The Secret to a Long Life? Love.

Love, family, and friendship are basic human needs. People around the world consider their relationships with family and close friends as their most significant source of meaning, purpose, and motivation in their lives. This is for a very good reason—studies have shown that not having enough social connections increases the chances of dying by at least 50%.

If that’s shocking to hear, just wait. Social isolation has serious and far-reaching consequences for our health and well-being. Science has many theories on how to live past 100, but there’s one that stands above the rest. Of all the “secrets” to living a long life, the truth to longevity might just lie in our ability to deeply connect with one another.

Loneliness is a Disease, Too

The link between a lack of strong social relationships and detrimental health outcomes is impossible to ignore.  It can lead to chronic activation of different systems in our body, such as the immune, neuroendocrine, and metabolic systems.

These systems are involved in the development of common age-related health issues like heart problems and some types of cancer. Having less social support, being socially isolated, or just feeling lonely, can increase inflammation similar to the effects of physical inactivity.

Chronic inflammation throughout the body is connected to various chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer's disease.  It also contributes to various mental, cognitive, and physical health issues that raise the risk of premature death.

Earlier this year, the United States became one of a list of countries that have declared loneliness to be an epidemic. The US Surgeon General released an 82-page report titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation”. It details many of the causes of social isolation, as well as its effects, both societal and individual. According to this report, research indicates that poor social connections are associated with a 29% higher risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

Additionally, chronic loneliness and social isolation in older adults can elevate the risk of developing dementia by approximately 50%.  Studies have found connections between social relationships and markers of inflammation, poorer immune function, and overall bodily stress.

The study also found that people who are more stressed tend to have fewer friends or social connections. Those dealing with stressful relationships often engage in unhealthy habits like poor eating and increased smoking. Stress can have widespread effects throughout our body, and the way our body’s systems handle stress plays a big role in how long we live.

Treating the Loneliness Epidemic

The Surgeon General’s plan also detailed a plan to combat the effects of social isolation from individual, community, and national perspectives. The plan includes specific recommendations for governments, healthcare workers, and regular individuals, as well as many others. The US isn’t the only country dealing with a loneliness epidemic; it’s spread worldwide.

In some parts of the UK, family doctors (GPs) are now suggesting activities like book clubs to help patients with both health and personal issues. This survey found that one in five visits to GPs in England is because of non-medical problems, like feeling lonely or having trouble with work or relationships.

Here's how it works: When a GP sees that a patient has non-medical needs, like needing help with money, getting around, or making friends, they connect them with a social prescribing link worker. These link workers are not doctors but professionals who talk to the person, figure out their problems, make a plan together based on what the person wants, and connect them with the right resources.

The results seem positive. About half of the 9,000 people helped by British Red Cross link workers said they didn't feel lonely anymore after about 12 weeks. This shows that addressing non-medical issues through social prescribing can really make a difference in people's lives.

The Japanese government has tried something even more surprising. One in five Japanese women in their fifties have never been married; more shockingly, one-third of Japanese men in their fifties said the same. Over time, young people’s lack of interest or ability to start a family led to a steadily declining birth rate. To alleviate this problem,  In 2020, they unveiled plans to invest in AI-powered matchmaking software.

The jury is still out on whether this attempt at playing cupid for its citizens will have an impact on Japan’s birth rate. It takes time for couples to meet and decide to settle down together, so we won’t see the results of this matchmaking experiment for another few years. What we can see is that even governments around the world are noticing the powerful effects of connection.

Connection is the Best Medicine

More diverse social networks were associated with greater resistance to the common cold. People who have strong connections with others are more eat well, smoke less, and are a bit more active. A comprehensive study found that respondents who reported close friendships saw a 9% increase in their likelihood to exercise and reduced the risk of depression by 17%.

Researchers also noticed the relationship between social bonds and major health consequences. They saw a 19% lower likelihood of having a stroke, and a 24% lower chance of passing away before the end of the eight-year study.

In a 2016 study, researchers found that people who have more friends or a bigger social circle are also better at enduring pain. The reason behind this is linked to a natural chemical in our brains called endorphin, which is a powerful painkiller, even stronger than morphine.

Endorphins not only help us cope with stress, whether it's physical or emotional, but they also give us a good feeling when we're around others, making us want to connect socially. The presence of longstanding social connections promotes our brain’s ability to produce endorphins, making them more readily available to us in times of physical discomfort.

In the context of chronic health conditions, social support has also proven to be beneficial. In diabetic patients, family involvement and support have consistently demonstrated positive effects on disease management for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

In both the long- and short-term, being with the people we love is good for our health. From reducing stress to increasing cognitive functioning, the benefits are evident. So, if you’re looking for your personal fountain of youth, start by exploring your friendships and family relationships. That’s where the real magic is.

Explaining the Chemistry of Lust

When we talk about love and lust, we're diving into the feelings that make human connections so complicated. It's not just about the excitement and nervousness; there's a whole emotional landscape at play. And that’s not to mention the explosion of chemical reactions happening all around your brain and body, making you feel a million things all at once.

Lust and love might seem like similar experiences on the surface. Truthfully, they aren’t all that different from a chemistry standpoint. They both cause faster heartbeats and sweaty palms, and they both make your brain light up like a Christmas tree. If we look deeper, however, we can see they have some key differences.

The Chemistry of Lust

Let's start by talking about lust, which is like a powerful magnet that can pull people together. A mix of hormones, neurotransmitters, and chemical reactions are in the driver's seat. These all contribute to our libido, or our sex drive, and they play a crucial role in stoking the fiery feelings of lust.

Before you even speak to your intended mate, the communication has already begun. A mix of chemicals called pheromones act as chemical messengers in the air between you and your possible bedmate. All over the animal kingdom, smell is hugely important in mating. Pheromones can convey things like health, fertility, and evolutionary fitness.

Scientists disagree on how important pheromones are to human sexual response, but there is evidence to suggest that our olfactory system—that’s our sense of smell—can read these signals and use them to decide the viability of our intended mate.

Testosterone is closely associated with male libido. This means that when the heat turns up in the bedroom, testosterone spikes. In female libido and health, testosterone plays a relatively small but important role as well. It works with estrogen, the most important sex hormone for women, to increase sexual desire and arousal.

Increased estrogen production is also the reason many women feel an increase in their libido around ovulation, about two weeks after their menstrual cycle begins. This is when estrogen production peaks, before slowly declining through the latter half of the cycle. This causes an increase in sex drive as well.

All the hormones coursing through you create a mix of intense feelings, drawing you in. Then dopamine, one of the pleasure-causing chemicals in our brains, rushes in, making you feel euphoric. It works with oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” to make sex feel rewarding, driving you to keep going.

