It's a beautiful evening and you're sitting in a rocking chair enjoying a sunset with the one you love most. You have a few wrinkles and gray hairs, but you feel more beautiful and alive than ever. The person holding your hand is one of the reasons for that (as is the amazing sex you two had this morning). Did I mention you're turning 70 today?
This is what the future looks like if you’ve found (and worked hard to become) the one. Their happiness is your happiness. Their smile is your smile. And your greatest pleasure comes from giving freely to them. Everything you give each other is received as a gift, and the two of you have grown younger with age. Love is the difference.
Here are 10 signs you've found (or are ready to find) the love of your life:
1. You haven't been looking.
Love is the greatest gift of all, and it is shared freely and without expectation. True love is found not when it is sought, but when it is shared without reservation or expectation.
Are you frustrated with looking? Try falling in love with the gifts you share with the world, and expect nothing in return. That is the path to finding serendipitous and unconditional love with your soul mate. Have faith.
2. You haven't stopped being curious.
We're born to play. Couples who play together stay together. It’s how we learn. It’s how we test boundaries, and make sense of a mysterious world. Exploring together is how we stay bonded to those we love for life. "Play is the highest form of research."
Since we all have an infinite amount of goodness inside, the love of your life will have a lifelong fascination with researching you over and over again. And since play is the highest form of research … You’ll be giggling till the day you die—IF you’ve found the one.
3. You've done some serious emotional work.
Love is unconditional, right? So when you’ve found the one, you won’t rely on him to heal your old insecurities. That isn't sustainable.
When you’ve found the one, you’ll have already worked so hard to overcome the wounds responsible for your insecurity. And since like attracts like, your love will have done the same in preparation for their relationship with you. Then you’ll be ready for the hardest part of marriage—lifelong growth—which is almost impossible when you spend the majority of your time licking each other’s wounds.
4. You've found your purpose.
Each one of us is endowed with special talents we're meant to use in service of the world. When we make the most of our talents, we are on the way to discovering and living our purposes.
If you're living a version of your life that doesn't feel honest to your deepest needs and desires, you'll feel hollow, fraudulent, empty. Life lived that way is deeply dissatisfying and unsustainable. Until you're making the most of your talents, you'll have a tendency to seek fulfillment in other people.
If you’ve found the one, chances are you found him or her while living in the flow of your purpose. If you haven't found them yet, this is the state where you're most likely to do so.
5. Your relationships are blossoming.
When you find the one, they enhance every relationship in your life—your relationships with your parents, siblings, friends, pets—you name it. They will double your charity, integrity, selflessness, patience, and creativity so that you come closer and have more to offer the ones you love. Toxic relationships that seem good on the surface usually fail this test.
6. You've grown exponentially.
The love of your life will love you unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean s/he won’t push you to become better. In fact, the one meant for you will reflect your flaws so clearly and compassionately that personal growth becomes your number one priority. And that’s a good thing, because lifelong love is the same as lifelong growth. We can't hope to achieve that if our loves don't mirror our flaws.
7. Your relationship is characterized by profound subtlety.
Love that lasts a lifetime is a slow burn, not an explosion and a fizzle. You may find true love with a person you've known for years. It sometimes takes that long for you to become aware of the subtle genius of your relationship.
Your true love will be instrumental in so many imperceptible spiritual shifts that one single moment could never "prove" it. There's no such thing as love at first sight. All the little things combine to create an utterly unique masterpiece.
8. You're energized.
I’m not talking about how you feel after two weeks or two months. But after two—and 20—years, you’ll have more energy than ever to give your true love. When you love unconditionally, you can give freely.
Toxic relationships are characterized by energy drains. People stay together even when they live like zombies because they felt something special, and then life passes them by.
9. You're excited by the future.
Our creator imbued our existence with deep meaning. Romantic love reflects the meaning of the life we create through it, because love and life are intrinsically connected. If you see your relationship bringing new life into the world, then you have faith in your future with this person.
10. You don't have to settle for anything.
This doesn’t mean you won’t ever be annoyed by your partner's little idiosyncrasies. But those things are what help us develop patience and acceptance. When it comes to the big things, like values and lifestyle choices, the two of you will be aligned.
If you value life, then your true love will, too. If you need to be respected and cherished, then your partner won’t degrade you with their thoughts and habits. If you believe that God is the source of your meaning and happiness, they will too.
Modern romance, with all its conditions and confusion, has given us relationship vertigo. But if you trace the simple (and, yes, challenging) steps of unconditional love, you will find it.