28 Real Couples Reveal How They Knew They Found “The One”

Updated: Mar. 28, 2024

Was it that shy glance, the clever line—or an offer to fix a clogged sink? As our readers’ stories attest, lightning often strikes when you least expect it.

february-2017-moment-knew-in-love-1Photograph by Yasu+Junko

A week after I met my future husband, we visited the Illinois State Fair with his family. At one point, someone yelled out, “Does anybody know what time it is?” At the same exact moment, we shouted back the Chicago lyric, “Does anybody really care?” I knew it was true love. —Christa Parry, Mediapolis, Iowa (above)  The Illinois State Fair made our list of best state fairs in the United States.

(If you want to be sure that you have found the one too, you must explore these questions that lead to love!)

This younger guy used to follow me around like a puppy when we were stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base. I convinced myself I wasn’t interested—he was like a kid brother. One day, we were driving in a snowstorm and ended up on the median. He was soaked and cold after an hour spent pushing the car free, so I said he could shower at my place. When he finished, he yelled out, “Honey, where are the towels?” My heart melted with that one word, and 43 years later, he still calls me “honey.” —Lynn Timon, Charlotte, North Carolina. Heartfelt stories like these remind us of Christmas stories that make us smile.

One day in junior high, I went to the movies. I sat with friends behind a row of boys from our class. The boy in front of me turned around and planted a kiss on me. When I got home, my parents asked me about the movie. I drew a blank. I couldn’t remember anything after the kiss. I’ve been happily married to that boy for 41 years. —DonnaLou Baner, Gridley, Illinois. 

We were driving down the road when a rabbit ran out in front of us. He swerved to avoid it. Although I was pleased by his show of compassion, he won my heart when he called it a “bunny.”—Mary Lou McCowan, LeRoy, New York  

On one of our first dates, my wife-to-be hopped on my motorcycle and took off, riding around my parents’ yard as if she’d been riding all her life. Unfortunately, we hadn’t gone over the fine art of stopping, and suddenly—BOOM. She was off. But up she bounced, announcing, “That was fun!” Then and there, I knew this was the girl for me. —Dale L. Hall, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 

When I got home, my parents asked me about the movie. I drew a blank. I couldn’t remember anything after the kiss.

My first marriage ended in divorce. Eventually, I began to date again, but that failure stayed with me. After seeing a wonderful woman for several months, I told her that I didn’t think we had a future—I was still fragile from the breakup. She said, “If you’re too stupid to see I’m the best thing that ever happened to you, then go.” We just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary because she was right. —Donald Ropson, Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Want your love to last? Check out these (often surprising) secrets to true love from happily married couples.

february-2017-moment-knew-in-love-5Photograph by Yasu+Junko

Being from a conservative Indian family, my parents and I put in many years searching for a suitable match for me. On that journey was a friend who stood by me through thick and thin. In the 14 years that we went from classmates to best friends, I never once consciously thought of him as a lover. I tried remembering the exact moment I’d fallen for him by reliving all those moments that had made us laugh, fight, cry, and ache for each other. Try as I might, I could not recall it. Then it came to me at the altar on our wedding day. I had been in love with him all along.—Priyanka Prasad, Dumfries, Virginia (above)

Here was the dilemma: Should I pursue my dream of becoming a nun or continue a relationship with my boyfriend? To decide, I gave up both him and cigarettes for the 40 days of Lent. On Holy Saturday, the final day of Lent, a knock came at the door. There he stood, holding out a cigarette for me. One deep drag made me dizzy. He caught me and helped me sit on the step. At that moment, wrapped in his arms, I knew I was never giving him up again.—Darlene Miller, Shelby Township, Michigan.  Here are all of the good things that happen to your body right after you quit smoking.

