I’ve had my fair share of awful relationships - cheaters, liars, manipulators, abusers, muchers. For some very odd reason, I stuck around and gave them all the benefit of the doubt … until my logic outweighed my emotions and my brain screamed at my heart to escape as soon as possible.
Thankfully, my brain has always known when to rattle my heart awake.
Along the sappy, red brick road filled with love came a few lessons. How to spot red flags from a mile away. What to do when your partner begins belittling you. When to leave if you feel unwanted. Just to name a few.
Heartbreak was real for me, time and time again. To the point where I wasn’t dating to find my person anymore, I was just dating to pass the time and partake in a good conversation or two.
Until… you got it. The cliche romance story. Until he came around.
Do I think I’ve found my knight and shining armor? Well, fictionally, yes. Realistically, no. He’s just an amazing dude that has my heart in a way that no one else ever has.
My loving, committed relationship is real - and here’s how to tell if yours is, too.
Do you both put effort in?
I’m not talking about 50/50. I’m also not suggesting that one day you put 80 and they put 20, or vice versa.
If the two of you love one another and are entirely committed, it should be simple and quite easy putting 100% into the relationship.
Yes, sure, I’ll concede and state that once in a while either partner may have a day where it’s impossible. Mental health may drag them down. Sickness may hurt too much to focus on another human being. But you get what I’m trying to say!
If you’re in a loving, committed relationship, giving your all without holding back isn’t a chore or obligation - it’s a choice you’re willing to make.
Do you always make time for one another?
Schedules can be difficult to work around depending on the occupation you both have. A profession like nursing may be limiting, just like that of a firefighter. There are countless other jobs that can be super demanding, where you have to conserve your time accordingly.
The point here is that there is time for you and there is time for your partner. No matter the hours at work or dedicated to other obligations, there is always time made for the relationship. Now that may include time alone or time spent together with friends and family, the choice is up to the two of you.
Do you show respect for one another?
Respect goes a long way. It holds two people together in the long run. With no respect, there’s no trust, honesty, and comfort.
What does no respect look like? If your partner is willing to do things that they know you don’t like, at a reasonable request, that is disrespect. For example, if you feel uncomfortable with your partner going to dinner with someone of the opposite sex that they just met, and they do it anyway, that’s a sign of disrespect. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I won’t ever put myself in that position again.
Respect is knowing and understanding what your partner feels towards certain situations, like the one I just mentioned.
Furthermore, if there’s a less severe situation at hand that you’re uncomfortable with, your partner should be willing to talk it out and see if the two of you can come to a common solution. For example, if he or she prefers that you don’t go out with the guys on the weekend, come to some sort of agreement. Examples would be agreeing to one day on the weekend, a couple of hours on the weekend, or every other weekend.
Does your significant other support you?
Support can be translated numerous ways. For me, I think of needed support when a loved one is sick or passed away, when money funds are low, when emotions are all over the place, and when our physical bodies aren’t doing so hot.
A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly lost my uncle. An amazing man, everyone would say one of the best to ever walk this earth. Do I miss him dearly? Of course I do, every single day. But guess who’s helped support me a lot through that grief? My guy.
Undying support like that is what you need in your person.
Now, I don’t support mooching one bit, but if your partner is in need of some financial help one week, lending them a little bit of money won’t hurt. That’s financial support.
If your partner needs you to understand that this is a particularly sad week, or you’re having an aggravating time at work today, or you had a fight with a friend you need to get out of you, listen. Hear them out. Be emotionally supportive.
If your partner just sustained a bad injury, or has to have surgery, or just has a boatload of symptoms that are causing some sort of discomfort/pain, be a bit more understanding. Help them along. That’s physical support.
Do you know the people in your SO’s life?
Knowing the friends and family in your partner’s life is crucial when you’re trying to secure and solidify a loving, committed relationship. It lets you into what I like to call a secret pathway - one that not every partner gets to go down (hint: only the important ones).
Don’t take this for granted. Get to know the people in his or her life - especially if you love them and are committed to them.
Ask questions, learn stories, create memories. Not only will you feel more at home, but you’ll also have a more permanent relationship if all goes well.
Do you hold things against one another?
I hope you answered no to this question, because if you do hold things against one another, you’re likely not in a loving, committed relationship.
Forgiving arguments is so crucial to a happy partnership. No, I don’t mean “forgive and forget,” I strictly mean forgive. If you hold onto any fight or spat, you’ll just replay it over and over in your mind and find something else to prolong it. That’s not one bit healthy.
You have to let it go, together. Or else resentments will build and things will get nasty. Trust me on this one.
Do you choose to make each other a priority in your life?
Prioritizing your significant other is very, very important. I can’t say that enough. They should come first if you’re in a loving committed relationship.
Of course there are times where he or she will be in second place, like when a family member or friend really needs you. Certain circumstances will take place where you can’t always worry about your guy or gal. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Your dude or your lady needs to be #1. That means checking in with them before making plans. That means seeing if they need anything when you’re at the grocery store or drugstore. That means not canceling on them. That means lining up schedules and spending time with one another. It’ll be like second nature, treating them like a priority, once you’re farther in the relationship.
Do you understand how to love one another?
Here, I’m talking about love language. The categories are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. For me, I’d say it’s a combination of the five - I’m spoiled. But if I had to pick, I would prefer words of affirmation and physical touch. As for my guy, he would say physical touch is #1.
Learning and knowing what your partner needs to be loved correctly can make or break a relationship. Everyone's desires, wants, and needs are usually different. Pay attention and ask him or her what they prefer if you don’t know. Do this, and your intimacy and bond will grow stronger for it.
Are you comfortable in each other’s presence?
Being comfortable is not a bad thing, though some would object to my thought process on the matter. For me, being comfortable means you can drop your not-so-nice side. It means you can be your true self physically and mentally around the person.
You know, no make up, hair tied, relaxing in those sweatpants and old, beat up T-shirt. Physically comfortable.
Then there’s dropping your guard and letting your emotions show. Battling mental issues like anxiety and depression. That’s mentally comfortable.
Are you making future plans?
If you’ve started talking about your future, you’ve hit the 100% committed part of the relationship. That means planning trips, talking about marriage, discussing whether or not you want a family. This can also go into whether you want to transition to a new career or purchase a new vehicle. Adopt an animal or move in together.
Future plan discussions mean that you don’t want to spend your days without your person.
I know I don't want to spend my days without my person. I know that we put the same effort in and always make time for one another. I know that the respect and support is there and that our friends and family know the two of us pretty well. I know that we have never and will never drag a fight on and that our priority is to put each other first. I know that we are, without a doubt, comfortable and ready to plan our future out.