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7 Not-Discussed-Enough Signs That He's Absolutely NOT 'The One'

"One day, someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked out with anyone else." — Unknown

Love & Relationships

The one. If you got a group of 50 single women together (single women who desire to be in a long-term relationship, that is) and you asked them what they were waiting on when it came to being in something serious, I wouldn't be shocked if at least half of them said, "I'm waiting on 'the one'." The one who they love above anyone else. The one who seems like their soulmate. The one they want to spend the rest of their life with.


That's beautiful. No sarcasm. Love, when it's right, is the absolute ultimate. Yet sometimes, I feel like term "the one" gets romanticized so much that we overlook the very practical side of what being with that kind of man really is. So, let's explore that a bit. Via personal experience, a lot of observation, working with countless couples and even due to a bit of reading, here are seven conclusions I've come to as it relates to determining when someone absolutely isn't the one — no matter how much it seems like the opposite…on the surface.

1. You’re Not Clear on What “The One” Is

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While this one might catch you off guard a bit, I think if I break it down a little bit more, some dots may connect. Sometimes, in our quest for "the one", we're not even really thinking about what role we want that person to serve in our life…because we're not absolutely clear on what kind of relationship would best serve us. What I mean by that is, do you really want to be married or have you been programmed — by family, friends, religion, the media — to think that you should be? Do you think that a soulmate automatically means that someone is absolutely perfect for you when really, since no one is without flaw, a perfect fit doesn't realistically exist (a great complement does, though. Check out "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life"); therefore, you're kinda already setting yourself up for either non-stop or earth-shattering disappointment? Do you think that once you meet a suitable companion that giving them the title of being "the one" means that they will be your all and all (which is too much pressure to put on any one individual…ever)?

It's really hard to know if you've met "the one" if you don't have a good understanding of what that should mean and what that would require.

So, what do I think the one should be? The person who helps you to feel safe; especially safe within your authentic self. The person who brings consistent peace to your spirit. The person who challenges you to become a better version of yourself. The person who causes you to feel truly seen. The person who is a real advocate for your purpose. The person who loves, respects and celebrates you. The person who holds you accountable (without any pushback on your part because, again, you trust them). The person who doesn't make the thought of a long-term commitment freak you out. The person who you know you didn't settle for by choosing them. The person who is a true spiritual match.

When you can meet a person who checks these boxes off — and they are able to say that you do the same thing for them — you've definitely met someone who is in a league all their own. And the really cool thing is it's based in what's real — not some trumped up fantasy or even something that was birthed out of other people's pressure and expectations of what "your one" should be.

2. His Words and Actions Don’t Align

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Now that we've touched a little bit on what a healthy definition of "the one" is, let's get into some signs of when a man absolutely is not the one for you. Let's start with when his words and actions are not in agreement with one another. I believe I've shared before that if there is a huge challenge that words of affirmation people go through (and I definitely am one), it's sometimes, we're so moved by what comes out of someone's mouth that we don't really expect them to do much more beyond that. For example, if they say, "I love you", oftentimes that can be enough and so it can take us a while to be like, "Hold up. When's the last time you did something that actually showed it, though?"

And here's the thing about words. If you look at them from a spiritual (in this case, I mean biblical) perspective, we are created in the image of the literal One who spoke words and things manifested once he did (Genesis 1-2). God said let there be light…and it was so. So yeah, we should see ourselves and others as literal vessels who also have the ability and power to definitely say something…and then make something happen as a direct result of the words that we said.

So yeah, sis. I don't care how much flattery he speaks, how many assurances he's given or how many promises he's made, there is no way that you trust in or rely on someone who doesn't actually treat his words like action verbs. If what I just said is a totally foreign concept to you…that's not good. And if you're with someone who is like this, that's a pretty telling sign that he's probably not the one for you. At least not right now, he isn't.

