7 Signs Your Partner Isn't Enough For You, Even If You Love Them
Is love ever enough to sustain a happy, healthy, and long-term relationship? The reality is, you can love someone so much, but if your partner does not make an effort, it may be time to ask yourself when enough is enough. According to psychotherapist and relationship coach, Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, there are three elements to relationship chemistry. "For a partner to be enough, you need to have some measure of each," she says.
The three elements that make up chemistry in your relationship are physical attraction, friendship, and intellectual stimulation. For instance, if you are physically attracted to a person, but find conversation lacking or awkward, you're always going to feel like there's a piece missing. Maybe they're just too serious all the time, while you like a little more laughter. Or maybe you miss the close friendship aspect to a relationship. While you may get along just fine, you're not really in sync.
"It’s not necessary to have the same amount of all of these elements," Coleman says. "But if one part is missing, it will feel like 'something' is missing, and you will find yourself wishing you could relate to [your partner] like you did with [an ex], or couple you know."
So here are some signs that experts say your partner might not be enough for you, even if you love them.
1. You Are "Everything" To Them
Being someone's "everything" may seem romantic. But if your partner came into the relationship with a few friends and hobbies, and have integrated themselves into your life entirely, that's a pretty telling sign they might not be enough.
"They don’t have their own life," Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, relationship therapist and founder of online relationship community, Relationup, tells Bustle. "They have adopted your friends, your interests and you seem to be the planner and initiator in the relationship. You feel as if they don’t bring a lot to the table," and as a result, you may feel frustrated, Milrad says. If you think your partner needs to be more independent in your relationship and have more outside interests, it's worth it to have a talk with them. Having space in a relationship is healthy for couples, and could help your partner with bringing more into the relationship than they had previously.
2. They Refuse To Mature
It's healthy for you and your partner to spend time with other people in your lives, like your friends and family. But when you're serious about having a committed relationship with someone, it's important to nurture that relationship and make it a priority. If your partner makes you feel like other people in their life are more important than you, they may not be enough for you. As Meredith Prescott, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in young adult and couples therapy, tells Bustle, this can create a challenging dynamic in your relationship. "Spending time with others is healthy in every relationship," Prescott says. "But if your partner is consistently letting you down or not spending quality time with you to be with others, this can be problematic." It's hard to trust that your partner is reliable and will be there for you when you need them if they put other people first.
3. You're The Only One Putting In Any Effort
As we all know, relationships are hard. "They require consistent nurturing and tending to from both members of the relationship," Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R, psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "If you are the only one doing the heavy lifting, then it might be time to consider seeking out a partner who is willing to show up for figuring out the hard stuff as a team."
Relationships are all about caring for you, your partner, and the relationship itself. You shouldn't be the only one initiating check-in texts or calls, planning date nights, or bringing up issues that need to be discussed. A partner who's serious about being in a relationship with you will have no problem doing their share. If they're not, talk to them. If you feel like your partner isn't contributing their share in the relationship, they might not even realize they haven't been pulling their weight, and may be open to doing more.
4. You Have Different Major Life Goals
If you feel like you and your partner are moving in different directions — you want to live in different places, have different goals financially, disagree on whether to get married or have kids, for instance — then these are pretty good signs that your relationship may not be fulfilling for you, Stef Safran, matchmaker and dating expert, tells Bustle.
"You like the city. [They] like the country. [They] like to spend. You like to save. If kids are something that one party wants and the other doesn't, this is a huge red flag," she says. "You have to be realistic that people tell you things to give you information, not to have their minds changed down the line." If your partner is open to discussing and compromising on some of these major decisions, then there is still potential for things to work out. But if you can't find a solution that works for the both of you, this may be a dealbreaker.
5. The Timing Is Just Off
If you’re with someone and they aren’t ready to move to the next stage in your relationship, they may not be enough for you at this time. As Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW the founder and lead therapist of Cobb Psychotherapy, tells Bustle, "This may not be because they don’t love you but rather that the timing is off. For instance, if you're dating someone in medical school, with all the years of training and study ahead, they won’t likely be ready to settle down for a while. You may be in love but if your timeline is different it may be time to part ways for the meantime," she says. That doesn't mean things can't work out in the future. It can if you're willing to wait it out. But if timing is causing issues for you and your partner, it may be time to evaluate if what they can offer is enough for you in the present.
6. There's Doubt That Never Seems To Go Away
"While it's hard to find a partner who can fulfill all of you, a 'good enough' partner is one you can openly discuss your thoughts and feelings with, trust completely, and work through issues with as a team," Gabrielle Applebury, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. A partner who isn't the healthiest choice for you will undermine you, be untrustworthy, and will blame you for every bump in the road.
If you have any sort of nagging doubt about them, Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle, that's a sign they might not be enough for you. "Perhaps they aren’t as outgoing as you and you seek out others while they seek solace. Sometimes they don’t want children and you won’t feel complete until you have children. It can really vary," Trombetti says. "There are a number of reasons. Maybe you aren’t compatible sexually even. Morals and values can be lacking as well." So listen to your gut and see what it's telling you — it could be a sign you're not feeling fulfilled.
7. They Don't Challenge You
"I think the biggest telling sign is if your partner doesn't challenge you," matchmaker and LastFirst founder Emily Holmes Hahn tells Bustle. "Intellectually, you need someone who mentally stimulates you and who you don't get bored talking to. Physically too, you need to be challenged by a partner who you're excited to be with intimately, and who you don't just fall into a routine with."
Most couples reach a point of stability where the relationship is comfort. When you're in this stage, the relationship can feel stagnant. It's like once you're committed to each other, there's no major next step to look forward to. But when you're with someone who challenges you in different ways, there's opportunity for constant growth. When you and your partner are growing, your relationship will keep evolving. That will prevent boredom from hurting you relationship.
So, what should you do if you realize that your partner might not be enough for you? It's important to take a step back and really think about whether or not you can live with whatever you feel is "missing" with your partner. You can even try communicating your needs to see if things can change.
If not, Hahn says, it's OK to leave. "There are so many people out there, you’ll be sure to find a better match," she says. "Don't stay in a relationship just because you're comfortable."
If you can work out your issues, then great. If not, it's really up to you to decide whether or not the relationship is worth being in. At the end of the day, you deserve to be in a relationship that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. Your partner deserves the same.
Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, psychotherapist and relationship coach
Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, relationship therapist, founder of Relationup
Meredith Prescott, LCSW, psychotherapist
Stef Safran, matchmaker and dating coach
Erin K. Tierno, LCSW-R, psychotherapist
Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW, lead therapist of Cobb Psychotherapy
Gabrielle Applebury, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking
Emily Holmes Hahn, matchmaker and founder of LastFirst
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