Today’s dating world can be complicated. From how quickly you should text back to when to delete your dating apps, it seems like there are a million unwritten rules. But once you start falling for someone, how do you know when it's time to officially define your relationship?
“Another person is not necessarily going to operate on your timeline and will not necessarily want to be exclusive the same at the same pace,” Anita Chlipala, relationship coach and therapist, tells Bustle.
The risk of rejection can be scary but worth it if your relationship is ready. When making this decision, you may not be able to read your partner’s mind, but you can at least be honest with yourself.
“It's easy to just focus on the positive feelings, when really, if some of the infatuation wears off, you could start seeing a person maybe a little bit more realistically,” Chlipala says.
Especially in the beginning, your judgement can be clouded. But by looking past the infatuation of the honeymoon phase, you can begin honestly evaluating if you want to take that next step.
It's a big choice and there are a plenty of factors to consider. To help you make your decision, here are some key warning signs to look out for, according to experts.
There's Not A Lot Of Physical Touch
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to PDA, but physical contact can be an expression of someone’s interest.
“It's indicative of how people are emotionally feeling without using their words,” clinical psychologist, Dr. Danielle Forshee, tells Bustle.
Touching your shoulder or holding your hand is a good indicator that they’re on the same page. Likewise, no physical touch may mean your partner is taking things slow.
You'd Rather Hang Out With Your Friends
It’s important to strike a balance between your friends and a partner, but if you’re always choosing your friends over someone you're seeing, that may be a warning sign that you don't know them well enough yet — or that you don't want to be in a relationship with them.
Dr. Forshee says that if you’re constantly more excited to spend time with your friends, then you may need more time to get to know your partner before defining the relationship.
There's A Lack Of Communication
Not only should you feel comfortable reaching out, but your partner should also be making an effort.
“When people are really interested, they make it known that they're interested,” Dr. Forshee says.
If you’re always the one texting first, your relationship may need more time to develop before you take it to the next level.
You're Having Doubts
This may seem obvious, but if you’re having second thoughts, it’s important you take your reservations seriously.
“A lot of times people tend to to get into relationships in the beginning because they're in such lust that they can't see past the negatives,” Dr. Forshee says. “They want to pretend they don't exist … and they think that they can change them.”
This can lead to major problems once the honeymoon phase subsides. “You are then left with the wrong person that you saw glimpses of at the beginning,” she says. “But you didn't really listen to your true inner voice.”
You Haven't Talked About Dealbreakers
Talking about dealbreakers requires being honest with yourself and what you need, even if you’re falling fast for someone.
“Sometimes people don't talk about the major issues, because they think, oh, we'll just figure it out later,” Chlipala says. “These things need to be discussed ahead of time.”
It’s important to know where they on your core values before making your relationship official.
They Don't Make You Feel Good About Yourself
A strong relationship should never make you feel insecure. If your partner is constantly saying things that make you feel bad about yourself, that’s a huge red flag.
Dr. Forshee says if you feel like your partner makes you feel inadequate, “those are thoughts to really follow through with and be in tune with.”
You Aren't Talking About The Future
This doesn’t have to mean marriage and kids. Chlipala says that even just making plans a few weeks in advance is a sign that you're moving in the right direction.
If your partner is hesitant to commit to that concert in a few weeks or even just the party next weekend, they might not be ready to commit to a relationship.
Defining your relationship can be daunting and you definitely want to make sure yours is ready. Every relationship is different and operates on its own timeline, but these signs can help determine if it's time to take the next step.