3. Your Value Systems Totally Clash

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For many years, there was a guy from my past who I totally considered to be the one who got away. I felt that so profoundly in my spirit that some people in my world referred to him as that rather than using his actual name. Anyway, back in 2015, when I went on my heart pieces tour (check out "Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour"), he was one of the people I connected with to get some of the answers that I needed in order to gain some real closure. That conversation lasted for hours and while that man is still sexy as hell, is thriving more than ever and I definitely get why we connected all those years back in the way that we did, when he started to share with me where he was spiritually and what some of his future goals were, I got that we had grown apart on levels that would definitely prevent us from living in any kind of harmony now. Past some climbing-the-walls sex and witty banter, we probably couldn't offer each other more than that. We just value different things now.

Two people having different values and standards isn't bad overall. It's absolutely horrifying, though, if you're trying to create a life with another person on a very intimate level. Matter of fact, I know a married woman now who loves her husband and yet regrets marrying him because she downplayed just how much some of their core values clashed back when they were dating. Listen, there are all kinds of people that you can love because you like them, you respect them and you enjoy them. It's a whole 'nother ball game when you're contemplating living with them and making little humans with them.

While relationships are all about compromise, if there's one area that should not be up for bending, it's your value system. If you and he aren't on the same page in this area, he's probably meant to be a friend. Or someone who taught you to put your values above a relationship — which is actually a really great lesson to learn.

4. He Doesn’t Bring You Peace (and/or You Don’t Bring Him Any)

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Let me tell it, the reason why a lot of us don't prioritize peace as much as we should is because we didn't grow up in a household that had much of it to start with. And since there was so much chaos surrounding the people we shared that space with professed to love us, as adults, many of us think that love and turmoil/drama/a lack of harmony not only can coexist but should. Uh-uh. If you don't get anything else outta this, hear me when I say that no one is your one if they don't bring you peace — and they can't say that you do the same thing for them in return.

I've shared before that peace is a really layered, powerful and profound word, if you look at it from the Hebrew word "shalom". In modern-day Israel, when people greet one another with "shalom", what they are basically saying is "may health and prosperity be upon you". Yet shalom also breaks down to reference wholeness, completeness, tranquility and harmony. And harmony? That's about being in agreement with someone. Being on one accord with someone. Having a friendship, feeling unified and living in a way with someone else that shows that the two of you truly do fit together.

Whenever I do interviews and folks ask me what I want in a relationship, holistic safety and peace are always at the top of my list. Because if he and I don't feel safe in each other's presence, if we don't bring each other the shalom kind of peace — what the heck are we doing together? No. Really.

5. He Doesn’t Complement Your Life

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I actually wrote an entire article on this topic before (also check out "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You"). So why am I bringing this point up again? For starters, it's because it really can't be said enough (trust me). Also, because I want to share what a wife has been telling me, on repeat, about how much her husband absolutely does not complement her — and they are going on 20 years of being together. While I've got to respect the fact that she is honoring the vows that she took and so, for her, divorce is not an option (a lot of people are really flippant about the promises that they make; that is unfortunate), I must admit that she is a bit of a cautionary tale. She knows it too.

You know, I recently read a tweet that said something along the lines of, "Some of y'all are realizing that you never really wanted a man in your life. What you actually wanted was a son." Whew (check out "Are You His Partner Or His Second Mama?"). That said, my friend has been told, for years, including by her husband, that she can be pretty controlling and bossy. Not all of the time yet enough of it. And so, it would appear that she initially went into her relationship with her man to initially "make him better". It was all about her appointing herself to be his improvement plan. The problem with this is 1) that's not any grown person's job to do in someone else's life; 2) being so arrogant as to think someone else needs work and you don't is a recipe for ending up with mud all over your face, and 3) looking to change him means that she was more focused on what he had the potential to become than who he actually was/is.

As a direct result, she ended up doing what far too many people do — she married potential. A lot of that potential has never actualized because her husband doesn't want to become who she thinks he should be. He's content being the man that he is — and on some levels, has always been. Plus, since she's been more focused on him than she probably should, that has hindered her from growing as much as she needs to as well.

