What Are Serious Relationships

Women's Dating

What Are Serious Relationships? (And Why They Matter)

Ashayla Blakely

Written by: Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely is an experienced storyteller who has fun writing authentic and relatable content for DatingAdvice.com. As a hopeless romantic, Ashayla has always enjoyed sharing good conversation and advice about dating. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida. She is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Florida State University's film school. You can often catch her with a script in her hand, calling out the shots in her many directorial roles on set.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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The modern dating landscape includes a lot of different dating attitudes and strategies, but what does it mean to be serious? It’s no secret that the current dating culture has changed the definition of what a serious relationship is.

Some may consider a serious relationship as one where both partners are exclusive (only dating one another). Others feel the title of boyfriend and girlfriend is required for a serious relationship. 

According to the New York Post, the average person has four serious dating relationships in their lifetime. This article aims to define serious relationships and explore their significance in people’s lives.

Definition | Successful Habits | Signs | Why It Matters

Defining Your Commitment

Commitment is a true indicator of how serious you are about any relationship. Different levels of commitment are necessary for a serious relationship to grow and prosper.

Emotional Investment

Individuals need to put in a certain amount of emotional investment needed to make a serious relationship work. Genuine feelings and openness to vulnerability are key to a serious relationship.

To care about someone else's welfare and happiness

But what does it mean to be emotionally invested in someone? The WikiHow team described it best when they said that emotional investment happens when you focus emotional energy on something you find fulfilling – and hope for happiness in return.

When a person shares their feelings and invites their partner to do the same, that is a sign that the two are becoming emotionally invested in one another. 

Honest Communication

An open dialogue is crucial for any serious relationship. Saying that you’re looking for something serious can help you find exactly that. People wind up in situationships and unyoked relationships because they aren’t honest about what they’re looking for in their dating lives. 

To speak with honesty and respect for feelings.

Daters need to be honest about their relationship expectations and goals from the very beginning. 

Many therapists cite poor communication as a main cause of divorce and separation. 

“The act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship,” said BetterHealth

Exclusivity

People have different interpretations of what exclusive means. Some hopeful romantics think they’re in an exclusive relationship when they’re not.

To be loyal and honor boundaries

Certain nice gestures – i.e., paying for dinner or coming over to Netflix and chill – can easily be misinterpreted as an exclusive relationship. 

But it’s not exclusive until two people verbally agree that they want to be exclusive. 

Exclusivity is focusing on one partner for mutual growth and understanding. Exclusivity is one step toward a committed relationship and is the main difference between casual dating and serious dating.

Long-Term Outlook

A long-term outlook means you consider the future when weighing the value of your partnership. After going on a few dates with someone new, daters should think about the long-term potential of their relationship. 

It can be scary to dive into future possibilities, but it’s a good idea when you’re thinking about getting into a committed relationship. 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Can I see myself with this person 10 years from now? 
  • Would this person add to my life?
  • Do we want the same things in the future?
  • Can I rely on this person to help with my life goals?

Such important questions can help you determine if you want to get into a serious relationship or keep it casual. 

What Makes Healthy Relationships Succeed

Serious relationships aren’t for the faint of heart. “Nothing in life worth having comes easy” is a phrase that I think best sums up long-term relationships. 

Healthy relationships are created by people who put in the required work – and it’s definitely work. Here are the characteristics of a healthy connection.

Consistency & Respect

A healthy relationship relies upon regular communication and quality time together. Relationships often weaken because couples fail to have consistency in their behavior and communication.

We’ve seen many success stories from couples who have long marriages built upon mutual respect. They keep their connection strong through simple, consistent, kind acts. 

“Grandpa would always give me an extra 20 Deutsche Mark so I could buy roses for grandma at his favorite flower shop. And I would bring home the roses – and he would give them to her. We did this right to the end.” — Dr. Nico Rose

Valuing each other’s opinions, boundaries, and autonomy are all signs of respect that help grow relationships. Having respect for your partner is crucial

Some people struggle with showing respect, especially in disagreements. Relationship workshops and counseling sessions can certainly help couples who want to improve how they treat one another. 

Supportive Words & Actions

Support from a partner can make you feel like you can take on the world. Healthy relationships require being there for each other through challenges and triumphs. 

You can show support for a partner by encouraging them to ask for a promotion at work or making dinner for them when they come home. 

Support can be seen in different actions and words. Just like people have different love languages, they also have preferences on how they like to be supported. 

Couples should learn how their partner wishes to be supported so they can show up where needed.

Shared Values & Beliefs

Alignment in beliefs, goals, and lifestyle choices are all important things to consider when choosing a partner. During the early stages of relationships, daters should ask important questions to get to know a potential partner’s values and beliefs. 

Healthier relationships form when couples are like-minded and in agreement about the important things in life. 