It was during a painful, ego-driven argument. We sat across from each other, trying to sort it out. Exhausted, I finally said, “I don’t know what to do. Tell me what you want to do.” He said nothing. Instead, he just kissed me. —MJ Star, York, Pennsylvania.  That may have worked, but here are the 12 things you should never do after a fight with your partner.

february-2017-moment-knew-in-love-4Photograph by Yasu+Junko

I had been dating an airman. His buddies told me that while eating in the chow hall, he’d write my name in his mashed potatoes. I figured that must be true love.—Nancy Louise Amazeen Whitlock, York, Maine (above)

I was in the hospital having my tonsils removed. The guy I was seeing was going to pick me up after he got off work, at 5 p.m. But I was discharged early, at 3:15, and the nurse asked if someone would be picking me up. Just then, it hit me. “Yes, my boyfriend,” I said, smiling. “He isn’t supposed to be here until five, but he won’t be able to wait that long. He’ll get here early because he’ll be worried about me.” Sure enough, he was there 15 minutes later. —Traci Stout, Beaverton, Oregon

The moment I knew I was in love with my now husband was every time I’d call him at work just to hear his voice. Now, 18 years later, I still find things to call him about just to hear his voice. —Jeanne Hammer, Bettendorf, Iowa.  Here are the little things you should say to your partner every day to keep your relationship strong.

Previous dates brought me red roses, candy, even jewelry. Instead, he brought food—Looney Tunes frozen dinners, to be precise. He said, “I looked in your fridge; it was pretty empty.” How could I not fall in love? —Suzie Berberich, Dryden, Michigan

I moved next door to a kind family whose son was serving in Vietnam. They showed me his pictures, shared his letters, and talked about him all the time. The fact is, I fell in love with him well before I ever met him. We’ve been married 49 years this month. —Patricia Lucas, Reno, Nevada.  Presidents, they’re just like us: here’s how 10 Commanders-in-Chief and their first ladies found true love.

Pam: I was intrigued by the football player who sat behind me in trigonometry. It was January, and I’d heard that his mom had died in a car crash a few days before Christmas.
Chris: I was devastated by my mom’s passing. When school resumed, I found myself sitting behind a short, cute blond girl in trig who kept turning around to talk to me. “Are you the one whose mom died?” she boldly asked.
Pam: He was amazingly honest about what had happened.
Chris: No one else knew how to talk with me about my mother.
Pam: It began a months-long conversation at my parents’ dining room table while we were ostensibly doing homework.
Chris: I found myself opening up to her more than I’d expected.
Pam: Sometime in the spring, my dad asked if the reason I was studying so hard was because I was falling behind in trigonometry. I thought about it, then smiled as the truth dawned on me. “I don’t think it’s about the trigonometry anymore,” I said.
Chris: We’ve been “doing homework” together now for 25 years. —Chris and Pam Longston, Seattle, Washington

february-2017-moment-knew-in-love-3Photograph by Yasu+Junko

My boyfriend of three weeks was helping my roommate and me move back to college for our senior year. While unpacking, I listed all the things I loved about my new apartment: “I love my new room, I love my bathroom, I love our kitchen, I love our living room, I love my boyfriend …” As soon as I’d uttered those words, I wanted to stuff them back into my mouth. My beau just laughed, and we both knew that what I’d said was true. Five years later, we’re now married and getting ready to celebrate our first daughter turning one.—Michelle Planter, Raleigh, North Carolina (above)


I was a hostess for a Howard Johnson’s restaurant. He was the assistant manager of the motor lodge. One night, he asked me out for a drink. I said yes. We talked until closing time, and then he drove me home. At my door, he leaned down and ever so tenderly brushed my lips with his. That was all it took. I fell in love with him that night and stayed that way until his death, 42 years later. Do I still love him? Oh, yes. Would I do it again? Oh, I wish I could. —Barbara Young, Independence, Missouri. 

