Are your lives moving forward together or apart? (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
For generations past, marriage was a given for couples, seen as the ‘done thing’ and the next logical step after dating.
Now, though, not so much.
These days there’s the obligatory ‘what are we’ talk where exclusivity needs to be explicitly defined – and that’s before discussions about marriage, moving in together, and babies.
While of course there’s nothing wrong with casual sex or hookup culture, this being the default can make dating a struggle for those looking for something more long-term.
Finding the balance between making your desires heard and scaring away someone you see a future with is delicate business: on one hand you want to be honest, but on the other you’re worried doing so might be seen as ‘pushy’ or ‘coming on too strong’.
The obvious answer is to communicate without worrying about societal expectations, letting your partner’s reaction gauge your decision going forward.
But talk is cheap, and sometimes these conversations are glossed over or their actions don’t match their words, which makes it important to assess your relationship more broadly.
A lasting relationship is about shared goals and values (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
We spoke to Dr Laura Vowels, principal researcher and sex therapist at sex therapy app, Blueheart, for some input into the signs someone may be indifferent about fully committing.
Try not to catastrophise if you relate to them. Instead, use your partner’s behaviour as a guide to help you move forward, with openness at the forefront of conversations.
Unfortunately not everyone will be looking for marriage or children, and you may even be dealt the ‘he’s just not that into you’ card, which is admittedly rubbish.
However, knowing for sure whether your relationship has potential – regardless of the outcome – means you have the chance to make clear decisions about your life and relationships.
Here are Dr Laura’s red flags that someone isn’t looking to commit:
1. They avoid talking about future plans
‘If your partner doesn’t express an active interest in discussing your future plans together, it could mean that they don’t see you as a long-term part of their life,’ says Dr Laura.
Signs to look out for here include ‘becoming defensive during talks about your future, or completely changing the topic of conversation to something they’re more comfortable talking about’.
2. They downplay how serious your relationship is
According to Dr Laura, another thing to be aware of is how your partner speaks about you to others.
She says: ‘If you and your partner have been together for some time but they are reluctant to introduce you to friends, relatives, or colleagues, or shy away from “labelling” themselves as your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, it can be a sign that they are downplaying your relationship’s significance to themselves and to others.’
In the early dating stage it’s understandable you may not be introduced as their future wife/husband, but as time goes on it should be clear to everyone that you’re officially together.
3. They’re struggling to settle down
Dr Laura says: ‘If your partner is struggling to maintain a steady circle of friends or to stick to a certain career path, they may not be in the right headspace to commit to a relationship.
‘They could either have too much on their plate to be able to completely focus on you, or they may not be in the right mindset to settle down during this period of their life.’
Everyone has a right to settle down or live a wild party lifestyle. It’s when you see these patterns and ignore them (or assume you can ‘change’ the other person) that wires get crossed and feelings get hurt.
4. They don’t spend time getting to know your friends or family
Being part of someone’s life – and you being part of theirs – is pivotal to a healthy relationship. So if your partner is reluctant to fully include you, this may signal you’re not built to last.
‘Making up excuses to avoid introducing you to their own inner circles indicates that they may not be ready to take a serious step in your relationship,’ adds Dr Laura.
Have you been introduced to the important people in their life? Does your partner invite you to social events where their circle will be present? Do they cultivate your relationships with their loved ones?
If the answer to these is no, it could hint to them distancing themselves from your partnership.
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5. They find it hard to share their life with you
Dr Laura says: ‘If your partner makes important decisions without you, or always prioritises their schedule over your collective plans, it’s likely that they’re not ready to share their life with you in a committed and healthy way.
‘Actively avoiding being transparent with you can prevent your relationship from developing and reaching a long-lasting status.’
Looking forward to making memories and building a life as a couple is supposed to be fun, not a struggle to have your feelings heard.
If you’re constantly being dismissed, this is bound to foster a sense of unease about what lies ahead, but try to remember that it’s not a reflection on you.
You deserve to be with somebody who wants the same things as you – and definitely don’t deserve a partner who refuses to even listen to your aspirations.
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