A burst of oxytocin floods your brain during orgasm. This helps make a one-off romp feel more intimate. Oxytocin fosters feelings of trust and attachment. This contributes to a sense of connectedness. It also helps explain why you might feel emotionally closer to a partner after some time in the bedroom.

A chemical cocktail in your brain is telling you this is perfection, but don't trust it blindly. The feeling of lust is all about temporary, physical attraction. A passionate introduction doesn't always mean there's a deeper connection.

Love vs. Lust

So, what’s the difference between love and lust? One big thing is timing. Lust peaks in the early, exciting phase of a relationship, fueled by the novelty and mystery of a new partner. It activates the brain's reward center, making you feel euphoric and ready for another hit. This sudden rush of passion may create a strong initial connection, but according to relationship expert Dr. Terri Orbuch, lust always fades over time.

Love can certainly grow from this place. However, lust alone cannot form the basis of a lasting romantic connection. Lust puts us into a heightened state of arousal, making it difficult to sustain over a long period. In simple terms, what goes up must come down.

Unlike lust, love sustains itself over time through a more steady and consistent release of oxytocin and serotonin. When you're in love, parts of the brain associated with attachment and memory light up too. However, the differences aren’t just chemical; Dr. Orbuch says that love and lust are two completely different emotions.

The Complexity of Love

While lust is about sexual gratification, falling in love is about deep emotional attachment. This is the basis of a lasting connection that goes beyond the temporary excitement of lust. According to Dr. Orbuch’s research, there are four key features that distinguish love from lust.

The first of these is connection. While lust makes it easy to connect with our partner, people in love want to connect with each other’s friends and family as well. Whether we like it or not, the approval of our loved ones is a big factor in our choice of relationship. We want our loved ones to spend time with our partner and be impressed by them.

The second sign is something Dr. Orbuch calls mutuality. Someone in a relationship with mutuality might say things like “We went to the store” instead of “I went to the store.” Their partner is a main character in their story, because their lives are intertwined. Lust won’t drive you toward mutuality; thinking of yourself as part of a couple is a sure sign of loving feelings.

The next difference Dr. Orbuch says to look for is self-disclosure. Lust is a temporary feeling that doesn’t leave much space for emotional vulnerability. As you fall in love, you’ll begin to trust your partner with more intimate details about yourself. This could be anything from discussing your hopes and dreams to confiding something private.

Finally, Dr. Orbuch says that you’ll know it’s love when your relationship has a degree of interdependence. She describes this as the influence you and your partner have on one another. This might mean asking for their advice about a big decision. It could also look like asking them for support when you’re going through a hard time or calling to celebrate your successes.

Please note that this is different from codependency. In any relationship, it’s important to maintain a sense of individuality and to be present in your other relationships. At the end of the day, you should still be making your own decisions in a healthy relationship. Your partner should add to your life, not take over it.

Love and lust might start from a similar place, but they have different purposes in our lives. Lust might spark the initial attraction, but it's love that keeps the fire burning. Neither is morally better; in fact, both are important in our emotional lives. The key is finding a balance and learning the difference between these emotions. So, the next time you feel passion flaring up, ask yourself—is it the temporary thrill of lust or the lasting warmth of love?

What Does Vulnerability Look Like in New Relationships?

Vulnerability is the foundation upon which healthy and long-lasting relationships are built. It involves being open and honest with your partner about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, even when doing so is uncomfortable or challenging. When seeing someone new, vulnerability is especially important because it allows you to establish trust and create a deeper connection with your partner. 

In new relationships, vulnerability can take many forms, but it often involves sharing personal information that you might not typically share with others.  For example, it may look like sharing your hopes and dreams, even if you think they may seem silly or unrealistic. It may look like opening up about your fears, insecurities, or past traumas. It can also take the form of expressing your feelings and emotions, even when they're difficult to articulate or understand.

Vulnerability also involves being honest about your expectations and needs in the relationship. For instance, if you're looking for a serious commitment, it's important to express that to your partner so that you're both on the same page. It can also look like asking for help or support when you need it. This can be challenging, especially if you're used to being self-sufficient, but it's important to recognize that asking for help is okay.  By doing so, you are showing your partner that you trust and value their opinion.

Why is vulnerability Important?

When we enter into a new relationship, it can be tempting to present ourselves in the best possible light. We may hide our flaws and vulnerabilities, hoping to impress the other person and win their affection. However, this approach can ultimately backfire, as it prevents us from developing deep and meaningful connections with our partners.

As Brene Brown shares, the ability to be vulnerable requires you to believe that you are worthy of a deep connection. By doing so, we allow our truest self to be seen and heard. We give our partner the opportunity to know us on a deeper level and to connect with us in a more authentic way. Feeling seen and understood can lead to a deeper sense of trust and intimacy within the relationship. 

When we are willing to be vulnerable, we are taking a risk. However, we are also becoming more resilient. There is always the possibility of being hurt or rejected, but by facing these fears, we develop tools to cope with difficult emotions when they arise. We are also sending the message to our partner that we trust them enough to share our true feelings and in doing so, we encourage them to do the same. Trust and authenticity are essential for building a lasting connection. 

Steps to being vulnerable in your relationships

Starting a new relationship can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be intimidating and scary. Vulnerability requires you to let your guard down and expose your true feelings and emotions, which can be difficult, especially if you have been hurt in the past. However, it is an essential part of building a strong and healthy relationship. Let’s look at some practical steps you can take.

  1. Recognize the Benefits of Vulnerability

Vulnerability allows you to connect with your partner on a deeper level, build trust, and strengthen your emotional bond. It also allows your partner to understand your true feelings and emotions, which can help them support you better.

  1. Identify Your Fears

Take some time to reflect on what makes you afraid to be vulnerable. Is it the fear of rejection? Or, are you afraid of being misunderstood or judged? Once you identify your fears, you can work to address them and overcome them.

  1. Practice Active Listening

When your partner shares something with you, make sure to actively listen and respond in a supportive and empathetic way. Giving your full attention, asking follow up questions, and validating their feelings will help build trust and make your partner feel safe and comfortable.

  1. Be Honest

Honesty is key in any relationship, and it's especially important when it comes to vulnerability. Be honest about your feelings, even if they are difficult to express. Your partner will appreciate your honesty and will be more likely to reciprocate.

  1. Take Things Slow And Set Boundaries

Building a strong and healthy relationship takes time, and there is no rush to share your deepest fears and insecurities on the first date. Begin by sharing small things about yourself and your life, such as your interests, hobbies, and goals. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually build up to more personal topics. Set some healthy boundaries in the beginning and only share what you are comfortable with. There’s plenty of time to talk, so you don’t need to overshare early on.

