7 Signs Your Partner Might Think You're Just A Stepping Stone To Something Else
People settle, or have placeholder relationships, for all sorts of reasons. They aren't always transparent about their intentions, however. There are many signs a relationship won't last, and a lot can be found in your partner's behavior. If you have an inkling your partner thinks you're a placeholder, then it's important to keep your eye out for certain behaviors.
"The main reason [people settle] is that most people would rather be with anyone than be with no one," David Bennet, counselor and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. Some people are more comfortable being in relationships than being single, so they may rush into relationships that are not perfect for them. And while some of these relationships can be perfectly content, everyone deserves a partner who is truly committed. So if you suspect that your partner may have one foot out the door, it's important to talk with them, to see if this sense of distance is temporary, or indicative of something more.
Luckily, there are many concrete signs that people who think they're settling tend to show in relationships. These behaviors can indicate a lack of proper communication, or — in the worst case scenario — a partner who isn't all in.
Here are seven signs your partner thinks you might not be for them long-term, according to experts.
1. They Talk About Their Ideal Partner (And It Isn't You)
It's perfectly natural for couples to talk about the future together. If your partner likes to describe the type of partner they want to settle down with, and they're not describing someone like you, that's not a great sign.
"Many times people will speak the truth to their friends and family about what they want in a mate," Bennett says. "If they describe their ideal partner's traits, and it doesn't fit their current partner very well, this may indicate that they don't have permanent plans with their current partner." While some relationships are perfectly happy being together in the moment without long-term plans, these kinds of hints could be a sign of incompatibility if you're looking for a future with your partner.
2. They Won't Acknowledge You On Social Media
While everyone's social media habits are different, if you've been with your partner for a period of time and they haven't yet acknowledged your existence on their (otherwise active) social media, it could be a sign they aren't completely committed to the relationship.
Bennett says that a lack of social media photos can be a sign that a partner has their eye out elsewhere. If you're concerned about your partner's social media habits, talking to them can be a healthy first step.
3. They Hesitate About The Future
Making plans down the line is natural in a relationship. Whether it has to do with the relationship itself, or your career path or housing situation, a healthy couple should be able to discuss the future together.
"If someone is looking for someone [else], they will hedge about the future because they don't really have that in mind with their current partner," Bennett says. So if you've been together for a while and a really good concert comes up six months out, and your partner hesitates to make plans with you, that could be a red flag.
4. You Don't Hang Out Alone As A Couple Much
Some couples are naturally more social than others. But if you and your partner spend the majority of your time together in group settings, that could be a hint that your partner has one foot out the door.
"[It's a bad sign if] you spend your time together always with friends, rather than alone," certified relationship coach, Vikki Louise, tells Bustle. While couples who spend all their time alone aren't striking the right balance either, you should be able to enjoy each other's company without other people around.
5. They Try To Nitpick Your Habits
While everyone has little pet peeves about their partner, if your partner has a habit of nitpicking yours, they may not be completely happy with the current relationship.
"If your partner tries to fix you or change your habits on a personal level, they could think you are a stepping stone to someone [else] because they aren’t completely satisfied with you as a partner," LGBT-affirming therapist Katie Leikam, tells Bustle. You deserve someone who won't be bothered by you just being yourself, and if this is the case, it's time to discuss it.
6. They Won't Allow Any PDA
If your partner has not expressed an issue with public displays of affection in general, but still won't show affection in public with you, that may be a sign of a relationship issue.
Leikam says that a shyness around public displays of affection could also be a sign that a partner isn't all in. While there are all sorts of reasons a partner may hesitate with PDA, talking to your partner about the issue is important if you think it's a red flag.
7. They Keep "Back Burner" Relationships
While what level of communication outside your relationship a partner should have is up for debate, if your partner is heavily interacting with people they're attracted to while you're together, they might be showing their true feelings for the relationship.
"I've noticed a tendency for people who view their partner as a temporary thing to keep back burner relationships going with the people they probably really want to date — but can't," Bennett says. "So, the [person] they really want to be with may be taken or not at a place in life to date them, so they actively keep in regular contact with these preferred people." It's important to discuss healthy relationship boundaries with your partner if these potential "back burners" are concerning you.
Many couples are happy together even if they don't think they'll last forever. But if you see a future with your partner, and your partner is not on the same page, that could be a major issue for the relationship. And everyone deserves a partner who thinks they're great — not just a stepping stone to something else.