Tracking progress is a funny thing. We strive to improve in all areas of our life but it can be difficult to gauge. How do we know if we are moving in the right direction? When it comes to relationships, we are fed with fear-inducing messaging about what makes them fail rather than what makes them succeed. It’s crucial for couples to grow together, to become more comfortable, to build trust, to gain confidence. These would require us to know the signs of growth in a relationship.
Measuring growth is an important practice in any healthy and fulfilling relationship. Even if you and your partner are compatible now, there should also be a willingness to learn and evolve together. Growth in a relationship is inevitable and can take many forms, such as overcoming challenges, pursuing goals, developing new skills, or exploring new interests. The key is a commitment to grow together as two individuals building a life together. When you grow together as a couple, you strengthen your bond, deepen your intimacy, and enhance your happiness.
As it’s essential to be able to chart your progress and track where you are from where you’ve been, here are some definitive signs your relationship is growing in a positive direction.
1. You communicate openly and honestly
A certain sign of relationship growth is becoming better at communicating. You make time to connect. You show respect for each other’s differences and find constructive, healthy ways to resolve conflicts and develop a foundation for lasting success. You express your needs, feelings, opinions, and desires without fear of judgment or rejection. You listen attentively and empathetically to your partner's perspective and try to understand their point of view.
2. You support each other’s goals
As you grow as a couple, you also continue to grow as individuals. That means that, over time, you will develop your own set of personal and professional goals. Couples who are growing together support these goals and help each other try and achieve them. No matter the outcome, they celebrate achievements and support their partner when things go wrong. If is important to respect their autonomy and independence, and allow them to have their own space and time. At the same time, you show that you care about your partner's happiness and fulfillment. By supporting each other's goals and dreams, you inspire each other to grow and thrive.
3. You accept each other's flaws and limitations
With time comes awareness. Awareness of flaws, quirks, imperfections. After you’re together for a few years, you shouldn’t be surprised by, say, your partner’s inability to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube. This does not mean that we should not try to address certain issues and better ourselves. But some quirks are just quirks and a big part of growth is to take them in stride. By accepting each other's flaws and mistakes, you create a safe and supportive environment for growth. You forgive each other for the past and focus on the present and the future. You help each other overcome your weaknesses, and focus on each other's strengths.
4. You challenge each other to be better
Everyone has room for improvement, and healthy couples motivate each other to step out of their comfort zones, face their fears, and overcome obstacles. Couples who challenge each other believe in their partner’s potential and want them to grow into the people they know they can become. Growth involves pushing yourself and your partner to be better versions of yourselves. Much like a workout buddy, by challenging each other to be better, you foster each other’s growth and progress.
5. You have fun together
Couples who enjoy each other’s company find it easier to grow together. They have fun. They like to do things together, are playful, and often have a shared sense of humor. They help each other relieve stress and tension through shared jokes, spontaneous gestures, and lighthearted exchanges. You create positive associations with your relationship and increase your attraction and affection for each other. By having fun together as a couple, you cultivate joy in your relationship.
6. Your mindset has moved from “me” to “we”
When you shift from an individual mindset to one that includes each other — and you don’t question that you’re a team — that’s a sure sign of growth. Couples who do this think about shared goals and what you both strive for and what each of you needs to make the relationship work. This doesn’t mean you don’t think of your own needs or your partner’s individual needs; it means that you balance all the various needs. Healthy relationships require both members to value what is in the best interest of themselves, their partner, and the relationship as a whole.
7. Your trust in each other grows
Growth and trust have a complementary relationship. When one increases, so does the other. When you trust your partner, it means that you feel safe to be vulnerable and open with them. You share your thoughts, aspirations, and fears without having to worry about judgment or criticism. You spend less time wondering if they actually believe you and more on other areas of growth. In order to feel secure in your relationship, where you know that you are loved, liked and respected, couples should validate their partner's feelings and intentions.
8. You are more comfortable with intimacy
With a growing sense of trust, couples become more comfortable being intimate, both emotionally and physically. They are more comfortable opening up about their deeper issues and insecurities. In the beginning, it is normal to keep up some walls to protect yourself. But over time, as you share your true thoughts, fears, and insecurities, you can feel even more deeply loved when your partner accepts your whole self.
9. You make time for self care
Relationship growth requires individual growth. When couples can give each other space to engage in self-care and attend to their own personal needs, it’s a sign of a healthy, well-balanced partnership. Taking care of one's own needs might include carving out time for oneself or time with friends and family, participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment–even if your partner doesn't prefer those activities.
10. You’re thinking about the future
Couples who grow together begin to develop a shared vision for what their future will look like together. They engage in discussions about what their life will look like down the road and begin to make plans to bring that vision to life. Couples begin to imagine their partners by their sides as they plan their future dreams. It becomes harder to imagine a world where their partner is not there.