How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’?

“How did you know Trevor was the one for you?” a seventeen-year-old asked me. “I struggle with knowing if a guy is right for me. Every day I ask God to help me figure out my confusion.”

Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly simple. Let me share with you what I’m learning from Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Gary Friesen and J. Robin Maxson.

1. Determine if you have the “gift” of marriage or singleness.

Dr. Friesen explains it like this:

The decision to marry or remain single lies within the area of freedom. The apostle [Paul] had a definite preference for [singleness] that he “wished” all others could choose. But he knew he could not give his desire the force of a command. For not everyone “has the gift.” God graces each believer differently. It is likely that Paul’s meaning is that some are “gifted” to enjoy singleness while others are “gifted” to enjoy marriage with its extra responsibilities (1 Cor. 7:7).

The first issue for you to work out is whether it’s best for you to be married or single. Surprisingly, “there is no command from Scripture one way or the other.” That means you don’t need to spend hours trying to discern God’s “still, small voice.” You don’t need to determine whether God is calling you to marriage or singleness.

Since both marriage and singleness are gifts from God, and since you are free to serve God as a single girl and once you’re married, both are good options. (You can read 1 Corinthians 7 for the pros and cons of both marriage and singleness.)

Now is a good time to think through this, even if there’s no guy knocking at your door yet. It will be less for you to figure out when a guy does come knocking.

2. Determine if your prospect is a believer.

Now—assuming you desire to be married, and there’s a guy pursuing you—you first need to ask if Scripture says anything about choosing a spouse. (And it does!) Scripture is clear: A believer in Christ may only marry another believer in Christ. This is vitally important. As Dr. Friesen explains:

The point is that not only are the believers’ values, goals, standards, motivations, and means of enablement for living incompatible with those of an unbeliever; they are diametrically opposed! They are serving two different lords that are archenemies of one another.

God has given you a whole lot of freedom beyond this one command. Don’t disobey Him here. Look first and foremost for a godly, Jesus-loving guy.

3. Seek wise counsel.

  • What do your parents think of this guy?
  • What does your pastor say?
  • Once you’re engaged, get some premarital counseling, and listen well to what your counselor thinks of you two.

Those around you will be a lot more clearheaded than you will with romance clouding your brain. Heed their counsel.

4. Use common sense.

Do you two share the same values? Here are just a few things Friesen encourages you to note: age, finances, employment, education, personal goals, personality traits, birth control, principles of child rearing, hobbies, family background, socioeconomic background, and possessions.

My Story

I didn’t always understand the freedom God has given in wisely choosing a spouse. I used to try to figure out if it was God’s will for me to marry a guy by praying and then watching for “signs” from God. And it was confusing! Here’s an example from an old journal entry:

I was talking on the phone with Dad tonight when Jim texted. Actually, at that particular moment, Dad was praying that my future husband would find me, when I heard the text come in. Coincidence, or God at work? I don’t know . . .

Jim was also confused, because after months of sending me confusing signals, he told me that as he’d prayed about pursuing me, he “sensed a yellow light.” He didn’t have a “red light” from God, but he also didn’t have a “green light.” He also told me that as he asked God whether now was the time to pursue marriage or not, God had been “annoyingly silent.” I think that’s because God had already given him the freedom to decide himself.

Needless to say, I ended up telling Jim goodbye (you can read how that went down in chapter 15 of my book). And oh, I’m so glad I did.

Because a few years later, God plopped Trevor Marsteller in my lap. Well, in my Twitter feed, to be exact. As I began to date Trevor (he was a believer, so he was fair game), I kept my eyes wide open and used the wisdom God has given me through His Word and community.

Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense.

It’s not that there were zero concerns. But as I brought those to God, to Trevor, and to wise counselors, in the end they weren’t game changers. Although Trevor wasn’t perfect (no guy but Jesus is!), I could see that he was “perfect” for me in so many ways. These three main things gave me the confidence to continue moving forward to marriage. And if you’re wondering, six months into marriage I am so grateful I chose him!

Back to you now, though.

Bottom line: Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!

