During every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve evaluated my partner based on whether or not I could see them as a life partner. Until recently, I never stopped to ask myself: Do I want a life partner? It’s not for everyone, and if it is for me, I want to have one because I want one, not because that’s what I’ve been taught everyone should do.
After all, there are many alternatives to having a life partner. Someone might be polyamorous and have many partners that last however long they naturally last. Others might be serial monogamists, with one partner after the other. Others still may not want a partner at all.
Since there are no rules, you need to ask yourself what you really want, which may be different with each relationship. “Be upfront, honest, and truthful when meeting people so no one’s heart gets hurt or expectations crushed,” intimacy coach Allana Pratt tells Bustle. “Create a solid foundation of authenticity and allow yourself to ask for exactly what you desire: Do you want them to stay over? Do you want to engage in texting/emails/phone calls in between sexual adventures? Do you desire gifts or public displays of affection when out? Do you require you or them sleeping with only one person at a time or are you OK with many partners at one time?”
It’s a lot to think about, and it’s OK if you don’t know the answer. But to help you along the process of figuring it out, here are some signs that having a life partner just is not for you.
1. You’re Fiercely Independent
If you can’t stand accommodating someone else’s schedule, sharing living space with someone else, or always considering how your actions will impact their feelings, you should keep in mind that this is what having a life partner entails.
“Some people love being independent, whether it’s not accepting help from another person or preferring to fully control their own destiny,” Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and founder of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. “While this type of independence can be a positive trait, it doesn’t work well in a life partnership which requires interdependence.”
2. You’re A Free Spirit
Similarly, if your number-one priority is your freedom, you may not be able to handle all the compromise that comes with sharing your life with someone, says Bennett.
3. You Don’t Like Commitment In Other Areas
If you never want to sign a lease on an apartment, have a 9-5, or do other things that require commitment, you may just not like commitment in general. The same personality traits driving these decisions may be driving your relationship preferences as well.
4. You’re Happiest Alone
Have the happiest times in your life been when you were in a relationship or when you were single? And have the happiest times within each relationship been when you were with your partner or when you were spending time by yourself? If you’ve been happiest alone, that may not point toward an issue with any particular partner; you may just not want to commit to anyone, says Pratt.
5. Other Areas Of Your Life Are Better When You’re Alone
Along the same lines, a true lone wolf may notice that when they’re not in a relationship, everything else in their life seems better. You spend time doing the things you love, your work is at its peak, and your other relationships are going smoothly. “A sign that your partner is a contribution to your life is that all other areas of your life get better,” says Pratt. “Thus, a sign that having a life partner (or that life partner) is not for you is that when you date, are exclusive, or get married, all other areas of your life worsen, fall apart, or suffer.”
6. You Hate Sharing
A lifelong relationship requires making space in your home, your schedule, and your heart. If this makes you cranky, that crankiness will impede not only your relationship but also other areas of your life, says Pratt.
7. You Have Other Priorities
If you want to focus on your career, children, travel, or something else more than a relationship would allow you to, it’s better for you and any potential partners if you don’t try to juggle a relationship, too. “Be bold and courageous enough to honor that,” says Pratt. “And don’t string someone along, use them, or lie to yourself just to be socially acceptable if you’re happier going it alone.”
Just because you’re not seeking a life partner now doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. But it does mean that for the time being, it's important to be honest with yourself and everyone else about what you want — and don’t want.