In my early twenties, I lived overseas in Chengdu, China. I dated a tall, handsome, fair-skinned Englishman. We explored this new city, spent many nights going out to bars together, and even took a trip to visit his friends in Qingdao, another city off the coast of China.
One day, I asked him the question. “What are we?”
His response struck me.
“Americans are so silly. I forgot they need to have this conversation about relationships. You’re my girlfriend, of course.”
Ever since that day, I’ve been fascinated by this European way of defining a relationship (or lack thereof). How is it that things just happened? What are the signs that a relationship is getting serious if you never actually talk about it?
In the world of modern dating, trying to decipher a serious relationship from a casual fling tends to be tricky. But being hyper-aware of dating culture, I started to pay attention to my own experiences. I listened carefully to my friend’s stories. This made me realize it’s possible to spot a serious relationship sans straight up asking the person.
If you’re in the boat of dating confusion and wondering if your partner thinks the relationship is serious, here are several modern signs to look out for:
You have your “show” you only watch together
Maybe you guys are into mythical folklore and only watch Henry Cavill’s perfectly chiseled chin when you’re together. Perhaps you’ve opted for a bit more of a mellow show, never hesitating to put on the Great British Bake-Off.
Whatever your show of choice is, you’re watching it together. That may seem trivial, but it’s a sort of commitment. You both love the show, but never watch it without the other person.
If that’s not serious love, I don’t know what is.
They use “we” to talk about the future
You’ve noticed they switched from talking about wanting to travel to Australia by themselves to with you. You’re automatically considered their plus one to every event.
What this means is, they don’t want to do life without you. The events they consider special and exciting are the ones they want to share with you.
They post about you on Instagram
But only if they’re actually an avid user. If they’re not that into social media, don’t fret about this.
Being public with a relationship on Instagram is the equivalent to changing your Facebook status. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times; people slyly post a photo of their beau on their story saying something like “my everything ❤”
If your partner does this, they’re serious about your relationship; no questions asked.
They’ve deleted their dating apps
And so have you.
When people are unsure about whether or not things will work out, they might keep their dating apps just in case.
But when things are serious, there’s no need for a Plan B. You are everything they could want, and they aren’t even imagining getting back on these soul-sucking apps.
Their family adds you on social media
This indicates a few things:
Their family knows about you. For some people, telling their family about the person they’re dating is a huge deal.
Their family feels comfortable enough to add you. Because you’re not just some person, they casually mentioned. You’ve most likely been talked about enough that they felt ok making a move to add you. That, or they’re beyond nosey.
You’re on the coveted lock screen
One day, you’re hanging with your boo, and they get a text from a friend. Your eyes dart over to their phone, not to read their texts, but because a familiar face caught your eye: yours.
When your partner sets a photo of you as their phone background, it’s because they want to be reminded of you throughout the day. They also don’t care who sees, because you matter to them and they want everyone to know.
You’re on the same Netflix account
Giving your Netflix password to someone else shows a level of trust. That and they care that when you get home each day, you have a means to binge the Office again for the fifth time.
They aren’t worried you’ll go crazy with their Watch List or shell out their password to anyone who wants it.
Sleeping over doesn’t always mean sex
The beginning of a relationship tends to imply a lot of sex. Things are new and exciting, plus, you’re in bed. It just makes sense.
But when things start to get serious, sleepovers without sex start to become a thing. Because you’re both not interested in just getting it on. You’re interested in falling asleep in your arms and waking up to you in the morning.
They know your order at your favorite restaurant on Postmates
There’s never a question of what to get to eat when you’re together. You’ve spent enough nights in to know this answer already.
You’ve got their pizza order memorized and know the exact time it usually takes to arrive. Your partner knows that you’re always craving pad see ew, and to order it with extra spicy sauce.
Silence isn’t awkward
And that’s comforting.
You no longer feel the need to fill up gaps in the conversation. You can both sit on the couch and do your own things but still enjoy each other’s company.
Silence isn’t the death of your relationship. You no longer feel like you want to crawl out of your skin. Things are comfortably amazing.
When all is said and done, you should always feel comfortable to ask for clarification. You don’t need to be a detective to figure out your relationship; you have every right to ask your partner’s intentions.
But if you want things to just happen in a more European way, keep your eyes peeled for these oh-so-modern ways of telling your relationship is serious.