Relationships can get complicated. Like, really, really complicated. And the fact of the matter is it can sometimes feel hard to know if your relationship is worth keeping.
When I was younger, before I started actually dating, I never would have thought this was a situation I'd ever be in. You're either completely in love with someone or you're not, right? Wrong. The reality is, life is often a lot of shades of gray. You can love someone, but also be conscious of the fact that there are certain aspects of your relationship that don't work well, or you can wonder if you're really the best fit for each other long term. It's also sometimes hard to tell if issues you're having with a partner will always be there, or if you're just in a temporary funk.
Basically, there are a million different scenarios for really caring about someone, but still having your doubts. For most of us, real life just doesn't have the 100 percent certainty all those books and rom-coms made us believe it would.
If you're currently in a relationship with someone you really care for, but just aren't sure if it's worth staying in, here are nine unexpected signs that a partner is worth keeping.
1. You're Never Tempted To Snoop
In a piece for Glamour, sex therapist and author of Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction, noted that, "If you're tempted to snoop [through your partner's phone], you have to ask yourself why. Happy couples are secure." There's something to be said for trusting another person implicitly.
2. You're On The Same Page About Money
In the same Glamour piece, relationship expert and columnist April Masini, stressed the importance of being on the same page about money issues. "Money is one of the most prevalent reasons that couples break up," Masini said, "In fact, financial infidelity is often more difficult to forgive and overcome than romantic or sexual infidelity."
3. You Feel Like An Individual
In a piece for Psychology Today on how to know if you're in a healthy relationship, psychiatrist Abigail Brenner noted that even though you're part of a team, you should still always feel like your own person. "This is so vital. [A relationship] may be a large piece of the whole pie that identifies who you are. But above all, you’re still who you are as an individual beyond your various roles in life," Brenner wrote.
4. You Always Feel Like You Can Speak Your Mind
Brenner also noted the importance of feeling like you can always communicate your wants and needs. If you're afraid to bring up certain subjects because you know it will make your partner angry, or that they'll shut down, this could be a sign that you're not the best fit, or that important issues will go unaddressed for months, or even years.
5. You Still Make Each Other Laugh
This is my only personal tip on this list, and while I'm no licensed expert, I thought it was important to include. If you can still make each other laugh, even after fights or several years of being around each other, that's not something to take for granted. I personally knew my first serious relationship was over when I stopped finding my partner funny (and I had always found him hilarious). It was a big red flag that something had really broken between us.
6. You Fight... Healthily
A Real Simple compilation piece noted that all couples fight, but it's how you fight that's important. It's important that neither partner gets mean or out of control, and that both parties fight fair (i.e.: not bringing up something that happened three years ago when it's totally unrelated to the issue at hand). Being able to disagree in a healthy way is extremely important.
7. You're Able To Apologize
OK, I know I said I would only contribute one thing to this list, but I lied, because I think being able to apologize is SO important. If both you and your partner are able to realize when you were in the wrong, and can both be big enough to swallow your pride and apologize when it's needed, you're in pretty great shape. It's truly insane how many adults have not yet mastered this life skill.
8. You Talk To Each Other About Your Issues, Not To Other People
Another tip from the Real Simple piece stressed the importance of talking to each other about any issues you've been having in the relationship, as opposed to venting things on social media or just to friends. This is a sign that you really feel like you can communicate openly and aren't avoiding important discussions.
9. Getting Physical Isn't A Chore
Sex definitely isn't the most important part of a relationship, but according to relationship expert Jianny Adamo in that same Glamour piece, being able to keep it fun in the bedroom is incredibly important for most people in a satisfying romantic partnership. So don't sell physical chemistry short when it comes to assessing the health of your relationship.
As much as movies make love look effortless, the reality is our feelings about other people can be complicated and confusing, and being "sure" about a relationship isn't always easy. At the end of the day it's often about assessing areas of compatibility and understanding what are and aren't deal breakers for you.