Clues That Your Partner Wants a More Serious Relationship

Signs signaling a desire to take your relationship to the next level.

Posted Sep 08, 2019

There comes a point in every dating relationship where one or both parties begin to think about the future.  Do they sustain the status quo or step up?  Ideally, both parties are on the same page.  But not always.  You may know how you feel, but interpreting your partner´s feelings requires perception.  Here are some clues indicating your partner is ready to make progress.  

Pronouns Matter: I or We 

A significant other who refers to you as a couple is much more likely to be invested in your relationship than someone who describes the two of you as individuals.  Research corroborates this reality.

William L. Dunlop et al. (2019) reviewed over 1,400 observations from seven studies investigating the relationship between pronoun use and adult romantic attachment styles.[i]They found a positive association between anxious and avoidant attachment styles and “I-talk,” and a negative association with “we-talk.”  Even after accounting for demographic categories such as age and psychological traits such as neuroticism, they note that the negative relationship between avoidant attachment and we-talk persisted in significance.  They conclude by observing that apparently, pronouns used to describe romantic experience indicate attachment style.  

In describing the basis for their research, they note that people with higher levels of anxiety are more afraid of losing their partners, and underestimate partners´ desire for connection and commitment.  In contrast, they note, people with higher levels of avoidant attachment fear closeness or dependence on a partner.  

They report that prior research indicates that people who are anxious tend to distrust and disapprove of their partners, a state of mind that increases as a relationship progresses.  They note that people who are avoidant also view others negatively, assessing them as less trustworthy and caring, and doubting the benevolence of their intentions. Consequently, they note that research reveals that we-talk signals the extent to which individuals view themselves as connected with other people, and that such connection is less likely when viewing others negatively.  Accordingly, they observe a negative relationship between anxious and avoidant attachment styles and we-talk—a prediction that was corroborated by their research.

Active Listening with an Agenda

It is great to have a partner who listens when you talk; and actually remembers what you said. Interested partners ask about things you mentioned in passing, not only to let you know they were listening, but to follow up.  True, avid networkers and politicians use similar tactics, but not with the same goals. Social networkers ask questions to express interest and find common ground to cultivate professional relationships.  Smitten partners are interested in learning about your goals and interests in order to build a future together.  Conversation will reveal the contrast.

A Preference for Proximity

The partner who wants a deeper relationship with you wants to see you in person.  No amount of texting, face time, or other methods of electronic communication will do.  Someone who is enamored with you wants to have you in the same room—even if you are both doing other things (cooking, working, relaxing).  A preference for sharing personal space predicts relational success. 

Dates Are Device-Free Zones

A devoted partner considers time with you to be more important than his or her device.  When you are on a date, your partner does not waste precious couple time texting or talking with others; the attention is focused on you. Interestingly, this electronic hiatus is not only out of respect for you and your time.  An adoring partner selfishly does not want anything to get in between the two of you.  

A Family Affair

A smitten suitor spoils both you and your family. He or she invites them to join the two of you for meals or outings, brings them small gifts, and offers to do favors to make all of your lives easier.  He or she treats your family as an extension of you.  This focus on the family ends up strengthening your relationship as well. 

You Like It? You Got It

Partners who want to maintain a relationship with you want to please you.  They pay attention to what you mention you like.  From favorite foods to fashion, if you like it, they want you to have it. If your partner is watching his or her finances, be careful what you mention during casual conversation on the phone—it might be waiting for you on your doorstep by the time you get home.    

Actions Speak, But So Do Words

Within any relationship, the desire for a closer connection is usually on full display, through both words and actions. Happy, healthy relationships are not rushed; they progress naturally, with both parties verbalizing and behaving in ways that demonstrate they are ready to step up.

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[i]Dunlop, William L., Alexander Karan, Dulce Wilkinson, and Nicole Harake. “Love in the First Degree: Individual Differences in First-Person Pronoun Use and Adult Romantic Attachment Styles.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, (May 2019).