The first year of a relationship is obviously all sorts of fun, as you go on dates and get to know each other. But it can also be incredibly tough. This is the time when you learn how to argue with your partner, how to divvy up your calendars, and potentially how to live together. In the heat of it all, it's possible to be blinded by love and excitement for the future, and ignore certain
early relationship red flags in the process. And yet, it can happen.
Sometimes, these red flags are a sign of something small and very fixable, so don't jump to conclusions or assume the worst. By
calling these issues to your partner's attention — and figuring out how to improve them together — you can certainly get through them, and go on to have a very happy relationship.
Other problems, however, can run a bit deeper. And even though you're really in love, it just may not be enough to help you look past them. "Ultimately it is your choice to pull the plug or not," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "But don’t decide until you have tried to work it out and have tried with professional support." Here are a few early problems that might very well mean your relationship won't work out, as well as what you can try to do about them.
They're Rude & Disrespectful
If your partner is rude and/or disrespectful to you or others, be honest with yourself, because this is a big red flag. "You should pay close attention to how your partner treats people who serve them (waiters), their family, their friends, and you,"
therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. "Does your partner talk down to people? Make rude remarks? Let them know their behavior bothers you."
Many people don't realize they have a bad habit like this one until someone points it out, so rudeness isn't
necessarily a dealbreaker. Do pay attention, however, to your partner's efforts to change. If they can't or don't want to, a relationship with them might not be worth it.
Healthy couples have ongoing
conversations about their sex lives to ensure both people are having a good time and feeling fulfilled. So take note if your partner never asks what you want, doesn't seem to care, or won't change to meet your needs.
"Whether it's guilt tripping [you] into having sex when [you] don't want to or ignoring [your] need for pleasure in the bedroom, not having your needs met sexually may be a sign to end the relationship," Hershenson says.
Of course, you can discuss this first before bailing. If there is love and respect in the relationship, having a conversation about mismatched sex drives, unmet needs, and so on can put your sex life back on track. But sometimes, it's not worth it to see this problem through to the other side.
Some people simply can't keep track of their schedules, and that's OK. If your partner means well, but just can't get organized, don't hold it against them. But it may be worth looking into the health of your relationship if your partner is always late, always leaves you hanging, and doesn't seem to care.
"Saying you'll be at a place at a certain time and constantly running late is an indication the person does not value your time," Hershenson says. "Explain how this makes you feel and voice your needs." If they can change, great. If they can't, it may be
a sign of disrespect that'll only get worse.
They Tell You What To Do
Controlling behavior is a
major red flag, and one that you'll want to keep an eye on. "If you are told how to dress, reprimanded for your thoughts and opinions, or are told who you can associate with, these are all huge red flags that you are in a toxic relationship," Hershenson says.
To combat these issues, you can try to set boundaries, and see if your partner respects them. But if they are a controlling person or are emotionally abusive by nature, you may want to
seek help in leaving the relationship, ASAP. 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.
They Blame You For Their Behavior
your partner blames you for their poor behavior — whether they say it's your fault they got mad, or your fault they're late — take it as another red flag.
As Hershenson says, "If their anger is always because you 'did something wrong' or you wouldn't fight so much 'if only you didn't act this way,' it is time to move on from this relationship because it may be toxic."
It can be tough to do so, especially when you love other things about your partner. But think really hard about whether or not it's worth it, and consider
asking a friend or a therapist for help.
All Your Arguments Go Downhill
One thing you don't want, when you're looking to create a loving relationship, is a partner who can't seem to argue without things turning nasty and getting personal.
"Arguments that go from behaviors and actions that one or the other partner doesn’t like, to characteristics about the partner that they don’t like, is not a good sign," Dr. Klapow says. "When it moves from, 'I don’t like what you are doing,' to 'I don’t like you' there are problems."
