When we think about romantic relationships, we usually think about love. And there’s a reason for that.
Sure, in some cultures (and at some points in history), relationships and marriages were more about forging political alliances than about love. But times have changed, and in today’s modern world, we can pretty much all agree that people should have the right to choose their partner based on the feelings they have.
But there are plenty of other reasons why people end up in relationships, and one of the biggest is that of convenience. In other words, people end up in a relationship because it’s convenient to be in one and the person they’re dating is available.
Relationships based on convenience are almost always doomed to fail, and for obvious reasons. But how can we actually tell if our relationship is based on convenience or not?
Well, let’s take a look.
1) You feel more like housemates than lovers
This is perhaps the biggest warning sign, and you might be surprised by how often it happens.
That’s because it happens naturally if you don’t take steps to prevent it. Once you and your partner move in together, you become housemates by default. You go from friends with benefits to housemates with benefits.
The problem occurs if the two of you forget to do the things that couples do, like going out on dates or taking vacations together.
The earliest warning sign of becoming more like housemates than lovers is when the two of you get home from work and go your separate ways, only meeting back up for dinner and bedtime.
2) You only make small talk
There’s nothing wrong with making small talk, and in fact it serves an important purpose in our society.
With that said, if you and your partner only ever make small talk, that could be a sign that there’s something seriously wrong. Every serious relationship comes with its occasional “big talk”, such as conversations about marriage, children and retirement.
This means that if you only ever make small talk with your partner, there’s a good chance that you’re intentionally avoiding talking about the big stuff.
This could be because your heart’s not in the relationship and you’re only sticking around because it’s more convenient to do that than to leave. It could also be that you have such a casual view of the relationship that you don’t like to think about making it more serious.
3) You don’t make any effort
Relationships always require effort, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you.
True, when you’re in a long-term relationship, a lot of things come naturally and don’t require as much effort as they might otherwise need. Still, you’re going to have to put in the hours and the effort to show your loved one how much you appreciate them.
If you stop making an effort then your relationship will stagnate and eventually fail altogether. Sure, it might feel more convenient for you to not make the effort, but that’s not how a successful relationship is made.
The bottom line is this: if you love your partner, put the effort in.
4) You don’t have much in common
This one isn’t as much of a deal-breaker as some of the others, because it’s certainly possible to be in a successful relationship where the two of you don’t have much in common.
They say that opposites attract, but that’s not always true. In my experience, I’ve found that the people who have a lot in common tend to be more in love. It’s also less likely that their relationship came about as a result of convenience.
The good news is that there are different ways to have things in common. The most obvious way is to have interests in common, such as if you’re both musicians or you both love to read. However, an equally valid way is to come from similar backgrounds or to have shared experiences together before your relationship.
If you don’t have much in common with your partner but you want your relationship to be based on love, consider looking for some common ground.
5) You’re not planning for the future
Speaking of common ground, one way to spot a couple that’s deeply in love is to look for whether they’re planning a future together.
When a couple isn’t planning for the future, they’re settling with the convenience that’s there for now instead of putting in the hard work to build a relationship that will stand the test of time. It’s easier, but it’s never good news.
Planning for the future means different things to different people. For some, it may mean thinking about marriage or having kids. For others, it will mean thinking about starting a business and preparing for retirement.
Whatever the case, if you’re not planning for the future, it shows that you’re only thinking about the convenience of the present.
6) You don’t have any shared friends
Shared friends are friends that you and your partner have in common, and they’re worth thinking about because both extremes can be a bad thing.
If your only friends are those that you share with your partner, for example, then it effectively leaves you with no friends of your own and can suggest a kind of codependence. It’s important to have friends of your own so that you can occasionally go out without your partner.
However, if you don’t have any shared friends then it suggests that you’re compartmentalizing your relationship and treating it as something secret that you don’t want your friends to know about. It certainly doesn’t suggest that you’re so in love that you’re shouting it from the rooftops.
And so if you can, try to strike up a healthy medium where you have some shared friends and some friends that are unique to you. Then you get the best of both worlds.
7) You rarely work together on things together
Working together on things allows you and your partner to act as a team, and it’s a great way to bring yourselves closer together.
And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be some huge project like a loft conversion or an attempt to break a Guinness World Record. My partner and I like to work together on jigsaws and building LEGO sets, while a lot of my friends play video games with their partner.
Whatever the case, working together is a great way to build bonds with the person you love, and couples in relationships built on love find themselves working together all the time.
Conversely, if you prefer to do things yourself without your partner’s help, it suggests that convenience is more important to you than love.
Remember: couples that work together stay together. So next time your other half is making dinner, why not ask if you can help out?
8) You feel trapped
It should go without saying that if you feel trapped in your relationship, it’s not a good thing.
In fact, when you feel trapped in a relationship, it’s arguably a sign that your relationship was based on convenience and that it’s no longer convenient. It’s also a sign that you need to have a serious discussion with your partner about your future together.
Feeling trapped doesn’t have to spell the end of a relationship, but it’s something that needs addressing as a priority. Otherwise, you’re quickly going to start resenting your partner and feeling as though they’re the warden that’s keeping you in your metaphorical jail.
There’s a good chance that if you talk to your partner, you’ll be able to find some compromises that can be made to stop you from feeling trapped. Which brings me on to my next point.
9) You don’t make compromises
If you’re unwilling to make compromises in your relationship, it’s important to ask yourself why.
That’s because if you love someone, you’ll be willing to modify your behavior if you know it’s going to make them happy. Also, the whole point of compromises is that you meet in the middle, and so it’s not as though you’re being asked to be something you’re not.
When people are unwilling to make compromises, it generally suggests that they’re only in the relationship because it’s convenient. That’s because it’s inconvenient to make changes and to agree to a compromise, though that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to do so.
And so if you love your partner and you want your relationship to stand the test of time, be willing to compromise. It’s that simple.
10) Neither of you is growing as people
It’s important to be able to grow as a person throughout your life, because if you’re not growing then you’re standing still – and if you’re standing still, you’re basically going backwards.
Growth should be a constant throughout your life, and your relationship should be one of the main things that’s driving that growth. In fact, you and your partner should be able to grow together, and this growth will typically come about as a result of your shared experiences.
A hybrid way of looking at this is that if one of you is growing as a person but the other isn’t, there’s something wrong. This could suggest that one of you is trapped or being held back by the other one, and that’s an issue you’ll want to resolve before resentment sets in.
The TL:DR here is this: if you’re not both growing, the love you have for each other has a risk of becoming toxic.
Also read: 12 signs you secretly want to be single