So you’ve met a wonderful person and had some fantastic dates together. Now it is time to decide if your relationship can turn into something more. If only there was a checklist to help you determine if you should get more serious. Well, there is! Here are 5 things to observe in your new flame that can help you determine if you want to go down the path of commitment.
1. What is their relationship like with their family? Observing their family dynamics can tell you a lot about their childhood, their role models for a successful marital relationship and their notion of family life. Some people are raised in difficult environments and overcome their childhood traumas. Others are caught in the memory of their painful childhood and these events may prove to be stumbling blocks for them in the future and in your relationship. So, see if your partner has perspective about their family dynamics or is still entangled in the drama of the past. If the latter is true, you may want to rethink things.
2. How do they treat their pet? Do they display affection and take good care of it? How they attach to their pet is a good indicator of their ability to feel empathy, display vulnerability and show affection in a relationship. Ultimately, the bond with their pet is an indicator of the way they are in their intimate connections. Check out if your new flame cuddles and shows concern towards Rover or seems disinterested and slightly neglectful. If the pooch is not treated the way you’d want to be treated, it may be a sign of things to come.
3. What do they have to say about previous relationships? Although people often have pain around past relationships, hearing what someone says about a breakup is very revealing. So, asking them a simple question like “what attracted you to your old flame?” or “how was it for you when it didn’t work out?” can be very revealing. If you get the impression that your mate is still holding a candle for a past flame, it may be time to cut your losses and allow him some time to heal. If your take away is that he is still getting over the loss of the relationship and isn’t ready for a new one yet, then think about whether this is right for you. Trying to win someone over while he is still in mourning can lead to even more difficulties than you bargained for.
4. How do they treat service people? A giant red flag should go up if they treat service people rudely. Being demanding, impolite and not understanding about things beyond the service person’s control, shows a lack of empathy and compassion for others and a tendency to be self absorbed. Take heed of this as it is a good indicator that he will not be understanding when you make mistakes in the relationship. Conversely, it can also be a bad sign if they are too accommodating and not forceful enough. You may find that your new partner is milktoast who lets everyone step all over him.
5. How do they react when they have difficulties with co-workers, family or friends? Do they take responsibility for their side of the road? Or do you always hear about what a jerk the other person is and how they are simply the victim of someone else’s problematic behavior? Working through conflict and negotiating differences in relationships is important and cannot occur unless both partners are willing to own their missteps and inappropriate behavior. If your partner is able to see what they did in a given situation to fuel the fire, then they will also be able to take responsibility in their interactions with you. So, keep your ears perked and listen carefully to their stories and see if they are self aware.
It is important to remember that people don’t live in extremes. They live in the grey and you’ll find that a boyfriend or girlfriend has some qualities that you like, some that you tolerate and some that you wish were different. It’s important that as you take the leap into a more serious commitment, you have a clear understanding of who this person is, and whether he matches up with the type of partner you want in your life.
Written by Rhonda Milrad, LCSW
Founder and Chief Relationship Advisor