This is a sign that your partner might be toxic. And, "personal attacks have no benefit, do not resolve arguments, and can lead to [a break up]," Dr. Klapow says. So if you spot this problem early on — and it doesn't change even though you've talked about it — it may be time to rethink things.
Trust is certainly something you can work on building starting today, and into the future. But if you don't have the foundations of trust early on, love may not be enough to keep you together.
If there is no trust in your relationship, things likely won't work out, says Dr. Klapow. "Trust can be on any topic — not only infidelity. Trust that they will be on time, that they will spend money wisely, that they care about you, that they will be emotionally available in crisis situations, and so on."
something broke your trust, you can work on fixing it by giving each other support. If you aren't able to trust due to old relationship baggage, therapy may help. But do keep in mind that without trust, there may not be a healthy relationship on your horizon.
While cheating will obviously hurt at any time, it can really do some damage in the first year of the relationship, as it ruins trust before it's even been established.
That's why, "if your partner has cheated on you repeatedly, get into therapy,"
therapist Katie Ziskind, BS, MA, MFT tells Bustle. And, consider ending the relationship.
"Some people are love addicts and chronic cheaters," she says. "You deserve respect and genuine love, so if this is happening now, they [likely] won't change."
They Get Super Defensive
Part of being in a healthy relationship is learning how to share feelings, without one or both partners getting defensive or shutting down emotionally. So it may be a red flag for what's to come if your partner turns inward whenever you share your feelings.
"If they become defensive or dismissive, this could be a red flag that they are unable to hear and/or empathize with you, which could indicate potential difficulty in resolving conflict down the road,"
Julie Williamson, Licensed Professional Counselor, tells Bustle.
If this happens once, chalk it up to a bad day. But if it keeps happening, ask what's up. "They may or may not realize that they are being defensive and dismissive, so it could be helpful to point out what you're noticing in a non-judgmental way, as well as what you need from them," she says. And then see if they are willing to change.
They Don't Think Towards The Future
You can't expect to be on the same page from the moment you meet, since it takes time and effort to mesh your lives and figure out what you both want for your futures. It may not be a great sign, however, if you two don't share
any goals. Or if they don't have any goals at all.
"Some people are not willing to be vulnerable, talk about their feelings, or push their comfort zone,"
Natalie Moore, an LA-based therapist, tells Bustle. "And often, these traits cannot be changed at the urging of a partner. The desire to live an actualized life is very personal and needs to come from within."
Even if you love each other, there may not be much hope for a future with someone who's unwilling to compromise. "Sometimes you will need to give in and your partner may need to give in, too. At other times, you both will need to compromise and split the difference, or do something that you both want to do instead,"
Davida Rappaport, psychic and spiritual counselor, tells Bustle. "If your partner does not budge or compromise easily, or at all, this is a red flag and you may not want to stay in this relationship."
They Still Don't Want To Settle Down
If your goal for the future is to have a stable relationship, it may not be in the cards if you reach the one year mark, and your partner is still unwilling to commit.
As Rappaport says, "If you have a partner who was and still is a party-type person and you want them to settle down, don’t expect them to change." You can also try to compromise, and find ways to meet each other halfway so that you're both fulfilled. But if you have fundamentally different ways of living life, it may not work.
Your "Love Languages" Are Mismatched
Two people with
different love languages can certainly have a happy relationship. But it's all about recognizing what the other needs, and making an effort to provide it.
"For example, if you need to hear your partner tell you that they love you or you prefer receiving small gifts them, but your partner just likes to spend quality time with you or enjoys [affection] instead," you might have
difficulty understanding each other, Rappaport says. "So rather than be unhappy because your partner does not express their love to you in a way that makes you happy, you might be better off learning to accept their language or find someone who speaks the same love language you do."
Early relationship problems can and should be worked on, to see if you can move past them and better understand each other. But if you feel like there are differences you just can't surmount — or worse, early signs of a potentially toxic relationship —
love may not be enough to keep you together. And that's OK.