If you are in a new relationship, take some time to reflect on your level of vulnerability. Are there certain areas where you could be more open and honest with your partner? Remember, vulnerability is a process and it takes time to build. By taking these steps, you can work to overcome your fears and become more vulnerable with your partner. Remember, vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it's an essential component of any successful relationship. While it can be difficult at times, the rewards of a deeper emotional connection and a strong relationship are well worth the risk.

Man looking at himself in a mirror

What You Should Know About Dating a Narcissist

Your ideal relationship is one where you’re cherished and loved for exactly who you are. You want a partner who will laugh with you, not at you. You want to fall deeply in love with someone who celebrates your success and will care for you in hard times. You’re looking for real love, but I’m very sorry to say, you won’t find any of this in your relationship with a narcissist. So, how do you date a narcissist? The simple answer is, you don’t.

Narcissism is characterized by a heightened sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a desire for admiration and control. At first glance, these traits may come across as confidence, assertiveness, and high self-esteem, all traits that make a narcissistic person very appealing as a romantic partner, at least initially. However, as the relationship progresses, the true nature of a narcissist becomes increasingly apparent, bringing harm to your self-esteem and well-being.

For those who have never encountered this person in their dating life, recognizing the signs of narcissism is essential to avoiding this type of toxic relationship. And for those who unfortunately have, understanding narcissistic abuse and its effects on your self-esteem can help you recognize and address the negative beliefs that you have internalized.

How to Spot a Narcissist

There are some common traits that narcissists share. It’s important to remember that not everyone who displays one or even a few of these traits is necessarily a narcissist. However, if you are experiencing these behaviors in your relationship, it may be an early warning sign that you’re dating a narcissist.

The American Psychiatric Association describes a narcissist as someone with a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. This pattern must have begun by early adulthood and must be present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by 5 (or more) of the following:

    1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. - exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
    4. Requires excessive admiration
    5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e. - unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations)
    6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e. - takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
    7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
    9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Narcissists are often charming and charismatic, which can be appealing in the early stages of a relationship. Initially, a narcissistic partner may shower you with compliments, gifts, and attention. They may seem confident, charming, and charismatic, making it easy for you to fall in love with them.

However, as the relationship progresses, the true nature of the narcissistic partner may become increasingly apparent. Their confidence can quickly turn into arrogance and entitlement. They may feel that they are deserving of special treatment, to be admired and praised at all times, and to always be the center of attention in social situations.

How to Date a Narcissist

Dating a narcissist can be dizzying. In the beginning, they may pepper you with questions, and the number of interests and opinions you share will make you think you have met your soulmate. A narcissist is a perfect mirror, so if you are their target for becoming narcissistic supply they will suddenly have an amazing amount of things in common with you. This is how the cycle begins.

The cycle of discarding is a pattern of behavior that occurs when one partner in a relationship repeatedly engages in the process of idealization, devaluation, and eventual discard of their romantic partner.

The cycle of discarding begins with idealization, where the narcissistic partner may "lovebomb" you, showering you with affection, attention, and gifts. They may appear to be very compassionate, telling you often about their love for you, the social causes you believe in, and the other people in their life.

In the beginning, it’s not obvious that a narcissist lacks empathy because they will often go to great lengths to hide this from you. For a time, the narcissist may appear to be the perfect partner, often going out of their way to make you feel special and loved. This behavior is designed to create an emotional bond and dependence in you, the target.

However, this idealization phase is short-lived, and once you become emotionally attached, a narcissistic partner may become more interested in talking about themselves than in getting to know you. Narcissists have a limited capacity for empathy, so they may not be able to understand or care about your feelings.

The narcissist will do or say things to devalue you, your opinions, and your contributions to your relationship. They may also be insensitive to your needs and show little interest in your life and opinions. They may belittle or demean you, hoping to cause you to feel inadequate, unworthy, and powerless.

If they do show interest, a narcissistic partner may be quick to criticize or judge you, even when you have done nothing wrong. They may make you feel like you are never good enough, no matter how hard you try. They may also blame you for things that are not your fault.

What is gaslighting? It's a form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question themselves - giving the abusive partner even more power.

This can easily turn into gaslighting or manipulating the truth to make you question your own memory, perception, or sanity. They may deny saying or doing something that you know they did and make you believe that you are the one who is mistaken.

A narcissistic partner may try to control your decisions and behavior or may become upset if they don't get their way or if they do not receive the attention they believe they deserve. They may also demand that you prioritize their needs over your own, isolating you from your loved ones.

Look for boundary-pushing in the beginning. A narcissistic partner won't respect boundaries, and in the early stages of your relationship, they are testing to see if they can push and break your boundaries without real consequences.

For instance, they may disregard your boundary about not talking on your phone at work by constantly calling or texting until you respond. If you try to reassert the boundary that has been crossed, your narcissistic partner may overreact, maybe even explosively so.

This does not mean that a narcissist will be okay with their own boundaries being crossed, however. You will be expected to follow the rules your narcissist creates, no matter how unreasonable. Anything they perceive as a failure to meet their standards is out of the question in a relationship with a narcissist.

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with a narcissist, it is important to establish clear boundaries within your relationship and communicate them clearly. This may involve setting limits on certain behaviors or insisting on a certain level of respect in the relationship. If the hurtful behavior continues or if you feel that your mental and emotional health is at risk, consider ending the relationship. This can be a difficult and painful decision, but it is important to prioritize your own well-being.

How to Recover from a Narcissist

The first step in rebuilding self-worth is to acknowledge the emotional toll that the relationship has taken. It’s important to allow yourself to process these emotions in a healthy way. This may mean facing the painful reality of the situation and recognizing that the narcissistic partner was not the person they appeared to be.

It may take some time before you feel ready to date again. This is totally normal, and you should be patient with yourself as you work on rebuilding confidence and your ability to trust. When you are ready again, be wary of red flags, but also try to look out for green flags in the people you date. Take a look at your dating checklist, and consider revising it, or ditching it altogether. Lead with your heart and your values.

It is essential to recognize that healing from a narcissistic relationship is a process that takes time. Be gentle with yourself and focus on your progress, rather than your setbacks.

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Forgive yourself for any mistakes or shortcomings, and focus on your strengths. Remember that you are deserving of love and worthy of respect. Look ahead to the amazing things coming your way.

Are you Dating or Interviewing?

