When It Isn’t Clear He’s ‘the One’

is he the one?

“Dear Ruthie, I recently came across your post “How Do I Know if He’s The One?” and it really opened my eyes to my current relationship. When I see some of his personality I know that he probably isn’t the one that I should be with. But he is so selfless and is always putting my needs first. We’ve been through a lot together-hard things that I wouldn’t have made it through if he wasn’t by my side. The dilemma I am having is do I overlook the bad in him and accept him or should I move on with my life?”

“Hi Ruthie, so some days I think my boyfriend is ‘the One’ but other days it isn’t so clear. I have prayed but don’t feel like God is answering me. Brian* is wonderful and smart and will be the best dad. He’s good to me, respects my boundaries, my family loves him . . . but he also has a slight temper and doesn’t really understand why I don’t want him to pursue becoming an actor. I don’t want to squash his dreams, but I also don’t want all the financial pressure to be on me. Help! How do I really know if we’re meant to be? I love him literally with all my soul, so it’s near impossible to think about breaking it off . . .”

One of the biggest decisions we make in life is choosing the person we marry.

Lately, I’ve received many emails like the two above from women who are unclear if the man they are dating is ‘the One’. In the past, emails about this topic containing more than 300 words were almost always cases where the questioner needed to read It’s Time for a Breakup or You’re Dating Mr. Wrong If . . . and end the relationship. But recently, the emails and questions haven’t been so clear.

Here are some common questions:

  • Do doubts mean he isn’t the man I’m supposed to marry?
  • If there aren’t any red flags and I have doubts, does that just mean I’m scared of commitment? Should I push through and get married?
  • I love everything about him, except for his job. How important is his ability to make money on my future marital happiness?
  • He’s not perfect, but neither am I. How do I know if the good outweighs the bad?
  • If I don’t “just know” like everyone says, does that mean I’m with the wrong person?
  • Will my doubts go away with time? Will I one day wake up and “just know”?

My good friend asked Michael the other day if he had confirmation from God that he was to marry me. Michael’s response shocked me. He said, “God let me choose. And I chose Ruthie. And I still choose her every day.”

Michael went on to explain that he doesn’t always think God speaks clearly, but instead gives us discernment to make a good decision. One that we can live with and not turn around and blame him if things don’t work out like we hoped. Michael told my friend he doesn’t believe there is one right person for everyone. It was a little hard for me to hear his admission (part of me wanted to jump up from the couch shouting “but I’m you’re soul mate!!”), but he’s right. We don’t believe in soul mates, any more than we do in one right career path for everyone.

So how do you know if he’s “the One”? Sometimes you don’t. Some couples will have the overwhelming feeling of being made for each other and others will struggle with doubt and uncertainty about making the choice. I don’t know if the person you are dating is the One for you, but I challenge you to pray. Really pray for God to bring up any red flags that you may be overlooking and perhaps give you a glimpse into your future with this person.

For me, I was dating a wonderful man for about 8 months and I remember praying over and over about whether or not he was the man I should marry. He had all the  boxes checked, he was kind, and he loved Jesus. But when I prayed for a glimpse into our future together, I didn’t like what I saw. It wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t what I wanted either.

Sometimes you just need to weigh your options, recognize that no one is perfect, and chose to be with the person you love. Other times, the right thing to do is walk away when you don’t feel like you can choose that person every day, for the rest of your life.

You don’t always choose who you fall in love with, but you do get to choose who you stay in love with. And that’s the most life-giving decision of all.

What about you? Did you have doubts before you married? Did you end a relationship because you were unclear? 

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21 Responses to “When It Isn’t Clear He’s ‘the One’”
  1. Becky says:

    So glad you wrote this! The pastor at my church always says “you know he/she is ‘the one’ the moment you marry him/her.”

    I think it is so important to constantly remind ourselves that relationships are not like what we see in the movies, and that it is absolutely a daily choice to love someone. Sure, there are people who we will get along with better than others, and therefore have an easier time choosing to love, but ultimately, a godly marriage is about two people making a choice to spend their lives together in order to reflect Christ’s love by choosing to love each other even when it’s hard.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      YES! “you know he/she is ‘the One’ the moment you marry”, that’s so true. I also think certain people live life with stronger emotions than others. So while I may have known without a doubt Michael was the man for me, another girl who, say isn’t as emotional/dramatic, may not experience such intense emotions. Sometimes we need to stop waiting for God to send us a postcard and just make a decision!

