Dating has gradually become quite complicated and occasionally somewhat of a minefield.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we’re at the ‘good friend’ stage, are actually dating, or are in an exclusive relationship.
And that’s before the bigger question of ‘what do you want from ‘us’’, ‘where are we heading’ is even raised.
Past experiences will certainly influence our views on what to expect from any future relationships. Negative experiences may mean that we start out by simply wanting a little ‘fun time’ and to enjoy a lightweight, casual, non-committed relationship. However, that may change when, over time, we find that we’re increasingly attracted to our partner and want to move to a more committed relationship. We may be ready for a long term relationship.
So, how do we tell if our partner is looking for a long term relationship, what are the signs?
When we’re healing from the breakdown of a significant relationship or have perhaps spent a long time on our own it can be difficult to determine exactly what we do want from a new relationship. We may have unclear, unformulated expectations about being part of a twosome, as our breakup may require us to take a little time to heal and recover. Grief and self-protective behaviour can form an important part of our personal insulation for quite some time.
When we’re first return to the dating scene we may simply want fun, nothing too serious, an opportunity to flex our dating muscles and get used to thinking about someone else, to considering their wants and needs. We may be keen to have opportunities to practise making conversation, to get used to having someone to share parts of our lives with, a person who provides companionship and attention.
But when they’re looking for a more committed relationship some people decide to use a quality dating agency. It can be an especially helpful step, through being interviewed, asked questions, made to think about their answers. It’s a good way to clarify the criteria you’re looking for, the characteristics, traits and attributes that are important, whilst also providing reassurance that any suggested matches have been carefully vetted to suit you.
And, being a member, making a regular financial commitment to a dating agency focuses the mind on the goal in hand, making for a more serious approach to the business of dating and finding a new partner. We’re ready to start again and hopefully, anyone we meet through those channels will have the same mindset too.
After dating for a while, as our new relationship becomes more settled, any initial cautiousness and apprehension should subside as our personal connection strengthens and the relationship becomes more committed. Relaxing into a comfortable togetherness is part of an increasingly easy familiarity with each other.
Nest-building, where making your home and the time spent together pleasant and attractive is proof that a longer term relationship is becoming more appealing. Looking forward, planning your decor, buying things together to enhance your shared space are all signs that you’re in a relationship of growing importance.
Entertaining at home, being keen to invite people round to share dinner with us, allows for the inclusion of family and friends into your relationship and is yet another important step. It lets them know that you’re keen to share with them a relationship that’s growing in seriousness. Bringing others into your personal life, introducing them to your place and building memories moves your relationship to the next level.
Similarly, when familiar routines evolve it’s often a sign that habits and doing things together has become a positive, automatic part of your relationship. Things that have become a normal, regular part of your day, your week, your life together, that you do as part of your shared time show that there’s a long term mindset being established.
As they accumulate, all those little ‘our’ things are another sign that there’s exclusivity within the relationship. Having ‘our’ song, ‘our’ restaurant, ‘our’ place, creates a special bond together, everything that’s lovely to enjoy when you’re in a long term relationship. It’s very special to have intimate moments to reflect upon, those memories times that have become ‘in jokes’ that you smile about, that reinforce your bond and mean so much.
Mutual respect builds a connection towards a long term relationship, the understanding that there’s loyalty and support for each other, even if at times you disagree or don’t share the same viewpoint. Tuning in to what the other person thinks or feels in an interested, caring way demonstrates empathy for them and their point of view.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what a long term relationship looks or feels like. We may feel cautious or apprehensive about presuming too much too soon. But discussing serious ‘stuff’ like living arrangements, finances, planning ahead and having conversations about big trips, maybe future children are all important ways to connect on a special level, that let both yourself and your partner know that you’re ready to look for a long term relationship.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net