If you think there's no sign short of a diamond ring that can point to whether you're headed for marriage or not, think again. Experts weigh in and give you the eight ways you can tell if your relationship will last a lifetime.
1. Your Partner Isn't Afraid to Challenge You
Constantly butting heads could mean you're headed for a breakup. But, if your partner is willing to kindly voice their views in order to challenge you, psychotherapist and relationship expert Rhonda Richards-Smith says you could be headed for marriage. "If your partner is comfortable enough with you to lovingly call you out privately when they feel you are wrong, chances are you are in the right relationship," Richards-Smith says.
2. You Trust One Another Enough to Allow Some Personal Space
"There's nothing worse than feeling smothered or obligated to track your partner's every move," Richards-Smith says. By allowing your partner time to enjoy their hobbies or friends on their own, you're setting yourself up for a successful marriage. "If you are both able to trust one another enough to have your own time, space, and friends, you're on the right track," Richards-Smith explains.
3. You Really Care About Your Partner's Family Liking You
When you marry a person, you also marry their family. So, "when things are getting serious in a relationship, you tend to place more weight in what your partner's family thinks of you," says Lori Salkin, matchmaker and dating coach. "I have noticed time and time again that right before couples get engaged, they spend more time with each other's families—and their nerves run high as they hope for their approval or have to respond to disapproval or questions."
4. You Know Your Partner's Not Perfect, but Think They're Perfect for You
"Having realistic expectations is very important to be able to get through that last mile and get engaged," Salkin says. Rather than wonder if there is someone better, people who are headed for marriage focus on all the ways their partner is right for them. "There will always be someone more attractive, successful, and so on," she shares. "But what's important is to realize that you are not perfect and this other person may not be either—but together, you are perfect for each other."
5. You're One Another's Biggest Cheerleaders
When you're headed for marriage, you're committed to bringing out the best in your partner, says licensed marriage and family therapist Marissa Nelson. "You encourage one another's individual growth and give support to the pursuit of each other's dreams and career aspirations," she says. "If one of you succeeds, you both win, and that level of strength over time can be a telling sign that engagement is on the horizon."
6. You've Got Each Other's Back
"Lean on Me" was a hit in part because its lyrics ring true. "Knowing your partner is there for you is vital to knowing that this relationship is for the long haul," Nelson says. "If partners are always responsive through the ups and downs, and feel comfort that this person will go to bat for them no matter what, people feel safe enough to call that person their partner for life."
7. You're Vulnerable With Each Other
Nelson says the couples who stay together are the ones who can let loose with one another—and not worry about things like wearing no makeup. "Your partner sees you at your worst and best, and loves you unconditionally, flaws and all," she says. "You take good care of one another and look out for your partner's well-being with thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion. It's one the main qualities that let people know this person is the right one for them."
8. You Make Life Decisions Together
Until you tie the knot, you're free to make your own decisions. But couples who include one another in the big ones are almost surely headed for marriage, Nelson says. "These partners plan for the future and think about making life decisions with the unit in mind," she says. "They may devise a plan to pay down student loans and financial debt together, purchase a car in each other's name, or buy a house together. They may have children or begin planning for that next phase in life. You know this relationship is forever because the couple is deeply committed in creating a future of which they can both be proud."