Making a Relationship Official? A Checklist Before You Do

Relationships A-Z
13 Dec 2023
7 min read
5 Things to Consider Before Making a Relationship Official

Many people have the wrong criteria for making a relationship official: they take out a loan to buy a car, purchase a home with a mortgage, or sign a lease for an apartment. They jump over their heads to achieve some “stable” things in life so they can start making things official with other people. But in the end, they realize that something is missing… What exactly is this? Relationship experts know the answer, and they’ve titled it “5 things to consider before making a relationship official.”

Do you know what those 5 things are? Check them out!

Types of stages to consider making a relationship official

What Does Making a Relationship Official Mean?

An official relationship means many things to many people. So, let’s unpack all of its meanings before looking at a checklist of things needed to make a relationship official.

#1 Calling Them Your New Relationship to Your Social Circle

When an official relationship is a new relationship, it’s all about letting people around you know about your status. You already spend all of your waking moments together, call and message day and night, display your affection privately and in public, and give each other your undivided attention. But your friends don’t know about it yet. You may make the relationship official by announcing it on your social media accounts and posting comments and pics.

You have no high hopes regarding this affair – only time will tell if this becomes a long-term relationship or turns into another heartbreak like your past relationships. By now, you are comfortable with the “official” status on social media and with your friends for now.

#2 A Mid-Term Relationship

At this stage, making the relationship official means that others see you as a serious couple and include you as a couple in all of their activities and events. But neither you nor your partner has made plans for a permanent future together. In other words, you are moderately “official.”

Your dating partner has become important in your life, you have discussed values and goals, and you are beginning to get valuable insight into one another’s personalities. So, in a mid-term relationship, you not only let others know about them on social media but also meet friends and even some of your family members.

Related reading: A Guide to Growing an Exclusive Relationship

#3 A Long-Term Committed and Serious Relationship

You have already made the relationship official in many ways, and your potential partner has become permanent:

  • The friends and family of yours and your partner understand that you have future plans together
  • You are on the same page regarding life goals and personal growth plans
  • You feel comfortable discussing almost anything
  • You may have moved in together or become engaged
  • Both of you are in it for the long haul

But it still doesn’t feel as official as a marriage proposal – or any other step that feels big enough to become nervous. You are doing great – but is it great enough for the next step?

5 Things to Consider Before Making a Relationship Official

No matter which meaning of the term “official relationship” refers to your case, you should look at one and the same things to make your decision when they offer to make things official. Since a healthy relationship grows steadily on the foundation of some values and practices, here is what your partner should possess for you to be confident a committed relationship will work for them. Here is the list, and it requires careful consideration.

1. Trust

Trust is the belief that a partner will always be loyal, that they will have your back always, and that you can safely confide in them.

Trust is the basis of open communication between partners. There are other implications to trust too, including mindfulness of a partner’s feelings and best interests. But in the end, it’s all about mutual respect and calmness when they decide to spend time elsewhere. It’s about an understanding that you will not always feel excited in a relationship. And it’s about acknowledging that letting things be as they are is an important aspect of stability in relationships.

Related reading: How to Build Trust in a Relationship: 15 Tips

2. Independence

Maintaining individualities yet spending a lot of time together is another important aspect of healthy relationships. It’s critically important to be on the same page on the big things but remain loyal to your smaller things – hobbies and interests, own goals, friends, and such.

Couples do not have to be on the same page when it comes to these small things. In fact, when one partner is asked to give up these things (girls’ night out or weekend getaways, guys’ poker night or , etc.), they begin to lose some of their identity and independence. This can ultimately lead to resentment, and the relationship’s future is at risk.

You and your partner should not be feeling pressured to give up part of who you each are, including finances. Many couples keep their own bank accounts and have a joint account for household and living expenses. And they don’t monitor how each is spending their own money.

Couples who are fully connected are committed to supporting each other under all circumstances. Any dating coach will tell you that you need to be in a relationship long enough to learn if your significant other will stick with you during the good times and the bad. If you haven’t decided that they will, you are not ready to make things official.

Mutual respect is a key factor to grow into a committed relationship together

3. Mutual Respect

“You can love someone but also struggle with showing them respect.”

Saga Harouni Lurie, relationship and family therapist

Respect may sound too abstract, so here are some elements of respect in a relationship:

  • Each partner listens to the other’s views and opinions, even if they don’t agree, without judgment or criticism. Each accepts the other’s right to have those views and opinions.
  • Each person exhibits simple courtesies to the other. Sometimes, each partner gets too comfortable with the other, and they just neglect the simple things that add up over time.
  • Each partner sees the other as equally important in their relationship. Neither acts patronizing or talks down to the other.
  • Neither partner criticizes or talks badly to the other in front of others, especially friends and family.

