By Jackie Kelm

He’s the one! At least I think he’s the one. Is he the one?” How will you know when you’ve found Mr. Right? “I will just know,” you insist. “I will feel the difference.” Well maybe, but I bet a lot of Mr. Wrongs felt pretty right too. So how can you be sure?

To help you understand what you want most in a relationship, answer the following questions truthfully, or ask a friend to answer them for you. She’ll be able to honestly tell you why that fling with the bassist/poet/potential criminal didn’t work out.

Focus on the high points.
Think back to the best times from any relationship you’ve been in. Why were these great moments for you? What was it about you and the other person that made these memorable experiences? Learn what is important for you in a relationship from these experiences.

Look at an ideal relationship.
Think about friends and family members who are in relationships you admire. What is it you see in these partnerships that you want for yourself? Why do you want this? Why do you think their relationships work?

Why a relationship?
What would be different about your life if you were in a relationship? How do you want it improve your life? Are there other ways to make these things happen sans significant other?

Identify traits that you value most.
What do you value most about yourself? What values are most important to you in a partner? In a relationship?

Visualize your ideal partner.
We know that Patrick Dempsey is taken, but what if he had a cute younger brother who worked hard, but not too hard, cooked great dinners and danced well. Is that what you’re looking for? What does your dream guy look like? How does he treat you? What does he say, do and think? Pretend anything is possible and describe everything you would like to see in your perfect guy.

Take your dream description from above and select the two to three things that are most important to you. Choose the qualities you feel are critical for you to really be happy and satisfied. Be sure to phrase them in terms of what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, state that you want someone who treats you with kindness and respect, rather than someone who is not rude. This is also the time to remove items like “he must play tennis” from your list.

Now it’s time to imagine that you are in this ideal relationship and picture an average day. How are you feeling? What are you and he doing? This question will provide clues that will help you know when you have found the right one. (Or give you an excuse to daydream about Prince Charming.)

Take action.
Now that you know what you want, do one small thing to begin to make it happen. If you are looking for Mr. Right, stop dating Mr. Wrong. Nip it in the bud. If you already know that he will make five business trips a week for the next twenty years, start planning some extracurricular activities or start practicing the break-up speech. If you discover you are dating Mr. Right, do something that will bring the two of you closer together.

Relationships are tricky because our emotions get in the way of rational thinking. Hopefully this exercise helps you gain clarity about what is most important to you (and not to your mother). If you take the time to answer these questions, you just might discover that Mr. Right is right around the corner.

Jackie Kelm is the author of Appreciative Living. For more information, visit