How do you know your relationship is working? When should it get serious?
I’ve often asked myself these questions. Every couple is different, so I’ve learned every relationship is different. I have friends who have dated for four years before getting married, but I also have friends who have dated for four months before getting engaged. It seems that once people are in their late 20’s and early 30’s, they know what they want, so engagement and marriage follow quickly.
But things are not always that easy. As I think about my own past relationships or those of my friends, I realize how confusing things can be. There is no detailed instruction manual for falling in love and making relationships work.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some basic guidelines. If there is one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s this: The importance of having honest discussions with the person we are seeing about where we think we are headed.
I think it’s important to communicate my intentions before a relationship even has a chance to get serious. That doesn’t mean I think I’m going to marry every guy who asks me out or that any date that isn’t with my future husband is meaningless. Every relationship—every date even—has taught me something about myself and what I am looking for in a potential spouse.
In the past, I often masked my true feelings because I was afraid of rejection. But after a whirlwind relationship ended abruptly, I was left hurt and alone and could no longer pretend that everything was fine. I’ve refused to be caught in that same situation again. I believe that good, honest communication is key in any relationship. I am no longer afraid to be upfront and honest.
Though I haven’t been dating my current boyfriend for very long, I know that we’re headed in a good direction. We agree on really important things and we get along really well. I know there will be challenges and things aren’t guaranteed to work out. But I am confident that we’re in a healthy relationship because I know we are on the same page.
“What do you think will make this relationship successful?” he asked me point blank recently. I was a little taken off guard, but at the same time it wasn’t a difficult question to answer. “Communication.” I confidently replied. “Yes, communication.”
I’m happy in my current relationship with my boyfriend because I think we have a healthy view of reality and, perhaps most importantly, I don’t sit around worrying whether or not he actually likes me for me. I’ve learned it’s better to tell the truth—even if it means rejection. No one should have to question whether the person they are dating is invested in them and their relationship. Real love is honest. It doesn’t hold back. It may take time to learn how to communicate with another person, but the struggle is well worth it.