7 Reasons To Start A Relationship Besides Thinking You’re In Love

You might assume that love is the most important ingredient in beginning a new relationship, but that’s not entirely true. Instead, there are a few more crucial things to consider before taking on the role of girlfriend.

By Keelia Clarkson4 min read
Pexels/cottonbro studio

You’ve been on a couple of amazing dates with a new guy, and so far, you’re convinced that the connection you share might grow into something special. He’s kind and funny, cute and thoughtful. And though it’s still early, you can see yourself eventually falling in love with him – so much so that you’re already thinking about getting into a long-term relationship, and you’ve begun to think of yourself as taken.

Love certainly isn’t a bad reason to get into a relationship; we’d never advise getting serious with someone you didn’t feel deep love for. And yet, listening only to what your heart is telling you (But, Daddy, I love him!) can lead you into devastating situations – like excusing toxic (even abusive) behavior, or giving up your ideals to make things work with him, or committing yourself fully to someone who’s only kind of committed to you in return. Getting into a relationship solely based on the love you feel, unfortunately, isn’t wise and often won’t lead to a relationship that works. “Sadly, there is often a gap between the love we feel in our heart and the emotional intimacy we experience with someone. The connection we desire may seem so close, so we keep trying, yet it may remain sadly elusive,” writes John Amodeo, PhD, MFT, for Psychology Today.

There is a myriad of other reasons to start a relationship besides being in love. Reasons that are ingredients for a lasting, fulfilling, healthy relationship – far more than having butterflies and sweaty palms will be. Read on to find out what they are.

You’re Committed To Growing Alongside Someone

For better or worse, nothing ever stays stagnant. We’re always growing, changing, headed in some direction, whether it’s a good one or not. This is true when you’re single, when you’re married, and everywhere in between, but there’s no doubt about it – it’s simplest when you’re on your own. When you only have your own needs to meet, your own growth to keep track of, your own desires to take into account.

But when you’re in a relationship, you aren’t growing all on your own anymore. You’re growing alongside another person. This means that their growth, needs, and desires must become just as important to you as your own because you’re no longer on the journey by yourself. What makes this a challenge is that it requires selflessness, deep insight into another person, and patience. Their needs might clash with yours sometimes, or their growth might take more time and grace than you’d like. If you’re ready to make that kind of commitment, then you just might be ready for a serious relationship.

You’re Willing To Be Honest

Don’t lie – early on in the relationship, we’re all on our very best behavior. We’re putting our best foot forward, attempting to conceal our rougher areas, doing everything we can to impress this person. While this is a natural part of a budding romance, it’s also something that can’t go on forever, if your aim is to establish a relationship that has a fighting chance.

Long-term relationships require honesty. Yes, about which friends you’re going to hang out with, but also about who you truly are underneath the neat, curated, socially acceptable mask. According to clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, “Honesty in a romantic relationship is about being authentic and genuine with your partner. It requires saying what you feel and think without hiding, suppressing, or manipulating your words.” Why exactly is honesty so important? It creates trust, allows you and your man to feel fully known and accepted, and makes communication much simpler.

You Want Meaning in Your Relationship

Not all relationships are created equal. Anyone who’s ever found themselves in a three-month-long romance that went south as soon as the butterflies wore off can attest to this. Some relationships are formed with a hollow excitement as the foundation, with little more thought than “we have fun together” put into it. 

There’s a reason these relationships will fail: They’re built on fleeting emotions and spiked hormones. And what goes up, must come down…which is right around when we realize that there isn’t anything we like about this person beyond the fluff. “People who are looking for the ‘rush’ of a new relationship will leave to find their next high,” says Angelika Koch, a relationship and breakup expert.

But the relationships that aren’t as likely to fall apart? The ones that are based on not just the “rush,” but shared vision and values, and emotional intimacy. Rather than approaching a relationship with the desire for greater excitement, enter into it with the desire for greater meaning.

You Understand That Hardships Will Come Along

Repeat after us: There is no such thing as a relationship without difficulties. It’s common to believe that if it’s meant to be, there will never be any challenges or annoyances or rough patches. And if you’ve ever come across a couple who claims to “never fight,” this misled belief is only compounded. 

Not only is it unrealistic to expect to never disagree, but it’s actually often seen as a sign of unhealth by professionals. Sure, there are couples out there whose arguments remain mild because “they communicate their wants, needs, preferences, and opinions in a manner that is accepted and processed by each other,” says Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist. But they’re the exception, not the rule. Often enough, couples who don’t fight simply aren’t communicating. “The emotions associated with the disagreements are still present. The lack of resolution of problems or conflicts by avoiding, compromising constantly, and otherwise pushing them away or aside can lead to miscommunication in the relationship [and] misperceptions about the quality of the relationship,” says Klapow.

The presence of challenges isn’t necessarily a reason to throw in the towel. While it’s important to use prudence when deciphering whether your disagreements are ones that can be handled healthily and worked through, the sign of someone who is mature enough for a lasting relationship is someone who isn’t afraid of conflict, but desires to confront and solve it.

You Love Who They Already Are

Either you’ve made this mistake, or you’ve known a girl who made this mistake: starting a relationship thinking you can change him. While it’s not wrong to expect a boyfriend to grow with you and become healthier, it’s also a recipe for disaster to go into things with a list of exactly how you want him to change. First, because it’s controlling. Second, because it creates an unhealthy “teacher and student” dynamic that you’ll both end up resenting. And third, because it probably won’t work anyway.

On the other hand, if you already love and accept who they are – even if nothing about them ever really changed – and could still see yourself being happy with them long-term, then that’s a good sign that the connection you share is one that will last.

Your Attraction Goes Beyond the Physical

It’s true that physical attraction is often the first thing that will draw us towards someone and that it’s important in romantic relationships. After all, the only thing we immediately know is that he’s got dreamy eyes – whether who he is on the inside is just as attractive is yet to be discovered. 

But while his good looks might have been enough to get your attention, it’s important that you’re attracted to far more than just that – his personality, drive, sense of humor, masculinity, or talent, for example. Focusing only on the physical might feel good in the moment, but his cute smile won’t have the same effect it used to when you feel like you’re on different wavelengths a few months down the road.

You Have Genuine Affection for Them

We’ve all seen those couples whose nasty interactions make us question why they’re even together – couples who seem like they’d typically rather not hang out, or make snide remarks about the other, or simply seem to drain the life out of each other. 

And then, there are those couples who, aside from being in love, just seem to like each other. Who want to hang out not because they’re codependent, but because they’re friends and enjoy each other’s company. Who look at each other with soft, loving eyes and speak about each other with admiration. They have genuine affection for one another – a kind of love that doesn’t fade, that withstands decades, that acts as the building blocks for a long, happy marriage. Forget thinking you’re in love with him – do you like him?

Thinking you’re in love is one reason to get into a relationship, but it shouldn’t be the only reason you decide to. If the desire is to be in a relationship that will withstand hardship, be life-giving to both of you, and offer your life meaning, then it’s imperative to take more into account than what your heart is saying.

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