Many believe they are in a loving relationship with potential because they have met their date’s (or partner’s) friends or parents. For them, people only introduce romantic partners to their inner circle if they are serious about the relationship. Surely, they wouldn’t do things like this if we were just casual?

The answer is yes, they might. There’s often also a sense that someone wouldn’t allow themselves to be introduced to friends and family or come along to a wedding or some other significant event if they weren’t really into us. These are examples of what I call relationship hallmarks. These are signs, such as what we perceive as emotional, conversational, and social milestones, that we rely on as indicators of how much we should invest. We mistakenly use hallmarks to gauge what we think the person feels about us or will do in the future.

For instance, some people assume that their relationship has legs due to plans being discussed or intimated. They associate talk of the future with emotionally available, commitment-desiring folk. It doesn’t match their notion of someone just wanting to get into their pants or overestimating their interest or capacity to commit and be a loving partner. The same goes if a prospective partner cries or shares something really personal.

Of course, the very heteronormative dating and relationship advice of the past (and sometimes present) was all about men having the power. Apparently, they don’t like talking about the future (or their feelings). Ipso facto, any future or feelings talk must surely be a sign of their interest and commitment. Nope, sometimes men, people, future fake. They talk about the future to get what they want in the present. Or they’re loose with their words and emotionally unavailable. Either way, it’s a problem.

We need landmarks, not hallmarks.

What we learn through experience and, yes, disappointment (the result of reality not living up to our hopes and expectations) is that we’ve mistaken our perceptions of the hallmarks of a relationship for the landmarks — characteristics of a relationship that are easily recognisable and that allow us to establish the location of it. The landmarks of healthy, mutually fulfilling relationships are balance, consistency, commitment, intimacy, and progression.

Rather than assume you’re on the same page because they said the right thing or you went to Ikea together, or they seem happy to hang with your family and friends, check in with yourself about the landmarks. Their presence (or absence) will tell you a lot.

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites
Ready to make way for the loving relationship you want? Sign up for RELATIONSHIP FUNDAMENTALS classes.
This is default text for notification bar