The course of true love never did run smooth, and easy access to a pool of candidates via Tinder and OKC doesn’t always make finding the right person any easier. While dating app’s use data analytics to match you with people you have the most in common with (or you think are the hottest), this doesn’t guarantee they’re the right person when it comes to the deeper things in life. Whether you’ve got a partner who ticks all the boxes or you’re in a passionate love affair full of emotion - there’s questions you both need to answer before you can be sure you’ve got a lasting thing. Sometimes, your incompatibility with your partner can be glaringly obvious to everyone but you, other times there are signs that occur behind closed doors that your friends know nothing about. We all have our reasons for staying in relationships too long, or dating someone we know deep down is all wrong for us. Remember, following your intuition is the most important thing. Look out for negative self-talk and don’t buy into ideas like you’re less of a person if you’re single, or that this might be the best you can hope for. Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s way better to be single than stay in a bad relationship. If you’ve been together for years or you’re trying to work out whether to forge ahead with something new, below are some classic no-no’s and telltale signs of when it’s time to cut them loose.
15 You’ve agreed to be exclusive and your partner cheats.
Unfaithfulness is the number one reason for ending a relationship pronto. For hundreds of years, adultery was the only legal grounds for divorce, so it’s pretty clear to us that cheating is not okay. We all know that this doesn’t stop it happening - monogamy can be hard to do. If being exclusive isn’t for you, that’s okay - there’s plenty of people doing polyamory and open relationships these days. But if you and your partner have a one-on-one thing going on and you find out they ticked monogamy as an elective, it can be pretty devastating. Intention is everything - if your partner erred once and regrets it more than life, you might think differently to if you’re partner is a repeat offender, or has been pulling a Shaggy and tries to cover it up. Every partnership is different - some can survive even this betrayal and rebuild. But if your trust feels irreparably broken, get out and start again.
14 Your partner has physically hurt you or been rough with you even once.
Sounds simple right? But the international investigations into intimate partner violence over the last couple of years have revealed that things are never straightforward when relationships get ugly. Intimate partner violence is so much more than physical, more often it’s the mental aspect that can make it hard to leave. Our partner may have instilled in us a fear of life without them, or got into our heads telling us we’ve done something to deserve it. Our ability to think clearly about our options can be affected by how resilient, empowered and independent we feel. With one in four women facing violence in a relationship at some point in their lives, it’s essential to realise that if something like this happens to you - you’re not alone. If you have found yourself in a relationship where you are the victim of violent threats or attacks, or you’re worried for your safety, speak to a family or friend you can trust, or go to hotpeachpages.net - a worldwide online list of free hotlines and counselling services.
13 Your partner is always selfish in the bedroom
When it comes to intimacy, give and take is necessary to keep a relationship healthy and happy. Whether it takes you a little longer to get off, or there’s certain things you need to really get lift-off, a good relationship means nobody is left high and dry. If you’re constantly doing all of the work in the bedroom and not getting any back, you might want to set your lover straight about what the expectation are. More importantly, your partner should want to see you satisfied and enjoy the process of making it happen, and if that’s not the case you may be in trouble. If you realise you’ve just done all the dirty work for the fifth time in a row with no joy, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid to prioritise yourself - you deserve to feel just as good as your lover.
12 You want a kid and they don’t (or vice versa)
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to kids. With the world population bursting at the seams, choosing not to have kids isn’t as unconventional as it used to be. While some of us will be content with our fur babies (cats, dogs), some feel parenthood is an innate and important life experience. Whether we had bad parenting or have dreamed of having mini-me, we all have our reasons for arriving at our position on kids. And hey - that position may change over time. If you feel certain one way or the other about children, it’s an important thing to bring up in any serious relationship fairly soon. It can feel awkward having the “kids convo” when you don’t even know whether you’ll be together in three months, but finding out a year in that you both have non-negotiable views on this topic and they don’t match up is worse. And once you do find out, it can be easy to spend months or years hoping the other person will “come around”. What you probably need to do is pull the plug and find someone you’re more compatible with long-term. Ouch.
