. Soon after, I proposed.”
For both, this relationship felt different from the rest.
Ron said, “It felt different for me to be with her in that I genuinely could laugh with Sari. Also, she was a very direct communicator, which, while horribly uncomfortable at first because I was immature at the time, turned out to be a blessing because most girls I’d dated were horrible communicators. Being able to communicate our way through issues quickly was pretty amazing.”
Mitch & Alejandra, married in Montreal in 2012
Mitch and Alejandra met on a dating site around the time that each of them decided to de-activate their accounts. As Alejandra said, “We almost missed each other.”
Their first date, which was supposed to be a simple Saturday afternoon meeting over ice cream in the park, lasted 10 hours because they kept talking and extending the date to include dinner, drinks, and a late-night stoop chat about everything, including personal things like their families and future goals.
Alejandra admits that she felt something different when she first spotted Mitch walking down the street. “I just had this feeling, ‘Yep, this is it’ before we were even in front of each other”, she said.
After their initial meeting, they both knew that something was different.
Alejandra said, “I had a weird calm certainty with Mitch, almost immediately. I had never had that feeling to that degree. Usually when you date, you’re showing the best side of yourself and not really being totally authentic. Or, you’re giddy and really excited and only seeing the things you want to see. But in this case, there was a weird dimension and depth to the relationship that I had never really experienced before. Early on, I thought ‘Yeah, this is happening. We’re going to do this.’
Mitch says he felt the same way.
“Is it true that when you know you know? In our case, it absolutely did happen that way. This relationship felt different and it felt like we had known each other forever.” Alejandra said.
Debbie & Neer, married in New York City in 2014
Debbie and Neer met twice. First, in grad school when they dated for just a month, and again, 13 years later, when they “randomly” met on an online dating site.
According to Neer, he had a moment of clarity when he knew he had found his match. He said, “We were in Amsterdam for Debbie’s birthday and part of the celebration was a romantic dinner at an amazing restaurant inside an enormous greenhouse. As we were eating dessert, Debbie looked up at me from her plate. Time stopped. And I knew I would marry her.”
Neer said that being with Debbie allowed him to have a certainty that was absent from his previous relationships “and much more laughter too.”
For Debbie, her certainty initially came from the intellectual connection she and Neer shared. Debbie said, “I knew I wanted to marry Neer when we stayed up until four in the morning discussing physics for videos I was working on. Physics has always been my first love and to be able to share that world with someone was a one-of-a-kind sensation. I live to think and analyze things so for me, it was deeply important to have a partner that respected that part of me and to be with someone with whom I could share that intellectual spark.”
Debbie noticed that after years of unhealthy relationships where she didn’t feel fully respected, Neer seemed committed to her success. “I’m already a perfectionist and push myself hard, but he was pushing me to be better in a beautifully comfortable way,” she said.
She admitted, “It’s the first relationship where I feel truly loved and appreciated even for some of my quirks, which I once saw as defects. Being with Neer elevates me and makes me a better person and a lighter one too. He makes me laugh a tremendous amount. I just really enjoy being with him.”
Originally Written By Andrea Syrtash, Glamour