After you've been with someone for a while, you would think you'd eventually be able to tell where you stand as a couple, as well as whether or not your partner is
serious about the relationship. But sometimes, it's not so easy to tell. Not all people are great at communicating what they want, and misunderstandings can pile up along the way. And before you know it, things are all sorts of confusing.
But unless you've had a convo about where you stand, what else can you really expect? "If you're
wanting a committed relationship then you have to advocate for that," Eliza Boquin, MA, LMFT, owner of The Relationship & Sexual Wellness Center, tells Bustle. "You can't assume that the other person is on the same page."
So go ahead and
have that all-important convo and see how they respond. "If they get frustrated, defensive, or avoid the topic, you may have your answer right here," Boquin says. You might also notice that the same issues keep cropping up over and over again. Maybe they seem to ditch you for friends more often than you'd like. Or maybe when they talk about the future, they never mention how you'll factor into it. Subtle signs like these can tip you off that's it's time to talk. And you really owe that to yourself, and the relationship. Here are a few more ways experts say it may be possible to tell if your partner is taking the relationship seriously.
They Don't Want To Label The Relationship
If your partner wants to hold off on the labels when you first start dating, that's completely understandable, especially if you need time to figure out where things are going too. Some people need some time to marinate in the relationship for awhile, before they can decide what they want to do. But if they still seem wary a few months in, let it be a red flag, especially if you let it be known what you want.
"If you've been seeing each other for several months/years and having sex, but they still get uncomfortable when you ask, 'So, what are we?' their silence may be their way of saying, 'I'm not committed,'" Boquin says.
some couples forgo labels and simply know that they're committed to each other, others think labels are an important way to define a relationship. If you fall into that latter group, let your partner know that you need to have an official title to feel secure. If they are taking the relationship seriously, and know it'll make you happy, they'll likely agree.
They Don't Seem To Focus On Your Needs
When someone is serious about their relationship, it might seem like they care more about their significant other than themselves — simply because they want their partner to be happy. So take note if your partner doesn't tend to consider your needs, or is oblivious to them.
For starters, you might notice this dynamic playing out during sex. "A healthy sexual relationship involves two people communicating their needs and listening to each other,"
Three Day Rule's Philly-based matchmaker Michal Naisteter tells Bustle. "If someone is not making you feel seen and heard, it shows that they probably aren’t interested in your pleasure as well."
But this can happen in other parts of your relationship, too. "A sign that they aren’t serious is whether or not they attend to your needs. When you have a rough day, a good partner should take the time to listen and support you," Naisteter says. "If you feel brushed off, that might show that they don’t put a lot of care into your feelings." And that's not someone you want to be with, long-term.
They Don't Want To Share Their Life
Once you've been together for a minute, you'll likely start doing what any committed partner would do, and begin making plans to share your life with each other. But if your partner seems squeamish at the idea of splitting bills, getting a dog, or even going on vacation, definitely raise an eyebrow.
psychotherapist Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R tells Bustle, "If your partner quietly does everything in [their] power to avoid intertwining your lives, it might be time to consider whether [their] definition of serious is on the same page as yours." Anything that you share as yours might feel like too much for them. So ask yourself, is that something you can deal with? If not, it may be time to move on to someone who's ready to share their lives.
Their Friends Always Come First
If your partner is all about their friend group, that's great news. "Healthy, sustainable romantic partnerships most definitely require each partner to invest time in
nurturing friendships outside of the relationship," says Tierno. "Where the problem arises, however, is when you recognize a trend in that your partner is always putting their time with pals ahead of time with you."
This might look like canceling date nights in order to see friends, calling their BFFs to share good news before calling you, or wanting to rent an apartment with a pal instead of with you — despite the fact you've been together for years. As Tierno says, "If you notice that you are consistently put off until last, then you might need to take a closer look at whether your partner is as serious about this relationship as you are."
Talk to them and see what they say. There might be a logical reason, such as needing more time, or wanting to take things slow. But if they just seem focused on their friends, it might be wise to save yourself from the heartache, and move on.
They Haven't Introduced You To The Important People In Their Life
Speaking of friends, if your partner is taking the relationship seriously, they'll be super excited about introducing you to the people in their life. Sure, they might be a bit
nervous for you to meet their parents (and that's totally common.) But you will meet them.
"People who want to build a future together blend their lives — they don't keep them separated," Boquin says. So if you haven't met anyone, and have no idea who their friends are, it "may be a sign that they're either hiding something, or they just don't see a future with you."
And since that's not cool — especially if you're feeling super committed to the relationship — you'll need to speak up ASAP. Ask your partner what's going on. Have they just not thought to introduce you? Or do they have other reasons? You'll want to know.
They Talk About The Future In The Singular
If your partner talks about the future in a way that doesn't sound like you'll be in it, it'll be pretty darn obvious. And, it'll be a sign that they probably aren't as serious as you'd like them to be. "Future-oriented planning is an important sign that the relationship is moving in some direction," Naisteter says. "They may view your relationship as something casual if they aren’t including you in their next chapter."
This might come up when talking about big relationship milestones, like moving in together. "Living together implies sticking it out through the highs and lows," Naisteter says. And it's a step that requires the both of you to be committed, and mature. So if they aren't feelin' it, this is one of the places they're likely to balk.
They Don't Care To Work On Your Problems
If your partner is simply into casually dating, it won't really matter to them if you have problems as a couple or some sort of incompatibility, because they aren't planning on sticking around. And when that's the case,
counselor Diana F. Ryan, MS, LPC, LCDC, ACC tells Bustle you might notice a lack of "motivation and at times an unwillingness to work things out, so these problems don’t continue to occur."
When someone is planning on sticking around, they'll want to iron out issues, arguments, and fights, not only for the health of the relationship, but because they'll want things to be better in the future.
It's this future-focused thinking that'll tip you off to whether or not your partner is taking things seriously. If you can't quite tell where they stand, definitely call them out. If a long-term relationship is something you want, you'll be glad you asked.