11 Your partner constantly needs to flirt with other people for validation
Whether it’s the cute cashier, someone at a party, or your best friend - being with an outrageous flirt can get seriously tiresome. You probably noticed that the person you’re dating was friendly and outgoing right away - that’s how you met, after all. But over time it’s become so cliched you find yourself gritting your teeth and tapping your foot impatiently, resisting the urge to drag your beau away from whatever pretty thing they felt the compulsive need to say hello to. Jealousy can be a tricky thing to navigate, so it’s best to ask a friend for some perspective if you feel like your partner’s always on the prowl - they’ll be able to observe more rationally if it’s just innocent or if it’s pathologically annoying. Chatting to your partner about how you feel is the next step - but if they see no issue or reason to change, you might want to end it before you lose it.
10 Your partner is mooching / draining you financially
You didn’t mind loaning your significant other fifty bucks once in a while, but now that they’ve moved in to your apartment, you thought you’d be sharing things fifty-fifty. True, you have a steady job and they’re only casually employed, but you’re still paying the lions share of the food bill each week. Conversations about money can be some of the hardest to approach, especially when you know your partner is struggling financially. Letting things drag on and starting to resent the situation is worse. Think about what your ideal situation is, what you’d be willing to compromise on and what your limits are. Have a clear conversation explaining how you see things and ask for ideas from them about what they think is reasonable. If you continue to find your partner splurging on new electronics or concert tickets while you feed and clothe them - it might be time to end the situation.
9 Your partner doesn’t support your dreams
For some people success is eating healthily, getting good sleep, staying off booze and living a peaceful life. For others, it’s building a business, succeeding creatively, working in your dream field, saving up for a home loan deposit or travel ticket and seeing the world. Whatever your dreams are, it’s not necessary that your partner share the same dreams. What is important is that even if their dreams are different, they fully support you in achieving yours. Your partner might be an engineer with no interest in art, but that doesn’t mean they can’t encourage you to keep drawing or painting or be excited for you when you complete something. People show support in many ways - verbal encouragement, giving you time and space to work on your projects, lending a practical hand - but if your partner is lacklustre about the things that make your heart sing, they might be holding you back.
8 Your five year and ten year outlooks look very different.
If you haven’t revealed your colour coded ten year spreadsheet in the first month, that’s probably a good thing. But when time goes on and you start to fall for someone and think about the long term, the future is something worth bearing in mind. While it’s true that the present is all we have, the way you perceive your life trajectory should gel somewhat with the person you intend to spend it with. In your 20s new opportunities and ideas come from all sides - often you don’t know what’s happening until it’s right in front of you. But if you’re a person with specific goals and plans - living in a city versus settling somewhere rural, don’t be afraid to share your inner vision with your partner bit by bit. If it turns out they want something completely different, be careful you aren’t investing in something that just won’t work.
7 You have very different religious / political beliefs.
Religion and politics - two things never to discuss at a dinner party, but two that will certainly come up at some point in an intimate relationship. Common values make for smoother sailing in any interaction, and sharing your life with a person who heartily disagrees with you on many things will certainly make for a bumpy ride. While different religious beliefs can sometimes be synthesised, and surface level disagreements on politics can be ironed out, it’s those real deep-seated values that might be enough to end a relationship. It’s not what religion or political party we follow but what it reveals about how we see the world that can impact the longevity of a relationship. While chatting about animal cruelty, gun-control, terrorism or gay marriage on a first date might sound a little bleak, it’s good to test the waters on what you really care about to work out if someone sings your tune, or a heated debate about the coming election could be enough to reveal irreconcilable differences.
6 Your partner expects you to socialize with their family and friends and see yours less.
Meeting the people in your partner’s life can be both nerve-wracking and extremely rewarding. Meeting new friends can very quickly broaden your social circle, and coming along to gatherings and events can move from intimidating to fun. Make sure the meeting and greeting goes both ways and that your partner is interested in your friends too. Your partner may be shy and find it more difficult than you to break into your crew, but it’s important that they want to make an effort. If your partner expects you to prioritise their friends over yours, or isn’t willing to put in the same time and effort with your loved ones as you have with theirs, this can signal a trend that isn’t going to go away in the long term. If you’re constantly pushing for time with your friends and it seems like it shouldn’t be that hard, it might be time to think about the future of the relationship.
