Relationships are complicated, but that’s nothing new. Things can feel like they’re going great and then implode the very next day, but a relationship can also feel like it’s on thin ice and end up lasting for year after awkward year.
If you want to figure out if your relationship is healthy and built to last, then you need to ask yourself and your man some serious questions.
1. Is He a Player Or a Keeper? Does he pay attention to the little stuff?
It’s almost a cliché at this point, but that’s because it’s so true and easy to miss. Take some time and really consider whether your man puts effort into the little things. Does he remember what you said the other day? Does he still bring you flowers or text you once in a while? Does he notice when you change your hair or get a new dress? According to Marni Amsellem, Ph.D, the little stuff “promotes emotional closeness and intimacy, feeling secure in the relationship, and strengthens your bonds, connections, and overall intimacy.”
However, it’s important that you don’t go too far. This isn’t about pop quizzes and training him to remember tiny, unimportant details so he can avoid arguments. This is about whether he cares about the relationship. If you feel he isn’t doing the same cute things he used to do when you first started dating, ask yourself if you are doing them either. Open a dialogue with him, don’t bottle up your thoughts and silently judge him in the hopes that the problem will go away.
2. Do your conversations go both ways?
When you’re with someone for a while, it’s easy to get into a comfortable rut and not realize something is wrong. One of the easiest ways for this to happen is conversational imbalance. Maybe you’re talking too much, maybe he’s talking too much. Maybe one of you is a lot more interested in having conversations than the other. Maybe one of you feels the other is ignoring you.
But let me tell you right now, the solution isn’t counting who talks longer or more words. The real answer lies in what both people want. It’s fine if one person talks a lot more than the other if both are fine about it. It’s perfectly natural for one person to want to talk when the other might just not be feeling up to it. If you feel you’re not being listened to, bring it up. If that only leads to fights, then your relationship may not be long for this world.
3. Are you part of his future plans?
Envisioning a future together is easy. After all, daydreaming about the good stuff takes no effort at all. Just lie back and bask in the thought of you sipping drinks on the beach. The problem is that seriously thinking about the future is another beast altogether. Real plans aren’t nearly so clean and rosy. Is your man really thinking about a future together with you?
A lot of ladies hear this and go into panic mode. They ask their men right then and there if they have a future together. They offer an ultimatum that will probably do more harm than good. The secret is to coax the answer out of your man. He may be thinking about a future with you all the time, he just doesn’t say it out loud. He may be perfectly willing to browse houses and look into school districts for your future kid as long as you don’t present it as an attack.
4. Does he treat you like a priority?
In a relationship, you need to be his priority and you need to be his. If he’s not giving you the respect and attention you deserve, then what makes you think that’ll change in the future? Rings, weddings, and kids rarely fix that kind of problem. If he’s not prioritizing you now, then it’s time for a serious talk. At best, it’s a misunderstanding and he doesn’t realize how engrossed he’s been in work or hanging out with friends. At worst, you’ll know where your relationship stands.
However, a lot of people misunderstand the idea of priorities and get caught up in whether they’re a #1 priority all the time. That’s not healthy for either the person thinking it or the person on the other end. There are obviously going to be times where something else is more pressing to him than you and vice versa. If one of you has a kid going into this relationship, that kid is and should be a higher priority. The key is to know where each other’s priorities are before you go too far. If you want to learn more, please read our article Should You Be a Priority in a Relationship.
5. Does he handle arguments like an adult?
One of the biggest red flags a relationship can have is how people handle arguments. If he acts like a child and refuses to have a calm and measured discussion today, then how is he going to deal with all the bigger decisions you’ll face together down the line? According to Dr. Carla Marie Manly, “We often expect a person to be mature once they reach a certain age, yet emotional maturity is not guaranteed with any chronological age.”
Of course, you also want to think about the bigger picture and not just how you feel after a heated argument. Is he immature from time to time or every time? Are you coming off any better? Thinking about questions like these after a bit of time to cool off can give you a much clearer picture of what’s really going on. When you’re having a shouting match once in a blue moon, take a day to calm down. If you can’t do that because you have a shouting match every single day, it’s time to make an escape plan.
6. Does he treat you with respect?
A lot of people don’t really think about the difference between this and the previous question. It’s easy to think that if he’s not yelling at you, he respects you, but that’s not such a sure thing. Disrespect can come in a lot of forms and most are a lot harder to spot than shouted slurs.
Does he treat you like an adult? Does he think you’re incapable of simple things? Does he view you as a woman rather than an individual? Does he think you’re “one of the good ones”? It’s easy to miss the signs when you’re in the good graces of someone that doesn’t really respect you, but once you step out of line and take a stand for yourself, you may find a very different picture. The sign of a partnership that’s meant to last isn’t how they treat you in the good times, but how they treat you when things get hard.
7. Does he make the first moves?
Does he send the first text? Does he bring up exciting nights out? Was he the first to ask you out? The first to say “I love you”?
If the answer to all of the above is a resounding “No,” then you only need to be as worried as you want to be. If him taking the initiative is important to you, then by all means, open up a dialogue. Let him know you want him to be a little more forward. Let him know that you want signs of him caring. If that doesn’t solve it, then it’s time to consider how that reflects on the rest of your relationship. Is he really that into you?