Having disagreements and arguments is normal and to be expected in any relationship, especially when two people spend a lot of time together. Truth be told, any person who says they have never had angry outbursts toward their partner is probably not a truth-teller.

There is a difference between disagreements and arguments. Disagreements are milder but can lead to heated arguments. And sometimes, the other person says or does something that just sets the other off.

The key in these situations is how they ultimately end. Once each person has vented their frustration, anger, etc., what happens next? If you and your significant other can then calmly discuss the issue at hand, reach a resolution through compromise, and then express your love for one another, you have mastered one of the most important criteria for a relationship that will last. Through your conversation and communication during these times, you both exhibit emotional maturity.

4. Emotional Maturity

The shortest definition of emotional maturity is the ability to manage emotions under any circumstances.

We hear the term “emotional maturity” often, but digging down into a clear definition will help you decide if you are ready to make your relationship official. Here is how managing emotions works in practice:

  • Taking responsibility: When people are self-aware, they take responsibility for their actions rather than blame others for their circumstances.
  • Demonstrate empathy: Empathy also means understanding the feelings behind situations and the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. When each person in a relationship can do this, the future of the relationship is brighter.
  • Ask for help: It involves vulnerability and self-awareness to admit having difficulty and asking for help from others. It means you don’t sit alone and feel sad about unresolved issues but go out and share difficult things.
  • Set healthy boundaries: When couples are dating, part of their relationship growth is talking about their expectations. Part of this conversation involves each one setting their own boundaries. For example, one partner may draw a line if they feel they don’t have enough time with their friends. When both can accept these feelings and needs, it’s a good sign of respect.

When both you and your partner exhibit these traits of emotional maturity, any relationship expert will agree that your relationship has a good future.

Related reading: Male Maturity – When Does It Kick In?

Compatibility as the basis for an exclusive relationship

5. Compatibility

It’s easy to say, “We are so compatible,” but what does that really mean? It’s far from “joined at the hip?”. So, let’s unpack the types of compatibility and the importance of each one in a relationship that has staying power.

Physical Attraction

Early in a dating relationship, physical attraction is a biggie. Couples who are mutually compatible with physical attraction and sex have one important facet of compatibility. And if that compatibility can be maintained throughout their dating and beyond, it gives both partners feelings of being loved and cherished.

Emotional Connection

“Do you ever notice how some couples just seem to glow with happiness? These are the couples who laugh at the same time, finish or contribute to each other’s stories, and just seem to be made and meant for each other. What you are probably observing is emotional compatibility…there is no definitive definition for that quality, but you know you have it when you feel happy, comfortable, accepted, understood, and aligned with your partner regarding qualities such as shared values, respect for each other, and joy and a sense of ease of being together.”

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, clinical psychologist, relationship expert, and author

When we begin dating someone, we have expectations that, beyond the physical sense of belonging, we will have an emotional bond. Some like putting it in terms of “soul mates.”

Emotional compatibility means that you can talk to your partner about anything. You can share any thoughts or ideas and move at your own pace in a dating relationship. Communication is easy, and you feel personally more complete.

The idea that emotional compatibility is there right at the beginning of a dating relationship may be the result of unrealistic expectations. It often requires communication, compromise, and just time together for the emotional bond to develop.

Related reading: What Should You Look For in a Relationship

Intellectual Compatibility

If you are thinking about making your relationship official, you need to assess your intellectual compatibility. It’s significant because you may not be ready to be official yet without it.

To have this connection, couples need to freely talk about their ideas and thoughts, be interested in them, and even be mentally stimulated by them. It’s not just a matter of respecting the other’s thoughts and opinions and having a conversation about them; it’s a matter of finding each other interesting.

Spiritual Compatibility

This type of connection is not based specifically on religious beliefs, though that can be a part of it. This bond refers more to sharing the same visions, deepest feelings, and missions, including:

  • Long-term goals and the world you want to build
  • The same vision of their future for themselves and their partnership
  • Similar karmic paths and enlightenment moments

When you and your partner have a spiritual bond, in addition to other rational advantages, it’s a great sign to make the relationship official.

Related reading: Soulmate or Twin Flame? The Difference Clarified

Are You Ready to Have That Life-Changing Conversation?

The commonly accepted five things that should be considered before settling into an official relationship are broken down into seven in this article. That’s because some of those five need to be dissected a bit more. Take them as your checklist to decide if an official relationship is for you right now. If you have any concerns, you might want to seek the help of a dating coach before you make some big decisions about your partnership.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.
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