Here are four important questions you should consider before your relationship starts to get real.
1. How do you feel about yourself when you’re with them?
You shouldn’t rely on your partner to make you feel confident and self-assured, but if you entered the relationship feeling that way, the answer to that question can help you assess how your partner has impacted your sense of self.
“Your partner must respect you and treat you with kindness,” said Teichman. “But ultimately, nobody can give you your self-worth but you.”
2. Do you miss them when you’re apart?
You need to be apart every once in a while in order to miss someone’s company. If you think you’re spending too much time together to know how you feel, talk to your partner about setting new boundaries.
“Before you can say whether or not you miss the person you’re dating, you’ve got to be real about whether or not you’re giving yourself a chance to miss him or her,” she said. “If you’re together 24/7 or something close to that, then there’s no way you have the ability to answer that question fairly.”
3. Is there a balance of power in the relationship?
Teichman said that all relationships are a constant negotiation of power, and not every decision will result in your preferred outcome. You don’t always have to agree, but you do always have to feel heard and respected.
“Reflecting upon how decisions are made between the two of you — and more importantly, how you make each other feel while those decisions are being made — is key to understanding the potential your relationship has to succeed,” she said.
4. Do they bring out the best in you?
Think about your goals and the gifts you possess that help you reach them. Has your partner supported your endeavors through both words and actions? If you don’t have a checklist at the ready, or you’re not sure what’s unique and special about you, Teichman recommends thinking about moments when you felt the most useful, valued, and appreciated.
“If you don’t know what gifts you have to offer, then you can’t really know if the person you’re dating is someone who brings them out in you,” she said.