Love is beautiful. Having a special bond with another human being where you can tell each other everything and carry each other through difficult times and support each others’ growth (and yeah, maybe also kiss sometimes) is one of the few truly good things on this Earth, right up there with dogs, sunrises and cheese-flavored popcorn.
But sometimes, things just don’t work out that way. Sometimes, the two of you are two different, or your partner doesn’t respect you, or your relationship starts to feel less like cheesy popcorn and more like stuck-to-the-bottom-of-the-movie-theater-floor popcorn. But how do you tell the difference between temporary setbacks and permanent red flags?
Well, unfortunately, there’s no magic formula, no ancient tome of wisdom that tells you how to determine the exact second you should break up with someone from the position of the stars above the ecliptic (or maybe there is, and y’all are just holding out on me). There are a few important signals that your relationship isn’t as forever-y as you might want it to be.
1. You have different communications styles: If one of you is quadruple-texting until the wee hours of the morning and the other likes to live a monastic existence free of earthly attachments like Facebook, it’s unlikely to work out unless both of you are willing to make a serious commitment to bridging that divide halfway.
2. They’re really down on all their exes: Look, sometimes people make mistakes, and some of those mistakes are people. But if they describe all of their exes as “crazy” or “b*tches” or “nuts,” then chances are 1) they don’t know how to deal with conflict without vilifying the other person and 2) someday, you’ll be their crazy ex too.
3. The people you love don’t like them: I mean, I’m not saying that you gotta let your friends dictate everything about the way you live your life (“If your friends jumped off a cliff” and all that). But if your friends are all, like, “they’re literally the worst person we know and we hate them,” then perhaps consider their perspective on it. Sometimes, you’re the one jumping off the cliff, and your friends are trying to stop you!
4. They don’t respect your boundaries: If your partner does stuff you explicitly asked them not to do, even minor stuff, then they’re waving more red flags than a Soviet parade. The unfortunate truth is that people who don’t respect small boundaries probably aren’t going to respect bigger ones, and it’s better to have that discussion when the boundary violations are “tickling you when you ask them not to” than when they’re “taking your money and spending it on scratch tickets.”
5. They can’t get excited with you or for you: A hugely important part of relationships is being there for your partner when things are going badly. But a less-recognized-but-equally-important part is being there for your partner when things are going well. If your partner dismisses things you’re excited about or is blase about your accomplishments, it’s going to make you feel crummy about them in turn! I mean, sure, maybe your partner isn’t totally going to get why you’re so excited about your epic 48 hour D&D marathon. But in a good relationship, they’ll be happy for you anyways!
6. You feel like you have to make excuses for them whenever you’re talking about their behavior: If you feel like you constantly have to preface your statements about their behavior with “oh, they aren’t really like that” or “it was just that one time” or “I know they did hurtful things but I’m sure they didn’t really mean to hurt me!!!”, then you should leave, do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you think your friends would be unhappy with how they’re treating you, that’s your subconscious screaming at you that it’s also unhappy with how they’re treating you!
7. You aren’t happy: Listen, I know this one’s hard, because sometimes relationships go through rough patches, and you aren’t always happy with them. But if you find yourself continually thinking “I’d rather be single than date this person,” then you should probably be single rather than dating this person. And if it feels selfish to break up with them just because you’re not happy, think about it this way: is it kinder to keep them in a relationship with someone who’s secretly miserable?
8. You’re Googling, “how to know if my relationship isn’t going to work out”: Enough said.