A lot can be said about what happens in a relationship behind closed doors. But the way couples act when they're out and about can be a major indicator of the love connection between two people as well. Many of the signs of a strong relationship can be found in the way partners treat each other in public.
"I can usually tell if a couple is happy by what I observe in public," David Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "It shows how couples interact when people are watching. It often shows how much they respect and value each other, because if they act like they hate each other when people are watching, it [may be] even worse in private." Subtle signs in public and social settings can provide great insight into a relationship's strengths and weaknesses.
If your relationship looks one way in public, and altogether differently when you're alone, that may be a red flag. "The way your partner treats you in public is just as important as how they treat you behind closed doors, as we’re social beings and social ties affect relationship outcomes," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Bustle. Of course, a variety of factors will mean that the love in your relationship manifests differently in different situations, but there are a few signs that you can look to if you're wondering if things are on the right course.
Here are seven signs they're your soulmate, based on how they treat you in public.
They Prioritize You, Even In Complicated Social Settings
As a relationship progresses, you're likely to find yourself in at least one slightly-uncomfortable social situation as your partner begins integrating their social life with yours.
"If you’re at one of their friends’ or family gatherings, it’s likely that you know fewer people in attendance," Dr. Jess says. "A thoughtful partner will consider this imbalance and be sure to introduce you and spend some time with you so that you feel welcome and included. By modeling this behavior, they set the tone for their friends and family to follow." Your partner prioritizing you, and your comfort, shows that they love you. You, too, will have to put in the work, but as you strike a balance, you may start to sense an even deeper connection than before.
They Introduce You With Pride And Admiration
Sometimes, hints to the magnitude of your connection can come in things as simple as an introduction.
"When they run into a colleague, an old friend or even an ex on the street, do they introduce you without hesitation?" Dr. Jess asks. "If they refer to you with affection ('This is my partner'), it’s likely that they’re comfortable with and proud of you and your relationship." You want a partner who is proud of you, and at ease letting people know you two are an item. Of course, around some people this may be complicated, but in general, it's a very good sign.
They Can Balance Time Together And Apart
As you and your partner get more comfortable being out in public together, you're going to have to figure out how to work a room with ease. The way this delicate balance plays out can actually say a lot about your connection.
"If they cling to you like a child at every social gathering, it’s likely you’ll be stuck playing a parenting role in other areas of the relationship as well," Dr. Jess says. "There are, of course, exceptions. If they’ve spoken to you about supporting them as they deal with social anxiety disorder, for example, that’s a different story." No matter what the circumstances are, you and your partner can feel out what works best for you. If it feels uncomplicated, you're likely on the right track.
They Express Affection
Figuring out what level of public displays of affection works for you is, of course, up to you and your partner. But a couple who does not display any physical affection in public might be headed for trouble.
"While most people aren't fans of outrageous PDA, couples that last tend to show at least some affection when in public — hand holding, some touching, and flirting ..." Bennett says. So if your partner grazes your hand at a party, brushes your hair off your face in a park, or even just holds your hand on a train car, you might have something special.
They Aren't Afraid To Show You Off A Bit
A truly connected partner is likely going to be proud to be out in public with the one they love. It may manifest in different ways for different couples, but if you notice your partner putting in the effort to show they feel this way, it's a good sign.
"Couples that really like each other want the world to see that they are together," Bennett says. "If a partner really is happy to be with their significant other, they'll go out of their way to show the world how great it is to be out together." If, on the other hand, they avoid you at parties, or keep distance even when you're doing errands, you might have something to examine in the relationship.
They Stick Up For You
When you're out and about, sometimes some difficult situations will be thrown at you. A strong, loving partner will be there for you through them. "Couples that last will stick up for each other in public and have each other's backs, whether it's dealing with random rude comments, bad service, or a hostile environment," Bennett says. If your partner shows that they can respectfully, but assertively, be there for you when you need it, then it's a very good sign.
While there's no concrete predictor of whether or not a relationship will last, relationship experts have found a lot of evidence for what makes a healthy relationship. And if your partner shows these signs of love and care for you in public, you're likely on the right track.