5 Your partner doesn’t listen, communicate, or compromise.
At the end of the day, good communication is the number one key to working through roadblocks in a relationship. Lousy communication skills can mean the end of a relationship that may have worked out if things could’ve been expressed just a bit better. Learning how to de-escalate when things get heated, detaching from emotion and seeing things from another perspective, expressing hurt feelings, admitting you’re wrong and reaching healthy compromises are an invaluable toolkit for negotiating the pitfalls of human interactions. While there’s always going to be moments where you loose your cool, if you’re consistently beating your head against a brick wall with your lover, step back and look at the bigger picture. If you can honestly say you’re listening to your partner and are willing to compromise, ask yourself if they are doing the same for you. If their pattern of behaviour indicates they’re used to bulldozing situations, it might not be a pattern that you alone can change.
4 One of you is set on marriage, the other doesn’t want to go there.
While no longer socially mandatory, marriage continues to occupy a huge place in our societal framework. While living together in a committed relationship is recognized legally, marriage is still embedded in our idea of adulthood, love, and completion. Viewed as another one of those key human experiences, some of us have dreamed of marriage since childhood, or some merely feel that it would be important to them to have a marriage commitment long term. Equally, some view marriage negatively - whether from experience with divorce, or a view that marriage is outdated and doesn’t work for them. While marriage is something that’s usually more negotiable these days than kids, if your match has serious issues with your inclination one way or the other and vice versa, you need to decide how important this is to you. Would you be happy to stay with this person unmarried? Would you marry this person because you love them, even if you don’t care so much for the tradition? If it comes to the crux and the answer is no, it might be better to walk away.
3 Your partner puts you down or makes you feel you’re not enough.
Jokes about your outfits? Suggestions on your appearance? Hinting that you’re doing something wrong somewhere, your ideas are silly, your interests are geeky, you’re not quite good enough? It can be a head-spinner finding yourself in a relationship with someone who constantly jibes at you to improve or change in some way. Often these comments happen so subtly - they come as casual suggestions “you’re wearing that? why don’t you wear the pink skirt?” - but they creep in and cloud our judgement and affect our self-worth. If your partner makes you feel like you have to measure-up to them in some way, that there’s an invisible yardstick you’re not meeting, watch this tendency like a hawk before you start to believe it. This kind of treatment indicates your chosen individual has a lot of work to do on themselves - not you - and you’d be much better off free and being yourself.
2 Your partner isn’t there for you when you need it most
When the going’s good, your lover is by your side. They enjoy good times, the nice things in life, chilling out and having fun. In fact that’s the thing that you love most about them - they always want things to be happy. But when you’ve got a raging flu, your boss was a jerk, you’re locked out of the house, or you’re just having a down day - is your love all of a sudden tied up with something, going out with friends or sitting with the headphones on in the other room? It’s important that good times and bad can be shared, because life is full of both, and if you feel like your partner is a bit of a fair-weather friend, it’s better to confront the situation. If you keep getting the busy tone when you need them most, find somebody who loves you on your bad days too.
1 Your partner always puts their needs before yours
They need the car to get to practise and ask if you’d mind walking to work. They eat your pre-packaged meals because they were too tired to go to the supermarket. They use all the hot water. They go out with their friends when you’d arranged a date night. They took the only umbrella and it’s pouring outside. You want to watch Game of Thrones, they watch ten episodes of The 100 in a row. Film, music and food preferences always go in their favour. It’s the little things, but it says a lot about the kind of person they are. Sometimes a little awareness goes a long way, and being in a relationship for the first time in a while can mean we get so used to our own company we don’t realise we need to take another person into account. It can be a learning curve, but it’s one worth doing if they want to stay with you. You deserve to be with someone who’s considerate, who thinks about your needs as well as theirs, and if you’re getting warning bells that your beau is lacking in that capacity, give them the flick.