Joan Didion famously wrote, “It’s easier to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends,” which is especially true when it comes to relationships.
Whether it’s been two years or two months of dating someone, you become accustomed to having a partner to love you, to rely on and to just generally be with.
The idea of breaking up or changing your lifestyle can be scary when you’ve grown so used to being with someone else. And it can make it very hard to decipher whether you’re attached to this person or you’re attached to having a person around.
We’re socialized to believe that if you are a single girl of a certain age, you must be lonely or sad or secretly wanting a boyfriend. And thus we find ourselves focusing more on finding a partner than actually finding happiness with a partner.
Think about it: there are no apps or websites or dating services dedicated to making new couples happy or helping them get to know each other better.
The only faculties that exist are those that facilitate the initial meet. There’s no follow-up help to push the relationship along.
It’s not enough to just have this person, however, you have to really love and feel connected to him.
Regardless if you’ve been single for a long time or if you’ve always had someone in your life, it’s OK to be confused about if that person is “right” for you.
We’re taught we need a boyfriend -- not that we necessarily need one who is the perfect match.
We’re taught that relationships take work -- not that sometimes they are toxic to us. We’re taught that spouses are good and happy and singles are bad and sad.
Taken together, how are we supposed to 100 percent know that this is the person for us or if we just want a special person?
With all the joy a new relationship brings and all the fulfillment that comes with caring deeply about someone else, it’s hard to untangle if you like him or if you like having a companion.
This is why we hear people say things like, “She’s settling” or “She just wants a plus-one to the wedding.” It’s why ridiculously amazing girls date men way below their level.
It’s why we stay in relationships we know are not forever. You don’t want him. You want a boyfriend.
Here’s how you know:
1. The only future you fantasize about is breaking up
You fantasize specifically about all the other dudes you would make out with. Graphically make out with.
While all your friends are thinking about what the ring looks like, you're thinking about the prenup guidelines. When you try to envision the aftermath of breaking up, it’s not even trying.
But what’s key is that you’re not daydreaming about being single, you’re daydreaming about filling his spot with someone new. This might mean you’re craving companionship -- not your current guy specially.
2. The only conversations you have are arguments
You don’t like the way he abruptly Jekyll-and-Hydes you. He has more snaps than a 14-year-old girl's Snapchat story.
Maybe he talks down to you as if there’s a certain aristocracy to his words. Regardless of what’s bothering you, you know it’s not right.
And most importantly, you know you are capable of finding someone who treats you the way you want to be treated.
You understand this person isn’t good for you, but staying with him anyway could be an acknowledgement that you’re just wanting someone -- anyone -- around.
3. You have to use your imagination in the bedroom
You don’t necessarily want a booty call at 10 pm, but his morning sex at 10 am has got you wanting someone else to take over.
You’re not excited to have sex with him; you’re excited to have consistent sex with a steady partner.
When you let your mind wander to the neighbor you bumped into at Whole Foods too many times, you have to question where your heads at.
4. The only thing he brings to the table is his wallet
We know you hate admitting it, but it’s nice to be financially taken care of.
When it comes to nice dinners and dates out and movie tickets, being able to split the bill with someone or have him fully cover it is a luxury exclusive to couples.
You’re not thinking about what he brings to the table besides a wallet and lifestyle that matches yours. Red flags.
5. You can’t explain the qualities you love in him
You can only explain how happy you are being with someone and how good it feels to be loved. None of your happiness is based on his specific characteristics or related to his personality.
You can’t articulate what about him makes you love him, which isn’t a strong indicator you are genuinely in love with him and the person he is, but rather a person by your side.
6. You care more about how you look with him than how things look when you’re alone with him
You like having him by your side at social events and being able to go home with someone you trust at the end of the night.
It’s not about spending one-on-one time together, but rather being seen together.
You care more when he misses a party than you do when he misses a date night. Behind closed doors when there isn’t an audience around, you don’t care as much about him.
7. You like being someone's girlfriend more than your own boyfriend
You casually joke about breaking up with him to your friends because you’ve secretly contemplated it so many times.
You don’t actually see a future with him; you see a few birthday parties with him.
While other people daydream about their weddings, you daydream about how good you two will look in pictures together.
You’re not trying to get to know him more deeply -- you’ve already fallen in love with having a boyfriend. Merely having that title of “girlfriend” fulfills you, never mind the person behind “boyfriend.”