When you’re a busy professional, carving out time for a date is a challenge. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve wasted their time, but this is even more important when you’ve got to be awake at 5am tomorrow morning. It’s tempting, then, to turn the first date into an interview of sorts. While this is a great way to find the one in a pool of job candidates, it might actually be a harmful approach to dating. Here are a few ways to tell if you’re inviting your new flame to a first date or a job interview:

You SHOULD seek out a compatible partnership. You SHOULDN’T create a strict list of required experience and skills.

Take some time to become familiar with what your values are. Spend a moment thinking about what you truly need from a partner, and keep those things in mind when you’re dating. However, it won’t help you to create an extensive list of requirements. It’s very important to remember that “husband” and “wife” are not job titles, nor do they entail a specific list of duties. You should look for a partner whose values align with your own, but you shouldn’t allow minor differences to stop you in your tracks.

When you find yourself becoming the interviewer on a date, take a moment to remind yourself what is happening. A first date doesn’t need to entail more than a friendly conversation. You won’t be evaluating someone’s fitness for a role based on preset qualifications. When you approach dating from an interviewing perspective, you lose the chance to define the terms of any future relationship together. Every relationship is unique, and it will serve you to remember that you are looking to build a life together, not fill a subordinate position in the office.

You SHOULD be aware of any potential hurdles. You SHOULDN’T let them stand in the way of a great partnership.

When you’re single, it’s easy to view any potential new relationship from the outside in. You study every detail and possible future of the life you might live together. When a relationship starts to get serious, this can be a helpful exercise. However, when you’re just dating, picturing the future together often leads to creating a list of reasons “why not”. It’s a good sign when you can picture your life with your partner. But before you’ve decided to emotionally invest in a relationship with someone, this kind of thinking can instead serve to keep you single.

You might look at their career, their home, or even their neighborhood, and wonder how you could ever be happy together. The obstacle standing between you won’t disappear, but for the right person, they’re worth overcoming. Twenty minutes sounds like a long drive for a date with someone you haven’t fallen for. But for someone who makes you feel on top of the world? It’s no time at all.

You SHOULD choose a meeting time and place together. You SHOULDN’T treat your date like a business meeting.

Showing up on time is important in both the dating and business worlds, but that’s usually where the similarities end. When you meet your date, there won’t be an itinerary printed out and waiting on the table. You’re not selling anything or trying to bring in an important client. You’re just there to get to know someone new, and the only thing on the agenda is to spend time together.

Longing to be deeply in love makes it easy to dread the dating process. When you don’t feel a spark on the first date, it can be tempting to view the whole endeavor as a failed contract bid. Thinking about any potential relationship is a complete non-starter. This mindset might help you out at work, but it won’t help you down the aisle. Relationships develop, and it takes time to fall for someone new. If you shut down negotiations every time you realize you’re not already in love, you’ll never get to experience the falling.

You SHOULD put your best foot forward. You SHOULDN’T lie about your background to get a callback.

Do you ever feel like you’re the interviewee on a first date? There have been hundreds of articles and advice columns about what you should do to make your night - and yourself - memorable. Some of it is genuinely good advice: you should wear an outfit that’s well-fitted, comfortable, and appropriate for your date; you should make an effort to be pleasant and charming; you should be willing to step a little out of your comfort zone. This is all great stuff to keep in mind, but it can become overwhelming to focus on being perfect.

On a date with someone who seems perfect for you, it might sound like a good idea to overstate how much you love dogs and scrapbooking. This might work fine for a casual fling, but it won’t benefit you, in the long run, to lie about the parts of your life that you’ll share in a relationship. We often hear people talk about their partner being everything they ever dreamed of, but the truth is no relationship is completely perfect. There will be boxes you don’t check off for everyone you date, even the person you’ll eventually marry.

Happy woman opening Christmas gift box

2022 Gift Guide: Top 35 Romantic Gifts

It’s that time of year again. That’s right–‘tis the season of gift giving. Whether you’re planning for the holidays or just want to show how much you care, giving a gift is a great way to express your love to your special someone. That being said, picking the right gift is easier said than done. To make the process a little simpler, we’ve come up with a list of 35 romantic gifts that are sure to impress. From top-of-the-line tech to sexy silk robes, here’s our 2022 list of the best gifts for your partner.

#1. Boiled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater by Vince 

Holiday season means it’s time for sweater weather. Send a little style to your special someone with this classic crewneck sweater knit from pure cashmere for a luxe look and feel.

#2. Romantic Call Body Oil by Balmyard Beauty 

For partners whose love language is physical touch–get this gift. A luxurious blend of prized oils and West Indian florals, this body oil makes for a perfect excuse for a sensuous, full-body massage. Just one whiff of this amazing coconut and smell and you’ll both be transported to the tropics.

#3. La Stella Necklace by SORELLINA

This stunning celestial pendant is the definition of bohemian meets luxury. An onyx shield—bordered by almost a full carat’s worth of sapphires and diamonds—lays a dramatic backdrop for a pavé star. 


The Orchid collection embodies KIKIDM’s approach to sophisticated seduction. The Orchid Long Robe is made from lustrous silk charmeuse and inset French Lace. Complete the look with the matching Orchid Soft Bra and Thong for a sensuous, coordinated look.

#5. The Relationship Deck by BEST SELF

Loaded with conversation prompts for you and a romantic partner, these cards make a game out of the stuff that’s important to talk about but sometimes hard to bring up, from money to health to where you see yourself several years down the road. The point? To squash assumptions and connect more deeply with each other.

#6. Personalized Concorde Sunglasses in 23k Gold by Randolph USA 

A timeless style steeped in American military heritage, the Concorde in 23k Gold offers customized engraving for a more romantic touch. Worn by pilots, adventurers and tastemakers alike, these unisex sunglasses make the perfect gift for an adventurous yet stylish partner. 

#7. The Model One Scooter by Unagi

Does your date seem to always be on the go? This top-of-the-line scooter is a gift that makes getting around a bit easier.

#8. The Montblanc Marilyn Monroe Pen

A nice pen says a lot about a man. The Montblanc Marilyn Monroe fountain pen is more than just a pen–it’s two iconic images forming together into one. Inspired by Marilyn Monroe and her Ferragamo high-heels, this pen reflects classic luxury and unforgettable sensuality. 

#9. The Tank Louis Cartier Watch

There is no better way to tell the time than the Tank Louis Cartier watch. This luxurious classic is encased in 18K yellow gold with a beaded crown set with a sapphire, grained silvered dial, and blued-steel sword-shaped hands.

#10. The Sex Stone by Kate McLeod

Wanting to spice things up this season? Look no further than the Kate McLeod Sex Stone. Perfect for partnered play, this unscented sensual moisturizer provides nourishing lubrication for moments of intimacy and exploration.

