And for most of us, it comprises a huge and very influential chunk of our social life in our late teens and throughout our 20s.
Unless your surname is Clooney, however, sooner or later you’re apt to want to settle into something a little more permanent – co-habitation for example, and maybe even marriage and starting a family.
But any such decision raises a host of other questions, not least this little jewel: how will I know for sure if the person I am in a relationship with is the right person to forge a future with? Dilemmas come and dilemmas go but none are as potentially fraught as untangling yourself from the wrong life partner.
Which got the good folks at online dating giant Lavalife and trusted condom manufacturer Durex wondering… is there a way of bettering your chances for relationship success by answering a few key questions?
The answer is decidedly yes.
Before pushing forward with a serious relationship, ask yourself whether or not you and your partner are compatible in the following seven areas.
If you are – and be honest with yourself when answering – chances are your relationship has legs. If not, you might want to keep on searching.
1. You Share Core Values
It’s one thing to have opposite opinions on ideal vacation destinations, favorite reality TV shows, best love song ever written… heck even differing political views.
But when it comes to the really big, important stuff – religion and how it may apply to child-rearing, infidelity, honesty, commitment to family members etc – it’s essential that you and your partner fundamentally share views. Otherwise, disaster awaits.
2. You have Genuine Physical Chemistry
No matter how loving your relationship, there will come a time when the mere sight of your beloved isn’t enough to fuel the sparks typical to the early days of dating. Chores, arguments and the grind of day-to-day life inevitably take a toll on passion so it’s vital that you and your partner have enough basic chemistry and animal attraction to keep the love alive… or at least provide enough incentive to try.
3. You Share Some Hobbies and Interests
No couple should be joined at the hip – it’s imperative that you two have independent interests and friendships to maintain regular social contact with the outside world and bring some new anecdotes to the dinner table. But you should share a least a few hobbies and interests – it could be as simple as both enjoying a board game and a bottle of shiraz on a winter’s night or as elaborate as back country ski holidays in B.C.
If not, agreeing to play time will be a slog.
4. You Share an Approach to Spending and Saving
It doesn’t take a genius to know that if he’s a crazy spender and she’s a disciplined saver, the road ahead will be bumpy. His impulse purchases will leave her feeling angry, and her scrimping will make him feel constrained. If you suspect money will tear you apart, it probably will.
5. You can Effectively Compromise
No relationship is going to serve your every need but you can often get pretty close if you’re willing to wheel and deal. For example, you may love getting a spontaneous bouquet of flowers delivered with a gentle kiss. Yet from his perspective, flowers are a waste of hard-earned cash.
The compromise? He knows flowers are important to her, so he bites the bullet and delivers on her birthday. In return, she makes sure never to accept a family brunch invitation during football season. Or whatever. The important thing is being comfortable playing tit-for-tat.
6. You Both Want/Don’t Want Kids
No more explanation is necessary. Having children is one of the biggest and most profound decisions anyone can make. You either want them or you don’t and once you’ve made up your mind it’s doubtful you’ll ever be persuaded. Know yourself, know your partner and go from there.
7. Gut Instinct Tells you This One is The One
If there’s one thing separating a 20-year-old from a 40-year-old, it’s this: a 20-year-old will hear that sage inner voice but willfully choose to dismiss it. A 40-year-old will hear that sage inner voice and know they can listen now or listen later but they’re going to end up listening no matter what because that’s how life works.
If your gut tells you she’s a keeper, she is probably a keeper, and if your gut says trouble ahead… well, you know what to do.