  2. A. says:

    Good points. (And very timely – more or less I was asked by my mother the other day if I thought the guy I was dating was “the one” and I feel hard pressed to discuss it in such terms… I certainly have not had any feelings that he is NOT the one, no doubts of that sort, etc, it’s just there’s nothing extra whatever to make me say, yes absolutely he is. But maybe it’s just that I’m not a gushy-emotional type person – at least in how I talk – I’m very emotional and I cry rather easily about things – but I don’t do gushy sentimental words (I have trouble finding cards for my parents and such because most of the “grownup” cards are just too…ick… so I generally end up still getting them cards designed to be given by a 5 year old…)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi A, I’m so glad you shared. I think a lot of the time “knowing” depends on an individual’s level of emotions. I feel VERY STRONGLY and live life with very extreme emotions, so I was the person who wrote in my journal in bold letters “I’M GOING TO MARRY MICHAEL DEAN” after talking for 1 month. But that isn’t because he was that right for me, it’s just how I experience life (in all caps, with lots of exclamation points:).

      You are unique and shouldn’t try to force yourself to feel something you don’t/aren’t comfortable with.

      • A. says:

        True – I’d never thought of it that way… Honestly I can be an all caps type person on certain things – but generally those things aren’t the serious REAL things of life… Like I can go to fan conventions and scream and yell with the best of them, and go “SQUEEE!!!!” over the latest news, and am going CRAZY waiting for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, yet I feel bad because I am not one who writes big estatic statements about my relationship with God on facebook either – because it’s kind of too important for me to react in that kind of way, at least for me, if that makes any sense… So thinking about it in that way REALLY helps (and I never really had quite put this together about myself before now, so THANK YOU!) I’m thinking the quote in Emma by Mr. Knightly of “If I had loved you less, perhaps I could have talked about it more” might reflect my personality rather well…

  3. Deborah says:

    Thanks for this post! I think a lot of times the problem stems from people who tell you they just knew the person was right from them from the beginning, but when you ask them how did they know, all they say is “I can’t explain it, I just knew!” which then becomes frustrating because if you don’t get that feeling, is something wrong with you?? Plus if you’ve never been good with making decisions, this can be daunting. I think there’s also a big fear of, what if I marry this person and i’m not sure if they are THE ONE but I’ll take the risk and then THE ONE comes along afterwards?

    As someone who ignored red flags originally and then went through a divorce , I’m taking a lot of this advice into heavy consideration now, so that I don’t ever have to go through that again!

  4. Nadia Kruger says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Ruthie. It’s been quite a mind-shift for me the past few years, from understanding that even though God is all knowing, and that he can see the future, we still have the choice. God will always guide us into a direction, but He will never force us. I’m starting to realize that He doesn’t always give “Yes” or “No” answers, but He tells me if what I’m doing is a good idea or not. We have the choice, like we choose Him every day, to love someone special one day.

  5. Amanda says:

    I desperately wanted to marry my first boyfriend but I kept seeing all these red flags. I ignored them because I had been taught that you should not date guys and then not marry them. Not in those words exactly, but that was the general idea of it. I had been taught that at about 14 years old in my christian youth group. Anyway, I had massive doubts about this guy (with good reason) so I prayed that if it wasn’t “meant to be” then something big would happen, making it obvious that we needed to break up. Not long afterwards, he confessed to cheating on me. Also he confessed that he had been lying to me throughout the entire relationship. So that was it.

    Moral of the story, it’s ok to break up. You don’t have to marry the first person you date. Also don’t ignore red flags. They are there for a reason. I could have been spared from a lot of unpleasant emotions if I’d paid attention to the warnings.

  6. katy says:

    Thank you for this post. I am engaged right now to a wonderful, loving, generous and Godly man. However, I am having very serious doubts that he is the one. I have been praying into it a ton, but don’t feel like I have a solid answer. I feel so torn. I think we could be happy but I don’t know if it is the happiest I could be. I keep wondering if a life with someone else would be better. I am prone to indecision and don’t know if I am just scared or if this is a serious warning sign.

    • lynn says:

      Hello, how are you? I feel like I am in the same boat as you too. I am prone to indecision. I feel so torn and in limbo.

    • Emily says:

      I am at the same situation , I ask the same questions. All I am asking for is someone who will love me and have his life with me. But sometime I also wanted more then just love. Specially marry come, financial become important. I want someone at lease can share the pressure with me and give me some option. (He don’t like to share his idea) I feel so lonely, feel like doing every by myself, for example the wedding planning!! All he said is Up To You!! I feel like the wedding is just mine or us??

  7. Jozzie says:

    Hi Ruthie?

    Thanks a bunch for reminding us this. Before my breakup, I had mega red-flags along the years we dated but I ignored them thinking I was over-reacting. One day I choose to walk away and have never felt much better and at peace. We may pray forever, have mega red-flags but by the end of it; God has given us the freedom of choice, that we should put into good use.

    Be blessed.