#11. The Sony α7R IV Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

For the partner who always takes the most Instagramable pictures, the Sony a7R is an excellent choice for any aspiring photographer.

#12. Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Keep your partner up to date on the latest tech with the Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation). Personalize them for a little romantic touch.

#13. The Apple Watch Series 8 

The new Apple Watch is here and looking better than ever. Impress your partner with the Gold Stainless Steel Case with Leather Link made from handcrafted Roux Granada leather.

#14. The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Sometimes the best gift is just being able to tune out the rest of the world. WIth the world-class adjustable noise cancellation headphones by Bose, your partner can do just that.

#15. The Suede Blanc luxe candle by Voluspa 

With notes of Buttery Suede Leather, Amber and Cedar, this candle is guaranteed to set the mood.

#16. Luxury Roses, Customized Gifts & Flower Arrangements by Venus et Fleur

Roses are a timeless gift that always sparks romance. These roses, however, are a gift that keeps on giving. The Small Le Plein Eternity Roses are flowers that never die.

#17. A Parcel Gift Set

These expertly curated gifts are designed to deliver love, gratitude, or just “thinking of you” with a heartfelt and beautiful gift. Shop ready-to-ship gifts or make your own with custom-made options.

#18. Date Night Cooking Classes at Sur la Table 

Table for two? Cook up a fun-filled date night and some delicious memories in our exciting, hands-on classes. With global cuisine from Spanish tapas to Pad Thai, these cooking classes are a unique gift experience that is sure to impress.

#19. Virtual Wine Tastings at Home with

The popular wine website is tapping winemakers, wine critics, and other pros for a series of free virtual wine and spirit tastings. Grab your partner to join famous creators as they share stories about winemaking, artistry, and entrepreneurship. 

#20. A Make-Your-Own Fortune Cookies Kit

Do you see good fortune for your relationship? Write in your own fortune cookie! This fun set provides key ingredients along with easy-to-follow instructions and prep tools. Packed with 60 prewritten messages, the kit also includes an edible ink pen to decorate each crispy creation and get personal with your own customized fortunes. 

#21. A Love Notes Memory Jar

This quirky romantic gift will stand the test of time. You can record treasured moments and store them in this fun glass jar.

#22. BEE Mine Couples Mittens

This fun, unique set comes with two gloves and a shareable mitten – allowing you and your love to hold hands in even the coldest weather. 

#23. A Personalized Portrait

When a regular picture just doesn’t cut it, you can add an artistic twist on your couple’s photo with this personalized portrait. This gift really stands the test of time.

#24. A Fujifilm Instant Camera

Escape the digital age with this instant camera. It prints out a physical copy of your photo right after you take it – which is great for building collages or scrapbooks. 

#25. A Custom Star Map

To forever remember that magical moment you first met, kissed, or said “I love you. ”Show your partner that your relationship is out of this world with this gorgeous custom star map. You can customize it to include constellations and quotes.

#26. A Crystal Ring Holder by Waterford

Want to send a little message that something special is soon to come? Nothing quite builds the excitement for an engagement like preparing for the ring. The gold standard in crystal, the Waterford Ring Holder is a perfect gift for a soon-to-be-fiance. 

#27. Smart Watch Accessories by Goldenerre

Give her Apple Watch a glow-up with this glamorous gift set. This Luxe 6-Piece Gift Set includes six mix-and-match accessories that’ll make her smart watch sparkle.

#28. A Made-to-Order Personalized Song

If you really want to pull out all of the stops, this gift is guaranteed to WOW. With just a few questions, singer-songwriter David Morgan will work up and create a custom track made just for you and your boo. 

#29. A Dyson Airwrap™

Even if you’ve never heard of this coveted hair tool, it’s likely that your girlfriend has–and chances are, she wants it. This award-winning device comes with a range of attachments, from hair-smoothing brushes to hair-curling barrels, that dry and style at the same time—without extreme heat. 

#30. Plush Edit Slippers by Arch

These plush and pink slippers scream Barbie girl. They’re comfy, durable, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor wear. What more could she want from her slippers?

#31. I Love You, Voice Art

Customize this canvas with your own personal message sound wave. The art is created from your voice recording and an optional handwritten note. 

#32. Long Distance Touch Bracelets

Long-distance relationships are tough, but this gift makes it all a little bit easier. When one user touches their bracelet, the other one feels it, too—no matter where they are on the planet. Not only that–the bracelet emits a vibration that mimics your partner’s touch. 

#33. Laser Engraved Photo

Turn a favorite photo into a one-of-a-kind keepsake he will treasure forever! This breathtaking crystal is custom-made to showcase your best memories in a piece of art. 

#34. Scratch Off Map of the World

Do you and your partner share a wanderlust as well as regular lust? Then this is the perfect gift for him. Scratch off each location you’ve visited together to reveal a map of the location underneath. 

#35. Personal Message Bracelet 

Give your guy a handwritten secret message he can look at every day. The Loved One’s Handwritten Leather Bracelet has a hidden message that makes a super romantic gift for him. 

The New Dating Dynamic and the Modern, Lonely Man

When it comes to dating, are modern men missing the mark? According to a recent Psychology Today article, it seems so.

To get an executive perspective on this topic, I sat down with our Vice President Genevieve Gresset, who was interviewed just this week by BBC Radio for her expert take on the trending article. Here's what she has to say about the cultural shift executive men are facing in the modern dating world.

Men, The Tables are Turning

Gone are the days of men having a fair share of single women to choose from. In this modern dating market, the tables are turning. In his recent article, Dr. Greg Matos shares a striking statistic that shows a dramatic shift in the current dating scene. Approximately 62 percent of dating app users are men. What does that mean? For men looking for love online, chances of finding a match have never been lower.

This also means that women have a larger dating pool to choose from, allowing women to raise their standards in the men they select to date. According to Matos, “younger and middle-aged men are the loneliest they’ve ever been in generations, and it’s probably going to get worse.”

Although this might sound hopeless, a solution is in sight. Although, it won’t come easy. In order to meet the rising relationship standards, it’s up to men to address those skills they may be lacking.

The Heart of the Matter

Maybe that’s true for men on dating apps, but what about those trying to find love in the real world? According to our Gresset, these facts still hold true.

“For the first time in history,” says Gresset, “women possess a new cultural power.”

Unlike in the past, women surpass men by 0.2 percent as a more college-educated labor force. Women also hold over half of the nation’s jobs. While there's still a way to move forward through perfect equality of the sexes, many women find that they are just as capable as their male counterparts to build the life they want. They no longer rely on men to provide luxuries that were once only achieved through marriage.

According to Gresset, this puts men in a unique position. “Men are no longer valued solely by their ability to provide financially for a family,” she says. “The modern single woman desires a partner who can meet her emotional needs more than anything else.”

