I am presented with a host of relationship questions and requests asking for relationship advice. I have been asked on more than a thousand occasions about when a relationship should evolve to “the next phase”.
Sometimes they have been involved for a long time without seeing things progress and sometimes they are just meeting someone and are wondering whether it’s worth their time but in either situation, they tend to place emphasis on the pace and direction the relationship will take.
How do we know when our natural curiosity begins to veer into obsession? How do we know if we are too focused on the destination and have lost sight of the journey? If you are looking for the key signs of a healthy relationship then you’ve come to the right place.
Keep the following factors in mind before you jump to any conclusion about the relationship you are in:
What is a relationship?
A relationship is organic. This means that just like every plant grows differently, every outfit looks different depending on the person wearing it and every child has their own unique personality, healthy relationships too are not one-size-fits-all!
Just because your best friend got engaged after only 6 months of dating doesn't mean that you have relationship problems that will doom you to become the crazy cat lady because your boyfriend of 3 years has not yet proposed. Every healthy relationship and those within it move at their own pace and there will be times when your pace may be different than others.
Why communication is key to being in a happy relationship
Any Coach who is worth their salt will remind you to communicate. We can certainly help you to understand the path ahead and provide tips for how to shift the relationship but ultimately you need to be able to communicate your wants and needs with your partner to avoid needless relationship problems. Do not worry about their reaction. If they get mad, is it because you are asking every week or because they are avoiding the subject? Each holds a very different meaning and you need to be honest about which of the two your situation falls under.
Not every relationship will evolve
Let’s be honest, there is no clear definition of relationships and not all relationships are going to result in marriage. Whether you are involved with someone who clearly doesn't have their heart in the relationship or who treats you poorly, understanding that sometimes letting go is better than continuing to push things forward is necessary. It’s also the most difficult conclusion to come to. Where our hearts are concerned we all tend to be rather stubborn. Doing a status check to see if your relationship is toxic will help you to understand both the connection and yourself better. Relationships should be uplifting, not something which deflates you.
Patience is a virtue in healthy relationships
My husband and I have been in each other’s lives for 8 years. We have been living together for 5 of those years and married for nearly 4 of them. What does this tell you? That sometimes the best things come to those who wait and work at it! We didn't always have smooth sailing and there were periods of separation as we each grew as individuals but we made it back together. You cannot be afraid to give the room necessary so you both can explore life and learn about the self. This gives you time to grow as individuals so that there is a sense of inner love and security rather than dependence on the relationship.
Additionally things do take time. Anyone can rush into something and then potentially regret it down the road but taking your time and learning about one another allows you to build a stable foundation so that when times are tough it’s not flight instead of fight. If you have just started dating someone and already you need to know where things are going it’s time to get yourself in check. Allow romance and love to unfold and reveal themselves. Enjoy the journey!
This should always be your first priority. If you have been involved with someone for a long time and they still cannot even bother to call you their girlfriend or introduce you to their family then it’s time to have a talk. If they come in and out of your life and cannot be bothered to provide a little consistency then it may be time to hit the pause button. Live and experience your life and if things come back together with them then you will know that they were meant to do so. If they don't then you will know they were not right for you in the first place. The important thing is you do not put YOUR life on hold by putting a relationship before yourself. Inner love means external love; inner respect means external respect. Teach others how to treat you by treating yourself with worth and love
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as we strive for romance and love, aside from becoming too destination focused is to sacrifice ourselves. We cannot make a relationship or another person bigger and more important than ourselves. Our needs and desires are just as important as theirs. While we may not necessarily always be on the same time frame regarding moving things forward the ability to communicate these things is pivotal.