There comes a time in many long-term relationships, after things have been progressing for awhile, when you might step back and think to yourself, “Wow, we’re really in this for the long haul.” Maybe it’s one super romantic moment that brings about this realization, or maybe it’s a collection of shared experiences that build up that deepening bond. The signs your relationship is serious aren’t always easy to spot, but when you know what to look for, you can feel more confident in your growing connection.
When you start to establish a routine together as a couple, you might not even notice how serious things are becoming. After all, relationships take hard work, and there will definitely be days when you’re frustrated and angry at one another. But these challenges, if worked through in a healthy way, can help your partnership grow strong enough to weather the storms. Before you know it, your friends might be asking, “So, things between you and your boo seem pretty serious!” And you realize… wow, they’re totally right! But if you want some expert approval that your partnership is super solid, look no further than this list of reliable signs. If several of them feel like they apply to you, congratulations! You and bae share an amazing connection that took real time and energy to build. And if you’re not quite there yet… don’t sweat it! Keep spending time together and making memories, and you’ll be heading in the right direction
1. YOUR WALLS ARE TOTALLY DOWN AROUND EACH OTHER
“You don’t need to pretend to be a different person in order to please your mate,” said love and life mentor Susan Winter. When you’re not embarrassed to throw on your comfy old toothpaste-stained T-shirt (you know the one) or sing Beyoncé songs out loud in the shower, you know you’re super comfortable around bae. “Your partner has seen your best moments and moments you wish you could delete,” Winter said. “At the end of the day, you feel safe being the real you.”
2. YOU TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE
According to behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva, you know you’re on solid ground when you start openly considering your future together. “You begin discussing what your life goals are and begin evaluating the other person’s fitness in your life,” she explains. Whereas early relationships are usually focused on the present moment, serious relationships require thought about how you’ll work together in the long run. Do you catch yourself evaluating your compatibility often? And are you and bae talking about it regularly? There’s definitely a future on your mind.
3. YOUR BOO IS ALWAYS ASKING FOR YOUR ADVICE, AND VICE VERSA
If you find yourself running big decisions by your partner, or when they come to you for help with work or friendship struggles, it’s evident that you trust one another’s opinion. “[If your partner] regularly asks for your suggestions on advice and includes you in important decisions in their life,” that means you’re in a good place, intuitive dating coach Diana Dorell told Elite Daily. Trust is essential for a relationship to grow and thrive, and if you’re each other’s go-to source of advice, it means you really value one another’s perspective.
4. YOU’RE SUPER CLOSE TO EACH OTHER’S FRIENDS
Silva says that when you’ve gotten to know your partner’s closest friends (and vice versa), it’s a sign that your relationship has really progressed. It’s a way to have more shared experiences together through your mutual friendships, which “show the level of commitment the person has for you,” Silva explains. And if their friends have welcomed you into their lives, it’s pretty likely they’re on board with your love.
5. YOU’RE ALL OVER EACH OTHER’S SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
When you’re comfortable sharing your relationship with friends and family on your social networks, Silva explains that you’re in a good place. “Instagram is all about celebrating you,” she says, and your willingness to post about each other reveals that you’re proud to show each other off.
6. YOU SHARE A NETFLIX ACCOUNT… AND WATCH SHOWS TOGETHER
“Sharing a Netflix account is a strong indicator of trust and future planning,” Silva explains. It’s a way for couples to plan date nights together and bond over shows they both love. “Having and watching your show together indicates that you want to experience novelty with your partner,” Silva says. Sharing a TV show will build up your bank of inside jokes and give you something to geek out over together while you wait for the next episode.
7. YOU’VE NAVIGATED YOUR SHARE OF FIGHTS AND ARGUMENTS
Fighting is never fun, but it’s part of any serious relationship. No couple is going to experience smooth sailing through every moment of every day. “All couples argue and have differences of opinion,” Winter noted. “You and your partner are able to weather the storm and come out on the other side. This is essential for having a healthy relationship and maintaining a future together.” The more you learn to work through conflict in a healthy way, the better you’ll get at navigating arguments and coming out stronger.
8. YOUR SO’S PARENTS TREAT YOU LIKE PART OF THE FAMILY
When you’ve met your partner’s parents, and they start treating you like a member of the fam, it probably means your SO has told them how important you are. This also goes for how your parents treat your partner. “When your parents start buying your partner gifts, that usually means you have their approval and you’ve been the topic of conversation,” Silva explains. So when your boo’s mom sends you a birthday gift, you can rest assured she knows you’re someone special.
9. YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW WHERE YOUR PARTNER IS EVERY SECOND
This goes back to those feelings of trust you’ve developed together. When you’re in a healthy partnership, “you’re not wondering where your partner is at night, if you’re being played or if they’ll be there in the morning,” Winter explained. You trust each other — it’s that simple. And you can have independent lives and priorities without worrying where your relationship stands.
10. YOU CAN READ EACH OTHER’S EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS
When your daily communication becomes almost like a shared language, you know you’re in it for the long haul. You’ve become so in tune with each other’s emotions that you can sense when your partner is upset, worried, or angry. “The two of you have found your own communication style,” explained Winter. “You know how to read your partner and they know how to read you.” Your open dialogue allows you to be vulnerable with one another, which in turn deepens the bond you share.
If some of these signs apply to you, it’s a good indicator that you and bae are serious about each other, which is such a beautiful thing! You should be proud of the partnership you’ve built. A great relationship takes dedication, patience, and love to grow, and you’ve clearly got those in spades. Now go kiss your boo — you’re doing the dang thing together!
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