Start your relationship with purpose

First of all, research suggests that there may be some truth to the phrase “start as you mean to go on” when it comes to relationships.

Recent studies suggest that, in many cases, people who are dating end up “falling” into a committed relationship out of a sense of inertia, and couples may end up living together even when they are unsure if they belong together.

“[M]any, if not most, couples slide from noncohabitation to cohabitation before fully realizing what is happening; it is often a nondeliberative and incremental process,” reportTrusted Source researchers from the University of Denver in Colorado.

For instance, someone may end up deciding to move in, and, maybe, eventually, marry their partner simply because they have already spent a significant amount of time together and established a bond.

This can happen — argue dating and relationships researchers Samantha Joel, Ph.D., and Prof. Paul Eastwick — even when one or both partners are convinced, at the start of their relationship, that they are not necessarily well suited to each other.

Medical News Today spoke to Alex Psaila, clinical supervisor at Relate North and South West Sussex, a United Kingdom-based registered charity that provide relationship support and mediation. We asked him about early “red flags” that people may want to remember when starting a new relationship.

Blind love, he told us, can prevent individuals from acknowledging possible issues and personality clashes. It can also make them think that — no matter how bothersome some of their new partner’s behaviors might be — these will likely change with time. Not so, said Psaila:

“Does anyone go into a relationship with the idea that this relationship is flawed? If we are aware of something [being not quite right], we might tell ourselves that ‘we’ll fix it’ […] For the most part ‘being in love’ is like Cupid — blind — and we gloss over potential difficulties, wanting to believe it will go away and love will conquer all.“

Joel and Prof. Eastwick argue that if people took more time to do some — potentially difficult — soul searching before committing to a relationship, they might be able to avoid entering a situation that will prove unsatisfactory for both partners in the long run.

We should, that is, start new relationships with a sense of purpose, really thinking about what we want and need, and if the person we are dating is truly likely to align with those wants and needs — and we with theirs.

“People may be able to boost their own relational, health, and well-being trajectories by more selectively choosing and investing in new relationships that are right for them and rejecting those that are not right for them,” write Joel and Prof. Eastwick.