How to Know You've Met The One, From MTV's Are You the One? Matchmaker

MTV's latest reality dating show, Are You the One?, premiered last week (new episode tonight at 11 P.M./10 P.M. CT) and at first glance, you might think it's just another show about 20 people picked to live in a sexy Hawaiian paradise so hookups can ensue. And, sure, that's in there—but there's another element that's fascinating: Each of the participants was matched by a team of experts. If participants correctly guess who their matches are, they win money (and love, obviously).

Curious to find out exactly how you go about finding somebody's perfect match, I talked to one of the show's experts, Erin Foster, Ed.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist. Below, her tips on finding your perfect match and how to determine if the one you're with isn't.

So how did you get involved with the show? And how did you select the matches?

The producers approached me about using behavioral analysis, which is a scientifically based assessment used to measure degrees of compatibility in terms of behavior and motivational style, on measuring degrees of compatibility between people in terms how they do things and why they do them.

Reality TV shows tend to have some big personalities. Did that make it more difficult or easy to find a match?

For me, as a clinical person, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and an expert in the area of relationships, I'm very interested in what makes relationships work. What are the elements or the ingredients to making a relationship last? So, for me, it was really fascinating and was actually quite easy because we're measuring through the behavioral analysis. I can measure within exact degrees how closely people fall within the same scales of what they're motivated by, what they value, and then behaviorally, how do they approach different problems in life. So you take all of that information combined with personality—and personality is a combination of environment, biology, and life experience—and add their history (family history, relationship history, friendship history). You combine all those factors into who somebody is, how they think, and what makes them tick. I look at all of those things, combine it together, and can literally see where people fell into categories of compatibility.

For readers, how do they know they've met a good match? Any tell-tale signs?

The process should be fun, and part of that fun is understanding yourself and having a lot of awareness about "Who am I as a person and what are my needs?" Going on a journey of self-exploration is fun in terms of recognizing what is a good match for you. When you know yourself, you can recognize the similarities in another person. And when you recognize those similarities in somebody else, it makes it easier to identify and articulate "Hey, this is what works for me in a relationship. What works for you?" If they are similar, if you meet in the same way on those things, you have two people who are constantly feeding the other person's need. When it's reciprocal, you have two people who are constantly feeling fulfilled in a relationship. When you also understand yourself behaviorally and understand what's important to you, and you meet somebody who has that shared passion that's what makes a relationship last the distance. We tend to go for the opposite, which is not what we need. We need similar because the similarities are what endures. The similarities are what makes the relationship work.

How can somebody tell that he or she is with the wrong match?

In my professional opinion, it really comes down to values. You may have an initial opposite attraction, but if you don't value the same things or want the same things out of life, that's when a relationship really falls apart because you're never really going to be working toward the same goal. A relationship is about teamwork and a partnership, so if you don't want the same thing, it doesn't work.

People sometimes put a lot of work into their relationship, but how do you know when it's time to just cut ties and let it go?

I think that comes down to… are the behaviors that are happening within the relationship healthy? Are you wanting to meet your partner's needs, and are they meeting your needs? That's when you know the relationship's not working. I think most people stay because they have that chemical attraction, they have that resonance with somebody, but that's all just chemistry and that fades.

Any advice on how to be open-minded about somebody you might not consider at first but could be a good match?

That's a good question. I think it comes down to understanding, again, your needs. Understanding your love language. How is it you need to receive love from your partner? If that person is unable to do that, in a way that is healthy and meaningful, that's when you know it's not right, it's not a fit. It's about understanding that the passion that you're attracted to will only endure if the motivational values are the same.

Going back to the show, did you get see how the matches turned out?

It was an interesting process. I was able to watch from behind the scenes how it played out and watch the participants' process of self-exploration and going, "Wow, this is what I thought, but that's not right" or "This is what I always go for, and it doesn't work. Hmm… why?" There's always chemistry, there's a lot of passion involved and a lot of attraction, but attraction is only that initial chemical reaction. It was interesting to watch people work through that and learn that passion, attraction, and sexual chemistry does not mean compatibility in the long run. It doesn't contribute to your growth in a relationship or growth as a human being.

Photos: MTV

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