And that's the part of someone complementing another individual that isn't discussed, nearly enough. The literal definition of complement is "something that completes or makes perfect". Complete means "lacking nothing". While far too many people are out here looking for someone who will give them whatever they want on a tangible or monetary level, emotionally mature folks get that a true "lacking nothing" is someone who helps them to soar on a mental, emotional and spiritual level.

"The one" will fit you in such a way that you can't help but to become better as the result of them being in your life, as they are able to say the same thing about you. If you can't say that a man complements you, why would you stay with them? Being complemented is one of the best things about being in an intimate relationship. Straight up.

6. You’re Constantly “Convincing” Him

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One of the joys of being single is the fact that when you're dating someone, you don't have to act like you're married to them…because you aren't (check out "7 Things That Make Marriage Different From Seriously Dating"). This means that even if you love a guy and/or you've been with him forever and/or you are in something long-term, it's still so much easier to leave because there is no contract (which is pretty much what a marriage license is) between the two of you. I'm not saying that ending the relationship won't hurt (check out "Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship"). I'm saying that since you didn't say "until death parts us", why pressure yourself to act like you did?

Same thing goes with staying with someone to the point where either you feel like you have to keep convincing him to stay — or you've got to convince your own self to do it. And listen, this point can sneak up on you in some pretty cryptic ways. If you're constantly arguing and yet convincing yourselves to work it out, if you there are more bad days than good and yet you keep convincing yourselves that the good days are worth it, if you feel deep within you that there is probably more that you should be having and yet you too are afraid to let each other go to see what other possibilities are in store — those are some ways that you are definitely convincing yourself to stay. And sis, that's not loyalty. That's fear.

There's no way around the fact that relationships, even healthy ones, have their ups and downs. Yet you know what? When a relationship is both good and beneficial, two people don't spend a lot of time convincing themselves to stick it out. The dynamic is so good that it's worth hanging in and the drama is so far and few between that it doesn't feel like a ton of grueling work.

7. You Are Never Satisfied

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As a marriage life coach, I 1000 percent believe that a leading cause of divorce that isn't brought up, nearly enough, is the fact that two people who went into their marriage not knowing how to be satisfied and so, they had totally unrealistic expectations when it came to wanting the union, including their spouse, to "make them content". What in the world? If you haven't mastered how to be satisfied — fulfilled, happy, supplied, positive, alive — within yourself, what the heck is some other flawed human being supposed to do? Good lord. Amazing how many folks want someone else to do what they won't even do for themselves. That's another message for another time, though.

For now, as I close this out, I want to drive home the point that someone isn't the one for you, not if they can't satisfy you (some folks out here are so greedy, needy or entitled that NO ONE could ever satisfy them); no, the clincher is they aren't for you if they get you out of the satisfactory feeling that you (should) already have within— with or without their presence.

Here's what I mean by that. I can't tell you how many divorced people I know who are thrilled to be apart from their former spouse. And one of the main things that a lot of them tell me is that they feel more content than they ever had because their partner was constantly nagging and/or trying to change them and/or constantly wanting more and/or always moving the bar and/or causing them to doubt themselves. That's hell on earth, y'all.

The one? That's someone who only adds surplus to the satisfaction that you already feel. You're content, so they come in and cause you to feel…even more content. So, you know what that means, right? You've gotta get good with yourself, so that you can actually tell who is incapable of supporting you in remaining in the state of satisfaction that you're already in (alone). Bottom line, if you're with someone and you don't feel any of this — it's either because you need some time to get right with you or the dissatisfied emotions are alerting you that they aren't "your one".

Do I think "the one" is possible? A thousand times yes. I just think we need to be a lot more practical in our thinking about it. Your one isn't some Prince Charming. He's someone who comes in and supports you being a better self. The one is who will bring you closer to your ideal self. Anything short of that is settling. Anything less? He's probably not your "the one".

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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