Is My Relationship On The Right Track? 7 Ways To Tell, According To Experts
When you first start dating someone, there might be a slight air of tension as you secretly wonder if your relationship is on the right track. Are you bonding? Will you stick together? Will there come a day when you can adopt a dog? While you can't predict the future, it may be possible to tell when things are heading in that direction.
If good stuff is coming your way, you'll probably pick up on an overall sense of comfort, trust, and mutual satisfaction. You'll likely realize that you want and value a lot of the same things. And you'll find ways to communicate, even if it isn't always easy.
But just noticing these signs doesn't mean you're golden. "If you’re on the right track as a couple, the key to future success is to put the work in to make sure you stay in the right direction," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It’s easy to get complacent and assume that everything will work itself out."
And yet, however happy you currently feel, you'll want to keep doing things to fan the flames. If you're feeling secure, then keep doing things to make your relationship secure. If you appreciate that you're having a good time, make a choice to keep having fun. Read on for some signs you're heading in the right direction, according to experts, so you can maintain that forward momentum.
1. You Feel Comfortable Around Each Other
While you may be on the lookout for glaring, obvious signs that your relationship is going to work out, sometimes it's simply about a general sense of comfort. As Bennett says, you might notice that you don't have to hide who you are, or that it's possible to feel at ease with your partner.
And this may be most noticeable during allegedly awkward times, Bennett says. Think along the lines of mishaps during sex, being sick, or sharing an embarrassing story. If you can sail through these moments as a couple, without being judgmental or turning away, that's a good sign.
2. You Seek Each Other's Company
While it's good to have your own lives outside of the relationship, including friends and work projects and hobbies, consider it a positive if you and your partner seek each other out — and make each other a priority.
"It may sound basic, but when your relationship is heading in the right direction, you find yourself wanting to be with that person," Lauren Cook, MMFT, a clinician practicing emotionally-focused therapy, tells Bustle. "You make an effort to integrate them in your schedule and you look forward to your time together."
Sure, you're busy. But if you want to make it work anyway, and truly enjoy hanging out, you're on the right track.
3. You Want To Introduce Them To Friends & Family
If things are going well, you'll "find yourself wanting to have friends and family meet your significant other," Cook says, and that you want to meet theirs as well. "When you want to be a part of one another’s community," she says, "you’re heading in the right direction."
Not only is it a sign you're looking towards the future, and can clearly see each other being there, it also means you're feeling positive about the current situation. If you want your mom to meet your partner, it tends to be a good sign.
4. You Aren't Afraid To Talk About The Future
"When you’re beginning to date, you may be hesitant to discuss the status of your relationship," Cook says. "Yet when your relationship is headed in the right direction, there’s no question about conversing together about the status of your partnership."
You will eventually get to a point — and it'll be different for everyone — where it's clearly time to officially commit, and make yourselves an item. When that moment comes, you'll both be on the same page and willing to talk about where you're headed, without hesitation.
5. There's Two-Way Communication
Again, communication is an important component of any solid relationship, so keep an eye out for signs you and your partner are able to talk about things, work through issues, and communicate honestly. After all, "many relationship problems come from a lack of communication or when partners feel they can’t express themselves authentically," Bennett says.
So while you may have to learn as you go, and possibly even work on opening up more, it's a great sign if you both have a desire to try. Over time, you can keep improving how you communicate. But if you start off knowing how important it is, you can rest assured you're on the right track.
6. You Feel Safe & Secure
"When a relationship is truly on the right track, partners come to enjoy an increasing sense of connectedness," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "This feeling of being bonded is what makes a couple feel safe and secure with each other in what is an often worrisome and unsteady world."
This is, again, something you can always work on improving in your relationship. But if you're both making an effort to create a sense of security and safety for each other, it shows that you're committed to each other. And it'll only bring good things your way going forward.
7. You Fix Problems As You Go
"All relationships take work to keep them heading in a positive direction," Manly says. "The healthier the foundation and the better the ongoing maintenance, the less work the relationship will need in the log run." So this isn't about not having problems, but more about how you deal with them.
"Much like a well-maintained home, a relationship that receives ongoing attention won’t require substantial [repair if] routine upkeep [is] the norm," Manly says. Plus, the sooner you can figure out ways to move past problems as a couple, the likelier you are to handle rough patches in a healthy way, should they arise in the future.
Because the truth is, even the best relationships don't always go in a forward trajectory. "Sometimes your relationship will quickly advance and other times, there may be some road bumps," Cook says. If you can get through them together, though, and actually want to put effort into maintaining and boosting your connection, consider it yet another sign you're on the right track.