If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
by Christine G.
Relationships are dynamic. They change every day. From time to time, the partners must take stock and ask themselves where they are going and if they want to go there. Is it time to invest more? Is it time to cut back?
When both partners are willing to make substantial long-term investments in their relationship, it has become "serious". If it is allowed to continue, it will have a long-term impact: shared children and pets, jointly owned real estate, cohabitation, movie nights and fishing trips with each other's families, and perhaps even marriage.
How can you tell if your relationship is moving into commitment territory? To answer that, you have to understand your partner's emotional language. Each family has its own rules for communication. Observing interactions between your partner's parents and siblings will help you understand the meaning of recurring behavior patterns. In some families, a particular insult is a put-down; in others, it is a sign of affection or esteem.
Some definite signs of seriousness:
a) your partner assumes that you will be attending family celebrations. S/he puts your name on the card without being asked, or asks you to get the gift and assumes that you will put both your names on the card.
b) your partner consults you about the choice of a vehicle, and considers your needs and those of possible additions to the family in the future.
c) you've been together for over a year, and you still get goosebumps.
d) you finish each other's sentences.
e) you are starting to act the same way as your parents do towards each other.
f) certain activities have become special, because you did them together.
g) you are able to solve your differences without resorting to high drama, and worrying whether this is THE END.
h) more and more stuff is becoming "ours", instead of "his" and "hers".
i) you understand and accept each other's religious traditions.
j) you stay relaxed when you see your sweetie with a potential rival, because you really believe that you are #1.
k) you make specific plans for your future together, set dates, and make down payments.
l) your parents start suggesting names for your unborn children.
m) you both accept the idiosyncrasies of each other's families, and are willing to maintain a balance between their expectations and your life as a couple.
n) you understand and respect the importance of your partner's career, and feel that your partner understands and respects the importance of yours.
o) you can fart in each other's presence without embarrassment.
p) you no longer worry about what will happen when your sweetie finds out about the skeletons in your closet, because s/he knows all about them.
q) you have seen each other at your worst, and survived.
r) sex is no longer the primary component in your relationship.
s) instead of looking in each other's eyes, you are side by side, looking in the same direction.
No matter what the signs are, the most direct way to find out is to ask in a forthright manner, "What are your expectations for our future as a couple?" If you can dream together, plan together, and identify challenges in the road ahead, your relationship is probably serious.
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