This demand for emotional equality is a revolutionary shift in modern dating. “Behaviors women might have excused before are no longer tolerated,” says Gresset. “This is forcing men to either change their behaviors or be left behind.”

A Solution in Sight

“Men have held a consistent position in the dating world for centuries,” Gresset says. “But now it’s time that they experience their own evolution.”

As relationship standards rise, men are faced with the question of whether or not they can successfully step up to the plate. Although this might sound like an ultimatum, Gresset assures that this call for action is not based on any sort of man-hating. Instead, she hopes that men will see this as an opportunity for self-reflection and self-betterment. “Strong men will see the need for change and adapt,” she says.

How can men reap the benefit of these changing times? Both Gresset and Dr. Matos agree—by strengthening mental health and emotional intelligence.

For those dealing with heavy emotional baggage, such as past traumas, Dr. Matos suggests resources like therapy as a great way to begin healing. Yet, for men looking for help tailored specifically towards finding success in their love life, Gresset says coaching is the best option.

“Executive Matchmakers offers relationship coaching that is designed to fit the unique needs and lifestyles of our clients,” Gresset says. Their clients have found immense success within their coaching programs. “Often our clients find that they not only improve their success in love and relationships, but go on to live happier, more peaceful, and more fulfilling lives by implementing our proven techniques.”

While the times might be changing, it does not mean that men have to fall behind. Men have a key role in this cultural shift—but only if they wholeheartedly commit to improving their mental health.

Interested in making the change? Sign up for our expert coaching today.

Top 10 Exotic Hotels for a Romantic Summer Getaway

If one thing is certain in the world, it’s that summer is for vacation. This summer, what better way to spoil your special someone than by splurging on an exotic, luxury getaway! Whether you and your partner are looking for a thrilling adventure, relaxing retreat, or some Instagram-worthy views, we’ve got you covered. 

Time to pack your bags! Here are our top 10 hotel picks for an exotic, romantic getaway with your sweetheart this summer. 


Photo from

#1. Snuggle beneath the sea at The Conrad Maldives.

For ocean lovers, there is no better summer getaway than The Conrad Maldives. Despite its world-class accommodations, cuisines, and scenery, what makes this resort truly unique is the coveted Muraka suite. With 24-hour butler services and an outdoor deck with a private infinity pool, you and your sweetheart are guaranteed a vacation of a lifetime. If that’s not enough, the suite also includes the world’s first underwater hotel villa. Couples can literally sleep under the sea. Forget sheep, you and your lover can fall asleep counting the fish swimming above your bed. 

Photo from Memories of Aicha website.

#2 Go stargazing at the Aicha Desert Camp.

There’s something magical about staring up at the stars–especially when it’s with your significant other. The Memories Aicha Luxury Camp knows this. That’s why they designed their entire hotel around the importance of staring at the stars. 

Nestled in the heart of the Wadi Rum, each of Aicha Luxury Camp’s 55 dome-style tents is decorated with plush furnishings and a color-scheme of yellows, oranges and reds inspired by the colorful sands of the desert. For serious stargazers, the Panoramic Luxury Tent allows couples to view the rugged mountains and the stunning Arabian desert from the comfort of a king-sized bed. Whether you and your partner are nature lovers, adventurers, or hopeless romantics, the Aicha Camp allows couples to wake up in the wild outdoors without compromising an ounce of luxury. 


#3. Cuddle up in the canyons at Amangiri.

For couples looking for an exotic getaway – without straying far from home – the Amangiri Resort offers an excellent option. Located on a 600-acre expanse of wilderness in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, the resort is tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views over colorful, stratified rock. Couples will be swept away by the breathtaking architecture that is designed to blend into the landscape along with the natural hues, materials, and textures within the resort’s interiors. Snuggle up with your special someone as you appreciate the natural wonders of the cascading bluffs and dramatic stones.  


#4. Crank up your wild side at the Savanna Game Reserve.

Need to let loose? To get in touch with your wild side, there’s no better teacher than Mother Nature herself. Spice up your relationship by taking your partner on a South African Safari. Savanna Game Reserve is an exclusive 5-star lodge situated in the internationally famous Sabi Sands within the Kruger National Park Conservancy. Internationally acclaimed and one-of-a-kind, the Savanna Lodge offers an exclusive, personalized, and intimate safari experience unlike any other. 

After a day of viewing the “Big 5” animal sightings, couples can end their nights in luxury-tented accommodation, world-class cuisine, and exceptional service.  


#5. Fall in love at the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas.

Want to impress your special someone with a grand, romantic gesture? If drama is what you’re going for, it doesn’t get much more grand than the Iguassu Falls. Grab your passports and head to the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, a romantic getaway nestled within the Iguassu National Park. As the only hotel located within the national Park, you and your partner will be just a short stroll from the largest systems of waterfalls in the world.

For the most-breathtaking view of the area's collection of 275 waterfalls, take your sweetheart on an exciting helicopter flights over the Devil’s Throat canyon. Other romantic adventures include rafting, nature walks, jeep safaris and a visit to the bird park. 


Photo from Heart Pool One Bedroom Suite.

#6. Soak up some sun at Calilo.

 An exclusive 5-star spa resort, Calilo is the perfect pick for eco-conscious couples looking for a sunny, island getaway. At Calilo, guests can enjoy sustainable tourism in Greece without sacrificing the comforts of top-of-the-line luxury. Couples can soak up the sun as well as the incredible beaches, stunning landscapes, and local products in privacy, luxury, and comfort. 

Among its many impressive features, Calilo’s private grounds include 30 individually-designed suites, each offering panoramic bay views, direct beach access, dreamy plunge pools, swim-up bars and romantic day beds. Calilo’s playful and relaxed vibe will be inspiring for couples in the need to relax, realign, and reconnect. With the sand between your toes and the sun on your skin, there’s no better place to escape with your lover.


#7. Connect with nature (and each other) at El Silencio.

The daily responsibilities of life often make it difficult to connect with your soulmate. Sometimes, all you need to ignite that spark again is to unwind, relax, and go somewhere far, far away. One of Costa Rica’s most unique and tranquil luxury resorts, El Silencio Lodge & Spa is just that. Located on a 500-acre private reserve between the Juan Castro Blanco and Poás Volcano National Parks, El Silencio is a natural immersion retreat that promises a transformative, nature-based experience for its guests.

Besides its upscale facilities, couples can enjoy Costa Rica's charming cloud forest highlands, misty tropical cloud forest, roaring waterfalls, and colorful culture. This unique destination is ideal for couples who need a little peace and quiet to revamp the romance within their busy lives. 


