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Relationships are hard work. Once you’ve moved past the initial period of infatuation – often referred to as “the honeymoon phase” – reality sinks in, and you start to get a deeper sense of who someone is and whether or not they might be right for you.
But the signs can be difficult to identify, particularly if you’ve never been a long-term relationship before.
How much should you be willing to sacrifice for the other person? Does it matter if your interests don’t align? And what about if you argue quite a lot?
1. You can meet in the middle
The key to any successful relationship is compromise, says Kate Moyle, relationship psychotherapist and host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions podcast.
“It’s always going to be a tussle between the individual needs of those involved, and we shouldn’t expect to be perfectly aligned or agreed on everything.”
The way you are able to compromise and negotiate with a partner should be a key indicator of how well suited you are.
If you find it easy to meet in the middle when you are in disagreement about something, you know your partner is a keeper.
2. They make you feel good about yourself
The right person for you will empower you to be your most confident self, says dating coach James Preece.
“They’ll reassure you, pay compliments and let you know how amazing you are,” he adds.
Wave goodbye to partners who have you constantly questioning your thoughts and appearance, that’s a clear red flag something isn’t right.
A good partner wants you to be happy and not to doubt yourself. “If you start to believe it too then you are never going to need to question anything or doubt yourself,” Preece adds.
3. The will be a good listener
A good partner will listen attentively to everything you have to say, regardless of how boring it might seem to you.
“It might mean you’re listening to them ranting about the flaws in your work colleagues for the majority of an evening, but it’s important for them to feel heard and listened to,” says Moyle.
“The ability to hear each other, and to give the other space to feel heard, even if the content of the discussion isn’t of interest to us as an individual, shows that person that they are worthy of our time and attention.”
4. You have similar core values
You don’t need to have the exact same interests as a potential long-term partner. In fact, sometimes it helps to have completely different ones – it gives you something to talk about.
But Preece stresses that if you want a long-term relationship with someone, you must make sure you are both going in the same direction in terms of your life goals and your core values.
“You are a team and need to be on the same page,” he says. “This requires you both aligning on what’s important to you in life.”
It might be your views on children, where you want to live, or simply how you choose to live your life. Whatever it may be, if it’s important to you, it should be important to your partner too.
5. You have healthy discussions when you disagree
Arguments are not necessarily a bad thing in a relationship. In fact, depending on how you handle them, they can be integral to the longevity of a partnership, says Moyle.
“Every discussion doesn’t have to be an argument,” she explains. “But with the right person, you should be able to express opposing or different views without it causing relationship breakdown or fractures.
“You should learn to validate each other’s perspectives, even if as individuals they don’t match up.”
This shows you are celebrating each other as individuals, Moyle explains, and is good practice for being able to discuss life challenges and situations that will arise.
6. You aren’t afraid to tell them what’s on your mind
When you are with the right person, there is no judgment, says Preece. Or at least there shouldn’t be.
“You should feel free to be yourself and show all sides of your personality,” he adds.
“If something is on your mind, you prefer to get it out in the open quickly rather than bottling it up.
“The best thing is that when this happens with someone who is good for you, they will be able to listen and help when you have a problem.”
7. They offer you their undivided attention
There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of speaking to someone and noticing they’re scrolling through Instagram.
The right partner won’t do that, says Moyle. “They will be completely present in your company, which is an important part of human connection and demonstrates our value to that person.
“So often we are distracted by tech, screens and notifications. But attention plays a big part in forming meaningful connections.”
8. Your friends and family love them
It might sound obvious, but if your loved ones get on swimmingly with the person you’re dating, it’s usually a pretty good sign.
“The people around you are going to be a great judge of character and probably know you better than you know yourself,” says Preece.
“It’s normal for them to be protective and initially suspicious of the people you start dating.
“If they are your partner’s biggest fans then you know you have picked a good one.”
9. They do little things for you
A gesture needn’t be grand to be romantic. In fact, sometimes it’s the small and subtle gestures that mean the most.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of money or spoil your partner rotten for them to know that you are thinking of them,” says Moyle.
“It could be that cup of tea in bed in the morning, cooking dinner when they know you have had a long day, or an affectionate text.”
Even simply reaching out for your hand can be a meaningful gesture. If you’re dating someone who does these things, it’s usually a good sign that they care for you deeply.