Picking a life partner is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. And it’s not one that is taken lightly.
If you’re like most single people, as you’re dating, you’re considering whether there’s long-term potential with each person. Could he or she be the right one?
After a few months or even a few years, the considerations become even more significant. Am I with the right partner for the long-haul? Is this the person I want to marry? And of course there is the fear: am I with the wrong person?
We’ve got a popular article that highlights the good signs in a relationship: 9 Signs You’ve Met the Right Person. Today, we’re talking about the more obvious negative elements, the indications that you might not be with the best partner for you.
Disclaimer: Is there such a thing as the right person?
Before diving in, I want to take a moment to talk about what it means to find the right person. Personally, we Two Drifters don’t believe in the traditional concept of soulmates. In other words, we don’t believe that there is only one person for everyone. There is potential for you to be happy with a number of partners.
But what does matter is picking the right person for you. The partner who matches your values, desires, goals, and ultimately enriches your life and makes you a better person. While you likely have additional criteria for what you look for in a partner, these aspects can be a good starting point.
It’s also important to remember that no partner is going to be perfect. Everyone is flawed. We all have issues, baggage from our pasts, and things about us that just aren’t great. So, even if there are some problems in your relationship, don’t panic. Most issues can be solved or improved, so long as you have a partner willing to put in the effort.
It’s also normal to question things even when you’re in a good and solid relationship. It does not necessarily mean you’re with the wrong person or in the wrong relationship. We’ve written about this here.
Finally, please remember that neither of us is a therapist or marriage counselor. We’re writing from our own perspectives, from the point of view of our own experiences, research, and opinions. For serious relationship issues, we recommend and fully support seeking out a trained professional. Therapy is a great thing.
Now, let’s dive into the 9 signs you might be with the wrong person.
There are obvious red flags.
This, without question, is the number one sign you’re with the wrong partner: there are obvious, serious red flags.
We’re talking about abuse of any kind (physical, verbal, etc.), ongoing substance abuse, untreated severe mental illness, or major criminal activity. Sure, you could make an excuse for any of these things, but at the end of the day, these issues can be a threat to your personal health and safety—and that of your family.
If you’re unsure if a red flag is legitimate or not, consider a friend in your position. Would you tell them to leave the relationship? Chances are you would say yes.
If you’re experiencing an issue like this, I urge you to seek out resources that can be of help to you.
Please note, I’m not saying that you should leave a partner with a mental illness or who suffers from addiction. There is help out there for these problems and people have the ability to heal and move forward. However, if your partner remains unwilling to get help or seek out resources, this is going to be a red flag for your relationship.
A general unwillingness to work on the relationship together.
Another sign of a problematic partnership is when your partner just doesn’t want to put in the work.
I’m not going to lie to you, relationships are work. Some seasons are much easier than others, and not every relationship will experience severe hard times, but no long-lasting relationship is built without a fair amount of effort from both partners.
If your current partner shows no interest in strengthening your relationship or working through common issues, this might be a strong sign that they are not the right person for you.
They belittle you in front of others.
Does your significant other constantly put you down in front of others? Are you worried what they will say in front of your friends and family? Do they rarely have a kind word for you?
Any partner that exhibits this type of behavior repeatedly needs an attitude adjustment. Not only does this type of demeaning behavior show a lack of respect and appreciation for you as a partner, such public put-downs likely stem from a deeper issue of insecurity or even anger issues.
They don’t support your dreams.
You want a partner who believes in you and encourages you to reach your dreams. It’s going to be a long, hard life alongside the person who doesn’t do this.
You deserve to have dreams, big dreams, and you deserve to go after them with all you have.
The right partner for you will be your #1 fan and offer a listening ear and a supportive shoulder. They may offer some constructive criticism, but ultimately, your happiness matters to them and they’ll do whatever they can to help you achieve your dreams. They might also build dreams with you, or shape your dreams in new, meaningful ways.
They give you numerous reasons not to trust them.
Oof. Are you with a partner that you don’t trust? This is a massive red flag. It’s time to sit down together and have a serious talk about trust (or attend couples counseling).
Partners who continually show you they aren’t trustworthy are not the right partner for you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a cheating liar, although it could certainly escalate to that.
An untrustworthy partner may simply be the kind who hides things from you. A person who makes up stories and continuous “white lies.” Maybe they’re evasive with the facts or they refuse to be straightforward with you. Maybe they never do what they say they’re going to do. All of these signals of untrustworthiness should definitely give you pause.
You don’t want the same things.
This is a tough one. Sometimes, you may need to end a relationship simply because you and your partner don’t want the same things. You don’t have the same goals.
This kind of decision to break up can be painful because you may still love the person, but realize that you don’t have a future together. While this can be an enormously difficult step to take, it is the right move when it comes to finding a long-term partner.
Ultimately, you need to be with someone who shares your goals and desires. These might grow and change over the years, but even when you first are dating someone, it becomes clear what your goals for the future are.
If you’ve always dreamed of having kids and your partner is seriously anti-baby, one or both of you is going to end up resentful, regretful, or unhappy.
If he is dead set on a life spent traveling the world but you’ve dreamed of owning a farmhouse, you may have misaligned goals.
None of your friends or family seem to like them.
Are none of your friends a fan of your significant other? Does your family hate your partner?
While there are some exceptions (maybe your family is super stuck up or you need new friends) the far greater likelihood is that these folks are onto something.
Why don’t they like your partner? What is it that they see that you’re missing? When you’re looking at a person with the love Goggles of infatuation on, your judgment may well be clouded. It’s worth giving some serious time to investigating what these people think. Generally, your closest circle, your family and friends, won’t steer you wrong.
In the end, you can choose to be with a partner that is not popular with your friends and family. But this, too, is going to present some problems for the long term.
Your major values don’t align.
Probably one of the strongest signs you’re not with the right person is when you’re with someone who does not share your values.
Similar to your life goals, your values may involve the things you want in life (family, children, community, etc), but they also are related to the guiding principles that shape your life.
As you spend time with a partner, you’ll learn more and more what they value. Perhaps it is wealth and status. Perhaps they value achievement and challenge. Spirituality and groundedness. Art and culture. Fitness and health. Volunteering and charity. Socializing. Nature. Integrity. Humor. Kindness. Sustainability. Independence. The list goes on and on.
Over time, you should naturally discover whether or not your values align. This goes beyond interests and hobbies, but centers around what each of you deem important and worthy of time and energy. If these are at cross-purposes, you will struggle to be happy in your relationship together.
Not sure if your values align? It might be time to have a deep and searching conversation together.
You feel more like a parent (or a child) than a partner.
Whoever you choose to marry or be in a long-time partnership with, you need to be with someone you consider an equal.
Have you ever been with a partner who needed to be reminded of every little thing? Who you couldn’t depend on to get things done or taken care of? It makes you feel like their parent, and you start to lose respect for them.
Or maybe you’ve had partners who take over and dominate in your relationship, not valuing your opinion or letting you have a say in decisions. They’re treating you like a child and it’s not a healthy dynamic.
You need a partner in life and love who you can build a future with. Someone who provides the give and take necessary in a strong, loving relationship.
Want to build your best relationship yet? Check out some of our favorite resources.