If you're currently dating someone, you might have one watchful eye looking out for signs your relationship is doing well. Are things looking healthy? Or are is it all coming to an end? It's natural to wonder if your partnership will work out, but it can get out of hand.
Assuming the worst whenever something changes, for example, is really no way to live. If you and your partner aren't hanging out as often, or having sex as frequently, it can be alarming. But give yourself a break, and know that relationships go through plenty of changes like these. And, many times, change can actually be a good thing.
"Change is inevitable in all parts of life and your relationship is no different," NYC-based relationship and wellness coach Shula Melamed MA, MPH tells Bustle. "Growth is what happens when there is an acknowledgement of the changes you are experiencing individually and collectively and how that effects the relationship positively, negatively, or not at all." So basically, kick back, let it ride, and enjoy what it all means for the future of your relationship.
Below, some changes that might fill you with dread. But trust me when I say, they're definitely a good thing.
1. You're No Longer Texting 24/7
Even though you've been texting nonstop for months, that level of communication can't go on forever. And, if you're in a healthy relationship, it won't. As relationship counselor Craig Foust tells me, healthy partners are able to go a good portion of the day without talking. It's a sign you've built up a secure relationship, and don't feel the need to check in every single minute. So yes, that silent phone is nothing to worry about.
2. You're Spending More Time Apart
If you used to be wrapped around each other, it might feel strange to spend more time apart. But again, this is a healthy (and normal) progression. "For example, being able to read a book while your significant other is in the other room watching TV is a sign of good growth — as long as both still feel connected," Foust says. "Both people in a relationship should feel like they can pursue their own interests."
3. Your Partner Has New Hobbies
"Many times, when people see their significant other wants to try new things, this can be alarming in some ways because ... we feel like it sends a message [that] 'things are not good enough,'" Foust says. But instead of assuming the worst, recognize this change for what it is — a healthy partnership where two people feel secure enough to do their own thing.
4. They're Suddenly Talking About Sexual Fantasies
If your SO comes out of left field with a list of fantasies they'd like to try, it can leave you feeling inadequate, or like you've done something wrong. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. As Foust says, "As a person feels more comfortable with their partner, they feel more able to communicate these desires." So just go with it, if you please, and appreciate that your SO felt comfortable enough to share.
5. You're Officially Saying "No" To Each Other
If you just started dating, then you're likely saying "yes" to each other — yes to dates, yes to sex, yes to hanging out every single day. But once that honeymoon phase fizzles out and real life sets in, don't be shocked when you both start turning each other down. As author and relationship expert Annmarie Kelly tells me, it's not uncommon for partners to become less timid as relationships go on. So look at it is a bad thing.
6. You're Not Having As Much Sex
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you might notice that your sex life is waning as time goes on. "Sometimes this really freaks people out," says Melamed. "But if you are with someone for a period of time it is completely expected that there will be moments where you are more 'on' or in sync ... It will pick up again with care, effort, and communication."
7. You're Arguing More Than Usual
When you have your first (or second, or third) fight, it might feel like things are coming to and end. But that's definitely not true. As Melamed tells me, fights don't have to be a bad thing. In fact, in many ways, arguments show that you're both officially comfortable enough to express your deepest opinions. Just make sure you're fighting in a healthy, productive way. "Pick your battles, fight clean, and understand you are ultimately on the same team."
8. You Suddenly Want More Alone Time
After thinking of no one but your partner for weeks (or months), it can come as quite a shock when you suddenly crave some alone time. But guess what? That's completely acceptable. "There should still be quality time spent together, but it's no longer necessary to want to spend every second together," says therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. In fact, it's 100 percent healthy to spend time apart, and something you should probably even do more often than you think.
9. Things Are Starting To Feel Routine
While you certainly want to keep the relationship fun and interesting, don't panic if you two start to settle into a comfortable (and maybe even slightly boring) routine. "After you've been with your partner for a considerable amount of time, it's normal for the honeymoon phase to end," Hershenson says. This is just another stage of a healthy relationship, as well as one that can be spiced up if you so desire. "If you prioritize and focus on getting the spark back, it certainly can be fixed."
10. Your Go-To Traditions Feel Boring
"It may be alarming when you or your partner start getting bored of doing the same things with each other. You might worry that you both have lost your 'spark' or chemistry," says relationship expert Lori Bizzoco. And yet, if your weekly movie night no longer seems interesting, this can actually be a good thing. "This is where change is key as it encourages you and your partner to try new things you can both explore together and make new memories instead!"
11. One Or Both Of You Is Showing Their True Colors
Whether this means admitting something you've never shared before, or being a little bit less likable, it's normal to relax and become more yourself as a relationship goes on. "It is a sign of growth in your relationship when you are allowed to be your authentic self without being criticized or judged," life coach and behavioral therapist Angela Tennyson tells Bustle. "It shows maturity and compassion when your partner can be empathetic with your problems and you can feel their support."
So go ahead and allow these changes to happen. More than likely, they're a perfectly normal progression of a healthy relationship.
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