3. There’s Truth in Interactions
Much like any reality TV dating show (cough cough, The Bachelor) it’s easy to envision seamless compatibility within the rose-coloured environment of date nights and weekend getaways that are rife with the appeal of new, unattached romance. It’s the interactions outside of those moments in which you can truly provide an idea of a potential partner’s personality and disposition. Could you live together? Could you take care of each other when you’re sick or circumstances are far from ideal? What are they like with their friends? Who do they spend their time with, and how do they interact with others? How do they communicate, especially when under pressure or influenced by emotion?
It’s within repeated interactions, tested by the natural, fluctuating trials of day-to-day, that you can determine if you can truly tolerate, love and support, each other.
4. Have You Done the Work?
It’s hard to identify a potentially compatible partnership if you don’t even have a solid sense of who you are and what you want, first… don’t you think? Outwardly seeking a relationship before you’ve come to terms with your relationship with yourself isn’t much different than trying to run before you can walk, or trying to build a house before laying the foundation. And this may be an age-old sentiment, but considering so many of us still seem to fall into this trap, it’s worth repeating.
Wanting a relationship doesn’t mean you’re automatically ready for one – it means you’ve bought into the idea of love and companionship. But attracting that love and being in a (successful) relationship requires you to do some serious work on yourself, before you ever try to invite someone else into that picture.
Millennial dating has evolved a long way from those partnerships experienced by previous generations. Where our parents (and/or their parents) often got together at a younger age with marriage, kids etc. following suit shortly thereafter, we now preach the importance of independence and a more relaxed romantic timeline. Most of us shape our twenties and thirties around education, careers and travel long before we settle into the mindset for a longterm relationship. This is great, in theory, but it can be a double-edged sword.
Establishing a long-term partnership, today, requires finding the balance between the independent lives and behaviours we’ve created and firmly attached our identity to, and that which we can share with a potential partner. Joining together two very complete lives won’t (ever) be a perfect match – at some point, things will get tough, the relationship will be tested and compromises will have to be made. But with the increasing influence of dating apps and ‘the paradox of choice’, it often becomes easy for us to navigate relationships with one foot out the door, so to speak. If the newness has worn off and sh*t’s gotten real, we have our own lives to fall back on, right? And we could (technically) be on another date, in someone else’s bed or at least entertaining someone else’s intimate attention in moments with the quick download of Tinder or Bumble. We essentially always have access to an exit strategy that, even if it shouldn’t be executed, can feed into the ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ mindset in a dangerous way.
Independence is incredibly important – it’s something I preach endlessly, in fact. But be wary of how easy it has become to press ‘Stop’ on a relationship at the first sign of disconnect, simply because we’re so used to doing things our way (or logging onto an app as an easy bandaid for romantic attention). Rather than being interpreted as a threat to our independence; relationships – the right ones – should help us evolve into better partners and, ultimately, better people.