When we are in love, time seems to fly by as our world is governed by the next meeting, the next contact, the next kiss. The minutes take hours to pass when we are waiting to meet our loved ones after work; but pass by so quickly as we indulge in hour-long phone calls.

Time has another importance in the world of romance – it provides the medium you need to know if the person you love is “the One” – that man or woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with. Being in love is such a heady time, but when your entire future is in the balance, it is important to take time to assess rationally if your relationship should be permanent.

Research has shown that most ongoing romances go through three specific phases:

1. The passionate phase
2. The “getting to know you phase”
3. The fulltime, long term relationship phase

The passionate phase is when you can’t keep your hands off each other; where you start talking on the phone within minutes of seeing each other, and where it seems that every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of your loved one. Its not possible for this phase to last that long: we would all be too worn out to work or deal with other life commitments. So that is why over time (weeks rather than months) we move into the second phase.

Most of you reading this article will be in this “getting to know you” phase. You have been dating for a while, and although you don’t pant to be with each other every minute you are awake, your heart still tingles when you get a text message through the day. You still laugh at each other’s jokes and you seem really compatible. This is when your thoughts start straying to the “long term” elements of a relationship.

When you get to this point you need to do some serious soul searching. For example write a list of the things that annoy you about your partner’s personality. Does he/she get rude in public? Does your partner ogle other men/women while with you? Do he/she drink too much? This list is not designed to turn you “off” your partner, but rather lets you consider what elements of your partner’s personality are things you can live with; and things that you can’t. You need to understand that you can’t change your partner’s behaviour; no matter how long you are with him/her.

The next thing you need to do is write a list of the qualities that would make your partner a good proposition in the long term. You already know that your partner is gorgeous looking, smart and funny, but is he/she the type of person who will get you chicken soup when you are feeling ill; or will hold your hand and make you feel better when you have had upsetting news. Can you count on your partner to be available when you need him/her and perhaps most importantly do you trust him/her.

It is during this phase that you will probably have your first disagreements. How does your partner handle anger or confrontations? Is this a type of behaviour you feel comfortable with? Or does he/she frighten you sometimes? You need to be honest about this point for the painfully obvious reasons.

Even if there are things on your list you are not quite sure about, that doesn’t mean you need to do anything hasty. Don’t be rushed into making decisions about your future by anyone, and that includes your well-meaning mother. Take the time you need to make those important decisions that can and will change your life. The great thing about time is that there is usually plenty of it.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Oliver is the author of Living and Loving in a Healthy Relationship.When she is not writing Lisa is helping women rebuild their lives after an abusive relationship through her books and online counseling sessions. Breaking the Flirt Code is her latest dating advice book for men.