Falling in love is a magical experience. The stolen glances, the endearing hugs, the endless kisses, and the mad attraction! But after that glorious honeymoon period, sets in the phase when you must decide whether to consider this a serious relationship or not. Compared to the joys and excitements of a new relationship, staying in love is a matter of luck and some work. There is the proverbial huge slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to being totally attracted to someone and then getting into a permanent relationship with them.
Sometimes, the affair may falter at the first slight hurdle making you run away and then you begin the search for ‘the one’ all over again. In the normal or idealized world, the relationship trajectory follows a simple path. You meet, you get attracted, you date, you get involved more deeply, and you take it to the next levels. Unfortunately, the path of romance isn’t that smooth and not every relationship unfolds into a serious or long-term one. Often, the confusions and conundrums of modern dating leave lovers asking the same question: Am I in a meaningful relationship or not?
What Is Considered A Serious Relationship?
The transition from casual dating to a serious, permanent relationship can go in two ways:
- You and your partner may test the waters and learn how to create a relationship together, or
- Either, or both, of you gets scared away or annoyed. You leave before things could turn real
Casual daters get scared of the waters and let go of a good relationship because they aren’t able to tackle the problems in a healthy way. The dilemma of where your relationship is headed often arises due to confusion and expectation mismatch, lack of commitment, past fears, and worries about the future. Also, in this day and age of casual sex, finding a date is as easy as swiping right. So, not many people are inclined to get into a serious relationship that will lead to marriage when they can easily have fun without the risk of heartbreak.
The difference between serious relationships vs casual ones means that you and your partner can envision a future together in a serious bond. Dilshed Careem, a UAE-based life coach, says, “Both partners do not hesitate to take the next step – be it moving in together, getting engaged, or talking about the future together.”
Here it is important to note that serious relationships do not mean that they are happy relationships. Even if you are long-term partners, exclusive to each other, there can be several problems which may or may not resolved. The essential difference is that in casual dating, the emotional investment is very low and so are the feelings.
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15 Signs You Are In A Serious Relationship
If you are looking to commit to someone in a relationship, ensure that your intentions and expectations are aligned with your actions. If you are madly attracted to someone who has fear of commitment or exclusivity, it might lead to nothing but heartbreak for you.
On the other hand, there are those bonds where both partners are not quite sure where they are headed, but their behavior and emotions show signs of a serious relationship. If you have been dating for a while and still unsure if there is a future to your relationship, here are some clear signs and suggestions you need to pay attention to. These can help you decide whether you two are ready to handle a permanent romantic relationship.
1. Being exclusive is the easiest sign of commitment
Here’s what being exclusive means to a guy or a girl. You can sense that the relationship is moving into a deeper and more comfortable territory. You suddenly want to go out to every party or event with that person. You have fixed dates. There is no one else in the background even if you haven’t quite confessed your feelings to each other. Here are some things that indicate you are on the verge of starting a new relationship:
- If you are exclusively seeing each other, both of you will be on the same page and ditch the dating apps
- Your friends are aware of this special person in your life. Your best friend knows how smoothly this is moving forward and they are happy for you
- You know their daily routine and remember little things about them
- You have started falling in love with them and the thought of them leaving you scares the life out of you
- You know each other’s financial situation
If all the above-mentioned things are happening to you at the moment, then it’s time to establish a deep connection with them.
2. The magic words have been uttered
Agreed, some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Saying “I love you” comes easy to them and they do it pretty often. But those who are looking for serious relationships, do not take these words lightly. So before you agree to a suitor, find out if they really mean what they say.
If, on the contrary, both you and your partner have said “I love you” to one another, it is a huge indicator that the relationship is getting serious and both of you are clear about what the other person means to them. That’s one of the signs they want a serious, committed relationship with you and so do you. It doesn’t matter when you say it – immediately after dating or after being together for a while – it’s the sincerity that makes a difference.
3. You will be invited to family functions
If your bae wants to bring you home for Christmas, take that as a massive sign that you are in a monogamous relationship. “You should spend quality time with each other’s family. This will connect the two of you on a deeper level,” says Careem, a 28-year-old banker from New York.