I’d love to hear from you. Does this sound surprisingly . . . simple? What questions do you have after reading this post?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • Alison

    My goodness, this has been me for a while! I have been waiting for a mystical sign–that God would let me know the instant I saw him or that it would be some dramatic moment! I do know when it comes, it will be when I am least expecting it. Perhaps it has come already, but the time is not right. This post is surprisingly comforting. I believed that God had destined us for one or the other–for singleness or for marriage. Right now I am single and I am young. I much more to do to serve the Lord under my singleness, and I am eager to do so. There is still a lot of growing to do as well. It’s odd, but sometimes I forget God gives us the gift of free will. He gives the ability to choose. He gives the freedom to make choices. Thing is, I’m so nervous about making the wrong one that I constantly want God to intervene. I want him to send me all sorts of signs before I make big decisions so I don’t mess up. While I know God will speak to us when he needs to, he has already given us the tools to make decisions–both little and life-changing. He speaks to us through his word, through older and wiser Christians, and through the wisdom and discernment that he provides us with as we grow in him. Thank you, Paula, for your insight. And I thank God for you walk with him.

    • Dear Alison, I am SO glad this took a weight off your shoulders. I agree–it is comforting. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me!

      • Alison

        I do have a question, though. What if a boy is pursuing you, but you are not interested in dating him? This has happened to me twice now: The first time I explained to the boy I was not interested in being in a relationship, but he continued to pursue me anyway. Now another boy has shown interest in me, and I am very scared. I do not view this person as a potential spouse, and my usual reaction to someone who shows an interest in me is to push them away with a ten-foot pole. My friends and family say that I am overreacting and that I should just get to know him, but I fear if I spend more time with him, he is going to get the wrong idea. I don’t mind hanging out with people, but it makes me doubly uncomfortable if I know they have some sort of romantic interest in me. It feels wrong.

    • Andriel Wilson

      Wow this is so me! I’ve been dealing with the same kind of problems =/

  • Kristy

    This could not come at a better time than this. Thank you. I have had three different guys in my life pursuing me. I eventually got so confused by what to do that I wouldn’t talk to any of them. I didn’t want to lead anyone on or hurt any of them. In the midst of confusion, I prayed more about what God had planned for me. I sought counsel in my parents, my closest friends, and I looked to what the Bible said about marriage and singleness. I have been able to talk to all three about how I feel on my end, and they, being some of my close friends, have actually been really considerate of how I feel. There is one guy that I am allowing to pursue me somewhat. We are not dating yet, because I want to know him better first before I truly consider dating him. We have a few differences in our families, but I cannot tell if these are game changers. I was wondering about the piece that talked about game changers and how guys interact with their family. How do you determine what is and is not a game changer?

    • Dear Kristy,

      Whew. That doesn’t sound fun. I’m so proud of you for the way you handled the situation.

      Honestly, without knowing you, I can’t tell you what will be a game changer for you. As long as the young man you are considering is a strong believer, the rest is up to your personal preferences. What can you live with for the rest of your life? What can you not live without for the rest of your life?

      Keep seeking God. He will lead you!

      Blessings,

      paula

  • grace

    help

  • grace

    help! I am dealing with anger and jelousy all the time! can you do an entry about this?

  • Holly Martinez

    I agree! It is simple. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy. My parents were skeptical of my guy when I brought him around. It was hard as I sought to respect them and follow Jesus about Jesse. But we were immensely blessed because of it! We’ve been together for 5+ years and married for 3+ and I believe that because we sought God first and listened to Godly council, we have made a wise decision about marrying. What helped me was to think long-term. Does he love Jesus? Will he work hard to provide for us for many years? Will we still be best friends and choose to love each other in 30, 40, 50+ years? Will he stick with me when times get hard or will he want to run and hide? You can’t see the future, obviously, but you can usually tell if your guy is in it for the long haul or flaky, wishy washy, and indecisive. I 100% agree with you and hope many young men and women learn great things from this post!

  • Hannah

    I was asking this exact question when this email landed in my inbox today! I definitely am guilty of praying for a sign from God to determine my future. But I’d forgotten my future is written in His word, so thank you for this timely and eye-opening post!

  • Liza

    I really like the reminder that we have free will when it comes to certain decisions like marriage, but I am still a little confused. Do you not think that God has the perfect guy planned out for each girl? Are we just on our own when choosing a husband? Sorry, I just really want to understand, because I have never heard this approach before.

