health

The one sign that indicates you're with the right partner.

Image via iStock.

Many people spend their lives looking for Mr or Mrs Right. Even those of us in relationships can wonder if we’ve made the right decision.

And when we’re not searching ourselves, we’re talking about other peoples’ or watching fictional characters in the hunt for theirs (I’m looking at you, Carrie Bradshaw.)

So what if there was an easier way to know whether you’d found the partner worth sticking with, rather than spending hours listing pros and cons in your diary or posing philosophical relationship questions on your laptop?

Well, now there is. And it’s science backed too.

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Research suggests that the sign you’ve found the perfect partner is if they make you a better person.

A study published in the journal Personal Relationships looked into how being in a relationship can affect a person and their perception of themselves.

It found that our partners can encourage us to “realise aspects of our ideal self” which pushes us to grow in the areas we want to. The process is actually called “self-expansion”, which the study explains means not just recognising positive traits in our partner, but also taking them on ourselves. (Post continues after gallery.)

In turn, this change positively affects how we view ourselves as people. According to the study authors: “A person who acquires an appreciation for the ballet or becomes a better painter from being with a romantic partner would experience an increase or augmentation of his or her ‘self concept.”

However relationship and body language expert Katia Loisel, believes that love should be about finding someone who supports you in your journey to being the best version of yourself.

“No one but yourself can make you a better person. However, ‘the one’ can provide a positive environment based on unconditional love, understanding, support, belief, learning and honest, challenging communication that inspires and motivates you to be the best you can be,” she says.

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Loisel believes that the right partner should believe in you, motivate you to achieve your dreams by offering support and encouragement without pressure or judgement, challenge you, inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and are happy and secure within themselves.

“If they are a positive role model that also strives to be the best version of themselves, then this allows them to love you unconditionally without expecting you to sacrifice who you are, your interests and goals,” she says.

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“It’s not really one sign or one positive behaviour but a combination that enables you to become a better person.”

Your partner should encourage you to be your best self. Image via iStock

As well as boosting our egos, the right partner can also help us rid ourselves of our negative qualities, in a process called "self pruning". As the researchers explain:

"An individual's bad habit (e.g talking too loudly) may develop into a social allergy for a romantic partner. As a result, the romantic partner may help the individual break, or at least weaken, the bad habit."

Unfortunately, it works the other way too. Studies have shown that in unhealthy relationships, partners can adopt each other's negative qualities.

"That's when you need to be honest with yourself," Loisel says. "It can be hard to admit that you've made the wrong choice and that the 'love of your life' might not be good for you."

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Signs that this could be the case include if your conversations are filled with negative language, personal attacks or belittling, they ignore or dismiss your thoughts and opinions or if they encourage you to sacrifice your interests, friends, values or goals for the sake of the relationship or 'if you love them'.

"They're also not letting you be your best self if you feel unfulfilled and unworthy or if you feel that pursuing your goals and dreams means potentially losing them," she says.

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"Whilst your partner isn't responsible for your happiness, it's difficult to be the best version of yourself when you're constantly second guessing yourself, or thinking that you're not good enough or that your thoughts and opinions don't matter." (Post continues after gallery.)

"When we find someone who accepts us for who we are rather than who we might be and who wants to grow with us, it provides a rich environment for both self-love and the love for our partner to grow."

But while finding someone who brings out the best in you is certainly important, family therapist Karen Phillips believes it's not the only sign that you've found "the one".

"If the person you are with makes you feel happy, comfortable and loved, if you are number one in their life and they consider you in all they do, then it's a healthy relationship," she says.

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"You should never be concerned or worried about speaking with them about anything and never be concerned about their 'reaction'  to something," she says.

Loisel also believes there are three other major factors that signal you've found the right person.

Common interests and values

Do you and your partner share common interests?

"Research shows that sharing mutual interests and values not only increases attraction, but also relationship satisfaction and the odds you'll stay together. Similarity makes us feel understood and strengthens feelings of trust and connection," she says.

"It's important that you're honest about who you really are and what you want when looking for love and use the same criteria online as you would offline. If you are dating online, then sites like Minds Alike allow you to find like-minded people which makes developing those relationships offline a lot more simple and fun."

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Honest and respectful communication

Loisel believes a healthy relationship thrives on communication, honesty, understanding, trust and of course, a healthy dose of compromise.

"When your partner allows you to express your feelings honest and openly, acknowledges your thoughts and listens without interrupting or with blame then it creates a safe platform for you to express yourself and grow," she says.

You're a team

When it comes to arguments, Loisel points out that it shouldn't be about winning or losing.

"Winning should be about finding a solution where you both feel good and happy, not about who gets the last word," she says.

A healthy relationship involves being with a partner who help you to be a better person.

Do you reckon finding "The One" is about finding someone who helps you to grow as a person?

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