You're in a happy, loving relationship with someone. You're having an absolutely great time in the moment. But you might also be wondering, "Do they see a future with me?" Or does the relationship have an eventual expiration date attached?
No matter how light or how serious the relationship may be, it still has value. Just by virtue of dating someone, you discover more about what you like and value in a partner, you learn more about yourself, you practice important life skills like communication and vulnerability, and — this last one's important! — you can just have a great freaking time. Dating means you have a person to snuggle with, a person to share your late-night Game of Thrones fan theories with, and a person to join you at the new Italian spot that just opened up downtown. Regardless of whether you're together for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, that's worth celebrating.
But if you've found somebody that makes you want something serious — maybe even a life-long commitment — you might be seeking clues that your partner sees a future with you. Luckily, according to Dr. Rebekah Montgomery, a clinical psychologist specializing in relationships and helping couples prepare for marriage, the most important thing to watch out for is your own gut instinct. "Knowing if someone is the one is often about learning to hear your own inner voice and trusting your judgment," Dr. Montgomery previously told Elite Daily. "We know when something feels healthy and right."
In other words, you know your relationship (and it's potential) better than anyone. That said, if your significant other wants to be with you long-term, they'll likely say at least a few of these important lines.
1. "Let's plan for that."
It makes sense that in a relationship where there is a real future, you and your partner will talk about actual plans... for the future. "A partner who wants to grow with you and spend a life with you won't hesitate to make any and all kinds of plans for things to come," matchmaking and dating expert Stef Safran previously told Elite Daily. "Whether it's that the two of you don't have time for something now or whether it's just that there's something big you'd like to plan down the road, a partner who loves you and wants a lifetime with you will be happy to start to plan for it."
If they want to set up future plans, they're a keeper.
2. "I am sorry."
Apologizing can be tough. That's why when your significant other does take the time to apologize to you, sincerely, it probably means they are looking forward to building something special and real with you.
"Relationships are often easy and fun in the beginning. You want to navigate challenges together and know you can come out on the other side stronger," Dr. Montgomery previously said. "You want to know you can be vulnerable and share the deep, scary stuff with your partner and feel closer after."
A fight isn't necessarily a bad thing — every couple fights. What really matters is how you fight, if the fight can blow over, and what happens once the dust has settled. If your partner is committed to you for the long haul, they'll hopefully take extra care in resolving the conflict and making sure you feel loved and cared for.
3. "Let's compromise."
Compromise is the heart of many successful relationships. When someone wants to grow in their love with you, they'll happily compromise and understand that they're part of a team now.
After I got married, I wasn't quite sure how the adjustment would be going from "I" to "we." Both my husband and I are pretty solitary creatures, and we like to get our way. That said, it worked out perfectly, and we fell naturally into acting like true teammates.
If your partner is down to compromise, hang on to them!
4. "We can do it together."
Scared of that big presentation at work or nervous to have that serious discussion with a long-time friend? A partner who wants to love you for the long haul will offer to help and see if the two of you can do it together.
"As much as individuality is important, allowing your partner to be a true partner and have an influence on at least some of the decisions you make in your life is critical," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, previously told Elite Daily. "This willingness to allow them to influence your thinking and actions is what keeps you closer and strengthens your bond." In other words, you aren't alone: You trust your significant other's judgment and you know they'll always have your back. Their support gives you strength.
One of the best things about being married, in my opinion, is not taking on all of life's challenges myself. It's nice to have a husband who is willing to be my supportive partner at every turn.
If someone offers to help shoulder some of your burden, whether it's emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental, this means they truly love you and are in it for good.
5. "Thank you."
The best partners thank each other for the little things they do every day.
My husband and I are guilty of thanking each other for taking out our puppy, cleaning the kitty litter, cooking, and doing other day-to-day activities. Our philosophy is that it keeps our relationship fresh and loving, and it removes expectation, which is a huge source of disappointment.
By hearing thanks on a regular basis, you'll continue to feel like your partner really values and appreciates you. So if you're with someone who thanks you very frequently, this is a good sign they're looking to build a future with you.
No two couples are the same, but happy, successful, long-term couples often share a lot of traits. If you've caught your partner saying the things on this list pretty frequently, you can rest assured the two of you will be building a life together before you know it.
This post was originally published on Oct. 9, 2017. It was updated on Sept. 3, 2019 by Hannah Orenstein.
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