In every romantic relationship, there comes that important transitional moment when a casual flirtation either deepens into something more meaningful or simply fizzles out. If you’ve been dating someone for a while—long enough to know you definitely like the person, but briefly enough that you don’t know where the relationship is ultimately headed—you may be starting to wonder if the connection you share has the potential for a real future, or if you’re spinning your wheels, hanging out with someone you only really connect with on a surface level. You and your potentially-significant other must have something in common, otherwise you wouldn’t have started dating in the first place. But is this commonality—an intense physical attraction, a similarly weird sense of humor, a shared love of Joss Whedon, whatever—the sum total of what you have to offer each other, or is it the seed of a deep and lasting bond? Only time will tell how your relationship will change and grow, but keep a look out for these significant signs that your connection goes well beyond the superficial:
1. You make an effort to spend time alone together, not just in a group
If you’re always hanging out with someone in a group, it can be difficult to make a connection that’s deeper than shallow banter and flirting. If you’re spending a lot of time alone together, having real conversations, then you can actually get to know each other.
2. You've been through something difficult together
Of course, we all hope that our lives will be easy and breezy all the time, but difficult moments—from illnesses, to family drama, to tough times at work—can say a lot about whether a relationship can last in the long term. If your potential S.O. is able to be supportive during a bad moment in your life (and better yet, if he or she goes the extra mile to really help), it’s a sign that your relationship has depths beyond the superficial.
3. Conversations between you get deep in an effortless, non-forced way
If you have a real connection with someone, your conversations will be easy and free flowing, not awkward. And, importantly, they will have some substance; sure, you both love to pick apart the latest Marvel movie, but you’ll also find yourself naturally discussing important events in your lives, your families, and your feelings.
4. You progressively spend more time together
As you shift from the early days of dating to having a deeper relationship, you’ll progressively spend more time together. If you’re dating for months and months, and you both seem content to only see each other every once in a while, it’s a sign that neither of you feels a deeper connection (which is completely fine, by the way).
5. You feel comfortable being yourself
When you have a strong connection with someone, you feel comfortable being your real self. That doesn’t mean that you have to pour out all of your deepest, darkest feelings all at once, but it does mean that you aren’t constantly policing what you say and how you act.
6. You don’t only hang out when it’s convenient
Dating someone when you have lots of free time at your disposal is fairly easy. However, if you’re crazy busy, yet you still find yourself carving out time to spend with the person you like— even if it means losing sleep—take that as a sign that you’re interested in something more.
7. You are involved in each other’s lives/friends/families
As your relationship grows and your connections deepen, you will both naturally become involved in each other’s lives. If you’re dating and dating, and you never seem to move toward meeting friends or family members, then you might need to think about how deep your connection really is.
8. You’re able to travel together without bloodshed
Traveling with another person can be challenging, even when you’re not in a romantic relationship. If you’re able to spend a touristy weekend away with your new partner—navigating a new place and compromising about what you want to see and do—without wanting to snap, it may be a sign that you two are compatible on a deeper level.
9. You do more than get physical
Sure, it's an important part of a relationship at any stage. But if you find that you and your partner spend more time between the sheets than actually talking, then you might not have much more in common than your physical chemistry.
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