Are We Going To Break Up? How To Tell You & Your Partner May Not Work Early On
While it can be difficult to tell if your relationship will work, there may be a few early indicators that can be a sign you and your partner may not be compatible in the long-term. These include things like mismatched goals for the future, as well as conflicts that tend to be difficult to overcome. But keep in mind, nothing's ever going to be completely black and white.
And it can also help to keep in mind that no one is perfect, Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York, tells Bustle. In order for a relationship to last, you'll both have to accept each other's flaws, to some degree. And learn to work on communicating, Witmer says, so they don't become bigger issues.
That's why, if you like this person and want to give it a try, you don't need to bail just because you spot a few potential problems. "It's always possible to overcome early difficulties," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "All relationships involve struggle and compromise. However, some early signs can represent serious barriers to a successful relationship in the future." Here are a few red flags you may want to pay attention to, according to experts.
1. You Don't Find Them Funny
While this may not seem like a big deal, having a different sense of humor than your partner can actually become a pretty big problem, over time. "Being able to joke around, laugh together, and appreciate each other’s sense of humor is so important, at least in most relationships," Witmer says. "Laughter is an instant mood booster so you want to be able to laugh with and get a kick out of each other."
That's why, if you're on your fifth date and it seems like you aren't having any fun, there's a good chance it won't work out long-term. "If you notice you aren’t laughing together early on (or even that you feel ridiculed or laughed at) and laughter and sense of humor are things you value in a relationship," Witmer says, "this may be a sign your relationship isn’t going to last."
2. They Don't Listen To You
"If you notice early on that your partner is often distracted or has a hard time sustaining attention while you’re telling them a story or sharing something important, then this is likely something that you’ll continue to experience with this person," Witmer says.
After all, if they can't focus long enough on the first date, how will they act a year or two down the line? People can always learn how to listen and improve. For the right person, you may be willing to give them time to work on this skill. And yet, as Witmer says, "if it’s happening a lot and you’re not feeling heard or that your voice is valued, then it may be time to move on."
3. You Can't Relate To Each Other's Goals
While it can be inspiring to hang out with someone who's going after a unique set of goals, it may not make for an easy relationship if these dreams don't somewhat match up with your own.
That's not to say you have to be identical twins in order to make things work. In fact, "it’s normal for couples to have different goals," Bennett says. You might want to go to grad school, while your partner wants to jump right into their career, for instance. And you can definitely make that work.
Things only get tricky when you don't see eye-to-eye on the big stuff. "This can include future living location, whether to have children, the possibility of marriage, and so on," Bennett says. "If you know your partner’s goals contradict your own, making it work in the long-term will be difficult."
4. You Argue About Money
If you notice early on that you two differ when it comes to spending and saving, take note. "Money is consistently one of the top reasons couples fight within marriages and long-term relationships," Bennett says.
So if you only just got together and are already bickering about spending, saving, who pays for dinner, and other financial issues, Bennett says, it may not be an issue that'll ever get better.
Money-based arguments can be tough to overcome, especially since they're often rooted in deeply engrained habits that can be difficult to break. You can, however, try to turn things around by talking about money early on, and attempting to get on the same page.
5. You Don't Click During Sex
It can take a minute to figure each other out, and to get comfortable enough to speak up about what you do and don't like in bed. But if you can tell right away you just aren't vibing with someone, it's OK to call things off.
"If you and your partner have different attitudes and values about sex, it’s likely to create major problems down the line," Bennett says. After all, you can't expect someone to try things they aren't comfortable with, or to magically see things differently.
This lack of chemistry can even turn into resentment, as time goes on. So unless you're able to work it out and talk about it, or find a way to strike a balance, it may be something that makes the relationship too difficult to sustain.
6. You Can't Resolve Arguments
Having arguments isn't a bad thing. What's bad is not being able to resolve them. So if you bicker and bicker and never find a way to compromise, there's a chance the relationship won't last.
"Arguments happen," Michelle Baxo, dating and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Sometimes they are warranted and sometimes they are petty. Either way, you need to be able to resolve your arguments or the resentment will build up into a wall between you, and the love and attraction will fade."
This is yet another skill you and your partner can practice, and work on improving. But for some couples, arguments can become so frequent, and the resolutions so few and far between, that the relationship no longer feels worth it.
7. They View You In A Negative Light
If your partner tends to characterize your actions negatively rather than describe them when addressing concerns with you, take note, Catherine E. Aponte, PsyD, marriage psychologist and author of A Marriage of Equals, tells Bustle. For example, they might accuse you of ignoring them, rather than simply asking for more attention — thus making it about you.
"These are all red flags that your partner doesn’t have the ability or willingness to negotiate issues in the relationship," Aponte says. "[This can lead] to ongoing conflict or it will lead to you 'shutting down' and maintaining a distant relationship. It likely reflects a self-centered person who lacks the empathy to see your perspective on things."
Again, this is something you can gently point out and work on as a couple, especially if there are redeeming qualities to the relationship. But many times these early red flags can mean things won't work out, due to the fact couples often find them difficult to overcome.