For example, religion can be central to how people live their lives. It’s a common dealbreaker in the dating scene. 

Couples in serious relationships often share similar values.

Interfaith relationships can work, but couples would have to face unique challenges when deciding how they want to raise their children and celebrate holidays. 

It’s often more rewarding and practical to date someone who shares the same values and beliefs. That’s why niche dating apps like Christian Mingle have been able to thrive for decades. 

“Josh is charming and sweet, but what sealed the deal was his Christ-like mentality,” said Carlee, a Christian Mingle user, in a testimonial. “There are a million reasons why he is the one, but our faith and our spiritual connection is the strongest reason why we were able to happily commit to one another for a lifetime.

Signs You’re in a Serious Relationship

A few clear signs can help you determine if you’re in a serious relationship – or at least heading into one. Paying attention to the signs will help you decide the next steps you can take. 

Commitment 

As I mentioned earlier, commitment is necessary for any serious relationship. A serious commitment means both partners actively prioritize the relationship. Partners can show they are committed through their acts of loyalty and time invested in the relationship. 

“Commitment is really a verb because it is the actions you take daily to let your partner know we are with them and that you make decisions with them in mind,” wrote licensed counselor Mary Beth George in a Gottman Institute article.  

Emotional Depth 

You know you’re getting into a serious relationship by the strong emotional connection and intimacy you share with someone. 

It’s not often that people feel comfortable being emotionally vulnerable with someone. But a serious relationship only lasts if couples are willing to go that extra mile. 

Serious relationships consist of two people getting to know each other beyond the surface level. They should know what makes them tick and know their life story from childhood memories to current daily life.

Conflict Resolution 

Relationships require effective communication and problem-solving skills. Getting serious comes with challenges along the way. People have different opinions, and arguments will occur –– it’s inevitable. 

When facing a conflict or challenge, couples can strengthen their relationship if they have the willpower to persevere and find a solution that works for both of them.

Conflict resolution means learning to listen to one another and find a middle ground. That can save a relationship from going down the drain. It’s a skill that a lot of couples who have been together for quite some time are still learning and perfecting. 

“Conflict resolution can help bring people together once an issue is put to rest. One of the most important elements in conflict resolution is choosing to tackle problems as a team, rather than attacking each other,” according to research from North Central College

Why It Matters

Relationships shape our society and make life more meaningful. Getting serious with a special someone is worthwhile and can help you in more ways than one. People navigate life better with partnerships to lift them up. 

Foundation for Stability 

Couples must create a strong foundation for their relationship. Building a solid groundwork for a lasting relationship is not a day’s work. It can take years, but it’s attainable when two people are willing to do the work.

Without a strong foundation, a relationship will crumble as time passes. 

A foundation of trust makes love last.

A lot of people get caught up in the “cupcake stage” of a relationship and lose romantic interest when things get rocky. 

Honesty, trust, and respect are the foundation of any stable relationship. If a relationship has these pillars, it can certainly withstand challenges.

Stability can be attained through healthy relationship practices and professional help from a therapist or counselor. 

Personal Fulfillment

The phrase, “money can’t buy you happiness,” is a reminder that true happiness stems from the people we are surrounded by and the relationships we build. 

Personal fulfillment is an ongoing journey for individuals of all ages. Everyone has goals and dreams for the future. If you’re anything like me, those goals include spending time with loved ones and holding onto close relationships.

Find purpose thanks to healthy relationships.

People suffer in terms of mental and physical health when they don’t have strong emotional connections in their personal lives. 

“We don’t live our lives in isolation,” said writer and podcaster Peter Cheung. “Personal fulfillment, therefore, requires cultivating deep relationships with people who are or will be a part of our life stories. We find ways to service the people we care about because their well-being matters to us. They are the reason for the work we do in this life.”

Opportunities to Grow

There are plenty of opportunities to grow when you’re in a serious relationship. Individuals in serious relationships must compromise, resolve conflict, and hold themselves accountable.

Learning and evolving together through shared experiences is part of being in a relationship. 

I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for five years, and we’ve grown as we went through different life challenges, from a global pandemic to graduate school.

Personal growth is a benefit of commitment.

Couples must grow if they’re going to stay together through the tough times. Starting a family is one challenge that will test a relationship and force growth from serious partners.

Couples who have kids naturally grow together as they face a new journey of parenthood. 

Parenthood is a major life change that can prompt couples to grow closer and learn from one another. 

Serious Relationships Can Make Life More Meaningful

Investing in serious relationships is likely to reap benefits in terms of personal fulfillment, happiness, and growth. 

A serious relationship can last a lifetime and add to your life in ways that you’ve never expected.

When reaching toward personal accomplishments, it’s always more satisfying to have someone in your corner to cheer you on along the way. After all, temporary fun is just that… temporary.