9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Committing to a Long-Term Relationship

Couple Hiking at Sunset

I remember casually dating and having a ball doing it. But one day, I woke up on a cold November morning and thought, “I think I’m ready to be in a long-term relationship.” I don’t remember what prompted the thought, but it felt like it was time, so I did it. 

I never asked myself why I was ready. Was it because it was cuffing season, and I wanted someone to cozy up to on cold nights to watch movies with? According to Clevelandclinic.org, “Dark, cold nights can trigger an intense feeling of loneliness and a drop in serotonin.” A drop in serotonin, huh? Is that why I was so desperate to find someone? 

Who knows what exactly the reason was? I figured it was about time, so I jumped in head first. Big mistake!

I never took the time to question why I thought I wanted a relationship. We dated for a few miserable months into the New Year. Then, after all the gifts and parties, we went our separate ways. In hindsight, I learned two things about that relationship:

That’s what I did. Years later, I no longer hopped out of bed on a chilly morning and declared, “I want a partner!” When (and if) I got another partner, I would take my time and ask myself questions to determine if this was a good idea or a desperate one. 

  • I was never ready for a partner because I only wanted a date for all the holiday parties.
  • From then on out, I was going to think before leaping.

If you’re flip-flopping on whether to take the next step, ask yourself these 9 important questions to know if you’re in it for the long haul.

1. Am I Happy?​​

Tell them exactly how you feel. Tell your partner your truth and why you feel like a long-term relationship is not in the future. Do you no longer communicate effectively? If you haven’t had a meaningful discussion in months and don’t care if you ever do again. It is time to move on, so let them know as directly as possible.  

Most of the time, even when you have to end a relationship, you still have some lingering feelings. You want to move on, but you want to tell them it’s over in a kind manner. Tell them how you feel and be honest. Whether you feel sad, afraid, or awkward, this isn’t the time to hold back. 

Share your feelings. 

Expressing those feelings may be painful and difficult, so you may be tempted to call or text. Never break up via a message, including email, voicemail, social media, or text messages.

Show respect for the relationship by giving a face-to-face goodbye. Do not ghost someone, even if you’ve only been dating for a few weeks. Ghosting appears shallow and cowardly.

Don’t Invalidate Their Feelings​

People look for a partner because they don’t feel happy or fulfilled in their lives, and they’re searching for someone to do that for them. But, unfortunately, no one can make you happy except yourself.

Sure, they may provide a little relief here and there, but you don’t want to put the obligation of making you happy on them. That’s way too much pressure. 

Instead, it’s best to be happy before finding a like-minded partner. This way, you both bring positivity to the table and can build a healthy long-term relationship.

Here’s the thing; if we attract someone when we’re unhappy, they may make us content on the surface for a little while. However, what made us sad before will eventually surface again.

But how do you make yourself happy? 

Start by shifting your perspective and appreciating what you have going on right now. Stop focusing on the negative. Instead, see where you can make improvements in your life. 

For example, start an exercise plan or visit a nutritionist if you’re miserable because of your weight. If you don’t like your job, begin looking for a new one. Sometimes, it’s not the change.

The fact that you’re being proactive in finding a solution is what pulls us out of our misery. Try new activities like:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Cooking/Art class
  • Hiking

2. Do I Practice Self-Love?​

According to PsychCentral, self-love means“You accept yourself fully, treat yourself with kindness and respect, and nurture your growth and wellbeing. Self-love encompasses how you treat yourself and your thoughts and feelings about yourself.” 

Some of the benefits of self-love include:

  • Stronger resilience
  • Greater happiness
  • Increased mental and physical health
  • Increased motivation

In order to have continuous self-love, check in with yourself daily. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that we are speaking or thinking negatively about ourselves.

For instance, have you ever looked into the mirror and thought, “I need to lose weight?” Or, “I hate my hair today?” We ponder thoughts like these daily. To combat the negative talk, nourish your mind and body with a few healing practices.

  • Journaling: Instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, write down how you feel and ten things you appreciate about yourself.
  • Journaling: Instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, write down how you feel and ten things you appreciate about yourself.
  • Daily Affirmations: Take a few minutes in the morning while getting ready for work and say comforting messages out loud. (I am beautiful! I am strong! I am resilient!)
  • Put Away the Devices: At least one hour before bed, put your devices away and wind down. The emanating light from your phone prevents melatonin from producing in the brain, which keeps you awake longer.
  • Be Good to Yourself: Treat yourself to a weekend getaway or to something nice you’ve always wanted, like diamond earrings. Book yourself a spa treatment and take the entire day for yourself. It’s rejuvenating and an excellent pick-me-up for the mind, body, and soul.

3. Am I Ready for a Long-Term Relationship?​​

Being ready for a long-term relationship is much more than giving up your independence and freedom. It also means devoting time to nurturing the relationship and sharing your life with your partner. If you are ready, you are living a fulfilled life as a single person and don’t need a partner, but you do want one. 

