Am I In Love Or In A Relationship For Convenience? 6 Major Differences Between True Love And Comfort, According To Experts
Being in a relationship with someone you're actually in love with is way different than being with someone just because it's convenient. For some, being in a relationship of convenience is perfectly fine for where they're at in life. Maybe companionship is just easier than deep, emotional attachments for the meantime. There's nothing wrong with being in a relationship for convenience. As couples therapist, Teresa Solomita, LCSW-R, tells Bustle, "It is a perfectly legitimate relationship to have in the difficult world we live in."
It only becomes a problem when you're not really happy and you actually long for a deeper connection. "The actions of couples who are really in love with each other are drastically different from couples who are just together out of some form of convenience or need," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "It's a night and day difference that you can see, if you know how to look."
Sometimes you'll enter into a relationship really excited about your partner to find months (or even years) down the line that you're not as excited about them anymore. You may even question whether you're still in love with them at all. But as Myra says, it's a night and day difference. So here are some things couples who are actually in love do differently than couples who are together for convenience, according to experts.
1. Couples In Love Make It A Point To Be Present When They're Together
Happy, fulfilled couples who are actually in love are present when they're together. "They pay attention to each other, even in the tiniest of things," Heather Claus, relationship expert and owner of Owner of Dating Kinky, tells Bustle. "Couples who love strongly respond to bids for attention from each other."
What is a "bid" exactly? According to Claus, it's as simple as a sweet text message exchange. "An 'in love' partner will reply, in kind, as quickly as possible," she says. Couples who are in love stay engaged and make it a point to acknowledge their partners whenever possible. When couples are stressed, Claus says, they will still do everything in their power to be in the moment with one another and to help their partner be in the moment, too. Couples who are together out of convenience don't necessarily make it a point to do that. In some cases, they may not even get too bothered if their partner isn't very responsive. They're more likely to write it off as something their partner usually does.
2. Couples In Love Make Sure Important Dates Are Never Forgotten
Couples who are actually in love remember to celebrate important dates likes anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. As Myra says, "Keeping their word is just one thing couples who are in love won't forget." When you're really in love with someone, you want to make them happy. That typically becomes more of a priority than just about anything else, she says. "In order to do that, you'll be extra attentive to the detail you might be prone to forget otherwise." Couples who are together out of convenience may acknowledge special days, but they might not make it a big deal.
3. Couples In Love Can See A Future Together And Openly Discuss It
If you're really in love with your partner you can envision a happy future together, whether or not that involves marriage or kids. "Couples in love tend to be happy in their everyday lives together, but they also have mutual relationship goals for the future," Heidi McBain, MA, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Furthermore, they'll make it a point to discuss it.
Realizing that you're in a relationship of convenience can happen slowly or hit you all at once. If you do realize that you're not actually in love but still with your partner anyway, McBain says it's important to look at the deeper issues here. Why do you feel like you are settling? Do you not feel like you deserve a better relationship? Are you afraid of being alone? Is financial stability the key here? "Counseling, although not for everyone, can help them answer these questions on a deeper level," she says. "They can learn where these patterns started, and empower them to make some changes in their lives when they feel ready to do so."
4. Couples In Love Look Forward To Being Together And Make An Effort To Do So
When you're in love and want to be with someone, you're going to make time for them no matter how crazy your life is at the moment. "Couples in love look forward to seeing each other, can tolerate being apart but are excited when they are together," Solomita says. "They look forward to shared experiences, have less trouble supporting their partner in their partner's interests and consider their partner's desires and needs more easily." It's all about happily meshing your life with another person.
On the other hand, couples who are together for convenience live more parallel lives. "While they spend time together, there is less joy in this time spent and the time may not feel like a shared experience," she says. "There is relief when they are apart, and they rarely think about their partners or look forward to being reunited."
5. Couples In Love Make Decisions Together
Couples who are actually in love make it a point to consult one another about major decisions. "They think of the other person when making decisions because it's 'we' rather than 'me,'" licensed psychotherapist and author, Dr. Jill Murray, tells Bustle. For instance, if you get a job offer, you'll consider how it will impact your time together. "Couples in love consider their partner's feelings equally to their own," she says. "They truly respect the other as a person rather than just a roommate or companion."
6. Couples In Love Find Little Ways To Stay Connected And Strengthen Their Bond Each Day
Couples who are actually in love feel emotionally connected to each other in meaningful ways, Murray says. No partner ever really feels "used" and if one partner's needs aren't being met, they'll bring it up. Couples who are together for convenience tend to voice their issues to other people and the emotional connection with their partner isn't necessarily there.
Even if you feel that your relationship is just one of convenience, you can still add some love into it. According to Myra, small, thoughtful gestures of support and appreciation can go a long way. "Being courteous of their time, energy and desires are all great ways to show you care for someone," she says. According to her, it is very possible to create a soulmate. They don't always come that way right when you meet them, so a little work can turn it around if that's what you really want.