Relationship Advice: How to know when a relationship is right for you

One way for you to know if the relationship you’re in is right for you would be to go down through my list of “how to know when you should leave the relationship you’re in“, and if none of those characteristics apply to your relationship, you’re in pretty good shape!  However, in my quest to keep things balanced (and positive), I wanted to write a little bit more about how you know when you’re in the right relationship.

First off, generally you just know.  I had heard this for so long from other people in “right relationships” that it had become a cliche, and, not having ever experienced it, I had no way of knowing from my own experience whether or not it was actually true.  However, now that I do experience it, I can tell you that there is an enormous qualitative difference in the way that you FEEL when you’re in the right relationship.  You do “just know”.  Maybe what you notice is the absence of “icky” feelings when you contemplate things like spending the rest of your life with this person.  Or there’s a quality of your partnership that just makes sense.  What I’m describing here are feelings that you’ll have with your “whole self” – and are sensed by your intuition, they’re not based in logical thought.  Whether or not you have “that feeling” of knowing that you’re with the right person for you, keep reading if your logical mind is just craving a list to help you quantify whether or not the relationship you’re in is right for you.

  1. You and your partner support each other in who you currently ARE.  If you can do no wrong in your partner’s eyes, and your partner can do no wrong in your eyes, that’s a great start – assuming that the “do-no-wrongness” is based in how much you care about that person.  In other words, if you can say “I support my partner in whatever they do because I care about them” then you are definitely with the right person.  If you say “I support my partner in whatever they do because I don’t give a sh*t” – well, that’s not real support, that’s ambivalence.
  2. You and your partner are not afraid of change in each other; in fact, you encourage each other’s growth.  When your relationship is based on love and respect, you trust your partner’s growth.  You recognize that it is part of human nature to continually evolve, create, and express.  As you watch your partner’s “becoming”, you fall more and more in love with that person.  You get excited when you come across things that you know will be interesting growth opportunities for your partner.
  3. You and your partner have strong friendships outside of your relationship.  You’re both meeting and getting to know cool people.  When your partner meets someone really cool, you get psyched up knowing that there’s yet another cool person in your life.
  4. You trust your partner to act in the best interests of your relationship.  There are always choices to be made.  Your choices and your partner’s choices support each other, and support your decision to be together.  When there are tough decisions to be made, the two of you discuss your options openly, and you help each other arrive at the best decision.
  5. There’s a sexual connection between you and your partner.  There’s time for business, and then there’s “business time”.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you’re going through a “dry spell”, you know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  And it’s not a long tunnel.
  6. Intimacy.  You have it.  On a physical, emotional, and spiritual level (and other levels, should you acknowledge them).  Over time, you and your partner are getting to know each other more and more deeply.  You learn to appreciate each other as physical beings.  You discover more about what your partner cares about on an emotional level – what makes them happy, what obstacles they’re trying to overcome – and you reinforce the good, and do your best to help them in their quest to overcome whatever’s tough.  Also, you nurture each other on a “soul” level.  What I mean by that is that along with appreciating the manifestation of your partner, you recognize and honor something deeper about them, about the life force behind the body, the spirit that is making itself known in this physical world.  And since they take the same interest in your spirit, your spirits are getting to know each other pretty darn well.  And loving each other.  That’s intimacy, in a nutshell.

Turns out that the list of things that make a relationship the “right” relationship is actually a lot shorter than the list of how to know when you’re NOT in the right relationship.  The list of “not” characteristics could probably be infinitely long – but what makes a relationship a good relationship is quite simple.  When you’re in the right relationship, you have a solid foundation that supports you throughout the dynamic of how you interact with your partner.  Plus (and most importantly), it’ll feel right.  You’ll know that it feels right because you won’t be second-guessing yourself anymore – instead, you’ll notice the absence of internal conflict when you’re around this person.  When you’re in the right relationship, just being around your partner reinforces who you are, and what you were meant to do in this world.  If you’re not in the right relationship, don’t despair – this planet is full of amazing people, and many of them are PERFECT for you.  Get single and work on your own goals.  The more true to yourself you can be, the more likelihood you’ll have of meeting someone in alignment with who you are. 

If you are already in the right relationship – congratulations!  Of course you knew before even reading this article, didn’t you?  Perhaps you can think of a couple more ways to know when a relationship is right for you?  Add them in the comments, or contact me behind-the-scenes.


  1. This article and the one about how to know if you are NOT in the right relationship are EXTREMELY well written and informative, and exhibit a level of emotional clarity that I find admirable. However–though some of the things I have read here have helped me ask myself some to the point questions–I come out feeling confused. I read the ‘How to know when to leave’ article first, and a lot of it rang true for me (at least for the past 6 weeks…but not the months previous to that). When I read the ‘Right Relationship,’ much of that rings true, too! This is such a HARD decison. It’s my MIND that is saying go…my HEART says to stay. I’m so torn. My intuition says, ‘Stay.’ My mind says, ‘Go.’

  2. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    It certainly can be VERY confusing, figuring out “what’s right”. If I read your comment correctly, it sounds like some events from the past 6 weeks have plunged you into “not sure if it’s right” territory – and prior to that you would have called this the ideal relationship.

