14 signs your relationship is still quite superficial (even if you’ve been together for years)

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As time passes a healthy relationship grows.

That means uncovering new layers, taking on new experiences together, and deepening your sense of connection to one another.

But it doesn’t always happen.

In fact, years can go by with someone yet the relationship remains quite superficial.

Let’s take a look at some of the signs to look out for.  

1) You never argue

What?!

Surely getting along 24-7 is the sign of a blissfully happy relationship, not a superficial one?

Of course, petty bickering or regular slanging matches are not good.

But the truth is that some disagreement is unavoidable when you have an established relationship for long enough.

If you never disagree there’s a strong chance one (or both of you) aren’t being truly honest about their needs and wants.

2) Your conversation dried up a long time ago

You’re that couple who is always on their phone. Even when you’re out to dinner together or meant to be spending some quality time.

But the truth is, you just don’t have much to say.

I’m all for the power of silence in a relationship. It can be a good indicator of comfort when you are content to just be together and say nothing at all.

Yet there are limits to that.

Whilst you don’t need to nonstop talk, there should be topics of conversation that you are genuinely engaged and interested in.

If you don’t have them, you may not have enough in common.

3) You don’t enjoy any of the same things

Don’t believe what they say:

It’s not true that “opposites attract”.

The overwhelming research points to the reality that we like people who we feel similar to.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have your own interests, hobbies or passions separate from your partners. It’s healthy to have independence in a relationship.

But if you share zero common ground it’s much harder to connect deeply with someone.

4) You like the idea of them more than you like them

On paper, you both seem like a good match.

You were exactly what they had always wanted in a partner. They are just the type you say that you go for.

The problem is that sometimes what we think we want in our heads, isn’t always what we want in reality.

If you like what your other half represents more than you like them, it’s clearly going to create barriers to intimacy.

Something just isn’t clicking, but you hold on to it despite this.

Your relationship seems like a logical choice, but your heart isn’t so convinced.

5) Your physical attraction is what keeps you together

Attraction is a complicated thing. It’s multifaceted and works on different levels.

Initially, you may be drawn to how good-looking someone is.

Hormones have powerful effects and can draw us to someone. But strong chemistry and sexual attraction can blind us to deeper incompatibility.

Sure, they’re hot. But what else do you like and admire about them?

If you still enjoy a strong physical attraction to your partner, that’s great. But there must be more to a relationship than that.

6) There is still so much that you don’t know about one another

I once dated someone for around a year. We both said I love you and we even talked about the future together.

But with hindsight, after our relationship eventually broke down I wasn’t really surprised. Because there was so much that we didn’t know about one another.

Having dates and doing things together slowly merged into being in a relationship. But we seemed to skip the part where we consciously decided on that.

We didn’t really ask each other the significant questions you should be asking of someone you are in a partnership with.

Instead, we were just coasting without putting in the real effort.

7) You’ve never really had deep and meaningful conversations

In order to get to know someone on a deeper level, you need to have deep chats.

A relationship that is only based on fun and good times isn’t a well-rounded one. Because life itself is filled with struggles as well as joys.

So a relationship also needs to reflect the wide range of human experiences and human emotions.

If you always stick to light-hearted chat, you’ll never scratch below the surface.

Talking with your partner about all kinds of weird and wonderful topics to understand their perspective is what gives you a true understanding of one another.

8) You don’t feel understood by your partner

You can have so much going for you as a couple, but the chances are if you don’t get each other you will feel quite lonely too.

Our romantic relationships are usually the spaces where we feel most seen and heard. This helps us to feel validated as well as safe.

When this doesn’t happen it can be quite alienating.

You may have spent years together and seen one another daily, but still feel like you’re living with a stranger.

Sadly, loving someone doesn’t mean that you understand them.

Some of the signs your partner doesn’t understand you include:

  • Not being able to read your emotional cues
  • Being dismissive of your feelings or thoughts
  • Not being able to speak honestly and openly to one another
  • Feeling distant from each other

9) You hide things from one another

Another thing often happens when we feel disconnected from our partner:

We keep secrets.

That shouldn’t be confused with privacy, which we all have a right to.

But you might realize that you keep quite a lot from your partner.

Maybe you hide your true feelings or thoughts, for the sake of keeping the peace or not to rock the boat.

Perhaps you tell certain fibs as you know that if you’re honest, your partner will get annoyed at you.

Or maybe there are certain habits or behaviors that you keep a lid on because you think they won’t approve.

It may point to the fact you struggle to be open with them.

10) You’re not really yourself around them

It’s totally normal to be on your best behavior when you first start dating.

We all want to impress. So as a natural consequence, we tend to highlight our positive qualities and minimize our bad points.

It’s not exactly false advertising, but it is a bit of clever marketing we often employ.

But if some time down the line, you’re still projecting this flawless image, it’s not a good sign.

It suggests you don’t feel comfortable enough in your relationship to be fully yourself.

None of us are perfect, but that’s human. It’s impossible to fall in love with a glossy version of someone.

Deep relationships are about getting to know and accepting the whole person — warts and all.

11) You’re secretly open to falling for someone else (or you’re actively on the lookout!)

You are keeping your options open, all the while keeping your current relationship as a backup plan.

It sounds very callous, but plenty of people do it.

The problem is that they have some serious doubts about their partner or their relationship.  But they are too scared or uncertain to let go.

So they stay put whilst they wait for something better to come along or they wonder if there is someone else out there who’d be a stronger match.

Maybe you’ve downloaded dating apps “just out of curiosity” or “to see what else is out there.”

If you’re still browsing, you’re clearly not sold on the relationship you have.

12) You don’t make each other a priority

Ultimately life is all about priorities.

We don’t have time for everything. So we must make choices about how and where we invest our time and energy.

When a couple doesn’t invest in each other, and never has, it says something quite clearly about the depth of their relationship.

Perhaps they stay out of convenience but aren’t willing to give the relationship the prominence or consideration it deserves and needs.

13) Every time there’s a problem, the go-to response is to call it quits

Serious relationships go through ups and downs.

That’s not to say we should cling on for dear life or put up with a consistently shitty relationship.

But it’s an acknowledgment that commitment involves working through issues and riding out rough patches.

If you are stuck in a yo-yo pattern of break-up and make-up for many years, one or both of you isn’t committed.

It’s impossible to feel safe and secure in a relationship when the threat of a breakup is always looming over you.

14) Your relationship status and goals are undefined

For years in past relationships, I avoided the tricky question of “Where is this going?”

I was afraid of rocking the boat, coming on too strong, and ultimately hearing something I didn’t want to hear.

But at some stage in a relationship if it is to progress you need to know:

  • What you are  — how you both perceive the relationship and your status in one another’s lives
  • Where you are going — your shared vision for a future together

If you aren’t on the same page about what you can call this relationship or your end goals you are dodging some significant questions.

Plenty of people get trapped in “situationships” for years, falsely believing that they are in a relationship that is going somewhere.

Real relationships demand vulnerability

Maybe you’ve identified a few red flags from our list of signs your relationship is still quite superficial.

Perhaps it’s given you a few things to think about.

But you don’t need to despair. The takeaway message is that all deeper relationships demand vulnerability.

We have to be open, honest, and share ourselves if we are to forge stronger and genuine bonds.

Learning to better do that in your relationship can help you to strengthen it.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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