We met through Facebook, got to chatting online, and hit it off, even though we’d never met face-to-face. One day, after having gone through a rough breakup, I typed out, “I’m so stubborn and hardheaded, nobody wants to put up with me.” He wrote back, “I’ve never said that.” A year later, I moved from America to Ireland to be with him. We’re married and expecting a baby. —Abigail Taylor, Waterford, Ireland

Sitting alone at a coffee shop, working the Sunday New York Times crossword, I got stuck on a clue. An attractive guy peeked over my shoulder and said, “Trireme: a Roman galley. It’s the answer to six across.” Thirty-two years later, we compete to see who can complete the crossword fastest. —Sher Garfield, Bellevue, Washington.  They’ve got the right idea: crossword puzzles can actually make your brain younger.

She was my best friend throughout high school. I could tell her all my deepest secrets except for one: that I was madly in love with her. Sadly, she married another and we lost touch. Cut to many years later: We were both divorced and had become fast friends again. This time, I let her know how I felt about her. We got married 30 years after high school, and I’m living my dream. —Brad Bumgarner, Gahanna, Ohio  

february-2017-moment-knew-in-love-2Photograph by Yasu+Junko

I fell in love as soon as I saw her in the Pullman Pie restaurant. It took me about a month to ask her out, and I was shocked when she said yes. I still can’t figure out what she saw in me. She was so beautiful. To me, it was like beauty and the beast. —Andrew Ronquillo, Prescott, Arizona (above)

Soon after I began dating Matt, I told him that I had multiple sclerosis. It wasn’t bad, I said, but I explained how the disease might affect me. Matt didn’t care. “If it gets so bad that you can’t walk anymore, I’ll be your legs,” he said. “If it gets to where you can’t see, I’ll be your eyes. And if you can’t talk anymore, I’ll still know you love me because I know your heart.” —Barbara Wolf, Lemoyne, Pennsylvania.  

My life as a children’s storyteller did not work like a fairy tale. Weekend bookings and looking for gigs proved challenging for any prospective love interest. Then one day, I was performing the tale of the frog prince at a festival. At the moment when I pantomimed the princess about to bestow her kiss, I was distracted by a blond woman in the audience. She wore a beret and had pale yet powerful blue eyes. As I stood there with lips pursed, I found myself thinking wistfully, There’s someone I’d like to kiss. Fortune smiled upon me when we married two years later. And, yes, her kiss transformed me! —Jonathan Kruk, Cold Spring, New York

On our first date, we went to a restaurant, where she ordered a steak with all the fixings, a fully loaded baked potato, and a Budweiser. The waiter turned to me, and I simply said, “I’ll have what she’s having.” It’s been true love ever since. —Thomas Miebach, San Antonio, Texas.  Saving time for date night can work wonders for your relationship, and we’ve got the statistics to prove it!

I had been widowed for three years when I made a fresh start in New Mexico. One day, I introduced myself to a tall, handsome stranger who lived nearby. Together, we began hiking and venturing into town for the occasional movie. On the way home from one of those movie nights, I complained about my home’s many plumbing issues. The next morning, I answered a knock at the door. There stood my tall, handsome neighbor with a bag of tools in one hand and a piece of chocolate cake in the other. —Roxanne Haviland-DeBaun, Mitchell, Oregon

One day he told me, “If one of us dies, let’s agree to wait for the other to die so we can come back together in our next life.” And that was it. —Deborah Jurgensen, Madison, South Dakota.  Here’s what a near-death experience really feels like, according to science.

Dave’s stepmom did not want us to get married. “Look at her mother,” she said. “She’s going to look just like her when she gets old.” Dave shot back, “I like the way her mother looks, and I’ll be proud to have her look like her mother.” If I wasn’t in love with him before, I certainly was then. We just celebrated our 58th anniversary, and, yes, I do look like my mother.—Blair Covington, Hollywood, Florida

He was 14 and I was 15 when our friend passed away. Waiting in line together at the viewing, I felt a squeeze of my hand. I turned to him, and he was crying. Right there, I fell in love. We are now in our 30s, and we often wonder aloud, “Is everyone experiencing this level of true love?”—Heather Fields, Keyser, West Virginia. 

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest