Whether you've been with your partner for years or are just starting to see someone new, there's never a bad time to reflect on your relationship and ask yourself some deeper questions to figure out if the person you're with is truly a good match for you. When you're in a relatively new relationship, it's easy to "settle" and overlook certain less-than-desirable qualities, simply because you'd rather not start the search all over again. And in long-term relationships, it's easy to get too comfortable and forget to check in with yourself to make sure the relationship is still adding value to your life.
"Relationships should ADD value and energy to your life, and not be a drain on either," Dr. Jenev Caddell, psychologist, couples counselor, and founder of My Best Relationship, tells Bustle. "Many people, however, find themselves in negative patterns in their relationships that they blindly accept since it's what they grew up with, what they see around them, and what they are used to. [But] relationships are also our biggest teachers and can require us to grow like few other aspects of life. Reflecting on your relationship is important because it implies that you are not simply accepting the 'status quo' of relationships, and can then challenge yourself to create something more rewarding and fulfilling overall."
Simply put, you should always feel like your relationship has potential to help both you and your partner grow, together and as individuals. A life partner isn't merely someone who keeps you company during the day-to-day — they should also challenge and inspire you to achieve more. Here are 11 questions to ask yourself to figure out whether the relationship you're in is the right one for you.
1Do I Want The Same Things As My Partner?
Whether you're discussing kids, marriage, or which city to settle down in, it's important to be on the same page as your partner. Compromise is certainly possible, but for life-altering decisions, it's never a good idea to assume (or hope) that your partner will change their point of view just to make you happy. It might not be easy to end a relationship because of a fundamental incompatibility, but it's not fair to either of you to stay in a relationship where you expect the other person to give up on something that really matters to them.
2Do We Share Similar Interests?
You don't have to agree on every little thing (like whether N*SYNC or the Backstreet Boys reigns supreme), but having some shared interests with your partner is something that will help the two of you stay connected over time. Or, if you don't share many similar interests, are you both comfortable exploring your own interests separately? Independence within a relationship is healthy, and you should both be able to have "me-time" without your partner feeling resentful.
3Are We On The Same Page About Religion?
You can absolutely make a relationship work if you don't share the exact same religious views. But it's crucial to reflect and ask yourself whether you and your partner both understand and respect each other's religious preferences. Plus, if you're planning on having kids together, you need to have an honest discussion about how you plan to raise them in regard to religion someday.
4Do We Have Similar Views About Money?
Another major deal-breaker? Having totally incompatible views about money. Maybe you're more of an impulse splurger while your partner prefers to pinch pennies and save up as much as possible. It's never too early to start talking about money with your partner — and even if you've been together for a long time, it's worthwhile to ask yourself if you're happy with the way the two of you manage your cash.
5Do We Like Each Other's Friends And Family?
It's not realistic to expect to become BFFs with every single person in your partner's family and social circle (though if you do, good for you!). On the whole, though, you both feel comfortable and relaxed when you interact with each other's loved ones, and after a while you should be integrated enough that you don't need your significant other constantly by your side at a family or social event. If you don't get along at all with your partner's friends and family, that could be a sign that the relationship isn't right for you.
6Do We Have Similar Senses Of Humor?
Being able to laugh with your partner is one of the key traits of a healthy, long-lasting relationship. "Not only should your partner be able to make you laugh, but he or she should also be able to laugh with you about the same things," Samantha Daniels, Relationship Expert and Founder of dating app The Dating Lounge, tells Bustle. "A mutual enjoyment over a funny situation will bond the two of you together and create more pleasure in your overall relationship."
7Does The Relationship Add Value To My Life?
This question is pretty subjective, because it's entirely dependent on what you value in a relationship. Are you looking for someone who provides you with intimacy and closeness, or fun and adventure, or stability and safety? Whatever you want from a relationship is up to you, but your partner should be someone who you feel adds value and meaning to even the most mundane of experiences, and who challenges you to learn and grow instead of staying stagnant.
8Am I Authentically "Me" In The Relationship?
It's normal to feel a certain pressure to "impress" your partner when you've just begun dating, but if you constantly feel like you have to hide or suppress your true self around your partner, that's a red flag you shouldn't ignore. It might not be easy to catch yourself doing this, but just ask yourself: do I act the same way around my partner as I would around close friends and family? A true partner will accept you for all your flaws and quirks, so you shouldn't feel compelled to be anything other than your authentic self in their presence.
9Am I Satisfied With Our Sex Life?
Every couple can go through sexual ruts, but your ability to communicate openly and honestly about all things sex will really be a make-or-break quality for your relationship. You don't have to share all the same kinks or desires, or even have perfectly matched libidos. All that matters is that you're both committed to working together to create a healthy, exciting, fulfilling sex life — whatever that means for the two of you.
10Do We Communicate Well?
And speaking of good communication... that should obviously extend outside the bedroom, too. It's OK to argue with your partner from time to time, but the way the two of you communicate during heated moments is super telling of whether or not your relationship is built to last. You should be on the same page about conflict resolution — whether you like to talk things out immediately or take time to cool down first — and work to understand each other's communication styles.
11Why Am I With My Partner?
And finally, it's important to take a moment to reflect on why you fell in love with your partner, and why you're still together. "This is the ultimate question to ask," Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationship coach and owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "Are you with your partner out of love? Or are you sticking around for less than ideal reasons? Some reasons people stay in relationships (other than love) are guilt for wanting to break up, fear of loneliness, and financial dependence. Truly looking at your motives can be very enlightening...if you’re willing to be brutally honest with yourself."
It can be uncomfortable to take the time and sincerely reflect on every aspect of your relationship with your partner, but being in a healthy relationship is not something to be taken lightly. You should never feel like you need to settle for less than what you really want, and it's not doing either of you any favors to stay in a relationship just out of comfort or convenience. It's worth taking the time to figure out what you're getting out of (and adding to) your relationship. Hopefully, this self-reflection will be either the wakeup call you need to move on, or a lovely reminder of all the ways your partner adds value to your life.