Skip to main content

Find out how far ABOVE and BEYOND our God went  since our annual fundraising event!

[updated: 10/21/19]

How do you know someone is “the one”?

It’s quite the popular question. Especially in a society where romance is pursued as early as middle school, yet marriage doesn’t happen until somewhere around 30 (average age at first marriage is now 30 for men and 28 for women).

That gives you nearly two decades to wonder, “Are they ‘the one’?”

Perhaps this is one reason why over 50% of the adult population is unmarried today.

Yikes! That’s a lot of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes to have to sift through.

Or at least that’s a lot of bachelors and bachelorettes. How “eligible” they are is up for debate. Which is why you may feel like you’re searching for the proverbial “needle” in the metaphorical “haystack.”

And that’s the reason for this post, because though I can’t identify “the one” for you specifically, I can help you weed out those who are not “the one” by sharing with you the TOP5 signs someone is NOT “the one.” So without delay…

#5: They seem to lack initiative. Except when it comes to eating. Or sleeping.

If you’re planning on a marriage that lasts more than say… oh I don’t know… six months, you want someone who demonstrates initiative to accomplish something bigger than themselves.

Not just dreams or ambitions they talk about, but a calling they’re already doing something about.

They need not long to take over the world, or even save it. But they should have the desire to leave their mark on it. And a good mark at that.

They’re calling doesn’t have to inspire millions, but it should inspire you. And if it doesn’t (or the only call they respond to is the dinner bell), they’re not “the one.”

[Learn how to prioritize finding someone with a meaningful calling over some illusive “perfect match” by reading this post.]


#4: Your chemistry seems to be only one-dimensional: horizontal.

Whereas compatibility has only climaxed in popularity with the advent of online dating algorithms, chemistry has been shipwrecking Love Boats on the rocks of reality since the dawn of time.

Of course, you do want to share some kind of romantic spark, so if you love your date the same way you love your Mom or Dad, they’re not “the one.”

However, if the only mutual connection you share with someone is the kind which could make you a Mom or Dad, they’re not “the one” either.

Because healthy chemistry is stable chemistry, which means you’re bonding on multiple levels. Not just the physical. And you want to grasp this reality before your relationship blows up in your face.

[What’s even more important than sharing chemistry? Click here and find out!]


#3: You doubt their level of commitment. Or maybe you fear they should be committed.

Some are so intent on getting married, they’re thinking about the proposal before the first date! While others can’t seem to advance from the “just hanging out” phase to the “officially dating” phase for some vague “fear of commitment.”

But before someone should seriously consider a dating relationship (much less a marriage relationship), they should first demonstrate their ability to commit in appropriate healthy ways in other important areas of life.

So if “the one” you’re dreaming of seems big on dreams, but void of significant commitments to family, friends, faith, career, and plain ol’ personal development, they’re not “the one.”

Vise versa, if they seem…

  • So committed to their faith you think they might handle snakes, or…
  • So committed to their job you think they might be a workaholic, or…
  • So committed to their video games you think they might have a gaming disorder

…these misplaced commitments are a sign: they’re NOT “the one” either. So make a personal commitment to not pursue a relationship with them.

[For unique  questions to help you gauge the health of someone’s commitments, check out this post.]


#2: Their friends tell you stories about their past which are concerning. Or horrifying. Or felonies.

Fact: people acquire reputations for a reason. And that reason is simple: observed behavior over time.

So, pay careful attention to how someone acts around you, but take just as much care to get to know the friends and family who have known this person longer than you have.

Find out why they like “the one” you’re only just getting to know. And if they describe someone who seems significantly less admirable than the person you think you know, he/she is not “the one.”

At least not now.  Give them a couple years to prove themselves.

I know, that probably seems like an eternity, but it’s not. An eternity is being married to someone who’s reputation you ignored until it was too late.

Can’t people change?

Of course they can!

But only time will tell you if they really have.

[For more encouragement to keep your next love from being your next mistake, read this post.]


#1: You’ve identified a couple character traits that drive you crazy. In a NOT good way.

As they say, “character is who you are when no one’s watching.”

However, I’ve seen people pursue serious dating relationships with partners possessing character deficiencies you couldn’t miss unless you were blind, deaf and dumb.

Or in love.

As if the natural blindness of infatuation wasn’t problematic enough, we’ve actually been trained to overlook bad character in a romantic interest:

  • In coming-of-age romances, poor character is excusable.
  • In romantic comedies, poor character is laughable.
  • In romantic dramas, poor character is adorable.
  • In romantic thrillers, poor character is irresistible.

In real life (aka IRL)? Poor character is intolerable.

In the long run, anyway.

And if you’re looking for “the one you you want to spend the rest of your life with” you’ve got to be thinking about the long-run. Otherwise they’ll become “the one you regret ever meeting for the rest of your life.”

But hold up, beyond obvious character defects, how can you discern someone’s true character? You know: who they are when no one’s watching?

  • By not watching them? (Nope. Impossible.)
  • By using hidden cameras? (Nope. Creepy. And illegal.)
  • By hiring a private investigator? (Nope. Also creepy. And expensive. And, honestly, if you have that much reason for concern, either you’re paranoid, or they’re not “the one.”)

Instead, you have to learn how to get answers to key questions without actually asking them.

[For a list of questions to uncover your date’s character without actually asking them (or stalking them) click here.]

Marriage Vows Cannot Vow to Change Them

That’s the TOP5 signs someone is NOT “the one,” but if you’d like five more, check out part one of this two-parter: TOP10 Signs someone is NOT “the one.”

However, the reason for pointing out all these sign posts, isn’t merely to improve your dating life, but to improve your future. Because when you finally stand at the altar and say, “I do,” before family and friends, you have to live in the reality that marriage vows cannot vow to change the person you’re marrying.

Marriage usually will change people. Indeed, my wife and I would say marriage has changed us both for the better by far. But it ain’t magic!

Marriage demands tremendous resolve, grace, humility and maturity. So much so, that if you don’t already see the seeds of those qualities firmly growing in “the one you think you want,” they will likely become “the one you want to forget.” In other words: NOT “the one.”

Speaking of “the one,” have you ever considered whether there really is only one “the one”? That’s a question we tackle in this LoveEd episode on our FMU YouTube channel.

For more relational wisdom check out our Hot Topic page dedicated to healthy relationships.

Date Night Advice (DNA) series: What Marriage Vows Cannot Vow
Part 13: Marriage Vows Cannot Vow to Change Them
Click here for the first post in the series.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

Even better?  And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!

[originally published: 6/20/18]