Technically and legally, our first wedding was a secret affair, merely to let my then Australian boyfriend remain in the country with me. We regarded it as “the step between moving in together and actually getting married.” It was held at a registry office on Kings Road, where Judy Garland, Roman Polanski and allegedly George Clooney all had previously wed. We only told a couple of close friends, who we asked to be our witnesses. I wore a white suit, and he wore a nervous smile.
Looking back on that day, some folks would have called me crazy to marry a man I had only known for a year. But I knew, deep down, that he was the one for me. Even though it took him another 14 months to actually propose and another year for us to have the actual church wedding and all the formal celebrations with all of our friends and family.
Prior to meeting my husband at 28, I’d had 6 long years in the dating wilderness filled with broken hearts (mine) and terrible dates. I had almost given up on “The One” ever appearing. I would quiz all my married friends, desperate to know how they “knew” and what had separated Mr. Right from all the Mr. Wrongs that went before. Most people mystifyingly said things like, “I just knew,” and “it was different,” which wasn’t very helpful.
But then I met my husband and I finally understood what all my friends had been talking about. So now I’m here to give YOU advice — the same advice I had been seeking all those years ago. How do you know when he’s Mr. Right as opposed to Mr. Right Now? How can you be sure that he isn’t gonna run off at the first hurdle, or he wants the same things out of life that you do? In short, how do you “just know”?
Here are a few things to look out for:
1. It came easy.
Not that any relationship is easy — over time there are all sorts of things couples have to negotiate — but what I realized most about my husband in the beginning was that it all happened pretty easily. He didn’t play games. He called when he said he would. He didn’t play it cool, but he didn’t chase me either. It just felt like I’d known him a long, long time and every time we hung out, we had a great laugh. Plus, I fancied the pants off him. Before him, the men/boys I’d dated were all either super-hot and super-dull or really great but really unsexy. I couldn’t find someone that I wanted to go to the movies with and then rip his clothes off later.
2. I didn’t find him by sitting on my ass.
I met my husband when I walked through the wrong door in a hotel hoping to find the bathroom, only to knock him on the head and send him flying. Turned out he was the cute hotel bartender and later, a bit tipsy, I gave him my number. He looked at that bit of paper as if I had handed him a used tissue. I didn’t expect him to call, so I shouted as I left the bar something like, “I believe in Carpe Diem, so if you call, you call. If you don’t, you don’t!” He thought that was funny and called. In short: You’ll never meet Mr. Right by sitting alone, waiting for him to come to you. Get off your arse and give a hot guy your number!
3. I didn’t freak out just because he sucked on the phone.
When my husband first called me, he left the DULLEST message I’ve ever heard. Next bit of advice: if he sounds awful on the phone, do NOT despair (most men are useless on the phone). He expected me to call him back and be a “sure thing.” Nice. I was busy with work, so didn’t get to call him back until five days later.
4. I actually WANTED to wait to have sex with him.
We met for coffee, which is a brilliant first date. Why? Because you don’t get hammered and fall into bed with him, wake up, leave and never see him again. Day time dates are key because you get to talk, see them in cold, harsh daylight, and all that stress of whether or not he expects to come back to your place later doesn’t exist. I waited five dates until he stayed over. And every woman I know who waited five dates to sleep with someone, married them. True story.
5. He supported me really early on in our relationship.
On our second date, I heard that an acquaintance of mine had died. A bit of a mood killer on a date, obviously. But he was totally supportive. He took me for food and tried to be as understanding as he could given that he barely knew me. A week later, after the funeral, he called to see how I was doing. When I asked about his day, he responded, “I called to see how YOU are. I didn’t call to talk about me and my day.” In that split second I realized he was special. It took one moment — one seemingly insignificant sentence — and I knew. After that, I let myself fall in love with him, which we’ll get to in the next point.
6. I was mentally and emotionally ready to fall in love with someone.
It’s crucial to be ready (really ready!) to love someone else. Sometimes we think we are ready, but we’re not. We often have our own baggage we need to address before we can allow ourselves to love someone else. Plus, falling in love is scary business. It makes you vulnerable, and for those who have had their hearts trampled on in the past, it is twice as hard to let yourself trust again. But when it’s right, it shouldn’t be scary. We only feel anxious and fretful when we’re involved in bad love because our intuition is telling us it’s not right. Listen to your gut. It’s there for a reason.
7. My list of requirements? I disposed of it immediately.
My husband moved in three months later. Right before we were married, I found a diary entry from years ago with a list of qualities my ideal man would have: where he’d live, what job he’d have, and a bunch of superficial stuff about what books he’d read and movies he’d watch, etc. What a load of crap! If you’re single, take that list and burn it immediately because guess what? No single person will ever meet all your requirements. And when you do finally find the elusive “one” (and for the record, I believe there are many “ones” along the way that you could meet, not just one, true soulmate), your partners will have qualities that are even better than anything you could have written on a list.
Then one day, you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been married for 10 years. Someone will congratulate you and ask how you knew he was the one, and you’ll find yourself saying, “I just knew.”