4 Signs You Might Care More About Having A Relationship Than About Your Actual Partner

How comfortable are you when you're single? Do you embrace the freedom, or does not having a partner make you feel adrift and isolated? Does it ever get to the point where you just want to be in a relationship for the sake of being in one? Well, it turns out, experts say there may be signs you care more about having a relationship than the person you are actually in the relationship with — and you might be able to identify them if you're willing to take an honest look at your relationship.

While admitting to yourself that you care more about being with a partner than your actual partner can be hard to face, according to Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and executive dating coach, you're definitely not alone. "It’s not uncommon to be more into the relationship itself than into the person you’re dating," he tells Elite Daily. "This happens because we all have a deep need for romantic connection. It’s wired into us. It’s how we’ve survived for 200,000 years. We must couple up. When that need for connection is not being met, you can feel that loneliness. So you might settle for someone you’re not that into because being in a relation fills that need and staves off feeling lonely."

The problem, Barrett says, is that these kinds of relationships end up short-changing you and and your partner in the long run. So, here's how to recognize the signs that care more about being attached than the person you're attached to.

You get more excited for couples' dates than one-on-one dates.

Does your ideal date night mean quality time with your bae? Or does its actually involve other coupled-up friends and fun activities? If it's the latter, then Barrett says that's a sign you might not be that into your SO. “If you get more excited about the ‘coupley’ things you do together — going out for dinner, socializing with friends — than you do about seeing that person, it may mean you’re in love with the relationship, not with your partner."

To be fair, NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter tells Elite Daily there is a lot of pressure to be coupled. “Everything is designed for two, or more. From cars to vacation packages, hotel room fees to dining establishments — the single person is the 'left over' that must be (somehow) accommodated,” she says. This pressure only increases when you're the only single one in your friend group. “If your friends are partnered, this changes everything. Now the stakes are even higher to fit in, and secure a partner in order to continue to be included in group activities,” Winter explains. This pressure really sucks, but the experts agree this pressure alone is not a reason to be in a relationship with someone you don’t really care for.

You find yourself showing off your partner for the approval of others.

It's totally natural to want to show off your partner because you think they're amazing and you're proud to be with them. However, if you feel the need to “show” them off simply to prove that you're not single, then both the experts agree this is a red flag. “This is more for the benefit of others and for yourself — you want everyone to know that you are indeed part of a couple and in a relationship,” explains Winter.

“It’s not about love. It’s about social proof,” adds Barrett. “If you want to see your significant other mainly when you’re with friends and family, you’re likely ‘showing off’ that you have someone in order to get approval from others."

You don't want to break up because you don’t want to be single.

If you want to be sure of your motivations for being in the relationship, Barrett says to ask yourself: “If we broke up today, what would I miss more, my partner, or having a partner?” He says if the idea of being alone is more painful than the idea of being without your partner specifically, it's a sign you love the relationship more than the person you’re with.

Winter says this is actually really common. “Being on one's own is frightening to most individuals. They feel cut off from society and the uniformity of the 'couples world.' No one wants to be the outcast,” she says.

You’d rather put up with bad behavior than be single.

Excusing a partner's bad behavior, says Barrett, is another sign that you care more about being in a couple than who you're actually with. “They’re selfish, needy, critical of you, or cruel. If you accept that treatment, it could be because you value being in a relationship more than you value that person. The devil you know is better than the devil of being single,” he explains.

When the experts put it like that, it becomes clear this situation is not sustainable, if only because it’s making you and your partner unhappy in the long run. Their advice is that you’ll need to face it, and the sooner, the better. “To fix this, first realize that staying in a relationship that lacks true love is costing you. Sure, it feels good to have someone, but you’re missing out on deep passion, intimacy and caring that only comes from a fulfilling, loving relationship. When you see what you’re missing and what this is costing you, you’ll be more compelled to take action,” says Barrett

Barrett says the first step is to take a hard look at your relationship. “Ask yourself if you’re in love with this person, or if you could see yourself falling in love with them. If you can, great — shift your energy to your significant other, and meeting their needs. Realize that people are more valuable than relationships. Where your focus goes, energy flows. You might be able to jump-start your connection with your partner and find yourself truly falling for the person,” he adds. However, he says that if you realize they're not the one, it’s time to end the relationship. “Set them and yourself free,” he advises. While this may be painful, Winter says it can be a learning experience — one that can help you find true happiness in the future. “It's good practice to check your motives before you merge romantically with another person," she advises. "This way, should you choose to be in a relationship you're doing so for all the right reasons.”

The ultimate takeaway here is that being in a relationship that your heart isn't really in does come at a cost. Yes, it might alleviate your anxiety and fear of being alone in the short-term, but it's also short-changing both you and your current partner. Perhaps Barrett says it best: “Yes, it’s nice to have someone. But a relationship can’t love you back. Only a person can. So, go find one who can give you love, and who can receive yours.”