    • Liza

      I guess what I’m really trying to ask is where does God’s will come into play here? Does he have a preference when it comes to wether I stay single or marry, or who I marry?

      • Hey, Liza,

        Check out 1 Corinthians 7. It seems to me that both singleness and marriage are options for you. Paul thinks it’s better to serve God without distraction, but he also admits that if you can’t handle the temptation sexually, it’s better to marry. There are pros and cons to both, and both are to be used to glorify God. I think you have the freedom to remain single or to marry a godly man.

        If you choose the later, God’s moral will (His command for your good) is that you marry another believer. Other than that, He leaves the decision up to you to choose wisely as you pray, seek counsel, etc.

        Hope that helps,

        paula

    • Anonymous Sister

      Hi Liza! LYWB actually introduced me to the idea that there is not necessarily a “one”. Also, and I actually forget what book it was from (I THINK it might have been the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson), but the author gave an interesting idea about God’s will. Most Christians think that God’s will is a dot on a map of confusing choices. This can keep us from pursuing a romantic relationship for fear of not being in God’s will, or it can even stop us from doing something good for someone because we don’t know if it’s God’s will; isn’t it funny, though, that when it comes to compromise, we so often say, “Well God didn’t necessarily say NOT to (watch a bad movie, date more than one person at the same time, etc)”, yet when it comes to doing something “good”, we wonder if it’s God’s will? God commands us to good, and we don’t always need a word from heaven to bless somebody. The same applies to courtship or dating. In Josh Harris’ book, “Boy Meets Girl,” he once lamented that a courtship between two of his friends had “failed”. Then he realized that just bc they parted was, doesn’t mean their courtship failed, because the point of dating or courtship is to determine whether or not the person is right for you. Gods will is more like a circle with boundaries rather than that dot. As long as you follow His Word and focus on bringing Him glory, he had given you free will to date and pursue your dreams! The Bible says if you delight in the Lord He will give you the desires of your heart. So to answer your question, I don’t necessarily believe God has a “one” for us, and if we miss that person then we are out of Gods will. God works all things for our good, you know! Just be obedient and pure in your relationships, and seek wise counsel when it comes to dating or courting.

      • Liza

        Thank you so much! This really helps! It really changes my whole view of marriage and singleness and choosing a husband and following God’s will. Its a little confusing, so I’ll have to think about it some more, but thank you so much. You have really helped me. I can’t believe I’ve never heard this perspective before!

        • Anonymous Sistet

          Absolutely! Keep seeking God in prayer, and He will give you more clarity in this matter. “For if anyone lacks wisdom, He should ask God for it, for He will give it out liberally. “

  • Leanne

    Paula, are there any Christian resources on birth control? I know some believers stand against it, but not all do, and I would like to be more informed on this issue but don’t want to land on the wrong sites, as there’s a lot of unwanted content out on the internet. Thanks!

  • Sadie Boyett

    I believe this is true but I also believe that you don’t need to go searching for the “one”. If you are seeking Him truly and living in His will, I believe He will, in His time, lead you to the man of your dreams. I believe that when that happens, God will have already prepared you for this time in your life and you will know what to do in that relationship.

  • Hope

    Wow, I really needed this! Because I am trying to decide right now whether or not to commit my life to a certain guy. This certainly gives me a freedom from feeling like I have to have some sort of handwriting on the wall before I can proceed. Thanks so much for sharing, Paula! 🙂

  • Becca<3

    Great article Paula! Man I’ve missed being on the blog regularly! I have an interesting question, just something that I’ve thought a lot about. What do you do if the guy you like isn’t a virgin? I don’t have anybody particular in mind when I ask that question, but it is something that I’ve wrestled with over the past few weeks. If there’s a guy who has a bad past, but has turned from his old ways and is new creation in Christ, how would I handle that? I really want to save myself for marriage, and I feel like I would be able to forgive a bad past, but it would still hurt!

    • Leanne

      Good question! Along those lines, I’m also wondering, if either partner compromised on physical purity (with someone else in the past) and has since come to Christ or repented of their sin, and ends up marrying in a Christ-centered marriage, how can they be physically intimate without negative health consequences, if you know what I mean?

