sometimes it takes people a little while to figure out what it is they really want out of a relationship. But if marriage is what you really want, it’s better to know sooner rather than later if your partner wants that too. Talking to your partner is obviously the best way to find out whether your relationship is headed for marriage or not. But if you’re not quite ready to talk about it yet, there are some subtle signs you can look out for.
While it may seem like an argument-free relationship is a healthy relationship, Watson-Hill says, that’s not necessarily true. “A couple that avoids conflict is not building important communication skills and ways of managing conflict needed for a healthy marriage.” A couple who’s headed for marriage works on making their connection stronger each day. A connection isn’t just built through shared laughs and deep conversations. It’s also built through ongoing dialogue about uncomfortable issues and navigating conflict
So if you and your partner don’t fight at all because you try to avoid it, your relationship may not make it. According to experts, that’s not the only surprising sign to look out for. Here are some other subtle signs your relationship may not be headed towards marriage that you should be aware of.
1. You Believe Marriage Will Make Your Life Better
If you think marriage is the key to solving your problems, that may not be the cause. As of April Davis, dating coach and founder of LUMA – Luxury Matchmaking, this can be a clear sign your relationship is likely not headed towards marriage. Thinking that marriage will solve all your problems because you have a partner to help you will only make you dependent on them. Couples ready and headed towards marriage know that marriage will add to their already full lives, not complete it. Each partner needs to be able to stand on their own two feet, take care of themselves, and do their own thing every now and then. “People want to marry a partner, not a child,” Davis says. “If you’re too dependent on your future spouse, resentment [can] follow.”
2. Your Partner Avoids Using The Word “We”
If you really want to know how your partner feels about your relationship, pay close attention to the words they’re saying. When they talk about the future, do they use “I” or “me” a lot or do they use “we” and “us”? As Jodie Stein, MFT, the therapist who specializes in relationships, “Watch for signs in your partner’s thinking by listening to how they’re factoring you into their life.”
For instance, do they consider you when making plans on the weekend, bigger life decisions, or family trips? “Some degree of merging is necessary to move towards marriage,” Stein says. If they’re saying, “I can’t wait to spend the holidays with my family” instead of “I can’t wait for us to spend the holidays with my family,” it shows they may not see you as part of their future just yet.
3. You’re Stuck In The Same Routine
“Life can get repetitive, it always does,” Maria Sullivan, dating expert and VP of Dating.com. “But eventually your relationship will tire out if you don’t make an effort to try new things.” If you’re just in the dating phase and your partner isn’t receptive to trying something different like a class or exploring a new restaurant, this can actually discourage you from wanting to marry them. Many relationships fall into a rut at some point. But if your partner isn’t making an effort right now when you’re still just dating, marriage won’t really change that. In some cases, it may even get worse.
4. You’ve Broken Up And Gotten Back Together Multiple Times
Normally people would think that getting back together is another shot at a relationship. But as Cherlyn Chong, breakup recovery and dating specialist, “I’ve observed that it’s usually another shot at breaking up.” The problem is, people get stuck in an endless cycle of breaking up and making up because they keep trying to get back together for all the wrong reasons. More often than not, couples get back together too soon before each partner actually has a chance to grow as a person. “If you’re the same person when you broke up, you’re going to have the same problems, which will lead to yet another breakup,” she says. If this keeps happening, you most likely won’t be any closer to getting married.
5. Your Partner Exudes Negativity
“If they display constant and consistent unhappiness or mood swings during the relationship, it’s not likely that a marriage is going to solve that — if it even gets to that,” Chong says. A partner who is very negative about themselves or the relationship usually has insecurities they’re dealing with. When that happens, they may act out by blaming you. “Likely, they will eventually tell you that they ‘need to focus on me now’ or that they ‘aren’t good enough for you,'” Chong says. This is just their insecurity talking. But whatever it is, things may not pan out if you get into a relationship with a chronically negative person.
6. They Want To Stay In Constant Communication With You
Talking and texting throughout the day may not seem like a bad thing. For some couples, it’s not. But if one partner needs to carry on day-long text conversations, while the other can do without it, there’s a compatibility issue here. “People who text all day can come off as fearful and lacking confidence in themselves and the relationship,” Treva Brandon Scharf, dating coach. “In a healthy relationship, both partners have agency and show restraint.” If your texting and communication needs are different when you’re just dating, it’s not likely going to get better or change just because you get married.
7. You’ve Been Together For A While And You Haven’t Talked About Your Values
“I always share with my clients that future talk and future planning are great signs that things are moving in a more committed and long-term relationship,” Jennifer L. Silvershein, LCSW, psychotherapist, and founder of Manhattan Wellness. Someone who’s truly committed to you will include you in future plans and will want to know where you want the relationship to go. But if you haven’t talked future plans yet, talking about shared values is a good sign that you’re headed for marriage. At the very least, this shows that your partner is thinking about whether you’re someone they can see themselves within the future. But if your partner doesn’t show curiosity about your values or your goals in life, they may not be thinking about marriage just yet.
The only way to know if your relationship is headed for marriage or not is to talk to your partner about it. If they seemed closed off or try to avoid the topic, marriage might not be on the table for you at the moment. But if you haven’t talked about marriage yet and you want to have an idea of where they stand before you approach them, these are just some signs that can clue you in.