Being introduced to your partner’s family is quite a significant step in the relationship journey because it shows your partner is willing to include you in their personal circle. What does a permanent relationship mean to a guy/girl? Well, if you meet their mom, there’s no bigger tell than that!
4. You want to resolve conflicts
Fights and arguments occur in all the stages of a relationship. However, if you are just casually dating, a single argument is enough to tempt you to walk out. Some more signs that show you are serious about them even when you are in an argument include:
- No name-calling and blame games take place
- Neither of you insults the other person or yells
- Both of you are aware that you love one another even in times of conflict and heated arguments
- Neither of you feels pressured to “win” the fight
- There is only one aim: to fight the problem as a team
In serious relationships, you or your partner will make serious attempts to resolve conflicts and extend the olive branch. The thought of a fight will pain you and you feel upset and angry afterward. Simply put, the emotions will be more striking and the anger will eventually fizzle out.
5. You talk about the future
Instant hooking up and breaking up is all about instant gratification. You prefer living in the ‘now’ rather than worrying about the future. You may not even see yourself walking down the aisle or settling into a future with your date. If these things are true for you, maybe you are not ready to handle serious relationships. On the other hand, if you absolutely love spending quality time together with this person and imagining a future with them, this could be one of the signs you are ready for a committed relationship.
In a meaningful relationship, talking about the future comes naturally to the couple. It doesn’t mean you immediately plan a wedding or ask the “Should we have a baby?” question but you organically want to share your dreams, hopes, and aspirations about your life with your partner.
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6. You increasingly spend time at each other’s homes
Here is one of the signs he wants a serious relationship just like you do: when the two of you spend a lot of time in the same house. Well, consider the following scenario and think about whether these signs of a long-lasting relationship apply to you or not. Weekends mean you are either spending time at your partner’s place or they are coming over to yours. You leave behind things at their apartment – from small items to bigger things. You have the key to each other’s houses.
These are perhaps the first steps toward making the decision to start living in the same house or move into a new place. These are also signs of increasing levels of comfort and allowing the person into your intimate space. It shows that you are dedicated to each other and may be ready for a steady relationship. You feel comfortable and you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life together.
7. Sex won’t be the most important factor anymore
Most relationships start with attraction and thereby, good sex. People form good sexual relationships with those they have good chemistry. This chemistry acts as the foundation to begin a new relationship but there are a lot of other elements that are needed to build a successful relationship:
- Constant learning and unlearning
As you begin to get more deeply involved, lust is complemented by care, affection, concern etc. You may find that you can spend time with your partner and have a lot of fun even regardless of whether it involves sex or not. You will find out each other’s deal breakers and by now you will know what ticks them the wrong way. If this is the case, it might even be possible that you are in an important relationship that will lead to marriage.
Related Reading: Am I Sexually Compatible With My Fiancé?
8. It is not just one person picking up the tab
Even in the age of equality, some things remain old-fashioned. Like the fact that men try to impress their crush by picking up the tab on their first or initial dates. They want to be seen as gallant. However, as time passes by, this might seem unnecessary.
- There comes a time when you won’t think twice about splitting the bill
- You both buy gifts for each other
- The question of who spends what does not really come into the picture
- There will be honesty about finances in a serious relationship
- The person with the financial capacity to spend a little more, does
9. You won’t hesitate to show your vulnerability
If you have always wondered “Why is it hard to find a meaningful relationship?”, perhaps it’s time to look at your own behavior and outlook as well. People find it tough to show their vulnerability to their partner for the fear of it making them look weak. So what does a serious commitment mean to a guy or a girl? It’s the comfort.
The willingness and comfort to be at your most vulnerable in front of your person is the most important of all signs of a deep love connection. You are not scared to show your scars and darkness, or to show them you care. If the love is true, you will be loved for your weaknesses too.
10. You are engaged with their success and failure
When you get into a long-term relationship, their involvement with your life gets deeper. They will have opinions on your choices (you may or may not like them but that’s another matter). You may seek advice from them and vice-versa.
