This relationship stuff is hard. And it's hard not because it's inherently challenging to live compatibly with another human being, but because we aren't taught how to handle it. Our relationships — platonic, familial, and so on — make up the most important parts of our lives. We don't cry about hours we missed at the office on our death bed. Our biggest issues, collectively, surround how we live and treat one another, how we interrelate, how we need to learn to regard each other better and get along.
It's strange, then, how little instruction we're given on interrelations. (That should be a major in college, I'm calling it now.) Interrelations affect us on almost every level of our existence (personal, political, professional), and it's our inability to effectively maneuver through them that leads to a lot of our dissatisfaction in life (and even more of our waning if not completely negative self-image).
That said: let's talk about relationships under the scope of what's "wrong" and what's "right." From an early age, one of the few things we are taught is that there are relationships that are "right" for us, that we're "meant" for, and we'll just "know" when we stumble upon them, everything else will essentially be us messing up.
I don't buy that. I think every relationship is "right" — for the time that you have it. It teaches you what you need to know. You drew into your life exactly what you needed, even if it seems like the opposite of what you'd want. So there's no such thing as "right" relationship, but there is such thing as a relationship being good for you in that it's one in which you'll both thrive emotionally, mentally and so on.
There's no one "right" relationship that you'll be able to just magically stumble up on, but if you can get to the point of understanding yourself at such an inherent level, you can understand what kind of partner would be best suited for you, for your needs, etc., and you can start to be more discerning of who you date, and conscious about who you commit to. A lot of this is logic, but it's also about instinct. So here, a few ways to tell if you aren't following yours — subtle feelings you'll get when you're not in the best relationship for you (but you think you are):
Reaching For "Reasons It Seems Meant To Be" Before "Ways I Feel So Strongly For This Person"
If, when questioned about your new fling, you tend to revert to all the reasons you're so right for each other as opposed to all the ways you feel so enamored and inspired by them, you probably aren't as into it as you think you are.
A Sudden, Intense Desire To "Do Things" Before You "Settle"
The "right" relationship (aka, the best one for you as a person, I won't make this distinction again) is the one that is a continuation of your life, something that expands your current life to feel more wonderfully whole than ever before. It is not something that will "tie you down." Even if you partner swears up and down this will never be the case, yet some part of you still has a sudden urge to do all the wild and crazy things you didn't realize you cared about before, it's usually a case of crying out for freedom rather than actually fearing your existence will somehow be compromised.
An Uncompromising Desire To Be Alone
If you feel you constantly need a "break" from your relationship (and you're taking it in the form of "alone time," which you demand) and this is not how you usually are around people you're close with, it's probably not that you're overwhelmed by the intensity of romantic love as much as you are trying to take a break from having to feign your feelings. (Sorry. Not sorry though, this is for your own good!)
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.