What should you look for when you are moving from dating into a more committed relationship?
If you are dating for fun, then as long as you are having fun, it’s all good. But what if you want to get married, build a partnership, and maybe start a family?
Here are some guidelines to know whether you should keep dating someone after several months or, more important if they are a good candidate for someone to marry. These don’t include superficial reasons such as they are cute, hot, sexy, a great lover, rich, or nice to you.
I’m not saying these are not great to have, but if you are marrying for the money or because of looks, what happens when he or she loses the money or the looks? And if you select a partner because they are nice to you, that may not be sufficient for you in the future. You want someone to adore you, respect you, and value your opinion, don’t you.
They are your best friend
This means that you would be with them even if you didn’t love them as a life partner.
Almost everyone says they want someone they are attracted to, but as you age, most people realize that sexy and adventurous isn’t enough.
I’ve interviewed over 100 people and most happily married couples say they married their best friend. You want someone who will be by your side when you are sick or need emotional support. You want someone who will be a loving parent and partner in raising your children. You want someone who accepts you and doesn’t try to change you and you accept them, too.
You can’t imagine them not being in your day-to-day life. You love being with them doing everyday things – working, visiting family, raising your own family, learning, socializing with friends and laughing together.
You share values
You want someone whose values are consistent with, or complementary to, your values.
Here are 3 examples to better understand shared values:
- If you want children, then you want them to talk about wanting children, wanting to be a parent and having a family. When there are children around, they enjoy them. If they say they don’t know if they want children and you are positive you do, you are taking a risk that you will never have children by staying with them. If you stay, you could be risking not fulfilling your commitment to having a family and children. Or being the one with all the responsibility. Or getting divorced because they do not want children around.
- What if you value kindness and generosity, and they are rude to people in a store, restaurant, or talk about others using insults, or gossip? Then the way they live their life is not consistent with your values. Early in your relationship, people are normally on their best behavior. If they are unkind and rude now, it is likely to get worse.
- You know their values and you see them living and striving to live consistent with their values. If they do not uphold their values, they acknowledge that and make amends. They are responsible for living a life consistent with what they say is important. That means that if you met him when he was in another committed relationship and he cheated with you, it is likely he will cheat on you with someone else.
You see each other for who you are and accept that
- You don’t expect them to change! I really mean that. Love without acceptance is judgment.
- You can see being with them in the future and being there for each other.
- You enjoy doing nothing with them and doing things they enjoy and they do things you enjoy because you want to be with each other.
- You respect the other person and give them the space to pursue their personal interests and so do they. They hunt; you volunteer with a children’s non-profit. They love to garden; you love to read. They watch horror movies; you don’t. They go to Star Wars movies with friends; you go to concerts with friends.
How do you know? There are no easy answers. Intuition isn’t always a sure thing. Pay attention. Do they treat others with the same respect that they treat you? Watch how they are with other people. Do you know who you are and what’s important to you? Do you love yourself and know you are of value and deserve love? Do you feel safe with them? Do you trust them? When you are 80 years old, do you think that you will still enjoy conversations and kissing? If the answers are yes, these are good signs for a long-standing relationship.
Want more clarity about what it takes to make a relationship work.
See my book “Why did you load the dishwasher like that? 9 Whopping Mistakes that Push Love Away.” It’s not easy but when you have a great partner for you, it’s worth it.