While there's no right or wrong when it comes to timing in relationships, you might be able to answer "
Is my partner 'The One'?" after the first year of being together. "Just like a good wine, relationships should get better with age," Kac Young, PhD, ND, DCH, counselor and author of tells Bustle. So if your partner is talking about the future, introducing you to their family, etc., it's definitely a good sign. 21 Days to the Love of Your Life,
But if they don't seem to be moving in a forward trajectory, or you haven't passed certain milestones as a couple, it might be a sign your partner isn't
as invested in the relationship as you'd like them to be. Or, that they might not be a "soulmate" type of partner who you'll be with long-term. To find out, you'll need to chat, have a heart-to-heart, and see if you can get on the same page.
It's important, though, not to get
too hung up on the 12 month mark. "Not all couples reach these milestones after year one," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "For some it takes two to three years, or even longer. But after a year, measuring your relationship against these benchmarks is important if you are looking for a life partner." If you're not with the right person, experts say you'll likely notice them not doing some of the things below.
Talking About Your Future Together
When a person's excited about the future, they talk about it. So it's a great sign if your partner seems down to make a few concrete plans, or at least loosely discuss what your lives might look like a few years down the road.
As Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating tells Bustle, "If your partner only talks about the future and doesn’t make any actual plans to spend it together, [they] might not be 'The One.'" It may be that they're too single-minded to make a good partner. And that's something you'll need to know.
Asking About Your Goals & Aspirations
To plan for the future, you'll need to know each other's goals, dreams, and aspirations. So take note if the one year mark rolls around, and these types of things aren't being discussed.
"By a year mark, you and your partner should have discussed how your life will look together," Bennett says. If they haven't, it could be a sign they just aren't as invested as you are. But it's worth it to try and open up a discussion, to see if they are.
Proving Themselves To Be Trustworthy
It's common to wonder about your partner's commitment in the early days of the relationship. (Are they
talking to their ex? Do they still have that dating app on their phone?) But after one year, these worries should start to fade away.
"By year one you shouldn't feel intense jealously or a fear of losing your partner," Dr. Klapow says. They'll make it clear to you that you're together, that they are committed, and you will have had a serious talk.
Of course, everyone has the occasional moment of insecurity. If this happens to you, your partner will also be able to quell your fears. But if you still aren't sure about their commitment levels — even after talking about it and making it
clear you want to commit — you may not have a soulmate on your hands.
Making It Clear They Love You
when it comes to how they express their love, so if your partner still hasn't dropped the L bomb, don't panic. It might take them longer than a year to say "I love you," or they may not be the type who will ever say it — the possibilities here are truly endless.
You should, however, have a pretty good idea about how your partner feels. "Within one year of the relationship,
your partner should express that they love you and see a future with you, or they [might not be] 'soulmate' material," dating coach Anna Morgenstern tells Bustle. "You know fairly early on if you start feeling the first feelings of love so by the year mark, you should feel certain that this person is someone you see as a long-term partner."
Again, all couples are unique when it comes to living arrangements. But generally, it's a good sign someone has long-term potential if they express interest in moving in together, says
therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW.
By the one year mark, you've likely spent a lot of time together, and begun to see that you're compatible. If this hasn't happened, however, it may be a sign that you two aren't soulmates.
Factoring You Into Major Decisions
Let's say your partner gets accepted to grad school, or considers a job out of state. "If the relationship's serious, your partner is going to take you into consideration when making major life decisions,"
Theresa Herring, LMFT, a Chicago-area couples therapist, tells Bustle.
Of course, if they decide to move ahead with plans that may make your relationship slightly more difficult for a while, it doesn't mean all is lost. "But if they're not talking about how you two can make it work if they're living elsewhere, then that's a red flag that maybe this relationship won't last," Herring says.
Introducing You To Their Family
It really does bode well for the future if, after a year, you've both
introduced each other to your closest friends and family. "The exceptions to this are when the parents live abroad or particularly far away," Herring says.
As long as that's not the case — and your partner is in contact with their family — you should expect to meet them. If this hasn't happened, however, it may be worth pointing out.
Ask your partner about meeting the people closest to them, and see how they respond. If you suspect you're being kept at arm's length, that may very well be true. And it's something you'll want to know about sooner, rather than later.
It's not a requirement of a healthy, long-term relationship that both partners share every little secret they've ever had. But if someone is committed and sees a future, they
will be more likely to open up.
As Dr. Klapow says, "By year one, you should know (through conversation, not intuition) your partners deepest fears, their insecurities, their dreams, their regrets. If you do, then your partner feels safe enough to be vulnerable and authentic with you." And that's a great indication that you two likely have a long, happy future ahead.
Learning How To Argue In A Healthy Way
For a long-term relationship to work, both partners will need to learn how to argue with each other in a healthy way — because disagreements
And if your partner seems down to do so, that's a great sign. Does your partner fight fair? Do they listen? Do they compromise? (And do you do all the same things for them?) If so, there might be a soulmate thing goin' on here.
However, as Dr. Klapow says, "If you are walking on eggshells, avoiding conflict, or worried that the relationship will be over after strong emotions are shown, they may not be soulmate material.”
After a year, if it seems like you and your partner aren't on the same page, the only way to know for sure is to ask. If they're soulmate material, they'll also be down to have plenty of open and honest communication.