Although life would be a complete bore if you were an adult in every sense of the word, there is one arena where you should always strive for grown-up status, and that’s the relationship with your SO. Nobody wants to deal with a baby of a partner who demands unhealthy amounts of attention, is constantly jealous, and requires constant affirmation about your love for them. You don’t have time for that. You’re too busy trying to find a way to reincorporate all those ’90s trends back into your adult life.
But there’s so much research out there on what constitutes a happy couple that it can be overwhelming and confusing. You might be surprised to see what relationships need to make it in the long run; like, apparently, having low expectations at the start is indicative of a lasting foundation. Also, if you’re going to get married, don’t have an expensive wedding, since they are more likely to lead to divorce.
If you’re already in a relationship, you might be wondering if there are aspects of your romance that point to maturity and longevity. There sure are, and they aren’t hard to look for. Here are 11 signs you’re in a grown-ass relationship that will last, backed by research.
1. You Can Go For Hours Without Checking In
No matter how much you love each other and love spending time together, you both need a solid dose of independence in order to have a healthy, grown-ass relationship. That means you can do your own thing all day long without feeling like you have to text or call to let your SO know what you’ve been up to.
Experts say that one of the most common traits of insecure partners is that they want to know as much as possible about who you’re seeing and what you’re doing. If this sounds foreign to you, you’re probably in a really good place. Let each other enjoy your own lives, and you’ll go the distance.
2. You Have Your Own Friends And Social Life
A common characteristic of happy couples is that they attend social events together when the occasion arises — but it’s just as important for the relationship to do things on your own. Abigail Brenner, M.D., a psychiatrist with more than three decades of experience, wrote for Psychology Today about what a happy coupledom entails. “You keep your own identity within the relationship and so does your partner,” she says. Part of that identity includes the time you spend with the friends you invested in before you fell in love.
3. You Encourage Each Other To Pursue Your Ambitions
Going back to how important it is to keep your own identity afloat in a relationship, it’s crucial that you each have your own dreams, whether that relates to your career or your hobbies. If you know that you can always count on your partner to lift you up when you’re pursuing something that’s really important to you, that means you guys have a strong foundation. Couples who don’t respect each other’s goals don’t tend to make it very long, and certainly aren’t mature.
4. You Split Up Household Duties Evenly
No grown-ass SO is going to let you do all the vacuuming and household repairs. Those are jobs you share together, or else you’re lacking some serious equality in your relationship. In 2007, a Pew Research study showed that household chores were one of the top three most significant things that contributed to a lasting marriage (the other two were faithfulness and good sex). Sixty-two percent of married folks say that even distribution of home duties is a must-have if you want to keep the fire going.
5. You Easily Let Go Of Each Other’s Mistakes
If you’re confident in your relationship, you’re not playing the constant criticism game. You’d rather brush it off when one of you forgets to pick up the dry cleaning or send out your mutual friend’s wedding gift. There’s so much more to your partnership than these small hiccups, so if you’re adult enough, relationship experts say you’ll simply rectify the problem and move on with your lives.
6. You Feel Comfortable Taking Solo Vacations
As fun as it is to go globe trotting together, it’s a good sign if you two are likely to take a trip alone every now and again. It might be the perfect chance for you to have some alone time and relax and unwind in the ways you love most, without having to answer to anyone else. A 2014 Booking.com survey found that 72 percent of American women have traveled alone, and out of that group, 65 percent said the experience improved their self-confidence. That’s definitely something that contributes to an awesome relationship.
7. You Make An Effort With Each Other’s Families
You don’t have to be besties with your SO’s sister or mom. However, it sure does help to have a healthy rapport with them, because your partner’s family is going to be in your life frequently enough. Once you can see that the both of you have warm, open communication with each other’s relatives, it’s usually a strong signal that things are in the clear. Dr. Brenner says honoring each other’s family ties is a surefire way to show your true love for your partner.
8. You Don’t Hold Back On The Physical Affection
Physical touch is such an important part of showing love for one another. Marlene Wasserman, relationship and sex therapist and author of Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction, told Glamour that a happy couple will kiss, hug, and caress. All it takes is small gestures, like “ritual greetings at the beginning and end of each day,” to reflect how grown-up your love is. If this affection extends out into the public arena, even better.
9. You Fight Right
There are the good fights and the bad ones. You need the former in order for your relationship to survive. Even when you’re angry, the couples who have a good chance at making it to the end are the ones who will fight with kindness. Julie Gottman, licensed psychologist and martial expert at The Gottman Institute, tells The Atlantic, “You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.” If you and your SO hold back on the aggression even when you’re mad at each other, pat yourselves on the back. Gottman would probably tell you you’re on the right track.
10. You Communicate Well & Regularly
When you feel like it’s time to make an important decision, hopefully you confide in your partner so the two of you can discuss it together. This shows that you trust each other, you want to share your lives with one another, and you value each other’s opinions. But a grown-ass couple communicates not only when they have serious things to discuss, but also regularly and in an in-depth way, just because they want to check in and know what the other person is thinking and feeling.
11. You Make An Effort To Spend Quality Time Together Even When You’re Busy
This is a no-brainer — you won’t find a grown-ass couple who doesn’t crave each other’s company. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., associate editor for Psych Central, says a necessary cornerstone to any lasting romantic connection is how much the couple nurtures and tends to their relationship. Regardless of ridiculously busy you are, if you’re making time to go on a date or splurge on a weekend getaway, you two are officially grown.