9 Things You Should Not Tolerate In Relationships Past The First Year
It's common to experience bumps in the road as you get to know your partner, as you establish boundaries within your relationship, and as you decide to commit to one another. This can lead to issues and disagreements during your first year together, and that's totally OK. But if you find yourselves dealing with the same relationship issues after hitting the one year milestone, it may be a good idea to reevaluate things.
"If you're in a serious relationship with the intention of it lasting long-term, you may not want to waste any more time than a year trying to resolve some of these issues," therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT tells Bustle. "Most likely, if nothing has changed and these things are still common problems in your relationship after one year, chances are they won't be changing on their own anytime soon." Ongoing problems may be a sign that you're incompatible, that you don't want the same things, or even that the relationship is toxic in some way.
Of course, if the relationship feels worth it, you can continue to try to improve as a couple. It's always possible to find new ways to understand each other, even after the one year mark. Counseling can be a big help here, but if the relationship isn't going well, there may not be anything you can do. Here are a few problems you shouldn't still be experiencing after one year, according to experts.
1. Conflict Avoidance
In the early days of dating, you might not feel comfortable addressing problems with your partner, or pointing out tough issues. And, for a short period of time, that's OK.
"The 'honeymoon period' is that period where we tend to not address problems head-on," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "However, stepping to the side of conflict, brushing everything under the rug, and ignoring situations that come to your attention where you are at odds is a recipe for long-term relationship disaster."
Eventually, you both should get to the point where you're comfortable addressing conflict as a couple. "Conflicts in relationships will always exist and may actually not get fully resolved," Dr. Klapow says. "However, not discussing them, not addressing them, or pretending that they will just go away is dangerous for the health of your relationship."
2. Red Flags
Ideally, you shouldn't put up with any kind of emotional abuse past day one. And yet, it can be easy to overlook rudeness, name-calling, gaslighting and so on — or hope that it'll eventually go away. But especially so when you're newly enamored with one another.
"Sometimes we think that if we 'wait it out,' that it will get better, or if it's just 'isolated' incidents, it's not that big of a deal," Williamson says. But unless your partner receives some kind of counseling, or you make a great effort to address toxicity as a couple, it's unlikely to change or stop on its own.
In toxic or emotionally abusive relationships, it can be tough to figure out how to leave — even if you really want to. So don't be afraid to reach out to a counselor, or a friends and family, for help.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
3. Inability To Compromise
If your partner isn't willing to compromise after being with you for six months, that's one thing. But if they're still digging their heels in after a year or more, it may be time to chat.
"Relationships are about compromise," Dr. Klapow says. "You do not need to lose your sense of identity but you cannot live like a single individual if you are in a relationship."
If your partner doesn't want to compromise, ask them what's up. Are they happy in the relationship? Do things feel fair and equal to them? Are they willing to commit? These questions can begin a very important conversation.
4. Lack Of Commitment
If your partner is keeping you at arm's length, even after a year, it may be a sign you don't want the same things. "If they don’t include you in holidays or take you to weddings, it shows they may not be thinking long-term," therapist Kimberly Hershenon, LMSW, tells Bustle.
This type of distance is acceptable in the early days, before you're officially official. But it may be a sign the relationship isn't going well, or that you two aren't on the same page, if it's still happening a year in.
5. An Unbalanced Sex Life
Many couples struggle with things like mismatched sex drives well into their relationship. It's OK to disagree here, but what's important is that you're talking about it, and working on it together.
"Relationships are always changing and there are always things to work on," Hershenson says. "By one year, you cannot expect all issues to go away." But you can expect that there will be some understanding, and discussion of compromises comfortable for both people.
6. Unhealthy Communication Styles
As mentioned above, it can take a while for couples to learn how to effectively communicate. And, in many ways, learning to communicate in a healthy way is a lifelong process.
"If you have a partner with shortcomings in this department, you can still cut them some slack as long as they are willing to work at expressing themselves and take the time to make sure you both are on the same page," psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "If they are unwilling to do the work, you should re-think your relationship because communication really can be considered the cornerstone of a healthy relationship."
7. Ex Issues
If your partner is still hung up on their ex in an unhealthy way, psychotherapist Laura F. Dabney, MD says you might notice that they get "surly or upset when the subject of the ex is broached." This is more common in the early days of the relationship, when it's possible their breakup is still fresh on their mind. But if it's still happening a year in, you may want to look for ways to help them move on.
It might not seem like a big deal, but ex issues can impact your relationship going forward, and may not be something you'll want to deal with. If your partner can't leave the past in the past — or if they're still talking to their ex — it may be time to move on and find someone else.
8. Lack Of Boundaries
Boundaries take time to establish, so don't be surprised if a year goes by and they still haven't soaked in. Anything beyond that, though, may be a sign of a deeper problem.
"It may take time for each of you to get to know where you need boundaries with each other," Rappaport says. "Once you have established your boundaries they need to be respected." If your partner is unwilling or unable to do that after a year, you may have a problem.
9. Arguments About Money
Like communication, the financial side of your relationship may very well be something you need to discuss for years to come. And that's OK.
But if you notice that you're severely mismatched when it comes to money, it may be something worth talking about. "If your partner is not financially responsible and doesn’t want to manage their money in a way that makes you comfortable, you should not tolerate their bad habit of not being financially accountable," Rappaport says.
This is only going to lead to bigger fights and more problems down the road, so make sure you can get on the same page ASAP. Or decide to move on.
Issues like these aren't a big deal in the early days, when you're still getting to know each other, and still in the honeymoon phase of dating. You might argue about money, or not communicate effectively, and that's OK. But if you're still having these same problems at the one year mark, it may be time to step back and reevaluate.