You met a cutie on the beach with the intention of saying goodbye at the end of the summer. Or you met someone poolside and intend to make things work when summer ends. Either way, you may be noticing some qualities in your partner that make him or her worth keeping around. The potential of an autumn expiration date on your summer romance can be daunting, even if that’s what you both originally intended.

So how do you know if you’re falling into a love that’s built to last?

Know

Let’s start with the basics. What is his or her name? If you know it, keep reading. If not, bookmark this page and come back when you find out. Beyond knowing someone’s name, what does it really mean to know someone?

Ask yourself:

  • How much time have we spent together? (Statistically, it takes 3 months for a person to let their guard down and be who they really are.)
  • What do we talk about?
  • How does he or she treat people, including others and me?

Once you’ve gotten to know your partner, you can begin to build trust.

Trust

Simply put, trust is when you are confident in your expectations of a person. What are your expectations of your partner? If you’re wanting a relationship that lasts, perhaps your expectations have to do with honesty or integrity. Can you trust that your partner’s actions match your expectations of him or her?

Ask yourself:

  • Can I trust him or her with my car keys?
  • Can I trust him or her with my heart?

Trust is earned and built through experiences as you get to know someone. As you learn to trust your partner, and if you can answer yes to the above questions, you can move towards relying on him or her.

Rely

To rely is to count on or depend on someone. When two people rely on each other, they mutually meet each other’s needs. As you progress in this area with your partner, meeting his or her needs ultimately meets a need within yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • Can I count on him or her to pick me up when my car breaks down at 2 a.m.?
  • Can I count on him or her to pick me up when I’m feeling down?

As you continue to grow in mutual reliance with your partner, and if you can answer yes to the above questions, you can think more about commitment.

Commit

Commitment is a big word. It is also a big promise. When you progress towards commitment, you are moving to a point where you and your partner can make promises to each other in regards to being dedicated, faithful, and loyal.

Ask yourself:

  • What promises can I make to my partner?
  • What can my partner promise me?
  • Can we keep the promises we make?

Once commitment is established, it’s safer to explore physical touch.

Touch

Touching is more than just physical. Sex is relational. It intensifies your experience of closeness. What you do with your body includes all of you; your mind, intellect, emotions, spirit and social connections.

Your human inability to separate your mind from what you do with your body explains why long-term, married couples develop a continuously deeper bond as the years go by. On the contrary, it explains why having multiple sex partners is damaging to your ability to bond deeply with the person you want to marry later.

Ask yourself:

  • At what levels do I know, trust, rely on, and commit to my partner?
  • Does my level of commitment to my partner, and my partner’s level of commitment to me, surmount our level of physical involvement?

The Long-Lasting Picture

To build a love that’s made to last, the idea is to progress in each above area chronologically. Know someone more than you trust them, trust more than you rely, and so on. Then become physically involved based on the overall intimacy expressed in each of the previous areas. A healthy progression of a dating relationship could look similar to this:

Take a look at where you’re at in your summer romance. Is your relationship being built to last?

The above process and model is from How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind by Jon Van Epp Ph.D.

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