So you make it through the first date, the first kiss, the first set of butterflies. In the initial weeks of dating a new “special someone,” you put your best foot forward to be sure everything goes right. But a couple months in, you start to slip. You let the other, less flattering “firsts” happen, like the first time you cry in front of him, or overreact at his annoying quirks, or get flustered when you reveal more of your imperfections.
The point is, when a few weeks turn into a few months of dating, you stop playing games and start getting real. But before you fully let your guard down, you want to make sure he’s on the same page.
To help you decide if your love interest can last, take a look at these indicators of long-term compatibility.
His Reactions Toward You
As you spend more time together, you know you’re bound to disagree, and you’re ready to handle your inevitable disputes without criticism or hostility.
But research shows that the biggest indicator of a high-quality relationship is how you react to each other when things go right. When you tell him about the raise you got at work, or the awesome night you had with your friends, does he share your excitement, or does he ignore you?
Couples that respond to each other with kindness and encouragement, no matter what the discussion, are more likely to build lasting relationships.
Don’t forget that your love interest had a life before you. While you might not want to hear about his exes or every job he’s ever had, you probably want to know if he has something to hide.
Maybe he married young, or he went through a very difficult breakup he doesn’t want to revisit. Maybe he was arrested after a wild night in college, or he has a criminal record he wants to forget about.
If you have a feeling he’s hiding something, ask him about it. Then be forthright with your own history. Past issues that go unaddressed can wreak havoc on a relationship. If you want to move forward in a relationship, you owe it to each other to tell the truth.
Your “Rainy Day” Routine
In her book Positive Energy, psychiatrist Judith Orloff talks about the “trap of chasing newness” (known to the rest of us as “dating”). You know the cycle: You meet someone new, you get together for a couple exciting dates, you talk and text for days on end, and then the romance fizzles out. One side wants something more, and the other side doesn’t. So the relationship gets scrapped, and you both move on.
This cycle of newness can be addicting. (Think about the thrill you get from a birthday gift, a payday, or a new pair of jeans.) The challenge of long-term relationships is knowing how to keep the attraction alive when the “newness” is gone.
Remember when, as a kid, a rainy day kept you from playing outside? You complained to your parents about how bored you were, and they told you to stop whining and think of something—anything!—to do. So you did. And you actually enjoyed it.
The same creative mentality goes into maintaining a relationship. When bad weather cancels your plans, or exhaustion keeps you from making plans this weekend, you’ve still got to find contentment with the person you’re with. Ask him to join you on your errand run, offer to help him with his weekend tasks, or plan a “date night” where you work on separate hobbies (but in a shared space).
A compatible couple finds joy, not boredom or disappointment, during even the “rainy days” of a relationship.
His Take On Money
Sure, the money discussion is just awkward. It’s that enormous and imposing elephant in the room that Americans just don’t want to talk about. But if you want to gauge your love interest’s outlook on finances, you’ve got to figure out his spending patterns.
Let’s say that a couple months into dating, he becomes more reluctant to spend money on dates. He waits for you to make the first move, or he asks you to pay more because you “owe” him for past dates he paid for. Take his hesitancy as a sign that his early generosity was just for show. On the flip side, if he willingly shares costs with you, you can guess he has a good grip on his finances.
Beyond what you spend on each other, look at how he spends money on himself. Does he complain about the price of groceries or gas but somehow manage to buy a couple rounds at the bar? Does he use his credit card to pay his rent or other credit card bills? Does he have outstanding loans that he avoids paying off?
Long before you even have the “money talk” with your guy, take note of his spending patterns. How he spends his money now will indicate how he’ll make financial decisions with you in the future.
Your Future Together
As a couple settles into a comfortable routine and the shininess of a new relationship begins to fade, your true colors begin to emerge. How you treat each other once you’ve “gotten real” is the most reliable indicator of the relationship’s chances for lasting success. With any luck, you and your flame will pass these subtle challenges with flying colors—and that’s how you’ll know you’re ready to weather life’s rainy days together for the long-term.