Relationships that move along at a steady pace often outlast any whirlwind romance. If you want to be more certain about where you stand before you commit your time and emotions, these are some steps you can take by yourself and as a couple.
Steps to Take by Yourself
1. Take responsibility for your own happiness. It's easier to show restraint when you develop realistic expectations for any relationship. You create your own success in life. It's good to have a partner, but you're still whole all on your own.
2. Develop a stable sense of self-esteem. Believing in your own value provides an effective guide to what's acceptable in your interactions with others. You can be generous and forgiving from a position of confidence rather than neediness.
3. Know your own priorities. There's still some social pressure to get married. Give yourself credit if you're a responsible member of the community who functions better in a different arrangement.
4. Question Hollywood stereotypes. Movies and romance novels are filled with couples who fall in love at first sight and get married about a week later. It's important to separate fact from fiction.
5. Monitor your time. Be honest with yourself about how much time you and your new partner really spend together. It's often one of the best indications about how seriously they regard the relationship.
6. Focus on character. Above all, concentrate on learning about your potential partner's character. Anyone can take dance lessons, but integrity will be more difficult to develop if it's not already in place.
Steps to Take as a Couple
1. Talk openly. Summon up the courage to discuss sensitive issues. If things progress, it's important for learn about each other's childhoods, finances, and views on marriage and children.
2. Be respectful. Be sensitive when sharing personal information. Appreciate your partner's honesty even when their views are different from your own.
3. Share a variety of experiences. Get to know each other in different settings. You may see a whole other side when someone gets out of the office and onto a softball field.
4. Take on new challenges. Sharing activities together will teach you more than staring at the same TV screen. Sign up for a philosophy class together or go kayaking.
5. Make friends with other couples. Spending time with other couples will also give you insights into each other. In addition, you may find role models you want to emulate.
6. Hang out with each other's friends. Your friends may spot issues you fail to see if you are infatuated. Make your own decisions, but consider feedback from those who know and love you.
7. Meet each other's families. Families have a tremendous influence on most of our lives. Observe how people talk about their parents and whether they keep in touch with their siblings. It may reveal patterns that will repeat themselves if you start your own family together.
8. Trust in increments. Trust is a gradual process. If someone shows up on time for every coffee date, you can feel more secure asking them to feed your dog while you're away for a week.
9. Set limits. You may both have certain requirements in mind for any long term relationship. If certain requirements are a "must" for you, determine sooner rather than later if your new partner fits the bill.
You can be romantic and sensible at the same time. Taking care of your own welfare and being respectful and considerate towards others protects you from getting swept off your feet and puts your relationships on more solid ground.