If I had asked myself this question years ago, I would’ve understood that I didn’t necessarily want a partner. I needed one. I needed someone to cozy up with on cold, dreary evenings. I needed a partner to attend holiday parties with me. Sure, I wanted a partner, but the need trumped want. 

A partner isn’t there to complete you. A significant other is fulfilling a desire because you are already complete. When you hit this stage of readiness, you attract a similar partner who will create an exciting, long-term relationship with you.

4. What Do I Want Out of This Relationship?​

This is a big one because if I had asked myself this question years ago, I would’ve realized I only wanted one thing: a wintertime snuggle buddy. It’s no longer enough to say you know what you want from the relationship. It’s no longer enough to state that you’re finished with being single. 

You should know what type of person you’re looking for. This will be the person you go to when you’re upset. This person will be the one you love, trust and confide in. How do you want to feel in the relationship? What qualities are you looking for? We all have preferences, no matter how superficial they seem. That’s ok. Lists are only a guideline. Just don’t let the list deter you from a potential partner. 

Physical Characteristics include:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye color

Material Characteristics include:

  • Type of job
  • Kind of car
  • Rent or Own

Emotional Characteristics include:

  • Sense of humor
  • Kind
  • Confident

To help you decide what you’re looking for, take a piece of paper and jot down the type of long-term relationship you want. Write down where you are willing to negotiate and what’s an absolute dealbreaker. Doing this helps you avoid potential mistakes with those who cannot give you what you want in your relationship. It also saves a lot of time by weeding out the ones who are different from what you’re looking for. 

Be honest when answering these questions. However shallow you deem your answers to be, it’s what you want, and that’s fair. Some of your responses may indicate that you may not be ready for a long-term relationship yet. That’s a good thing. You found this out before wasting precious time dating people who aren’t a good fit.

5. Am I Over My Ex?​​

The question of whether or not you’re over your ex is vital. If you’re not over the ex, there’s no point in continuing with the other questions because you’re not ready to be in a long-term relationship. If your ex has unceremoniously dumped you, you may still have lingering questions. You don’t want to enter a new chapter before closing the old one. It’s not fair to you or your new partner.

Signs That You’re Over Your Ex​

  • You’re ok with running into them
  • You’re excited about the future​
  • You no longer compare
  • You’re looking forward to dating
  • You have chemistry with someone new​
  • You’re fine listening to “our song”
  • You no longer cry about the failed relationship
  • You no longer check their social media
  • You don’t think about them every day

6. What Have I Learned from My Past Relationship?​

Never think of past relationships as a waste of time (although some may come close to it.) Instead, see it as a learning experience. It may be painful to revisit your past, but use a few minutes and take notes on what you would and wouldn’t do moving forward. 

Did you have a lack of trust? Did you give them too much of your time? Be honest with yourself. It may be hard to admit your faults in the breakup, but now you know how to correct them.

Now that you’ve established what didn’t work, create a list of the things that did work. If you can’t recognize the positive aspects of a functional relationship, you’ll find it difficult to know what you’re looking for in your next partner. So how does a healthy, functional relationship look? If you can’t find any aspects of that in your previous relationship, look to your parents, co-workers, or friends for healthy long-term relationship goals. 

7. Are We on the Same Page?​

When I was dating my ex, I knew I was in trouble when he wanted to go out partying every weekend while I preferred to chill at home. That was the beginning of the end. 

If you have someone you’re considering getting into a relationship with, make sure you both want the same things out of the relationship. However, having common interests doesn’t mean they are the one for you. You need to dig deeper and determine if you share the same morals, not necessarily in a religious or political context. 

For instance, how do they treat others in their life? Do they get along with their family? Do they have any passions? If you’re looking long-term, what is their stance regarding marriage and having children? You’ll find out most of these things in time, but you want to avoid getting too deeply involved if they tell you upfront that you don’t want kids, and you do. 

8. Am I Really Interested in This Person?​

  • He has a great job
  • He’s handsome
  • He has two dogs and a parakeet named Bob

He may have all the right boxes checked, but is he right for you? There’s a little thing called chemistry, and if you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it. 

Some of the toughest partners to pass up are those who are perfect on paper, but something is missing that you can’t quite put your finger on. Just because they’re a great person doesn’t mean they’re great for you. 

9. Am I Ok with Introducing Them as My Partner?​

When you become involved in a new relationship, they will eventually meet your family and friends. Is this something that excites you, or are you putting it off for as long as possible? Honestly, it doesn’t matter why you’re putting it off. However, the fact that you’re even hesitant to make introductions is a huge red flag. 

Are you even ready to date again? Jumping from relationship to relationship in search of the right partner is unhealthy. It’s also a waste of time. 

Be honest with yourself. Do you understand that a person isn’t going to make you happy? You need to do that for yourself. However, if you are content with your life and want to find a partner to add something special to it, you are ready to dive back into the dating pool.