  8. sue says:

    I think God answers prayers through our intuition, and you can only hear it when you deliberately turn down other noises, His voice was kind of swallowed under other worries and priorities. Second thing, women, in general, asks for too much approvals whether is right or wrong, through friends, psychiatrist, self help books, talk shows etc… Problem is everything you heard isn’t always the truth. Every expert has slightly different angles to take and got to adjust with your own situation. Self books and experts views are merely to broaden the horizon. In my case I did realize years later when there were instances most of the time I already knew my answer, my intuition told me what to do back then. Third point, women often pressure themselves with perfections, consciously or not, as if a few flaws/unfavorable changes would be so hard to live by. When all these points/principles run through your heart, you would tend to keep running away thinking you still can fix the situation/get a better result by making a different choice. In some case the red flags are so obvious, you knew it but you couldn’t act on it, you see your options is so limited. Michael is absolutely right, in terms of long term relationship, you choose your own choice, so pick wisely what the choice would be, know who you are, your general happiness is driven by what that others offer/share to you ? character/job title/life views/spirituality and moral etc ? Hopefully your partner would see that day in and day out and hold on to it together..

  9. taryn says:

    How do we know it’s right? When I was 16 my boyfriend and I had a son and he passed away at 3 months from sids. Two months later at age 17 (he was 23), I again got pregnant with our second son. We loved each other very much. Although we both were still in a poor frame of mind from dealing with the passing. So at that time we both sobbed as I left. He stayed out of our lives until our son was 18. Since then he has been a good father and now grandfather. Also he showed interest in us rekindling a relationship and at this point in our lives we had both become god fearing people. We want to be together but as Christians we are unsure of how to know it’s right and the correct way to go about it. I still love him with all my heart I never stopped…As well I believe he does me. He is holding back though waiting for god to give him a sign of approval. I believe putting us both in contact and both single and both church going and not believing anymore in premarital sex, I believe God has already opened up the door for us to make our decision.

  10. Abby says:

    Hi I have a question.
    I have been dating my boyfriend for about 4 years. and we realy had some rough moments and arguments and also some good times. he is a realy good guy, but I keep feeling like he doesn’t truly love me. He looks at other woman. No let me say he stalkes other woman whit his eyes evendow I am standing next to him. he isn’t just looking, its like he is interested in them and keeps on following them whit his eyes. we have had a lot of arguments where I confronted him whith the fact that I feel like he is searching for something or someone else. he keept on saying I am important to him, but I feel like I cant believe a word he says…. he says he is oncertain about the future and about himself. he wants to find himself, but he doesn’t want to end the relationship because he feels that he is happy with me. but I on the other hand feel like he is laying and holding on to me because he has jet to find the one he wants and doesn’t want to let one good ting go for something he isn’t certain of…. I feel like ending the relationship but hesitate…. and don’t know why….. I realy would like to have your advice on this

  11. Ms.Mercury says:

    I just don’t miss him when we are a part. I think chemistry is most important. Forget your little list, because that man could be everything you ever prayed for and if you feel no real binding chemistry everyday will be a chore full of guilt and resentment. Trust your feelings. Now if you have married and you have children then you owe it to your family to make it work. But NEVER be with guy you just aren’t absolutely in love with. It’s hard for me to believe that love grows out of nothing. Sure, more love can grow out of love. But I’ have never seen it appear out of thin air.

  12. Beque says:

    I feel like I would rather die than go through these doubts. My relationship with my partner has been for 8 years and I struggle with terrified feelings of doubt every night. But there is nothing wrong with my partner! He’s like a best friend to me, and I don’t want to reject him. I really wish there was some type of support group for this type of thing because I feel so alone. I live in Sydney if anyone’s interested. Being 35 I want to get married and start a family but I feel completely immobilised. I’m going to miss the boat unless I commit in the face of doubt, or take the gamble to find someone else quick smart who I don’t feel this way with. So scary! And getting scarier every day (and month, year etc)

  13. Dani D says:

    Jp I have to disagree with this article. Since the Bible clearly tells us to trust in the lord with all our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding; since the bible tells us that we are to let God direct our path in every undertaking, I highly doubt that God expects us to choose who we want to marry all on our own. As Christians, we consult God every day even on minor matters. Shouldn’t we seek his guidance in something as major as marriage ?

Check out what others are saying…
  1. […] I think if he loves Jesus and there aren’t any glaring red flags, then you get to make a choice. Pray like crazy, because marriage isn’t something to enter into without feeling the weight of the decision. But, I think the Mr. Good Enoughs of the world often turn into the part of many women’s stories that they wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. We get to choose what you do with our circumstances, so for you that may be waiting for Mr. Perfect. For others, it may be doing everything possible to find a man to share your life with-someone you can grow to love. And I believe when God doesn’t make one path clear, you get to make a choice. […]

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