When you start seeing someone, eventually, the two of you will conclude whether you prefer to keep your dating casually or prefer to take it to a serious level.
Casual dating doesn’t require any type of investment of time or a lot of effort, nor does it need to be exclusive. A serious partnership is an investment and monogamous with neither person seeing other people while involved with each other.
With an invested interest in another person, there comes a desire for more time, energy, and effort to nurture the relationship. You’ll have more date nights, perhaps take turns staying over at each other’s places, or even consider merging living arrangements.
The lines are somewhat blurred compared to how things once were with more individuals indicating their ‘talking’ or “hanging out” with another person more so than dating.
Exclusivity is slow coming, and even when this is understood between two people, there is still more of a casual undertone in that no one wants that label denoting “commitment.”
A commitment today grows slowly over a span of time, with both people being similarly invested and finding the union growing in the same direction.
That isn’t always directed towards marriage. Commitment in this day and age can mean a variety of things. Each couple will have unique needs and preferences, but their idea of commitment will work for their circumstances.
How do you know when you’ve reached a real relationship with a baseline commitment creating the desire for each other and making an intention for indefinite time together?
Honestly, if you don’t know where you stand with each other, you should ask upfront. Still, these signs will give you an indication that your connection is growing deeper.
1. Date night is a given
Neither of you has to wonder with whom you’ll be attending events or holiday gatherings since each has made it clear date nights are exclusive. And through the week, you precisely know when you’ll be “hanging out” together because you want to spend time together regularly.
When you let go of formality and allow yourself to be who you are with the other person still being accepting, you begin to develop a closer and deeper familiarity. It shows that you want more of a connection.
3. Routines start to establish
You’ll realize you’re serious when you begin to develop rituals, activities that pass from one day or maybe one week to the next without fail. Perhaps you have one night each week that you cook dinner together.
4. Each of you becomes acquainted with family and friends
Most mates won’t introduce people they’re “seeing” casually to close friends or family but, instead, keep that as part of their private life. Only when the relationship gets serious, or at least it looks like the connection is becoming established, do they take that step.
No one feels the need to be coy or subtle about emotions. It’s okay to show that you care. In fact, there is an anticipation for deep emotion and a desire to make the other person happy with no anxiety or apprehension preventing you from looking for a serious relationship.
6. Differing opinions and occasional disagreements are respectful
Partnerships won’t always be rainbows and light. There will be moments where you have a different opinion on a topic and likely have a disagreement, especially if you hold a passion for a specific subject.
While you don’t want to have a knock-down-drag-out, you should allow the conflict to work itself through and express your different feelings for the relationship’s health. It’s okay to disagree – you’re individuals. It’s how you handle these disagreements that will determine your success as a couple.
You’ll know they’re on the same wavelength if they can envision how the hypothetical you’re presenting applies to the two of you.
8. You don’t have to go out to have a good time
In the beginning, going out is the way you entertain yourselves since everything is new, learning from one another, and becoming comfortable.
When familiarity begins to develop, and you start to isolate yourself in social situations so you can interact one-on-one, you realize you don’t have to go out anymore to enjoy a good time.
Spending the evening talking into the wee hours on the sofa with a jug of apple cider (or your drink of choice) is gratifying and strengthens your bond.
9. Personals at each other’s home
If you start to ponder, “Am I ready for a serious relationship,” finding you’re leaving things at your partner’s home and vice versa, that’s an indication that the connection is becoming more profound.
Whether you’re alternating nights at different places, there might be a toothbrush or bathing supplies like shampoo, maybe body soap, or perhaps you go to the market to select supplies to last the week. In any case, it’s an indication that there’s something more serious happening.
When you start dating, there’s time spent together on Saturday, maybe Sunday. As it progresses, you probably do some shopping together on one of these days to simultaneously get some errands done while you’re together.
But when you have to ask yourself, “am I ready for a serious relationship” is when you begin to not only compile Saturdays but do Sunday breakfast, maybe Church, and then relax the remainder of the day together. A whole weekend instead of merely a night is implying a developing closeness.
11. Spending less time at home
When is a relationship serious? Once you start to notice that you’re each spending more time away from your own home.
You might have been taking turns spending a night or two at the other person’s house, but now neither of you are ever at your own place on any given night.
Each night you trade-off so you can be together. This is a clear sign to answer your question – Am I ready for a serious relationship?
You’re not well, and you look horrible, but when your mate indicates they’re bringing soup so you can feel better, it doesn’t bother you that they will see you at your worst. The only thing you can think of is that they will bring you comfort.
14. You know each other well
Each of you has favorites like food, shows, objects, and the other has learned these and is accommodating.
Perhaps you have learned a favorite dish and have figured out how to make it exceptionally or found a place that can do so close to perfect for their liking and vice versa. These are little habits to show a seriousness developing in a relationship.
In the beginning, everyone is very private with their dating life, mainly because it’s casual and not something you intend to share. Once things take a more invested turn, things might begin to pop up on social media (with each persons’ consent) to show special milestones or activities.
As you develop a closeness, intimacy comes into play, caring, the person knows you and your body. You can express your needs and they, theirs. That’s not something you can have unless there’s a bond being created.
17. That doesn’t mean there’s always sex
In that same vein, it doesn’t always mean when you have a night together, there will be sex. When you have an intimate relationship, sex is not always on the agenda when you spend a night together.
Intimacy is so many things apart from sex, and you can experience these when you have a deep connection.
18. Each partner finds solace even in vulnerable moments
You might have some exceptionally embarrassing times that you feel too shy to share with most people but not so much with your significant other. While others might laugh at you, the right partner will laugh with you, and there is a considerable difference.
If you ask, “Am I ready for a serious relationship,” yes, you are when you can appreciate that a mate has serious career goals, and it doesn’t create a backlash in the partnership.
20. Nicknames come from nowhere
No one intends to call their partner by a nickname. In fact, most people will likely try to avoid this trend if at all possible.
But over time, the familiarity and the closeness that you develop together automatically generate names for the other person you don’t even think about but just start using. This is a seriousness that you don’t see coming; it just is.
In the beginning stages of dating, you feel you need to fill every moment with conversation or activity, so there’s no awkward silence. As time goes and comfortability develops, there’s peaceful contentment even in the still of silence.
When the question arises, am I ready for a serious relationship, these moments let you know that you are.
22. Dating site apps are no longer available on your electronics
When a relationship progresses and closeness develops, each partner ultimately chooses to forego the dating apps they were participating with on their electronic devices in favor of exclusivity.
You can determine seriousness at that point, but you need to consider where you see the partnership going from here.
Many people will put walls up, especially at the beginning of a new social situation, to avoid getting hurt. As time passes and individuals begin to feel more familiar, the walls start to come down without a need to protect themselves.
This is when you can start to ask yourself, “Am I ready for a serious relationship?”
It might be scary, and you might be unsure, but that’s okay. If your partner gives you the sense that you can be vulnerable, let the walls down without apprehension and progress forward to a closer connection.
Relationships work a little bit differently in the world today, but that doesn’t mean that couples don’t develop a deep connection or a seriousness at some point, nor does it mean that it doesn’t get a little scary for either of them.
It’s okay to say upfront and forthright how you genuinely feel and hope the same from your partner. That’s how you progress forward authentically.
From that point, it’s a matter of investing – patience, dedication, and love so it can grow. It won’t be magical every day, but you’ll learn how to get through even the tough times together.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.