Are you ready for the next step in your relationship?
In some relationships it is a smooth transition which happens naturally without anyone having to really sit down and think too much about it but many people are more cautious – they may have been hurt in the past or simply aware that they aren’t getting any younger and they don’t want to invest months, or maybe years, in a relationship that isn’t going to lead to the things they want. Before you take it to the next stage here are a few things it is worth considering.
Is it what you both want?
It might sound like an obvious question but it is not unusual for one person to be further ahead in a relationship than the other so even though you may think you know how they feel it is always best to sit down and have a conversation about it so you are sure.
If you are the one who feels like they are holding back while your partner is in a hurry to move forward don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel and say if you want things to slow down. This stage of the relationship is where real trust and intimacy start to develop so it is important that you speak up and say how you feel.
Can you see a future with this person?
Take a few minutes in silence and try to play the tape forward and see yourself with this person in a year, five years or even in old age – is this the hand you want to hold for eternity? Trust your instincts, you will know on some level whether there is a real possibility of this person being a long term part of your life or not.
Lots of things will affect how much of a reality a future together can be. Issues such as compatibility, religious or political views and life goals are all things that need to be taken into consideration. It might sound a bit heavy at this stage but unless you keep the relationship to casual dating then these are important things to consider which will affect your future lives together.
Can you talk openly with one another?
Trust is the cornerstone of lasting relationships and much of it is developed between people through good communication. Do you feel that you could talk to your partner about anything and everything, even private matters like finances or issues from the past? Most of the time these things are kept private but in an intimate relationship it is important to feel that you can be completely transparent and accepted as you are – any secrets are likely to be exposed one day and the more open you are able to be the more accepting of your partner you will be too.
Good communication isn’t just about talking about the past it also means being able to talk about the future and negotiate what each of you want from the relationship. There is no point going along with things you are not really sure about – you need to be able to communicate your needs and be able to compromise occasionally.
Conflict resolution is also another important part of communication – every couple will row occasionally but you need to feel safe to express your anger and frustration and to hear your partner’s while trusting that neither of you will get abusive or hurtful. The litmus test in all areas of communication is do you feel safe and able to be fully yourself in this relationship?
Is your relationship supported?
It may be very romantic to have star crossed lovers defying convention to be together but the reality is that if your friends, family, culture or religious group don’t support your relationship it can make it extremely difficult for it to survive.
It is best to have good support because in the early stages where you are negotiating each others boundaries, each of you may occasionally need to draw on support from outside the relationship. It also makes socialising and events so much easier if everyone can get along with each other. If your friends and family are not supportive of you being with this person take time to listen to their concerns – they may see something you are blind to and are likely to only have your best interests at heart.
Are you both free?
It may sound obvious but before you take the next step with someone check that you are both free and not still carrying a flame for an old love that you are hoping to forget through this new one. Listen to your head and your heart and you will know when the time is right to commit again.
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