On the other hand, everyone is built differently. Forwardness isn’t necessarily a sign of love and it can be difficult for some people to make the first move. If you’re comfortable being the one to take the initiative, then is there really a problem? If both of you struggle to take the first step, then alternating on unimportant events like deciding dinner can help you become more comfortable with one another.
8. Do you enjoy spending time with him?
This can be a little trickier than it sounds. Of course your first instinct is to say “Yes,” but is that immediately followed by a “Well, sometimes”? The fact is that this question is less about yes/no and more about “How much?” There are going to be memorable dates and there will be hurtful arguments, but what does the overall average look like?
Where this gets tricky is the idea of comfort. It’s dangerously easy to get comfortable in a relationship where you aren’t really happy together. It’s easy for your standards for happiness to drop while you aren’t paying attention. Were things really better in the past or is that just the nostalgia talking? Such questions can make it pretty easy to dismiss instincts that might be leading you in the right direction.
9. Do you spend a lot of time together?
While it isn’t necessarily as important as the quality of time you spend together, the quantity of time can say a lot too.
Not spending every free moment together is something that happens naturally as relationships go on.
You’re more comfortable with one another, you need a little personal space, life starts to get in the way. These are legitimate explanations, but sometimes they are just excuses.
Take some time to think about whether he tries to spend time with you. Think about times when you’ve asked him to spend time together and he was busy with something not particularly important. Think about whether the reverse has happened.
It can be difficult to get a grasp on how committed your relationship is in the moment, but if you take a step back and look at the facts, it can become easier. Are you more comfortable together and satisfied with being apart or is the spark gone?
10. Does he trust you?
Being able to trust each other is probably the single most important part of a healthy relationship. Other, more exciting details make the sparks fly, but true trust is what separates the flings from the marriages. If you can’t trust each other, how is your relationship ever going to survive? According to Dr. Dawn Michael, “a lack of trust in a relationship is something that will break the bond.”
Think about whether he lets you know the details about his life. Not what he ate for lunch, but his fears, hopes, and dreams. Does he open up to you about his insecurities and embarrassing stories?
If not, it’s not necessarily time to throw in the towel. Consider whether you’ve asked him about these sensitive topics. If you didn’t ask and he didn’t tell you, can he be blamed? Likewise, if it’s early in the relationship, is it reasonable to expect him to bare his soul completely?
11. Does he keep his word?
Just as you should wonder whether he trusts you and is willing to be vulnerable, you have to think about whether he keeps his word. Does he flake out when the going gets tough or does he just miss a lunch date here and there?
It’s a fact of life that just about everyone breaks their word now and then. You won’t make every lunch date and doctor’s appointment. The issue lies in how a person acts when the stakes are high. Flaking out of lunch doesn’t mean he’ll flake right out of your marriage, but if he flakes out of every other lunch date and gets shifty when it comes to talking about love, it might be time to take a big step back.
12. Does he think about you when you’re not around?
Everyone wants to know that their loved ones think about them even when they’re not there. After all, if they’re not thinking about you from time to time, then how important are you to them?
The real issue here is figuring out the truth. You aren’t inside their head and you don’t know exactly what they’re thinking. You can ask them, but is that going to get an honest or helpful answer?
The key is to look at actions and not words. Do they message you out of the blue? Do they pick up little gifts and snacks for you while they’re out? Do they remember your favorite dish and pick it up on their way home? Do they get the right brand at the store? It’s not about flashy declarations of love, it’s about them keeping you in mind during the boring bits.
13. Does he share his interests with you?
One big sign of trust and love that goes underappreciated is the willingness to share your interests with someone else. To some, this is the easiest thing in the world. To others, it’s a big step and a demonstration of deep trust. Take a moment and think about what kind of man you have.
If he doesn’t share his hobby with everyone, then introducing you to his world is pretty meaningful. Don’t overlook how difficult it might have been for him.
Conversely, if he shares his hobby with everyone except you, then it’s time to think about how he sees you. Does he think it wouldn’t interest you or does he think that it would be too complicated for you? Is he doing it out of kindness and not wanting to overburden you or because he doesn’t think very much of you?
14. Does he look beneath the surface?
Just as clichéd as the first question, you want a man that looks beneath the surface. Lasting relationships aren’t built on hot young bodies and lust, but kindred spirits and familiarity. Is he just with you because of your looks or because he values your personality, wit, and heart?
At the same time, you don’t want to get too wrapped up in old adages. Looks aren’t everything, but they are something. You want to be in a relationship where your man loves your body and you love his. It’s alright if it’s more about growing to love a body than falling head over heels at first sight, but it can’t be based on disgust disguised as a virtuous disregard for appearances.
The Bottom Line
There are two basic things you need to do if you want to find out if your relationship is meant to last. First, you need to take a step back and look at things with a bit of distance. Being too caught up in the moment won’t do you any favors. Second, you need to open up a dialogue about the problems. If the dialogue fails, then at least you know for sure. On the other hand, many problems can be solved with just a little bit of heartfelt communication.