Relationships can be super fun and fulfilling. From always having someone to talk to and adventure with, to celebrating anniversaries and birthdays together — there are tons of reasons to want to be boo'd up. Of course, if you're noticing some distance growing between you and your partner, it's natural to wonder: Do I love my partner or hate being single?
"People usually date because they are looking for someone to spend time with," Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and well-being coach tells Elite Daily. "The level at which they would like to connect really depends on where they are in their lives and how much time they have to commit." While dating can provide a totally healthy social outlet, it can be important to check in about why you want to spend so much time with your boo. "You'll know you really love your partner if you choose to be with them, rather than need to be with them," Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert and love coach says. "You're comfortable being alone, but prefer their company because they enrich your life." Being able to still take yourself out for a meal or spend a night on your own can be super valuable when you're in a relationship.
According to Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, a driving factor in wanting a partner can often be one's discomfort with being alone. "One of the leading complaints my clients have is dating because of the fear of being alone. For many, any companionship is better than none," Silva says. As Silva attests, discomfort being single can impact the way you may choose potential partners, and may enable you to enter relationships you don't super want to be in. "When the fear of loneliness is the driver of your decision making, it makes you choose based on lowered expectations. It gives off the illusion of filling the void of loneliness," Silva says. Winter agrees that fear of loneliness often plays into dating someone you don't really love. "The fear of being alone is the single greatest motivating factor for individuals to seek out a romantic partnership," Winter says. "This can prompt many singles to seek out 'anyone,' simply to not be alone."
Of course, if you're totally in love with your partner, then your commitment to them will be deeply personal. "You care for your partner, genuinely like them as an individual, and admire the qualities they possess," Winter says. "You enjoy seeing your partner, spending time with them, and being in their presence. They make you laugh and make you think. They're engaging and interesting." If your partner engages and challenges you, or if they bring you comfort and security, you may be totally over the moon for them. Additionally, if you feel excited to make them a part of your life, chances are, you're truly in love. "You open your life to them and you want them to open theirs to you. You are genuinely excited and curious about their lives," Melamed says. "You want to be for them in good times, bad times and everything in between."
If you're starting to suspect that you're dating someone because you kind of hate being single, the experts share a number of signs to look out for. "You don't really like this person," Winter says. "You don't find them interesting. They bore you, embarrass you, or drain you of energy." If you're noticing that your partner doesn't really light you up, or if you don't seem to find them super interesting — it may be time to check in with your boo about what you're feeling and where your head is at. You are a radiant superstar, and you deserve to be with someone who can bring their own amazing qualities to your relationship.
Of course, if you're open and honest about your emotions and intentions, experts say it can be OK to date because you want a partner. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship and dating is the way you find the partner that's right for you," Winter says. If it's important to you to be in a romantic relationship, taking time to find the right person is a natural practice. According to Melamed, the most important thing is being transparent with your partner about what your intentions are. "As long as you are being honest with the other person about your level of interest and the direction of the relationship," Melamed says. If you are being clear about what you are looking for, it is totally OK to navigate whatever kind of relationship makes sense for you and your boo.
Unearthing if you really love your partner can be a little tricky. Of course, it's OK to want a partner and a relationship, and dating around can often help you find the person best suited for you. If you've been seeing someone for a while, and you're starting to question where your head is at, try asking yourself if your partner is really making you happy. You deserve to be excited and fulfilled — no matter your romantic status.