The Difference Between Wanting To Be With Someone And Wanting A Future With Them
A friend once told me that some relationships are novels, some are short stories, and others are poems.
The length of a relationship doesn't determine how meaningful it is. A poem can blow your mind in a few short lines — that's what makes it meaningful.
Even so, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between a connection that has potential to become a long-term relationship and one that is better suited for a short place and time. There are loves that are right for now and ones that you want to work for years to come. How can you tell the difference?
Here are some signs that you want to be with the person you are currently seeing, but you might not be suited for staying together longer than a single stanza.
1. You Wouldn't Stay Together If One Of You Moved
This question is dedicated to an ex-boyfriend whom I dated for about two years before asking the hypothetical question of what he would do if I decided to leave Pittsburgh.
"I expect you would break up with me," he responded.
I asked him what if I didn't want to, and he shrugged. "I would if it were me leaving," he said.
It angered me how nonchalantly he could respond to this question that was about to change our lives. (OK, at the time, it wasn't real, but that didn't mean it couldn't one day come to be!)
After the anger subsided, I realized that we had already overstayed our welcome in one another's lives. We had gotten together as friends hooking up, and because we had fun together, it had turned into something more long-term. We hadn't wanted that when we first got together, and that was reflective of our attitudes toward one another now.
I'm not saying hookups don't have the potential to become something more serious, but in order for that to happen, the two of you have to be open to your feelings for one another to evolve and grow.
When it comes to whether or not you want to be with a person in the future, that also means you have to have an open mind about what your life together would look like. Are your feelings based on geography alone or would you be open to another future in another place?
If you can be honest with yourself, I think how you feel about changing locations might show your commitment to the person you're seeing in a way that goes beyond the depth of how your heart might feel.
2. Being With Them Involves Sacrifice
I don't really buy that every relationship is a sacrifice. Sure, the bad ones definitely do feel like a sacrifice, usually because they involve you giving up on yourself.
When you want a future with somebody, it doesn't necessarily feel like you are giving anything up for it -- the other person is who you want, and being with them doesn't compromise your dreams.
If you would have to completely rearrange or give up on the future you imagined for yourself in order to stay with somebody, then that means you might not actually want your relationship to continue on.
A relationship that is intended to run the course of a lifetime will give you room to do the other things you need or want to do (which might include school, changing jobs or locations, having a child, or maybe even becoming polyamorous).
If you find yourself shrinking to fit your partner, then that means you're trying to find a way to fit your life into the confines of someone you want to be with — but not forever.
Appreciate the time you had together for what it was and start pursuing the rest of the things you want to do. You'll find someone else to do them with.
If you're not ready to break up with them, that's totally fine, too. You can still be with someone and know they might not be around forever. That doesn't make your relationship any less real.
3. You Can't Imagine Living With The Person
If you want to cohabitate with a partner down the line, then I think it's important to be able to fathom actually living with the person you are seeing. What would your life together look like?
If he never spends enough time at your place for you to even gauge your fantasy, that might mean you guys are only meant for a limited time together.
One of my boyfriends once required three days a week entirely to himself. He said he needed that time to recharge and reset, and he would spend it reading quietly or watching television without talking to anyone. He even turned off his phone during that time.
It was fine with me that he wanted to do that -- I didn't need to see my boyfriend every day -- but it did make me realize that as long as he needed to do that for himself, it was unlikely that we would ever live together.
At that time, I didn't want to live with my boyfriend, either. But I knew that I would want to live with a partner down the line.
That relationship? It turned out to be a short story. I still wanted to be with him after realizing that we had different desires. Eventually, though, that clock ran out.
4. You Want Them To Change
This is probably the most important determining factor when you're figuring out whether someone is right for you now or whether you think they would still be right down the road.
One time, a friend told me that she was unhappy with her boyfriend, but she wasn't sure whether or not to break up with him because she wanted to be with the person she imagined he would become "in 10 years' time."
She wasn't happy in the present relationship, but she imagined he would make a really great partner — just not right now.
While it's totally acceptable to ask someone to change small things for love, if you think they need a major personality adjustment before you would be happy with them, then it means you are actually looking to be with someone else.
Of course, if you meet somebody when you are 22 years old, it's highly doubtful that they immediately have their life on course enough to be able to fathom the nuts and bolts of a future life together.
Still, I think that very little changes in somebody's personality from the time they are 20 to when they are 30. They might have more experiences that change their outlook, and they might grow up in more than one way, but deep down, their soul is the same.
The only way you can really find out whether you and that soul have a future in store is to wait and see.