More importantly, you will feel engaged with their success and failure. You will celebrate the good things in their life and be there to support them when they are going through a low. Needless to say, at times, a bit of jealousy can creep in too if your partner is moving ahead and you are not. But you are able to manage those feelings and be happy for your partner.
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11. You form habits with one another
You may have to plan your first date to the T. But as time goes by, everything falls into a familiar pattern and certain mutual habits get formed organically. For instance, it might be a given that every Friday, you will watch a movie together. That is indeed the answer to the question – At what point does a relationship become serious?
You might establish unspoken and unwritten rules of dating that you must go for every play at the local town hall. It does not mean you give up your other friends or activities but you are definitely inclined to draw your beloved into your world and plan mutual habits.
12. The pretenses drop
It’s understood that whenever you are trying to impress a person, you are on your best behavior. You or your date might even be tempted to go out of your way to ensure everything is perfect and that you appear spot on.
But in a committed relationship, there is no need to put up this pretense. The façade drops and you can be your natural self, without any formality. A sign of being accepted as you who truly are is a hallmark of a long-lasting relationship. So if you’re pondering what a serious relationship means to a guy, maybe think about when he stopped wearing shirts and started wearing sweatpants.
13. PDA is natural
In this day and age of social media, a shout-out on Instagram or Facebook is a surefire away to announce to the world that you are in a committed serious relationship. When you don’t have anything to hide from the world, these mentions become all the more common. As long as you’re steering clear of social media mistakes that couples make, it’s all wholesome and romantic.
So, from your trip to the beach to your fun meal together, everything becomes fodder for your Insta handle with cute and mushy hashtags. You wouldn’t do this Social Media PDA with a casual date. So if you suddenly find yourself being mentioned on social media more often by your crush, know that they are considering starting a serious relationship with you.
14. You will often travel together
Traveling is not just about packing your bags and taking the first flight out. When you go on a trip with a person you are developing feelings for, it is quite an important step toward making a more formal commitment. Traveling together and spending that exclusive time is a great way to know one another and no one would want to do that unless they want to get more serious. Holidays are also an occasion to create happy memories. Who you choose to do that with speaks a lot about the relationship.
Related Reading: What Is The Difference Between Making Love And Having Sex?
15. Your important decisions involve the other person if the relationship is becoming serious
A key difference in the serious vs casual relationship debate is the importance you give to the other person while making some life-changing decisions. Let’s say, you have got a new job offer that requires you to move to another city.
Will you think about how it might impact your relationship? Will you make plans to stay in touch or be connected and figure out ways to meet each other? Do you take into consideration your partner’s comfort, life situation, and opinion while making a decision in your life? The answers to these questions give an indication of whether you are in an earnest relationship or not. If you are, you will try to make the relationship work no matter what.
- A serious, romantic relationship means loving someone for all their flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections
- One of the signs you are in a steady relationship with someone is when the two of you have uttered those magic words and have started spending a lot of time together
- Some other signs include fighting to resolve, expressing care and concern, and throwing away the pretenses
Relationships are hard work and while sometimes, things progress naturally and organically, most times, you have to put in an effort and watch out for the signs. It’s a mix of good and bad times. It is entirely up to you how you convey your love, hope, aspirations, and intentions to your partner. If you have a few or more of the above-listed signs of a serious, loving relationship, then congratulations, you are definitely on the right track to cement your love!
This article has been updated in March 2023.
A serious relationship means both partners are willing to engage with one another at a more intimate level, they are willing to discuss the future, and envision a life together.
A relationship can get serious within months or may stay casual for years without any hint of commitment. It depends on the intention of the partners involved.
Usually, people get more serious about relationships and commitment once they are more settled in their life professionally and feel they have matured emotionally. It is tough to say but on an average, people tend to get into serious relationships in their 30s, after getting out of casual ones or trying out the wrong ones in their late teens or 20s.
When casual hook ups no longer interest you, when small talk bores you, when you are no longer impressed by someone putting on a show to make an impact on you, when you have an emotional and practical space for someone in your life, these are the signs that you are ready for a serious relationship.