Before my husband and I got married, I wrote down a list of questions in my journal that the two of us were going to talk about. One day, we decided to drive to the beach, and we spent two hours sitting around, talking about what the future held.
That may not be a very common way to prepare for marriage, but for my husband and I, it worked.
You see, I didn't just want to talk about things like our finances and where we'd live. I wanted us to both sit down and ask ourselves (and each other) whether we were truly ready to be together forever.
Maybe you're not at the stage I was, but instead, are considering getting into a serious relationship after being single for a while.
Before you jump into something committed, there are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
1. Am I In A Good Spot Personally?
It might sound counterintuitive, but in order to be happy with someone else, you have to be happy alone, first.
It's nice to have a partner to share your life with, but beginning a new relationship isn't going to fix any personal problems you have now. Whether it's something external, like money problems, or something internal, like abandonment issues you haven't worked out from your childhood, adding another person into the mix of your life will only make those issues worse.
Before you decide you want a serious relationship, make sure that everything is feeling good for you, and just for you.
Once you know that you are truly happy, healthy, and content by yourself, then you'll be in a great position to invite someone else into your life.
2. Is Something Lacking That I'm Trying To Fix Through A Relationship?
Does life seem dull? Has your job gotten kind of stale ? Did a roommate just move out, so now, you're in search of a new companion to do things with?
If any of these sound like you, it might not be that you want a relationship. It might be just because you're, well, kind of bored.
Getting into a serious relationship because something is lacking in your life, like excitement, isn't the best plan. Inevitably, you'll either place too much pressure on your partner to keep you entertained, or you'll end up bored with them because you didn't actually want commitment in the first place.
Don't get into a relationship because you don't have things to do. There are clubs for that.
3. Do I Have Enough Time?
It's important to ask yourself whether you have enough time for a relationship - not just now, but if it blossoms into something big.
Although you may think you have time to date around now, will you have the time and energy to give to your partner once they become meaningful to you?
If you're a lawyer at a big firm that works 100 hours a week, now might not be the best time to start pursuing something serious. Similarly, if you're in college, doing a double major as the captain of a sports team, you won't even have space to fit a new partner in.
If you want a relationship for the right reasons, you can certainly make time, even with an incredibly busy life. Just make sure that you actually make the time.
4. Am I Ready To Compromise Through Change?
Relationships are wonderful, but they're also a lot of work.
If your level of patience with life isn't super high right now, entering into a venture where you'll have to compromise a lot, while being flexible to change, might not be the best bet.
"Being in a serious relationship will completely change your life," says life coach and founder of Blush Online Life Coaching, Kali Rogers. "Whenever there is a new variable introduced into your life, expect change."
It won't just be about the big things, either.
In a relationship, you'll need to be open to change and compromise a lot of the time. It's not just where you'll live or how much time you'll spend with your families. It'll also be about the little things, like what restaurant you decide to eat at on a Tuesday when you're craving sushi, but he has been wanting tacos all day.
Although that may not sound like a lot, over time, if you aren't ready to be flexible, you could find yourself in a really frustrated place.
Before you think about getting into a committed relationship, you should ask yourself whether you are really, really ready to compromise for another person when you need to.
5. Do I Actually Want Something Serious?
At the end of the day, you should really be asking yourself exactly why you're looking for something serious.
Many of us aren't even exactly sure what we want out of life, yet we find ourselves in a serious relationship before we can even figure out how we got there. You should only get into something serious because you feel good, stable, and because you're ready to share your life with someone - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It also would help if you knew what "serious" truly meant to you.
"Saying something "serious" means very different things to different people," says Rogers. "Serious might mean marriage and babies to one person, whereas it might mean hanging out during the weekdays to someone else. Know exactly what it is you expect out of a serious relationship and be sure to communicate that to any potentials in the future."
In other words, be clear about why and what you're doing.
Being in a serious, committed relationship can be great, but only if you're completely, 100 percent ready. If you aren't sure, it's best to ask yourself these questions, and evaluate your decision, before you decide.