Relationships are tricky things. Sometimes they are difficult to navigate. Sometimes you’ve been in one too long to realize it’s not right. Sometimes you get so comfortable with unhappiness that you forget what happiness looks like, or don’t feel like you can do better.
But when you’re in the right relationship, everything is different. The sun shines brighter, your smiles are bigger, and even doing mundane chores becomes more enjoyable. It’s good to have clear signs that you’re in the right relationship, and it’s also good to have tasks that you can work on to improve your relationship. Either way, read on for 15 telltale signs it’s the real deal.
1. You spend time together doing things you both enjoy.
It’s great to do what he likes. It’s great to do what she likes. But what’s even better is to find things you both like, and to do them together. It took us nearly four years of marriage to really find things that we both like, but we’re starting to hit a great stride with things like working out together, mountain biking, playing paintball (yep, she loved it!), and even writing together.
2. You spend time apart, doing things you enjoy.
When you’re in the right relationship, your partner understands that there are things you want to do alone. Maybe he’s a gamer, maybe she loves Pinterest. We all need time to do our own things, and the right relationship is one in which both partners understand and appreciate that about each other.
3. You fight productively.
When you’re in the right relationship, fighting is never about winning. It’s not even about getting your point across (though sometimes it takes that ugly turn). A productive fight is about understanding the other person, finding common ground, compromising, and respecting each other throughout the process. If you end a fight feeling like you’ve won, you’re doing it wrong.
4. You each have your own friends and share friends too.
Some of my friends are in relationships where they only have couple friends. Others only have their own sets of friends. When you’re in the right relationship, you find balance between your social circle, your partner’s, and your shared circle. Missing any of those three elements may be a sign of concern.
5. You maintain self-identity.
You celebrate being you. Your partner does the same. And you appreciate each other more for maintaining your self-identity. In the right relationship both partners are nurtured to continuously improve and develop their “self.”
6. Your friends and family like you together.
One of the easiest ways to know if you’re in the right relationship is to pay attention to the feedback you get from friends and family. Assuming your friends and family want what is best for you, a lot of negative feedback is a bad sign. That doesn’t mean everyone will be enthusiastic about your relationship, but the overall sense you get should be positive.
7. You are able to disagree respectfully.
Some things you wont agree on. It happens. The right relationship isn’t about everything being perfect, but about partners maintaining a high level of respect when things don’t go perfectly. You can disagree. My wife and I disagree often. But what separates our disagreements from others I’ve seen is that we do it respectfully. There are no hurt feelings, no efforts to change the other person’s mind at all costs, nothing like that. We don’t need to agree on everything. And that’s an important realization, because we definitely don’t.
8. You better your partner, and they better you.
My wife makes me better. Her academic pursuits inspired me to further my own. Her writing inspires me to write. My love for running inspired her to start. It’s a back and forth of improving one’s self through the inspiration of the other. We make each other better, and that’s a sure sign that we’re in the right relationship.
9. You share a passion for your future together.
Ever met the guy who just isn’t interested in “settling down”? If you’re dating that guy, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In the right relationship both partners are enthusiastic about a future together. And while not everything lasts forever, partners who share a vision for what their future entails are in a much better position than partners who don’t, or worse, don’t even discuss the topic.
10. You’re attracted to your partner, mind, body, and spirit.
Sure, you’re attracted to them. That attraction is probably the first thing that motivated the pursuit of a relationship. But are you attracted to his mind? Are you attracted to her spirit? Is he the kind of person you could have conversations with years from now when you’re both old and wrinkly? Is she the kind of person whose joy will shine through when her face shows her age? You’re in the right relationship when you’re just as excited about the late night conversations as you are about what happens between the sheets.
11. You keep each other’s secrets.
Do you keep her secrets? Does she keep yours? Are you diligent about protecting your partner’s privacy? This is a small, but very important issue that signifies the level of respect and value you hold for your partner. You’re in the right relationship when you are impressed with how much your partner values protecting your secrets.
12. You make a good team.
Ever been in a kayak with your partner? That’s how I first realized my wife and I had some work to do with regards to being a good team. We couldn’t steer, we were super slow, and we complained a lot because we weren’t working together. We’ve since gotten much better. It’s a silly example, but there is value in it. If you and your partner are already making a good team, you’re in the right relationship.
13. You enjoy doing even mundane tasks together.
Grocery shopping is literally one of my favorite things to do with my wife. I take food seriously, and walking around in the grocery story planning our meals and trying new things is really fun. Even a day of errands and chores can be fun if you’re with the right person. Ask yourself this: Could you enjoy a day cleaning out the garage or attic with your partner? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right relationship.
14. You are compatible sexually.
This probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway! You aren’t always going to be on the same level. Sometimes you’ll want more, sometimes she will. Sometimes you’ll feel adventurous, sometimes he will. But, generally speaking, you should be compatible with your sexual interests and desires, in quality, quantity, style, and all other characteristics. If you’re a 3–4 times a week kind of person and your partner considers once a week a chore, you might need to reconsider the longevity of your relationship.
15. You share financial goals.
Finances break up even the best of relationships. It’s a good start to share ideas about financial goals, how much income you require to be happy and not stressed, what you want to do about retirement and savings, etc. Strong couples even share budgets and create financial challenges for themselves. If you have your finances in order, you’re probably in the right relationship.
There are many other telltale signs, but these are a few to get you started. Look over the list and do a relationship audit. Does your relationship show signs of being the right one? Are there areas you can improve to get yourself there? Is it time to re-evaluate the relationship you’re in? While these signs may not be universal, they are very telling as to whether or not your relationship even has the legs. Do yourself a favor and really observe your relationship with a keen eye. You may be surprised to find he or she really is the one. Or you may save yourself wasted years and a lot of heartache.