When you’re coupled up with a good-on-paper guy and hit a certain mark in the relationship, you may begin to fantasize about that next step. But sometimes we get so caught up with the idea of marriage and the big day (thanks, Pinterest), that we can forget to check in with ourselves and do some quality introspection: Are we really ready for that long-term, forever-and-ever commitment? We asked an expert for some telltale signs:
The idea of being with another guy naked isn’t really appealing at all. “The time precipitating marriage should be the time you’re peak enamored with someone,” says relationship expert Lisa Paz, Ph.D. “When you envision your future, you only see this person in it, and you’re over the rush of dating.” Sure you’ll probably still get riled up by the sight of Ryan Gosling and the thought of Magic Mike XXL, but the actual idea of being physical and romantic with someone else (in real life)? No, thank you. That mindset is a good indicator to have, says Paz.
You have the same definition of marriage and the same vision of how to execute this. You know you’re ready if you’ve flushed out what your idea of marriage actually is, both individually and with your partner. “People project what they think their ideal is—gender roles, expenses, holiday needs, how you’ll divide your time between your in-laws and your parents—but you have to actually flush out what your idea of marriage is in a discussion with your partner and see if your expectations and wants are similar,” says Paz. “If you haven’t had that type of discussion—and worse, if broaching that conversation breeds so much anxiety—you’re not ready for marriage.”
You’d be happy if your partner stayed pretty much the same. One surefire sign you’re ready for this commitment is that you’re completely content and pleased with your relationship with your partner, and you’d be happy with that forever, says Paz. Many people move on to the next relationship stage because they think it might ignite some change into the relationship. The fact is, it rarely ever does. “The idea of marriage shouldn’t come with an asterisk at the bottom of the page,” says Paz.
You’re the best version of yourself. A long-term partner should make you feel better, not worse. Paz says you should ask yourself if you are happier, more confident, and kinder when they are around; if you feel your sexiest when you’re near them; if you feel accepted just as you are; and if you feel sexually compatible and satisfied. If your answers to all the above are yes, then you know you’re in a great place in this relationship, which is obviously important when entering into a marriage.
You’re comfortable closing the door on other opportunities.“Every time we make a commitment, we simultaneously close other doors: job acceptances, college acceptances, dress purchases, etc. By choosing one thing, we omit other things,” says Paz. “This is true for relationships too and can be overwhelming or anxiety producing.” A little apprehension when you think about this is fine, but if you generally feel okay with it, that’s a good sign you’re taking the weight of this commitment seriously.
You’re not still hung up on any exes. These days most people aren’t marrying their high-school sweetheart, so there’s probably a significant ex before the one you’re with. If you can see your ex with someone else and can run into them without thinking much of it, you’re in a good place. “If instead you feel jealousy when you hear he’s with a new girl, or you think ‘if only he got off the surfboard and into the boardroom,’ you’re not ready to settle down,” says Paz. “You should be fully connected to your partner and your future together and what your new life will bring to you.”
You just want to be with them almost all the time. Is your partner your favorite person to spend time with? Do you feel like you are genuinely friends and not just lovers? “If you are past the infatuation stage and even the challenge phase and you genuinely feel connected to them, you’re ready to get married,” says Paz.