When you date with the goal of getting into a relationship, the qualities and signs you need to look out for are much different than when you are just out there to have fun. Your entire perspective and understanding need to change.

Indeed, the key to relationship success is to go through the process of understanding both the realities of commitment in general as well as those that certain person you are about to commit to before making the commitment.

The Truth about Relationships

Aattractionfnyone who hasn’t been in a serious, committed relationship has a hard time understanding the real ins and outs of this type of bond. While the “honeymoon” phase can last for months, eventually the reality of sharing your life with another person comes to call.

Therefore, before you get into a relationship it is important to understand and accept these truths about relationships in general:

  • People Change
    You will change, your partner will change. This is not bad, but it does impact the dynamic of your relationship and force you to reevaluate your roles and responsibilities within it. True commitment takes into account not only who someone is now, but who he or she will be in the future. [Related: Why Solving Your Spouse’s Problems Doesn’t Help]
  • Families Matter
    Part of your role as one half of a couple is integrating in with one another’s families. This often means you will have to attend events, eat dinner with the parents, and split holidays. While you are not in a relationship with a person’s family per se, you do need to accept their role in both your lives.
  • Communication Is Key
    This is such a wicked cliche, but if you are uncomfortable truly discussing how you feel about something, if you have trouble opening up, taking down walls, and communicating, you cannot be in a productive relationship. It is absolutely essential that you honestly and fairly speak with your partner about your feelings.
  • There Is Work Involved
    Relationships are marathons, not sprints. You need to take them in stride and understand that there are times when putting one foot in front of the other will hurt more than others and you will need to work at it to get to the next phase. Don’t get into a relationship assuming that the commitment itself was the work. You will need to reevaluate that commitment and the person you committed to throughout the time you are together.

The Truth about Your Potential Partner

dating-couple-relationship-love-pic-rex-385030737In addition to the realities of relationships generally, you need to take time before you commit to a person. You need a gut check about who he or she really is, on the inside and out. There are certain facts you must know about this person in order to truly know if committing to him or her is the right thing to do. [Related: How to Stop Dating Losers and Find the Perfect Man]

Some of these points are as easy as asking a simple question, others take some soul searching on both your parts:

  • Faith and Value Systems
    While two people of different faiths can and do have long-lasting, fulfilling unions, a difference in values is much harder to overcome. Understanding what it takes on a physical and metaphysical level to make this person happy is essential in determining if you are able to contribute to that happiness.
  • Family Dynamics
    It is important to know and understand your potential partner’s family dynamics at least to some extent. Close-knit relationships with parents and siblings means accepting those people into your life as well. In contrast, a strained family relationship will also impact your life whether it continues or eventually resolves.
  • Dealing with Conflict
    Until you’ve had the dreaded “first fight” it is hard to truly tell how someone else handles conflict in their life. However, you can discuss it and take note of other relationships your potential partner has with family and friends to gauge if whether the way he or she fights is one you can stand. [Related: Too Many Arguments With Your Husband? How to Stop Conflicts From Happening]
  • The Circle of Friends
    Just as important as family, your potential partner’s friends are a crucial element of your future together. It is extremely important to get to know close friends in a more intimate (read: not group) environment and to be able to fit in with the groove of their dynamic.
  • Financial Behavior
    If you plan on committing to someone long term, that will eventually mean merged lives, homes, and finances. Have a discussion now about how your potential partner views and treats money. Is he a spender or a saver? Money issues are one of the number one factors in most divorces, so pay attention to how spending, pay day, and splurges are treated now.

Making the jump from single and dating to a bona fide couple is a huge one for many people. It involves letting go of some independence and opening yourself up to new and exciting possibilities. For a relationship to succeed, you must understand what it means as well as who the other person is on the opposite side of yours.