Throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I always based my relationship interests on guys I found physically attractive, and nothing else. My “type” was preventing me from being with someone who I could really enjoy myself with—something I only came to realize after years of failed relationships.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I found a partner in my best friend. We fell in love, slowly but surely, during our graduate school years together, doing research in the same university department. It took years of friendship before we got together. As of now, we are engaged and living together with two beautiful cats. After some thought, I compiled a short list of the most important signs that led me to realize that I needed him more than any other person. Below are just a few of the major reasons!

1. You have fun doing just about anything with them (and I mean anything)

I didn’t really become aware of this until after we had gotten together: He made everything so much fun. I remember one day, we had to clean up a laboratory together for a work assignment, and he literally made hand-washing entertaining for me. The most mindless, meticulous tasks became effortless with his company and his ability to constantly make me laugh.

2. Their presence makes you warm and happy all over

In a nutshell, it’s the feeling you get when you put a soft, freshly-baked cinnamon bun in your mouth. He would make me feel so at ease by being next to me, that I wanted him next to me a lot of the time. (That, of course, made me want to hang out with him more.)

3. They make you laugh more than anyone else, even when you feel like everything in your life is just terrible

I remember I would feel so hopeless when things weren’t going right with my thesis research, and he would take me outside and talk to me until I felt better. He would try to lift my spirits by making jokes, or talking about other things to get my mind off of what was worrying me. He could always make me laugh, and still does!

4. They go out of their way to make you feel special and loved, without the intention of getting anything in return

One year, Valentine’s Day was particularly difficult, but my BFF made sure to wake up super early that morning to drop off a little something at my lab desk before I got there. He had bought me my favorite chocolates, with a cute mug and card. It was incredibly thoughtful and a wonderful surprise.

5. When you picture your life without them, you feel like a part of you would be missing

Before we had gotten into a relationship, there was the potential that after we had finished our Masters, we would need to leave to another university for our PhD. I had told him that no matter where he went, I would go and visit him. I knew he was too important to not have in my life.

Being with my best friend makes me realize how the one that you are most likely meant for is the person that you don’t have to “play it cool” with or try to impress. They know you for who you really are and they love you because of it. There is a connection between the two of you that will last through the years, and that makes you both oh so fortunate.

Norma Martinez lives in South Texas with her partner-in-crime and their two cat babies. She likes to consider herself a mosquito biology expert turned writing teacher enthusiast. She looks forward to mornings where the biggest dilemma is what coffee mug to use. She is also addicted to Sharpie Pens, making to-do lists, and Arizona fruit punch. She still to this day, doesn’t understand Twitter.

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