      • Compromising on our physical purity doesn’t always result in negative health consequences. It can but it doesn’t always. So, testing for STD’s and AIDS and then getting treatment is definitely an option if this is a concern in your relationship as you begin talking about marriage.

    • That’s a great question, Becca! Yes, finding out that the love of your life has a past can be difficult and most likely will hurt. But even that is not beyond Christ’s power to redeem and forgive. You would need to pray a lot and then choose to forgive him. Keep the dialogue open with the young man as you continue to process through your emotions and forgiveness. Even though it can be hard, it is certainly doable with God’s grace and mercy.

  • Alexis

    I found this article really relatable in several ways! I’m interested in this guy and he’s really great, a strong christian man, and just everything that I have prayed for. (What I found really funny while reading your article is that this guys name in Trevor as well! LOL!) I feel like I have a “green light” as far a pursuing a relationship with him. (My parents have told me that they “approve,” my youth pastor really likes him etc.) I’m just not sure where he is as far as pursuing a relationship. We are pretty good friends so I hope that an opportunity comes to talk to him about this. How would I go about talking to him about it? Any suggestions?

    • Just don’t do it…it could literally ruin everything. When he’s ready, he’ll come to you.

    • Leanne

      I agree. The guy needs to be the pursuer. Let God put it on his heart.

    • Liza

      Though I am not expert on this, I have heard some pretty good advice about it. I recommend that you not initiate a romantic relationship with him, or any other guy. For most men, they want to be the pursuers. Not to mention that if you pursue him now, he won’t be as inclined to romance you later on. A lot of girls complain that their boyfriends or husbands aren’t romantic and never want to do anuthing, but most likely the reason for this is that the guys are used to the girls chasing after them and coming up with romantic things to do. Maybe you would be fine with that, but in general, initiating a romantic relationship with a guy is not a good idea.
      However, you can still encourage him to initiate a romantic relationship with you. You can do this by starting a conversation with him. Just don’t go all out and act silly like a little girl trying to impress her crush. Just start talking to him and you will probably form a friendship. In a friendship you guys can get to know each other without any romantic entanglements. If you still feel like he would make a good husband for you, then you just have to wait to see if he thinks of you the same way. If you are already friends, then you’re are still in the situation where uoure going to have to wait on him.
      If you would like some more ideas on how to let him know that you are interested in him, the best advice I can give is what not to do. Don’t try to be more outgoing, don’t hang around him all of the time, and don’t try to flatter him. It seems that usually just hanging around him a little bit more and still acting your self will do the trick. There was a post about this on the blog alovelycalling, but i don’t remember the name, but you could scout around there for some more ideas.
      I hope this has been helpful.

      • Alexis

        Yes I defiantly agree! The guy needs to be the pursuer. I guess I should have better proof read my comment before i put it up. I was mainly asking for good ways to talk to him in a friendly way. Not about pursuing a relationship. I made so many changes to the comment I guess I forgot to take that part out! You got half of two different versions of the comment! Sorry for the confusion! But I defiantly agree with what you said!

        • Hey, Alexis,

          Talk to him like you would any other person. Be yourself. Ask him questions. Don’t be thinking the whole time, “What is he thinking of me?”; listen well to what he’s saying.

          Hope that helps,

          paula

  • This will help me so much! Thank you!!

  • ChristianGirl

    Hey! I really want to get married someday but I’m only 18 right now and I have feelings for a great guy friend. This doesn’t feel like a typical crush but he has a girlfriend already and I’ve asked God to take away my feelings for my friend but the feelings are still here.This guy cares about me in a way my other guy friends don’t and he understands me in a way my other guy friends don’t. I can’t talk to my parents about this. What do I do?

    • Dear ChristianGirl,

      I know you didn’t ask about this, but since you mentioned asking God to take away these feelings, I thought I’d share this post with you:

      http://paulawrites.com/2015/11/24/god-give-feeling/

      Also, if this guy has a girlfriend, it’s really not appropriate for you two to be such close friends. 🙁 I think a really practical way you could honor him and his girlfriend is to let him know you need to step back from your friendship as he has a girlfriend. This will hopefully help your heart as well.

      Praying for you now,

      paula