While a lot can be judged about the future of a relationship based on what happens between you, a lot can be judged based on what doesn't happen, too.
Relationship red flags come in all shapes and forms, but in the first year of a relationship in particular, there are a series of behaviors that are really important to look out for. And the absence of these same behaviors can be, well, a really great indicator of future success in the relationship.
It boils down to the fact that the first year is supposed to be about having fun and getting to know each other beyond the surface level. "Behaviors in the first year of the relationship can be a predictor for what is to come down the line,"
Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. "Keep in mind that the first year of a relationship you should be in the honeymoon stage. So, if you notice any of these red flags you should probably take serious heed." And if you don't, your relationship isn't invincible, but it's already off to a great start.
This predictor is largely because red flags are basically a form of measurement of how healthy the relationship is. "My definition of a 'red flag' in a relationship is a 'high risk' for serious trouble and problems that could lead to the demise of the relationship in the (near) future,"
Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, and author of tells Bustle. So while almost nothing is an absolute kiss of death ( The Self-Aware Parent except abuse of any kind), you should keep an eye out for whether or not these red flags are showing up between you and your partner.
Here are seven signs that you're meant to be, based on red flags you've avoided in the first year of your relationship.
There's No Hostile Humor
The first year of a relationship should naturally be full of laughter. But the laughter should not be at anyone's expense. And it's really important to know the difference between playful teasing, and harmful humor.
"Contempt is when you are treated with disrespect in a way mocked with sarcasm," Dr. Forshee says. "This is the most destructive of the [these] predictors because the target of contempt is to make you feel despised and worthless. Inclusive of contempt are also the use of hostile humor, name calling, mimicking, or body language such as eye rolling." So if your relationship rapport involves more memes and less roasting, it's a good sign.
Nobody's Stonewalling Anyone
Open communication is a beautiful thing. So naturally, anyone shutting anyone else out is a major red flag. Experts even have a name for it: stonewalling.
"Stonewalling is essentially when there is an issue in the relationship and your partner refuses to communicate verbally. They just shut down and withdraw from interaction," Dr. Forshee says. More than just plain rude, stonewalling is like putting a stop sign up to healthy relationship habits. “Finding the edge of your comfort zones — and taking a leap of faith in another human being — begins with plain and simple dialogue,” Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. So if your first year is checkered with honest conversations and the revelation of inner truths, you've got a go-ahead that a lot of other couples may not have.
Your Partner Isn't Trying To Change Who You Are
In a healthy, potentially long-lasting relationship, you and your partner will grow and change together. They will
not try to change you. “If this is the case, and if it is obvious this is what they are trying to do, then they may not be satisfied with you the way you are, and therefore are not going to settle by staying together," Backe says. "To be clear, change that comes from within you due to influence of your significant other is often welcomed, but not when it is their goal."
If, instead, your first year is about acceptance, then you are on the right track. Avoiding this red flag means the road ahead will encourage you to stay true to yourself.
You Aren't Having Unsatisfactory Sex
If your sex is already great the first year, that's good. But if it hasn't hit it's stride yet, that might not be. “Physical closeness and intimacy are not the be-all and end-all of a relationship, but they contribute a great deal to creating the emotional bonds and strong couple dynamic which keep you guys in business," Backe says. "If you are not pleased physically [or] sexually, it could mean you are not meant to last."
If the sex is good, that doesn't mean everything will be perfect in the long run. But if you're not bored, and the intimacy as a whole is working well after your first year, then you're likely good to go for a while.
They Are Giving You The Commitment You Need
Being on the same page is key. So if you have any trepidations about what
level of commitment your partner and you have reached after a year, that's not a good sign. "If your partner keeps talking about getting more serious in a year or three years or are just not prepared to commit to a serious relationship, then this is a severe red flag," Diana and Todd Mitchem, Relationship coaches at EnariLove.com, tell Bustle. But if you've reached year one as a committed couple, and agree on plans to lease an apartment in the near future, you're off to a good start.
They Don't Play The Victim
When it comes to honesty, it also means owning up to your mistakes when you've made them. And in a relationship, you're likely to make one or two. "If your partner is someone that is always bringing up their past, how the world has wronged them, and how everyone is being horrible to them, then you have landed a professional victim ... In most relationships with a partner that is a victim nothing will change until they realize that they have a problem and do what they can to change,” the Mitchems say. But if your partner is able to acknowledge their responsibility, and have a more balanced view of themselves in the world, they'll likely be able to whether more storms of a relationship in the long-term.
They Are Willing To Unpack Their Baggage
Relationships are about getting real. If, after the first year, you know that your partner is still holding onto something from the past, then that might cause issues down the road. “No matter how great someone is, if they are not willing to let go of their past, then they are not ready to move on to a new relationship ... If someone is
unwilling to have a new and fresh start with you, then its better for you to find someone that is emotionally available," the Mitchems say. If, instead, your relationship is steadily moving forward, you might be meant to be. It's only possible to settle down with someone forever if you can allow all of yourself to be with them, after all.
If there was a
sure-fire predictor of relationship success, that'd be a dream. But it's more complicated than that, which at least makes things exciting. The good news is that there are signs that experts have learned to look out for that can help guide you towards a deeper understanding of your long-term compatibility with a partner. And if you can say that you've successfully avoided all of these red flags for a year — you're doing quite well for yourself.