When you're first dating someone, you tend to put your best self forward. You shine a light on your accomplishments, wear the nicest (or cleanest) items in your closet, and practice those impeccable manners. Basically, you're both showing off a bit. But what happens when you get over the honeymoon phase and enter the muddy middle? When you're forced to deal with some of the harsher realities of life? What is the one sign that your partner will stick by you, no matter what?
It's worth noting that the dynamics of dating have dramatically changed over the past few years. These days, people are swiping and searching for their perfect mate online. And, as a result, one third of U.S. marriages start with online dating, according to a study conducted from 2005 to 2012 published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Even though the mode of dating has changed, the fact remains, some partners are keepers and some are not. That's just how it is. But whether you meet them through a swipe or on the street, wouldn't it be nice to have the tools to figure it out from the beginning? Is this person a good long haul lover or just a short term one?
"It is good to know the signs at the starting gate, so you don’t have to pick up the pieces of a broken heart down the road," Audrey Hope, celebrity renowned relationship expert tells Romper.
Avoiding a a broken heart and all of the messy stuff that comes after a break up is always the goal, and Hope believes it's possible to figure it out before you get to that point. "You know you have a long time love when the 'love is blind' first stage begins to fade away, and yet, he or she is still with you," she continued. "This is the time when the real truth comes out into the light. The real you is showing and it may not be so pretty."
Honestly, it'd probably be so much more reasonable to just dive right in and say, OK, so what makes you bizarre? What are your triggers? Many people of adult age are bizarre in their own ways and have triggers, whether through past heartbreak or family dysfunction. The problem is, the way in which we view love means these things often get brought up later in the relationship. It seems the best way to introduce your so-called flaws, is right in the beginning, that way you'll know if your partner will stay with you during the second phase of courtship, when the shininess of the new relationship fades.
Author Alain de Botton has written books and several essays about the course of love and he has a very realistic approach to it. In his ever-popular New York Times essay, entitled Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person he wrote, "The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day." Essentially, we give up when sh*t gets real.
Hope experienced this test to her relationship first hand with her boyfriend (now husband) when they had their first fight. "After all the fun and excitement of getting to know each other, we hit a big bump in our relationship. I was screaming at him and of course he was avoiding the issue," she recounts. "Things got ugly, but he did not leave, nor did I leave. Instead, we survived the unraveling of our true selves, and our relationship deepened where we eventually got married." She says you know your partner has staying power when all of the authentic "stuff" about you and your life comes out. If they don't bolt, they're probably a keeper.
Additionally, keep in mind, just because someone stays with you after seeing your "weird" side, that doesn't mean you have to stay with them. Maybe you don't like their authentic qualities, and it's more than you can handle. Either way, it's best to get it all out and into the open from jump, then wait for the less than stellar parts of ourselves to surface later.