We like to think of early days of seeing someone as a honeymoon phase of your relationship, where everything is perfect and lovey-dovey. It's not always the case. There are often early warning signs in a new relationship that something is amiss but, because we're so excited about the new relationship or so enamored by other aspects of the person, we tend to overlook it. But being too attached to your rose-colored view is really short-sighted, because the problems you're ignoring are going to raise their ugly heads somewhere down the line.
That's not to say you should assume every relationship is doomed, and obviously we make a calculated risk to accept people into our lives with their flaws, but there are some major relationship red flags that can appear in the early days. And it'll save you a lot of time and heartache if you acknowledge them. It's difficult to be objective about your own relationship, and there's a good chance you've seen these things in your friend's relationships from time to time, when they've been oblivious to them. So whether you can see it yourself or it's something you need to enlist some friends to advise on if you're not sure, here are seven things you shouldn't tolerate in a new relationship. Because that's supposed to be the fun bit, right?
There's one thing disappearing into a bit of a couple's honeymoon phase, that's normal for a lot of people. But if someone is keeping you from seeing your friends, or is annoyed or angry when you do things without them, it's a problem. Relationship expert Tina Swithin says "if you find that your partner is controlling your time with friends or family, your finances, clothing choices or how much makeup you wear, this is something to take very seriously". And it can be more subtle then banning you seeing your friends, if they're discouraging you or making you feel guilty for spending time with other people, it's a deal breaker.
2. They're Not Making An Effort With People Close To You
Whether it's your friends or family, or even work colleagues you want to make a good impression on. If you care about people and they're close to you, your significant other should make an effort with them. They shouldn't change their personality, obviously, and no one is saying your girlfriend and your friends have to be besties (that would be weird), but they should at least be friendly and try to get to know them if it's something that's important to you.
3. An Ex Is Still Haunting
Obviously we have exes or passed experiences that are still significant to us, that's fine. And you should be able to discuss with your current partner, but it should be clearly in the past. As it says on the eHarmony advice pages: "we all bring relational baggage to any dating relationship... If your partner cannot stop talking about her ex, bringing up his name, or mentioning a story about him every time you two are together, then some moving on needs to take place. Either your new significant other needs to move beyond that old relationship and turn his or her focus to what you two are trying to build together, or you need to move on yourself and find someone who will give you undivided attention."
4. They're Making You Change
We've all had the friend who suddenly develops a love of unicycling or a completely new dress sense with a new significant other. It's not a good thing. As marriage and family therapist Virginia Gilbert says if "you binge-watch an entire season of House of Cards because your boyfriend loves it or attempt to go vegetarian for a few months because your girlfriend has been one for years", it's a warning sign. You shouldn't be changing who you are— it won't last, and resentment is basically inevitable.
5. Disappearing Acts
It's one thing to be a little flaky, that's just built into someone's personality. Or you might be like me, someone who's not flaky but not into hanging out all the time. (I'll make solid plans, they're probably just not going to be for two days after I've seen you.) What's not okay is someone who's evasive and impossible to pin down. Especially in a new relationship, if they're regularly disappearing for long periods, or won't actually commit to hanging out, it's just not worth it.
6. They Have No Friends
This is a major warning sign. If someone has no friends, something's probably up. It's an indicator of their ability to bond with other people. And, as clinical psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walke points out, "‘You are the one' is the probably the most destructive idea in American romance... you don’t want to be somebody’s every-every-everything".
7. They Want Something Different
If they want something different than you, that's fine. Everyone has their own wants out of life and relationships, and that's natural. But it also can mean you shouldn't be together. I've had to break things off with people because they wanted to settle down in the near future and I didn't, or wanted more commitment than I wanted at that time. I didn't begrudge their wants, but if you try it ignore that incompatibility then it's going to get messy. That tension will surface eventually and somebody will get hurt.
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