How do we know it’s the real thing?

Is it love? Do I really love this person? Should I stay or should I go? How do I know I’ve found “the one”? …The short and easy answer to all these questions would be: if you are not sure – it is a no. If you have to ask yourself whether you are with the right person, usually – it is because something doesn’t feel right.

But nevertheless, there are so many different flavours and feelings of relationships – and for most people it’s really hard to be that sure in every single situation. Sometimes our “gut” feeling tricks us, and other times we convince ourselves that we are good for each other – completely ignoring the reality. So let’s explore the most common situations, to give you a bit more clarity.


When you are there, you just know. It doesn’t mean you always like or agree with what your partner thinks, says or does, and that you never argue about anything – but both your heart and your mind are sure you’re with the right person. Your relationship is stable but not boring or stale. There is a lot of passion between you (and not just of a sexual kind), great exchange and communication, fulfilment and joy. You love them for who they are, and you know they love you the same way. You are sure you want to live with this person, and you plan your future together without hesitation. This is The Real Thing – and I am sure once you have it, you won’t have any doubts. Of course, there are rough patches in every relationship – and there is no way to avoid them completely – we are all just human after all, but if you are sure you can be happy with this person, you’ll have enough faith even during bad times, and enough strength to get to other side of them.


Usually we don’t ask ourselves any questions in this phase – we are just enjoying the moment! We are enchanted, infatuated, overwhelmed – and we totally adore everything our partner does – even if we don’t like it. They can be truly great for us long term, or just a big mistake wrapped in a lot of great chemistry, but we won’t know it until the hormones settle a bit. But it’s OK – just enjoy it while it lasts. There is no way of knowing upfront… and even if there is clear evidence you will not last, while you are in this phase – you will probably ignore it 😉


Yes, it’s serious, it’s steady, your friends and family think you are a great couple. You think so too. But you don’t feel it. Something is missing, but you don’t know what. You are convinced you have to do everything to stay together – but the more you try, the more empty and disappointed you feel. This is a case of “form over substance” and you should definitely reconsider before it gets even more serious (marriage, kids) – or you might have to bear the consequences way longer than you would want to. It’s hard to break up a long, serious thing, I know – but think about this: it will be even harder to live in a loveless relationship the rest of your days. You only have this one life, make it count.


This happens oh so often – we fall for someone and keep our pink glasses on for way too long. They hurt us and make us feel small, ugly or boring – but we somehow stay around because… they are soooo irresistible! We are just not sure why. It is a great mystery, this fatal attraction we feel. We feel blessed they actually want to be around us, but we so often feel down because of things they say or don’t say – and because of their behaviour which just doesn’t feel right. Ultimately, we will break away but it will probably leave us heartbroken. All I can say here is – this person does not love or respect you, and is obviously not the right one for you. But if you want to minimise the heartbreak now or in the future, you’ll have to take care of your insecurities first. You are worthy of love and nobody has the right to treat you otherwise!

I know I haven’t covered all varieties and situations – far from it, but I hope you’ll recognise some of the situations in your life and take some of my advice on board.


Let me know if you think there is something big I missed – would love to hear your opinion and ideas… so please, leave your comment below or drop me an email. Thank you!

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4 Responses

  1. jeanette says:

    You missed the one that I was looking for which is: your heart tells you it’s the real thing, your mind is not so sure. Would really like to hear your thoughts on that…

    • Petra says:

      Hi, great comment. I think I covered it both in number 1 and 3: that’s when you are in love but you’re not in a good relationship. Your rational mind sees it but your heart won’t listen, right?

      • J says:

        Actually I was thinking the opposite where you’ve met a person who your heart is falling for and knows it loves but your mind won’t allow you to go there for reasons such as; they are not the right age, they do not fit the physical mold you are used to, you’re too worried what other people will think, you don’t trust yourself because you might be out of a recently poor relationship and you’re afraid that you’re jumping into something new because it’s different or the opposite of what you had before. Not sure if that is an everyday scenario, but something that I have come across on my life. My mind often thinks too much and does not allow my heart to be. But what percentage should the mind take in these kind of decisions versus the heart? Thank you for responding to me!

        • Petra says:

          Do you primarily worry what will other people think about your choice? Or you are not sure you want to date this person because you are not ready, or you’re not sure they have the right qualities for a good partner? Those are different things, and there is no universal answer for all those situations.

          If you are worried what your environment will think, but you are sure the person is a good choice for you – you have to decide what’s more important to you: being happy with your partner, or being approved by people around you. I’d always choose a partner I think is great for me – but I know for some people and some situations their family/tradition or religion is so important that it influences their choice of partner.

          If you are not sure you are ready for a new relationship, or you are still on rebound – and you are falling in love – again, it really depends on how you feel about dating again. Whatever you decide – if you are not ready, then the other person is not the right one for you, that is for sure. If you do want to give it a go – communicate honestly with your new partner, he too needs to know what he’s getting into.

          If your brain says no because the person may not be right for you – it depends on what criteria you use. Age – may or may not be an issue, people date with very big age gaps successfully. It depends on what life phase you are in, not so much what is your age. If you don’t like their physical appearance, and you are still attracted – that’s great because personality and character are much more important than looks when it comes to being truly happy with someone.

          If you’d like me to give you a bit more concrete answer, you’ll need to give me a concrete example – feel free to contact me on email as well, if you’d like our exchange to be private. Cheers

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