Relationships do not happen in a straight line. This is a universal truth, and one that’s so important to embrace — because while social norms and popular rom-coms may teach us that our lives are supposed to follow a particular trajectory after we meet “The One,” the reality is, each of our stories are unique (and TBH, that’s a beautiful thing). Still, you may find yourself wondering: Is my relationship headed in the right direction? According to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, there are ways to tell if your relationship is taking a positive route. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re headed for specific milestones, but rather that your bond is growing and strengthening in a promising way.
One of the top signs your relationship is headed in the right direction, according to Masini, is if you agree more often than not, and additionally, can work through disagreements together in a healthy way.
“The way you handle differences — whether it’s what restaurant to choose or what part of the world to live in — is a great indicator of how things are going,” she tells Elite Daily. “Couples who bicker more than they agree are headed in the wrong direction. But if you are able to overcome, compromise and work out your differences, your relationship is headed in the right direction.”
There is definitely no "normal" when it comes to sex in relationships. Some couples may place more value on it than others. Furthermore, different couples may have varying expectations for how often they’re getting it on. Still, there’s no denying that sex plays an important role, and that’s why regardless of the frequency, Masini says the most important thing is that it's good — or getting better.
“Bad sex happens, but when it becomes your baseline in a relationship, you’re heading in the wrong direction,” she explains. “Sex isn’t just about chemistry. It’s about being able to communicate and work together to give each other pleasure. If one person is stingy or the communication is just not working, the sex is going to be bad more often than it is good. Bad sex on a regular basis? Wrong direction.”
To be clear, that doesn’t mean you should expect the sex to be amazing from the start of the relationship — nor should you just expect it to automatically improve over time. Communication is key, and if something isn’t working for you or you find yourself wishing your partner would try a particular move, then it’s up to you to share your needs and desires with them. While you’re at it, open up the conversation for them to share what’s working — or not working — with you.
While it may seem obvious, if you genuinely look forward to seeing your significant other, that’s a positive sign that your relationship is in a good place.
“If you’d rather do errands instead of seeing your partner, this isn’t a good match for you at this time,” says Masini. “Your interest in seeing your partner is an indicator of the relationship’s direction.”
There are also some signs that your relationship may be headed down the wrong path. For example, Masini notes that if you find yourself lying to your partner because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, or if you figure out that your partner is lying to you, that’s a red flag.
“This erodes truth and growth, and it’s the wrong direction for any relationship,” she explains.
Speaking of lies, a general feeling of mistrust is another negative sign to look out for, according to Masini. If you’re constantly second-guessing your partner or checking their phone/email/banking statements because you don’t feel they’re being honest with you, that obviously indicates that you don’t trust them, either because of their past actions or your previous experiences in relationships that you haven’t worked through.
“If you can’t ask your partner a question and trust their answer, their word is no good to you, and that’s not the basis for a healthy relationship,” says Masini.
Find yourself bad-mouthing your partner behind their back? This is also a sign that your relationship could be headed in the wrong direction.
“Complaints or venting about your partner to your friends and family mean that you have problems in the relationship that you’re not really working on with your partner, and are complaining about to others to get validation,” adds Masini. “Those complaints aren’t happening in a vacuum. They’re your way of trying to get help by talking negatively.”
If you feel like things aren’t going in the right direction, it’s not too late to reroute your relationship. Masini recommends honing in on which specific symptoms are hurting the health of your relationship so that you can get to work on improving in those areas. For example, if you find that you’re lying to your partner a lot, you may want to dig into what’s triggering this behavior. Or, if you are struggling with trust issues, you may want to launch a larger discussion with your SO about how they can strengthen your trust, or potentially see a therapist to help you work through this. If your partner doesn’t seem willing to meet you halfway and do their part to turn things around, that’s when Masini says you may want to give some serious thought as to whether it’s worth staying with this person.
“Sometimes people stay in relationships that are headed in the wrong direction because they are afraid to be alone,” she says. “This is a bad reason to stay on a sinking ship. Address your own issues that keep you from moving your own life towards health, and make the changes you need for yourself, so you can get out of this wrong-direction relationship and find one that moves in the right direction.”
A relationship that’s moving the wrong way can certainly be salvaged. By recognizing what’s going wrong, you have an opportunity not only to steer things in a more positive direction but also to actually strengthen your connection. The most important thing is that both partners are able to take responsibility for their own actions, and further, are invested in making any necessary improvements. Basically, once you and your boo are aware of what’s been holding you back, you can work as a team to redirect your relationship so that it’s moving in a way that’s mutually fulfilling.