#8. Live like kings at Rambagh Palace in Jaipur.

For couples in need of the royal treatment, look no further than Rambagh Palace. The history of Rajasthan is rich with legendary tales of love and valor. Since its construction in 1835, the Rambagh Palace has been home to generations of royals.

The "Jewel of Jaipur" features stunningly restored suites that were the chambers of the former Maharaja, himself. Couples can bask in the beauty of the palaces’ breathtaking décor. Inspired by the warm hues of the state of Rajasthan, the palace features marbled corridors, majestic gardens, and extravagant fine art. For the best views, we recommend booking the legendary Peacock suite, which overlooks the stunning greens of the Mughal Terrace. For couples seeking an exotic vacation without sacrificing the luxury, rich history, or fun activities, the Rambagh Palace is the place for you.


Photo from La Mamounia’s website. The Park Deluxe Room

#9. Escape in Luxury at La Mamounia.

One of Morocco's most well-known (and most expensive) resorts, La Mamounia is recognized globally as a symbol of traditional Moroccan hospitality. From Winston Churchill to Paul McCartney, the resort has been a favorite for many famous figures throughout history. Even Condé Nast Traveler agrees, naming La Mamounia as the best hotel in the world. 

Meaning "the safe haven" in the Arabic language, La Mamounia takes it name to heart. Its 17-acre park includes luxurious decorations, fabulous gardens, and a top-of-the-line spa. Just a five-minute walk from Jemaa El Fna square, this legendary Moroccan palace is the perfect, serene retreat from the imperial city. Its totally redesigned interior combines authentic Moroccan style and ambiance with the latest technologies. For couples looking for a romantic yet Instagram-worthy getaway, La Mamounia will not disappoint. 


#10. Steal kisses in caves at The Argos in Cappadocia.

Located in the heart of Cappadocia on the site of an ancient monastery in Old Uchisar Village, Argos in Cappadocia is a world-class boutique hotel ideal for travelers in the mood for romance and relaxation. The hotel consists of the restored remains of historical dwellings, underground tunnels, and caves, offering guests an unparralled vacation experience.

Among its many unique features, exists a three mile long tunnel and an underground city that connect the hotel’s six mansions. We suggest booking the hotel’s Splendid Suites. Featuring private gardens, panoramic city views, and even a cave pool, these suites are perfect for couples looking to turn up the romance.

Where Johnny Depp and Amber Heard went wrong–through the eyes of a certified matchmaker

There are two kinds of relationships; lust-driven and emotion-driven.

Early on in a relationship, people often make the mistake that a simple chemical reaction between each other can be the basis for a romantic, meaningful, life-long companionate relationship. Lust-driven relationships usually fail as a result of clashing core values and one trying to change the other. Lacking the pillars of a successful relationship, basic needs are not met. They are the circle inside of a square.

How Love & Lust Impacts our Brains

The chemical reaction that people describe as "the spark", "that feeling", "fireworks" and literally, "chemistry" are a result of one chemical activating in the brain–dopamine.

Directly associated with the experience of love, dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter made in the brain and used to send messages between nerve cells. It is sometimes called a chemical messenger. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure, and find focus and interest. It is related to the experience of attraction, love, and desire.

Dopamine can oftentimes be related to the phrase, “rose-colored glasses,” the pink fluffy cloud, or the honeymoon phase early in a relationship. Dopamine can create some amazing feelings by itself. However, doing all of the work on its own, it can become tiring, dissolving in a week, a few months, or a year. The recipients of this amazing chemical reaction are left with a vision that is not so rosy, clouds that are not so fluffy and pink. A moon but no honey mead to go with it. The spark has fizzled out. Without aligned core values in place or other important neurochemicals, the relationship fails.

The Emotionally-Driven Relationship Type

Emotionally-driven relationships are based on aligned core values, two to three pillars of a successful relationship (intellectual, emotional, recreational, spiritual, and sexual intimacies), and the law of attraction. These companionate relationships all have something in common: dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. These chemicals are deeply connected to attachment and bonding, the latter two being key hormones for both maternal and romantic relationships.
The participants in a lust-driven relationship may not have anything to talk about and wonder why they are with the other person at all. Dopamine is the creator of lust-driven relationships and without its friends, oxytocin, and vasopressin, along for the ride these lust-driven relationships don't have the substance to endure the rise and fall all relationships have. They just can't weather the storm.

What Type of Relationship Did Johnny and Amber Have?

Analysis of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's relationship leads this science-informed matchmaker to determine that a lust-driven relationship was pursued to the enth degree. Time passed and the dopamine wore thin. These two opposites turned on one another and began destroying not only their relationship but their self-worth. There was talk of infidelity, a major player in the downfall of lust-driven relationships as needs are not being met for either person. Opposing core values may play a major role as well. When one person self-medicates with drugs and alcohol on a regular basis, seven days a week throughout their lifetime this is behavior that cannot be changed by the other person. They didn't create it, they didn't cause it and they can't change it. Most people aren't that self-aware, so they will continue to try and understand and or change the other person unsuccessfully.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were committed legally to one another through marriage and that is something they were fighting for however the odds were against them. When the dopamine ran dry, the rose-colored glasses were off and their authentic selves were revealed. The rungs of the superficial ladder that the relationship was based on, physicality and their common career choice, acting, crumbled like a cracker.

The Lesson

Emotionally-driven relationships in which people have taken the time to identify core values, and intimacies that create a basis for friendship, respect, and love, can weather the rise and falls that all relationships experience. These types of relationships have stamina. So long as the superficial ladder is folded and put away, there is even more space for love to grow.

15 Signs that Prove He is the One

“Will you marry me?”

Even as a child, I imagined the day that some handsome prince charming would go down on his knee and ask me that magical question. It’s normal, I think, for girls to fantasize about these things. As soon as we’re taught to read, walk, and talk, we’re bombarded with movies, shows, and books that all center around one thing—finding The One. The fact that one day I’d meet my own special someone was as real to me as the clouds in the sky. It would happen. And we would live happily ever after.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that love isn’t as easy as a Disney movie. The road to real, lasting love can be filled with heartbreak, pain, and doubt. Sometimes it takes a failed relationship (or two, or more) to teach you how to spot the right one when he comes along.

The first time I laid eyes on Rod (the man who would later become my fiance) I immediately noticed something special about him. The more we got to know each other, I grew increasingly confident that he was unlike any guy I had ever met before him. All of his expressions of love were indicators that he was The One I had been waiting for all my life.

On January 4th, 2022, my prince charming knelt on one knee and asked me that question I’d dreamt of my whole life. Despite all my imagining of that moment, I couldn’t believe it was real. It was happening! I screamed out a declarative “YES!” And we haven’t looked back since.

