My therapist would hate me saying this, but as fun and exciting as dating can be, it's f*cking hard. Period. You're constantly going through emotional highs and lows, wondering if you're saying the right things, if they feel the same way you do and overanalysing everything just to try and figure out what direction you're heading in.
Aside from having an open and honest conversation about how you're feeling (which I highly recommend), there are a few cheeky signs you can look for in the early dating stages to know if you're heading towards a long time lover. I'd love to be able to tell you that I'm all-knowing when it comes to dating, but alas, even I needed to call in an expert for this one.
They're Willing to Try New Things Out of Their Comfort Zone
"From trying different cuisines to exploring unique date experiences, if your partner is willing to give new things a go and step out of their comfort zone it shows they're willing to learn and grow with you," says Cam.
This Can Also be Said For Trying New Things in the Bedroom
"Exploring fantasies, trying new positions, introducing couples' sex toys or indulging in erotic practices like BDSM enables you to connect on a deeper level and shows you're wanting to discover new realms of pleasure together," explains Cam.
In fact, a study* published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2000 found — through surveys, questionnaires and lab experiments — that couples who took part in "novel" and "arousing" activities reported improved relationship quality, as well as an increased passion for one another.
They Introduce You to Their Friends And Family
An important step in any relationship is introducing a partner to friends and family. "It's a big deal," says Cam. "When your partner introduces you to their inner circle it means they're incorporating you into other areas of their life and combining the two."
They Take an Active Interest in What You Find Pleasurable
"Often when relationships start, it can just be about chemistry and physical attraction and the 'honeymoon period' can be over before you know it. When your partner focuses on your sexual fulfilment and experiments with what you both enjoy through open communication it shows respect, showing your pleasure is important to them."
"According to a recent survey** by global sexual wellness brand Lovehoney, 52 per cent of Aussie males orgasm every time during sex, compared to just 23 per cent of females," explains Cam. "There might be times when you or your partner cannot or chooses not to reach climax, but sex should be pleasurable and fun for everyone involved, whether you're orgasming or not."
You Sleep Together Without Sleeping Together
"When you first get together with a new partner, it's exciting and often hard to keep your hands off each other. However, one of the big signs your relationship is official is when you sleep together without having sex but still maintain intimacy," explains Cam.
"When we make physical contact with another person it raises our levels of oxytocin. When you lie in bed cuddling or spooning your partner, it takes it to the next level of intimacy and this chemical is released, leaving you to feel calm and protected."
They Start Planning Events in the Future
One of the clear indicators that things have gone from casual to official is when you start planning events in the future together. "If your partner is scheduling weekend trips away, inviting you as a plus one to a wedding next summer or talking about any other plans, it's a clear sign that they see you as a permanent fixture in their life, not just something for now," says Cam.
*Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality, 2000.
**Lovehoney Sexual Happiness Survey, 2019.