Most relationships go through a “grey” testing period, where both partners are not sure if they are on the same wavelength with their feelings and relationship status.
This period is as exciting as it is emotionally tumultuous.
You are discovering the other person and maybe even falling in love, but also keeping your guard up.
Questions arise over whether to use the titles of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, who will remove your online dating profile first, and when to start showing routine signs of union, such as holding hands or using pet names in public.
There is a certain point, however, where you can let your guard down and know that the relationship is real and there’s no sign that it’s going to end.
This is the point where you can start to feel much more relaxed and secure.
You’ve reached solid ground, and while many things in the world remain gray and uncertain, you usually know where you and your partner are.
In other words, it’s getting serious.
There are some glaring signs that a relationship is getting serious: you can have an argument about how to make the relationship exclusive, discuss moving in with each other, and of course, there’s a no bigger sign than when a ring appears.
In addition to formal discussions, there are a few more subtle ways to tell if things are more serious:
1. Public displays of affection
Never underestimate public displays of affection.
This goes beyond the occasional kiss or pinches in public.
A relationship is starting to get serious when you and your partner proudly show yourself as important people in the public eye.
You have no problem mentioning each other in tweets, posting photos together on Instagram, or including each other in Facebook status updates.
For those of you who aren’t into social media, there are other ways to let the world know you’re together, like introducing each other as “girlfriend or boyfriend” and letting your relationship take center stage.
Of course, holding hands or kissing in public never hurts.
You know you’re going somewhere when your boyfriend or girlfriend takes the time and effort to go the extra mile to make you happy.
This doesn’t just mean buying that necklace you’ve been purposely looking at online whenever it’s in the room (although that certainly doesn’t rule that out!).
When you care for each other, small gestures often happen, to the point where you care for each other as if you care for yourself.
Catching dinner or buying two movie tickets shows that you’re willing to make sure both are catered for.
Simply asking how your partner’s day was (even if you start going on autopilot at the one hour mark) becomes a way to support each other and show that you care.
One of the most important signs of a strong couple is trust.
No relationship is without its ups and downs or worries, but most of the time, when your partner says he loves you and you’re the only one, you shouldn’t hear a voice in the back of your mind asking, “Will it be?”
You also shouldn’t have to look over your shoulder at every step to make sure your partner isn’t looking at someone else or texting an ex.
Instead, you should feel confident that his phone and email are free of inaccurate messages from unknown “friends,” and you don’t have to worry when you leave him alone on a Saturday night.
Your role is not that of a private investigator; instead, it should be someone who feels secure in your relationship.
Likewise, you shouldn’t delete messages, tell lies, or lead a double life with your partner.
A strong relationship is open and honest, through its ups and downs.
4. A world of you two
It’s important that you and your partner have a private world that only the two of you share.
It’s an intimate place, where you keep jokes and references that only the two of you will understand.
It’s also important that each of you spend enough time apart, though.
Remembering that you are not just in a relationship, but also a person with your own interests actually strengthens your relationship and enhances all that you can bring to it.
In addition to the time you and your partner spend together in private, it’s the time you spend including your partner in your world.
Introducing your boyfriend to family and friends, inviting him to a family barbecue or work event, and sharing your interests and hobbies puts the relationship in full swing.
Each of you is multifaceted, with parts of you dedicated to the relationship, other parts to your own goals and interests, and also to the other people in your lives.
Incorporating your relationship into all these facets makes you full-bodied rather than stuck at point A or B.
5. Being with him is like coming home
As Maya Angelou wisely said, “I learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
This saying is even more true in a relationship where emotions and feelings are one of the main points of connection between you.
Being with your partner should be like coming home: it’s safe, comfortable, and relaxed.
You sleep better at night knowing he or she is there.
Basically, there is no one you would want to spend your time with, and whenever the two of you are together, the situation is 100 times better.
If your partner is your world and your home, you know you’re serious.