Jen Juneau
November 24, 2015 10:59 am

When you think of indicators that flag a “serious” relationship, what comes to mind? Personally, I’d look at the length of time a couple’s been together, whether they are co-habitating, maybe if they have a pet together, if they are married or have children, if they share financial responsibilities, or my personal favorite: whether they’re OK streaming their favorite joint TV shows without the other. The couple that Netflixes together stays together, I always say.

As it turns out, it’s a lot simpler than checking off items on the aforementioned list to determine whether someone is in a serious relationship. According to a survey by Relate.org.uk. The results, based on responses from over 6,000 participants (including 450 relationship-support practitioners), show that 50% of couples cite “sharing problems” among their top three indicators of serious commitment – a higher percentage than the 39% who wrote down “getting married,” or the 44% who cited “being in an exclusive relationship.”

This may be a little surprising at first, but when you think about it, it makes total sense. “Sharing problems” is a really solid umbrella that some of the more specific indicators, like paying bills together and handling the responsibilities of pets and children, definitely fall under. Many couples thrive under pressure like this – especially those who are attracted to each other because of how well they balance each other out. In these scenarios, couples can play to their strengths to work through problems together. Having the same problems also likely means that, for the most part, you share many of the same long-term goals – which is another sign your relationship is around for the long haul.

Some of the other results of the survey were intriguing, too. Apparently the biggest strains on relationships are financial worries (24%; not surprising), affairs (21%; a little surprising), and working too much/an inadequate work-life balance (13%). The questions also asked how respondents felt about technology’s impact on their relationships. Interestingly, 84% of participants aged 35 or younger who use technology to communicate daily with their partners said it had a positive impact.

Bottom line? Talk about your problems with your partner instead of constructing unnecessary walls. Let him or her build trust with you, and be there for you while you do the same. Life is full of challenges, and if we can take them on with the help of the person we love most deeply, then we’re totally set.

Related reading: 

A definitive ranking of the relationships in ‘Love Actually’

(Image via Hulu)

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