    Without knowing any specifics (and feel free to contact me offline if you’d like) it’s difficult to give specific advice. Here are some thoughts, and some more questions:

    1. Obviously, even the best relationships can have huge problems. It may be that the foundation of your relationship is solid enough to handle whatever it is that you’re experiencing, to get you and your partner through to the next level of togetherness/intimacy. Or maybe not (I know, hence the confusion)…
    2. If you KNOW the difference between your intuition talking (i.e. deeper guidance) and your fear talking (i.e. must stay because I love this person, or must stay to avoid feeling pain), then typically I think that “intuition” is the way to go.
    3. Whether or not this is the “right relationship” for you, it’s possible that there’s something important for you to learn, and that could be why your “stay” impulse is active.
    4. Are you still willing to work through the process of whatever you’re experiencing?
    5. Is your partner willing to work it through as well?
    6. What are you most afraid of in this situation?
    7. Does answering the previous question give you any more insight into how it should be resolved?
    8. Which parts of the “right relationship” article (this one) don’t ring true? There aren’t many there, you know…

    That’s the best I can do with the information that you’ve given me. I wish you all the best. Patience and taking time to step back and breathe a bit will probably help usher in the clarity you’re craving.

    You should also recognize that my thoughts come primarily from the perspective of someone who spent a lot of time trying to fix relationships that, though they met some of the “right relationship” criteria, were ultimately unfixable. In retrospect, I wish that I had been able to summon up the courage to learn my lessons (and let go/move on) a bit more easily.

    At the SAME time, I also recognize that I might never have met my wife, be in the truly right relationship that I’m in, if I had made a single different choice. So…what that emphasizes for me – is that ALL your potential choices are the right choice. You just do what you can do, the best you can do in the moment – and have some faith that the cards will ultimately fall the way that they’re supposed to.

    Honoring who you are (and your safety) are paramount, of course.

  3. Thank you for your very helpful response–these are all very good questions for me to ask, and I always find I do best with questions rather than outright advice! So, thank you for that.

    I am getting a little clearer…the thing I have remembered lately (that got ‘lost’ when things were going so well between me and my romantic partner), is that he is an extreme commitment-phobe. This has been on the table since the beginning, and although it has caused some very rough spots, he has been more than willing to look at his issues and has made some very significant changes and progress that let me know I am worth it to him to try to work through this. (His fears come from having been badly betrayed after a 20 year marriage…he has been in a couple of short term involvements since the marriage ended five years ago, but I am, he claims, the first he has fallen in love with, and he says he never thought that would happen again).

    Anyway, long story short: we got closer than we have ever been over the holidays, and then in early January, I experienced health problems with an unknown cause…I think it scared him, the combination. He’s been engaging in classic commitment-phobe behavior since: finding fault in me (things I can’t change), wondering if we are ‘right’ for each other, coming close, then distancing, being hot, then cold, engaging in subtle sabatoging behaviors–the whole shebang. It’s good for me, though, that I have finally recognized the ‘pattern’ that he has dropped back into during the last few weeks… it has helped me to gain some much needed clarity into the matter.

    I’ve decided at the time to take a big step back, give him the space he needs, and go about engaging in my own interests and life. We’ve agreed the relationship is in a ‘grey space’ for now. For my part, my head says ‘go’ because he is a commitment phobe and I feel jerked around so much by his recent behaviors and his ambivalance and uncertainty regarding me in the past few weeks…but my heart says ‘stay’ because I get the feeling he does care about me but is just overwhelmed, confused, and scared. And I do love him and I care about him a lot. I know he is experiencing a lot of pain right now. We don’t live together, and neither of us want to–that is one of the areas we are extremely compatable in–so it is easy to get some needed distance.

    I think the main thing it boils down to is my answer to one of the questions you asked: do I still have something to learn in this relationship, even if it is not the ‘right relationship?’ The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ I have learned so much about keeping my boundaries and also about how to ensure my emotional safety in this relationship, and I think I can/will continue to learn things in those areas and others if I stay. And if it doesn’t work out? I have learned a lot to take with me into the next relationship.

    So, for now I am just hanging out in the grey area, engaging in a lot of self-care, and just waiting to see how the cards fall with the passage of time. Easier said than done, but I am trying! I basically know that whatever happens, I will be okay; I have no fear of being alone, and do not rely on a relationship for my sense of self worth. And of course, I’d rather be hanging out with him right now, but, perhaps in the long run, this may make being together more rewarding in the future. Or not. But that is a risk I am willing to take.

    Thanks again for your comments–it has helped so very much in getting clearer about this situation.

    (feel free to edit this–I know it is very long!)

  4. I agree with you that most people decide to saty in a relationship based on making decisions with their mind. They rationalize instead of using their intuition. Unfortubately, that is the way most people attract the wrong partner in the first place. Essentially, they put the order in by default!!!

    Best wishes,

    Relationship Coach

  5. Hey David,

    Of course sometimes I would imagine that sometimes a person’s intuition might actually lead them into a relationship that’s good for short-term lessons (i.e. you get into the relationship, learn what you need to learn, and then LEAVE it!) – so they did need to be there in the first place. But then that same intuition might lead them right out again, and that’s when the mind can get in the way.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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