Today marks the one-year anniversary of the most obvious and easy, most joyful and profound decision of my adult existence: To marry the Love of My Life, Kiran.
We eloped to the Santa Barbara courthouse on September 12, 2011. Didn't tell anyone before we did it. Took only our dog as our witness. The craziest part was that I'd only moved to LA to be with Kiran two months prior, and we had been in an intimate relationship for a mere five months.
We have spent every single day since falling more madly in love, unfolding deeper connections, and nestling further into one another's hearts and souls.
However, the journey here wasn't straightforward, the jungle path not always clear. Kiran and I met in January 2008 on a beach in Costa Rica and discovered an instant, close friendship. I knew within minutes of speaking with him that he was The One. Yet still it took me three years to embrace my intuition fully. Three years for us to connect romantically.
Why? I believe we simply had to overcome our fears: we each had failed marriages and were embroiled in difficult current relationships; I knew I'd have to uproot my life to move from San Francisco to LA; etc. We had to work up the courage to take the bold, life-changing leap of faith into each other's arms.
On the one hand, I'd like to save you those confusing years we endured between becoming friends and uniting as partners and lovers. On the other hand, I've made the mistake of plunging headfirst into a serious relationship that wasn't satisfying and spent years trying to force it to work. I would rather you avoid traveling down that dark road.
Together, Kiran and I have come up with this list of 10 signs that you've found true love. We agree that all 10 exist in our romance. And, as further evidence, very few of the 10 were present in our previous serious relationships.
1. Fireworks Explode
Some people say you don't need an initial spark of sexual attraction to form a satisfying and enduring romantic relationship. We disagree. When you first meet your person, there ought to be Fourth of July-worthy fireworks.
Sure, the flames of passion won't keep a relationship going strong forever. You'll need mutual respect, compassion, and great communication. But physical connection provides a powerful platform upon which to build intimacy and trust.
2. It's Comfortable
While there are sparks, you also should feel, when you're hanging out with your person, like you're wearing a pair of soft, cozy pajamas. There's no struggle to play some archetypal role (the Sexy Slut, the Nurturing Mother, the Cool Guy). No desire to be just a bit funnier or smarter, better looking or a better athlete. You're yourself, and that's awesome.
3. Your Hearts Say Yes
You commit to each other whole-heartedly and without reservation. Kiran says, "YES is the greatest word we have in our quiver of love arrows. YES tells us what we want. And by expressing that want, we express ourselves. We express what we believe. We express our claim on this world. Saying YES to our love affirms my life."
4. Radical Honesty Abounds
Do you find yourself keeping secrets from your partner? That's a sure sign he or she is not The One.
When it's true love, you should find yourself wanting to share everything. Opening up the fire hydrant of your heart and gushing out your most closely guarded sources of pride and shame. And on a daily basis, you should want your beloved to know what you're up to; whom you're seeing, emailing and texting; what you're thinking and feeling. Your love is made simple and true by being honest.
5. We Comes Before Me
Psychologists say that we live in an age of narcissism. We're each wrapped up in our individual journeys. I've personally spent the better part of the last ten years on a spiritual journey to sort myself out and find peace.
But the moment I met Kiran, I realized that I would put us, our needs, and our goals, ahead of me, mine, and I. It's been incredibly inspiring and freeing. I fully anticipate that having children (which we hope to do soon) will only increase that sensation exponentially.
6. Nothing Means More
Kiran writes, "Descartes had it wrong. It's not, 'I think, therefore I am.' It's, 'I love, therefore I am.' There are no achievements that mean more to me, that I value greater, than growing this love--growing it large and strong, reaching for the infinite sky and pushing deep into the endless layers of the earth. A mighty sequoia that is immutable in its presence, strength, and inspiration. So large a champion of life that it daunts all in its proximity."
7. It's a Romance, not a Relationship
Kiran and I wrote an entire blog on this subject alone. You should feel swept away by your relationship. You ought to want to scream about your partner's awesomeness to the world.
On the contrary, here's a huge red flag: you spend more time talking about your relationship than actually living it. You're constantly dissecting, negotiating, and evaluating. People say, "Relationships are work." Most of the time, it shouldn't feel like that. It should feel happy, fulfilling, and fun.
8. Friends and Family Agree
Oh, how I wish I'd listened to my friends and family. They told me over and over again during my unhappy years with my ex-boyfriend that I should let go of him and move on. But did I heed their advice? No. I stubbornly continued to struggle to make our relationship work for years.
The contrast, when my romance with Kiran ignited, couldn't have been more striking. My friends and family rejoiced. My best friend Jen pulled him aside at her birthday party and said, "We've been waiting for you for years." Similarly, his mother welcomed me into his family with open arms.
9. You Can't Wait to Come Home
I believe one of the most valuable tests of your connection to your partner lies in being mindful of how you feel when you're returning home from a trip. On the plane back to San Francisco during my first marriage, I would find myself overwhelmed with sadness. Constrained. Short of breath, even. I attributed this to my innate wanderlust. "I'll always be happiest when I'm on the road," I'd tell myself.
But in my marriage to Kiran, everything is different. I have, for the first time in my life, cut trips short to come home to him. I get excited as I step onto the plane back to LA, my heart beating like a schoolgirl's. Home is where my LOML is. I want to be near him always.
10. You Feel Like You've Won the Lottery
Every morning when I awake, I see Kiran's thick black curls massed on the pillow next to me and I think, "Thank God, it's real. I'm married to the Love of My Life." I genuinely feel, on a daily basis, as though I've won the lottery.
When I first moved to LA in late June of 2011, Kiran and I discovered that we had both come across something poet Theodore Roethke had said about his wife: "More than I'd hoped; Less than I'd dreamed." We concurred that this was a crying shame. Rather, we are blessed to have found, "More than I'd dreamed; Everything I deserve."
May this be your mantra, too. May it guide you away from compromise, and towards the fulfillment of your wildest hopes and desires. Because that's what it's like when you find The One.
Photo by Kiran Ramchandran, @KIRANCreates on Instagram.