We talk a lot about how to know whether or not someone is right for you. We talk and daydream endlessly about how we'll know when we've met "the one" and what they'll be like and how our lives will change. This is normal. Fairytales and Hollywood and our own intrinsic desires have facilitated it enough. But we paint this image in our heads as though there is one person who is "right" and we know instantly, and to the same degree, we know that all the people leading up to them are "wrong." Most of the time, though, relationships fall somewhere in the middle: the "I think this could be it, let's try and see" space.
So it becomes the case that we never realize how terrible someone is for us until it's too late. We get into unhappy and unfulfilling and generally "meh" relationships and we stay there, we justify it with: "You can't expect it to be perfect all the time" (though that's true) and that "People have off days" (also true) and that you have to "wait and see" whether or not it will work out (also true!). The whole problem is that we piece together these independently valid ideas and use them as justifications. That's why it's easy. That's what makes it wrong.
Everything's always clear in retrospect, but wouldn't it be easier if we had some way to know that we were making regrets before we actually made them? Well, that's not impossible. (And it's preferable, in fact.) Here, the little signs someone isn't right for you (that people usually don't pick up on until after-the-fact):
You Don't Want The Same Things
Your five year plans don't overlap in any way. You want kids, they don't. They want a country home, you're more of a city gal. You like to spend your weekends on the couch reading, they want to be out drinking with friends in their spare time. There's a difference between "compromise" and "understanding you're inherently different people whose lifestyles won't align". Don't find yourself on the wrong side of that equation before it's too late.
You're Defensive About Why It Should Work Out
You find yourself constantly reiterating why you're so perfect for each other, or how it's just "supposed to be." If you have to go on and on about the reasons why it's a good fit, it probably isn't. You're subconsciously trying to prove to yourself that it is, though.
You Somehow Haven't Gotten Around To Introducing Them To Your Family And Friends
Even if you aren't conscious about not wanting to show them to your nearest and dearest, you always find a way to skirt around the meet-up, or at least feel very anxious about it. This could be for two reasons: you know the people closest to you will know it's not a right fit, or somewhere inside you you know it won't last, and you don't want to get everybody else involved too.
They Make You Question Whether Or Not You Even Want To Be Committed To Someone Right Now
All of a sudden you start wondering whether or not you ever wanted a relationship in the first place. It's not them, of course, you think. You just suddenly happen to realize you really want to be single. ... Maybe forever.
You Find Yourself Shutting Down Intimacy In Very Subtle Ways
You find yourself cutting a make-out session short, feeling more comfortable sleeping by yourself or intentionally keeping elements of your life secret, as though you're trying to show yourself life is just a little more comfortable when they're not in it.
You Always Have To Reach Out First, Make Plans, Or Keep The Conversation Going
Effort is not exerted in equal proportion. Days could go by without them reaching out to see how you're doing, and often do. It's easy to convince yourself that's not the case (see: I can tell they love me when we're together! but they're just busy!) but the golden rule of dating is, and always will be: if someone wants to be with you... they will be. If someone wants to make time for you, they will. End of story.
You Have To Hide, Alter, Or Otherwise Augment Aspects Of Who You Are
It seems innocent at first, omitting the less flattering details to sparkle and charm your new love. But when it gets to a point that you have to hide or actively behave differently even just for the fear that they'll judge or dislike you... they are not "the one." This is also easy to believe is a matter of just wanting to be better for someone you love... but it's really more sinister than that. All in all, if they can't accept you for who you are — warts and all — they won't be able to accept your relationship for what it really is, either.
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