We’ve all fallen hard for someone who wasn’t right for us. It’s a terrible feeling to find huge incompatibilities once the initial infatuation fades, but that’s why you date. Of course, nobody’s perfect, so how do you tell if a your partner’s quirks are a happy coincidence or a sign that you may not have strong compatibility for a long-term relationship?
Well, it’s not always clear, but there are seven signs to look out for that can help you figure it out.
1. They share your interests.
In a 2012 study, psychologists Robert Horton and Matthew Montoya found that people are naturally attracted to people who are like themselves. Shared interests are a great early indicator of similarity in values and personalities. Do you both like the same types of music? Great. How about books? Even better. Sports teams? You get the picture. Shared interests correlate with shared backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, and tastes, all of which are great for predicting long-term compatibility. If things go south, at least you won’t be saying you don’t have anything in common.
A good partner is quick share relationship responsibilities. These can range from small tasks like running errands or helping you through moments of need or stress. Life comes at us in waves, and the smartest of us know that we can’t go it alone—we need to lean on someone every now and again. If your partner is supportive in both big and small ways, it’s a great indication that they’ll treat you right in the long-term.
3. They have a strong sense of self.
Many committed couples begin identifying as a single unit soon after they get together. They’ll wrap their identities together and lose their independence. They stop hanging out with their friends. They give up on their hobbies. For the record: this isn’t healthy. It’s important for people in relationships to maintain their identity and independence. This doesn’t mean you can’t be close and loving with your partner, but you should maintain your own personal goals, friends, and life. If the person you’re dating exhibits a strong sense of self and independence early on, there’s a good chance they won’t fall into codependent patterns later.
4. They have a good relationship with their money.
In long-term relationships, given enough time the money conversation comes up. Being with someone who manages their finances well is a blessing, not to mention it shows self-control. Being with someone who doesn’t… well, not so much. It can be difficult to tell how well someone handles their finances early on, but there are a couple things to look out for. A person with a good relationship with money should live within their means and not impulsively buy things, but also be willing to spend money on important things (and people) with grace.
5. They include you while making plans.
While it’s important to maintain independence in your relationship, especially early on, it’s also important that a long-term partner includes you in plans they make and the actual making of plans. This means they take into account your schedule and make sure you have a chance to invite your friends too. These small gestures are little signs of respect.
The early stage in the relationship is one of the most important times to get to know the person you’re dating. It’s important during this phase that the person you’re dating makes time for dates and quality time for you two to get to know each other. Everybody has a busy schedule, but they need to make time. If they’re not making time now, they’re not going to later.
7. They understand the importance of family.
You don’t pick your family, but you do pick how you treat them and what they mean to you. If somebody has a good relationship with their family, it’s usually a sign that they know how to treat people, even when things get difficult. It also means that they’ll probably treat you well. On the flip side, not everyone comes from a good family or kind and loving parents. If your partner has had to navigate a hard and complicated relationship with their family, and has come out stronger and wiser for it, that can tell you a lot too.
No matter what you’re looking for or who you’re dating, the most important quality in a partner is respect. That’s the underlying principle of each of these signs. Remember nothing is for certain. These signs are just good guesses, but if the person you’re dating respects you, that’s always a good start.