If you’ve been dating someone for a while, it’s only natural to wonder if they’re really right for you. Wondering if you’ve found The One? Here are my top 15 signs that you’ve got the guy of your dreams.

15 Signs He's The One

#1. I can be myself with him.

If you’re dating and considering whether you should take your relationship to the next level, the first question you should ask yourself is: am I comfortable with him? For me, this aspect of our relationship was crucial. As an introvert, I have a tendency not to let many people ‘in.’ So, when Rod made the effort to get to know me—and I mean really get to know me—I felt safe to just be myself, faults and all. He has the ability to help me relax, open up, and pour my heart out without fearing judgment. Once you feel comfortable telling your partner everything, that’s when you know he’s husband material.

#2. He supports my goals.

Rod met me during a transitional phase in my life when I was struggling to figure out my future. Instead of trying to force me on to a path toward what he thought was best, Rod gave me the space and independence to develop and pursue my own goals. His support allowed me to develop myself, my skills, and my dreams while we designed our future together. He admires my ambition and is always there for me when I need a helping hand.

#3. He expresses his feelings for me.

I’m one of those crazy people obsessed with all types of personality tests. Myers-Briggs, Enneagram—you name it, I’ve done it! And now, so has my fiance. To this day, Rod jokes about all the tests he had to take to be able to ‘pass’ into boyfriend material. All jokes aside, there was a reason behind all the test madness, and that was to gain some insight into how Rod expresses his love. Not long into dating, I sent him the link to Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages online test. When he texted me back with his results, I couldn’t believe it. We shared the same top two love languages—physical touch and quality time—exactly in the same order. Knowing that early on helped me as our relationship progressed. Now, I know that each time he hugs me, reaches for my hand, or makes time for just the two of us, he is expressing his love for me. The feeling was 100% mutual.

#4. He loves spending time with me, even if it's just a few minutes.

Between our busy work schedules, wedding planning, and other day-to-day duties, there are times when it’s hard to get quality time together. Despite whatever plans the day holds, Rod prioritizes being with me. Even if it means silently working our laptops, he likes to just sit next to me. If he goes out with the guys, he makes a note to invite me, even if he knows it’s not my thing. This makes me feel like he genuinely appreciates my presence. He’s never once made me feel like a burden.

#5. He's my best friend and I'm his.

The day Rod told me that I was his best friend was almost more special to me than the first time he told me that he loved me. He didn’t just like me for how I looked, what I did for him, or what I could be—he just liked me for me. For me, that meant everything.

#6. My family loves him.

Rod knew early on that the approval of my family was something really important for me. But he was eager to meet them and to get to know the people who know me best. As soon as I saw Rod with my parents, all my anxieties washed away. My parents immediately loved him and I knew he was going to fit right in.

#7. He provides for me.

Rod is hard-working, generous, and career-minded—qualities that show I can rely on him to support a family. A man’s ability to provide financially is great. But, in the words of Shania Twain, “that don’t impress me much.” What made Rod stand out from the rest was his ability to provide for me emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. No matter what is going on in my life, I can count on him to make things better. At times when everything feels up in the air, he is my source of stability, grounding me when the road gets tough.

#8. I trust him.

They say with no trust, there’s no relationship. When we first started dating, Rod and I were long-distance. It was important that we maintained trust despite living in different countries. Rod knew I was still scarred from past experiences and was sensitive to any suspicions I might have initially felt towards him. Not only did he never break my trust, but he was patient with me as he taught me how to trust again.

The happily engaged couple.

#9. He's genuinely interested in me.

Before I met Rod, I had met guys who were eager to fill a missing position in their lives. But when it came to dating, they were more interested in talking about themselves than actually getting to know the girl before them. Rod was different in that he was genuinely interested in me. He asked me lots of questions and still does!

#10. He's not jealous.

Both of us have lots of friends—and some of them happen to be of the opposite sex. Unlike some men, Rod has never been the jealous type. He quickly embraced my guy friends and considers them friends of his own.

#11. He remembers the little things.

Wedding planning can be a lot of fun, but it’s easy to get caught up in the details. Just the other day, I was obsessing about which color of napkins to choose for cocktail hour. Sensing I was stressed, Rod pulled me in for a hug, kissed my forehead, and told me he had a surprise for me. From behind his back, he revealed an ice cream, cookie sandwich—which he knows is my absolute favorite treat on earth. All thoughts about napkins and colors immediately vanished as I bit into my sugary escape. When it comes to the little things—Rod just gets it.

#12. He accepts me for who I am.

After two years of dating, Rod has seen me through it all—the good, the bad, and the very ugly. I love dressing up, but it’s nice to know that Rod loves me even when I’m not picture perfect. Even with no makeup, night retainer in, and unbrushed hair—he still tells me I’m beautiful. (I know he’s lying, but still!)

#13. He (still) gives me butterflies.

Even though we’ve been dating for over two years, the electricity between us grows more each day. As I mentioned earlier, most of the time, I feel relaxed with him. But sometimes, he makes me feel like a nervous schoolgirl with a secret crush. When he passes behind me and touches the small of my back; when he loses himself in the music as he plays his guitar; or just the glimmer in his eyes when he looks at me a certain way—in those moments I feel nothing but butterflies.

#14. He never goes to sleep mad.

Like most couples, we’re no stranger to the occasional argument. We are always careful to speak respectfully towards each other and never lose our tempers. Likewise, we both believe in working through disagreements quickly with honest and open communication. He’s always patient with me, listens, and is eager to find a compromise that works for us both.

#15. I can't imagine my life without him.

Love might not be as simple as it seems in movies. The road to real love can be complicated, messy, and confusing at times. But, when you find The One, suddenly everything starts to make sense. In my case, I realized that love shouldn’t be complicated—it should be comforting, uplighting, and kind.
For me, this ah-ha moment occurred with Rod, ironically, after watching a movie. The film was about a couple who grew together in both love and age. As the credits rolled, I realized that Rod was that man for me—the man with whom I wanted to grow old, spend my life, and be by my side forever. I could not imagine my life without him.

Engaged couple in city holding hands.
Molly and her fiance.

Is he the one?

Despite his undeniable charm and dashing good looks, my fiance is not a Prince Charming. He doesn’t wear a coat of armor or ride around town on a gallant white horse. And, just like me, he doesn’t always say or do the right things. But, unlike Prince Charming, Rod is real. He is a man of strength, kindness, and dedication to our love and our relationship. Loving him is my dream come true. Every relationship is different, but for me, these signs proved that he is undeniably The One. I can’t wait to begin our happily ever after.