Wondering if They're "The One?" Here’s How 2023 Engaged Couples Knew

Finding the right person can happen instantly or take (what feels like) a lifetime, but here's how this year's couples knew they were ready to tie the knot.

By Shameika Rhymes

Wondering if They're "The One?" Here’s How 2023 Engaged Couples in Knew
Photo by Wilde Scout Photo Co

The First Look ✨

  • Most couples say sharing the same values is the number one way to determine if an individual is “the one.”
  • Sharing a vision for the future, including family growth and financial goals, are other important qualities for deciding if a person is “the one.”
  • Sexual compatibility isn’t a deal breaker when searching for a life partner, if you communicate your needs and wants and work together to create the intimacy you both desire.
  • Race, religion, salary, and education weren’t as high up on the list of important qualities. In fact engaged couples felt these were not as important when determining if they want to marry their partner.

You’ve been on date after date, but then you finally click with someone. How do you know if they are the one you might want to spend your life with?

In Zola’s 2023 First Look Report, we surveyed 4,249 engaged couples to discover how they knew they had found “the one,” how they’re planning all the days along their wedding journey, their values and priorities, and what’s inspiring them ahead of their 2023 wedding. Here’s a look at some of the most important and the least important things these couples considered when choosing their spouse.

What's Most Important in Finding a Partner

Everyone is looking for different things in a partner they can call “the one.” And sometimes you just know you’ve found what you’re looking for. “I saw how he continuously reassured me, accepted my baggage, and never put me down or made me feel like my feelings were invalid,” is how one survey participant knew they had found their perfect partner. Another one said they knew they picked the right partner by how he treats them. “The way he looks at me, even after nine years, makes me feel more seen and understood than ever before.”

Here are some of the top characteristics couples were looking for in a lifelong partner:

Values

Over 28% of couples say having the same values are very important when finding the right person to marry. Your values don’t have to be identical, but they should align. People that have the same values and priorities can help create a stronger foundation in the relationship and the future outlook is more clear. “I was pretty in love with Amy from the time we both shared our desire to help people overcome addiction. This happened to be the same night that we first kissed, too. I just think very highly of her as a person, and I'm excited to achieve our goals together,” said one survey participant. “It was a combination of seeing his heart, his character, and the way that he was completely devoted to me. He brings me peace,” said another participant about how they knew their partner was “the one.”

Family Planning Vision

Couples agree to tie the knot, but what about adding kids to the mix? It’s important to talk about if you want kids or not. If one person wants a family and the other person doesn’t, it can cause a lot of tension.

Out of the couples surveyed, 86.56% said it was very important in finding a partner that shared the same vision for growing a family. “I have two children, 15 and 3, from previous relationships and before we even made it official, he treated them both as his own,” says one survey participant. Another one agreed that seeing how their partner treated their child is what let them know they were “the one.” “I knew my partner was the one once I saw how he interacted with my child from a previous relationship and loves me with everything I have.”

Financial Goals

Nobody likes to talk about budgets, but when you are combining households, it’s an important topic. It’s also important to talk about everything from hopes, fears, debt, and credit history. If someone’s credit score is really low, is that something you can handle as you work towards building a life together? At least 69% of couples surveyed said this is a very important must-have when choosing a partner, while 28.64% said it’s somewhat important to have the same financial goals. It goes beyond a wedding budget, you have to factor in big purchases like homes and cars, vacations, and overall lifestyle. If you aren’t on the same page, that could lead to disaster in the long run.

Sexual Compatibility

Sexual compatibility refers to two partners having shared or similar sexual needs, including sexual preferences, turn-ons, and desired frequency. If you and your partner are sexually compatible, then you will share the same turn-ons and turn-offs and like to engage in the same things. You will also have a similar desire to engage in new experiences or stick to the familiar tried-and-true ones. You’ll also be on the same page with frequency expectations and duration. It’s not a deal-breaker, but 71.56% of couples say it’s an important factor when choosing a future spouse. You can work on it by communicating your needs and expectations and discussing ways to fix any incompatibilities before they become a bigger issue.

What's Not So Important in Finding a Partner

While there are many things that are must-haves on your list for a future spouse, there are some things that may not be as important when finding “the one.” Here are some qualities that the couples we surveyed deemed not as important when finding their life partner.

Race

Everyone has a preference on the type of person they want to date and their background, but for the most part, 84.56% of couples said race wasn’t important when finding the right partner. Only 4.44% thought it was an important factor. Ultimately, it should be about chemistry and not skin color, however it stands to reason that some cultures may have traditions that have to be followed.

Salary

Being in a relationship with someone who makes more or less money than you can put a strain on a relationship, but it doesn’t have to. You can avoid ego issues by being honest about what you are looking for in the relationship, your financial needs, and goals before things get serious. Only 51.36% thought salary was somewhat important, while 37.05% did not find it to be an important factor when choosing their life partner. Discuss how much money you will need to reach your future goals or if getting more education to work towards a promotion is what’s needed.

Religion

Religion can be a sticky subject, especially if you practice a particular faith. Some religions require a partner to convert before marriage. 36.75% of couples surveyed said it wasn’t an important factor when deciding on “the one.” They may have discussed religious traditions, how they practiced, and their depth of faith before committing.

Education Level

Education level was not an important factor when choosing a future spouse, according to 31.59% of couples that participated in the survey. It’s more about the person’s intellect and communicating what’s important to each partner and how it relates to future goals in the relationship and their career.

Why Have a Wedding?

When survey participants were asked about why they’re having a wedding, the majority said “it means a lot to us, we want to demonstrate love, and we want a fun party.”

The couples we surveyed don’t think of weddings as a chore or an obligation, but as a chance to demonstrate their love for one another in front of those who matter most. They’re focused on creating weddings that are a reflection of the things that are meaningful to them, and throwing a really epic and memorable party for all their family and friends.

Zola: "The One" Place to Plan Your Wedding

Regardless of what these couples named as the most important qualities in finding a life partner, they are more excited than ever. And they all have one thing on common: Thye're using Zola! For more tips and guidance on wedding festivities, check out our Zola expert advice for engaged couples.

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola

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