Settling may conjure images of practical relationship compromises in your head, like dating someone who checks all the boxes but doesn't fulfill your emotional needs. But settling can also look like staying with someone who loves you a little, but not quite as much as you deserve. If you've made it to the first anniversary but skipped the important conversations to have in a relationship, then you may be with someone who isn't quite enough.
Making it to the one-year point is a bit arbitrary, but it's a good way to gauge how your relationship is going, and whether the love you're experiencing is the love you need to make it long-term with someone. "You should be able to tell by one year if your partner loves you for the long -term because by one year, you should have been through at least one really tough situation together or tough fight," LGBT-affirming therapist Katie Leikam, tells Bustle. Plus, you likely know how your relationship is going by the conversations you have when things are good, as well.
But even if you do love each other, it may not be enough if one person is putting in all the work. "I don’t think that relationship longevity is just about how much you love one another," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Bustle. " [...] A year is certainly an adequate amount of time to gauge compatibility in terms of effort [...] It doesn’t matter how much you love one another if only one of you is willing to try to make the relationship work."
Here are the seven conversations you likely will have by your first year if your partner loves you the way you deserve, according to experts.
Conversations About Commitment Level
While a DTR talk usually comes along pretty early in the relationship, if it hasn't happened by the one year mark, then you might be settling, especially if you want commitment.
"You need to know by one year if your partner could see themselves in a marriage or a committed long-term relationship so you can make sure you have the same goals," Leikam says. If that's not what either of you wants, that's a completely different situation, but if you feel like there's a love connection with no honest conversation about commitment expectations, your partnership may be missing a key component.
Your Expectations For What A Good Relationship Looks Like
Everyone has different images in their head about what the ideal relationship looks like. But for a healthy long-term connection, you probably want a partner who can talk to you about what your expectations are by the end of year one.
"I cannot believe that people get into relationships and marriages without formally discussing their expectations, goals and boundaries," Dr. Jess says. Making assumptions about what your partner wants, she says, can lead to a myriad of relationship issues. Rather than continuing a relationship built these on assumptions, try asking your partner what constitutes a happy, healthy relationship for them. If their standards are much lower than yours, you may not be in the best relationship for the long-run.
Where The Relationship Is Headed
Even if you've defined the terms of the relationship in a way that you're happy with, if your partner has not spoken to you about where they see the relationship going further down the line, they may not be as committed as you deserve.
"After a year you should have an idea where your relationship is headed," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Is there a long-term future? Do you both even want something long-term?" Avoiding this conversation makes assumptions more likely, and you deserve a love that is more straightforward than that.
Your Feelings About Kids
Talking about kids may seem like a pretty heavy subject to bring up during the first year, but if your partner has avoided the topic, you may be teetering towards an uncomfortable conversation that could've been easier earlier on.
"Do they want kids?" Leikam asks. "You need to know if kids would be in your future with this person either biologically or through adoption. You also need to know, if you don’t want children if they are OK with that choice." Your partner not wanting to talk about this could signal that they aren't as serious about you as you deserve a partner to be.
Your Career Plans And Ambitions
Even if you and your partner have had conversations about staying together forever, if you have found yourself unable to also talk about the realities of what that might look like, your relationship might not be strong enough for a long-term partnership.
"Career plans often involve a lot of uncertainty and may involve working more hours, moving away, and other factors," Bennett says. "After a year, it's important to know where each partner stands with their career goals. If one partner plans on moving for their career, while the other wants to stay put, then the relationship may have issues." You don't have to make any big decisions with someone in the first year, but it's a good idea to understand how they see their future. And they should be curious about yours, too.
Your Attitudes About Family
Having or not having kids isn't the only family-oriented conversation topics you should delve into by the first anniversary. Your partner should be able to talk to you about family in general if they love you as much as you deserve.
"You family plays a significant role in your life regardless of whether you live next-door or across the globe," Dr. Jess says. "[...] The way you interact with your in-laws and the way your partner feels about your family matters." Talking, then, about your relationship with your family, what role you see them having in your life, and other complicated aspects of familial relationships can give you as much insight into the strength of your relationship as career talks can.
Assessing your relationship after a year may not be able to tell you everything about the future of your relationship, but it can provide some insight. "After a year you should be able to get a general sense where the relationship is going, and have enough of a relationship history to gauge where it's going," Bennett says. "While I wouldn't set the year mark as some sort of line in the sand, definitely be aware of where things stand after a year." You deserve a partner who loves you enough to talk about the hard stuff.