By Punch Purpose Correspondent Lena Aburdene
Many people often ask me how to discern whether or not they are in the right relationship. Others ask me how to avoid getting into another bad relationship that repeats many of the same patterns they have unsuccessfully fallen into in their past. To briefly answer some of these questions, I made a list of 10 signs that may indicate that you could be in the wrong relationship. Some of these are obvious and some are more subtle. If you are committed to the relationship you are in and want to work on any of these issues, individual counseling or counseling with your partner is a great way to figure out if you are meant to be with someone or not.
10 signs that you may be dating the wrong person:
1. They are cheating or you suspect they are cheating: I know this sounds like a total DUH no-brainer but you would be shocked at how many people are aware their partner is cheating on them and accept it or turn a blind eye. There are VERY few people in open relationships or that are aware their partner is cheating that don’t let it bother them tremendously. Cheating destroys trust, intimacy and bonding. Being cheated on leaves you in a constant state of worry, anxiety and despair. Who wants to live a life like that? The benefits to monogamy are countless but most importantly, monogamy breeds real authentic connection with someone else. When you suspect someone is cheating, or are constantly paranoid about it, pay attention to that. Gut feelings are usually on point. If the evidence of cheating is overwhelming, don’t turn a blind eye to it. If you think you are excessively paranoid due to being cheated on in the past, seek support or outside help to help you work through that and discern whether or not the paranoia is coming from you or what your partner is doing.
2. They are stringing you along: You know something isn’t right when someone leaves you hanging or in a state of purgatory. You don’t know where you stand, you don’t know where they stand. Any type of non-committal behavior after a certain point in a relationship that makes you feel uncertain about where the relationship is headed is a recipe for disaster. Being strung along doesn’t always have to be about commitment either. It’s any type of situation where there is a power struggle and you feel out of control or helpless while you wait for the other person to call the shots or make all the decisions. If you aren’t getting answers or decisions from your partner, think about re-evaluating the relationship.
3. Game playing, manipulation or cruelty: If you or your partner play games, manipulates or does something to the other that comes from a malicious place or to purposefully hurt the other person, this might not be the right person for you. A happy relationship is an honest and empathic one. Not one that involves an eye for an eye or punishing someone through passive aggressive tactics instead of talking through your thoughts and feelings.
4. You feel like something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is: This point goes back to the ‘gut feeling’ again. Have you ever had an experience where you felt something wasn’t quite right in the relationship but you didn’t know what it was so you ignored it? Any nagging feeling, any doubt, any feeling of being unsettled, should be examined and explored further.
5. They are commitment-phobes: Someone who is fearful of or avoids commitment can be a very hard person to be in a relationship with. This is because they aren’t fully present and have one foot out the door. Being in a relationship with these type of people can feel awful because you can’t really count on them and you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. When someone has one foot out the door they have the potential to just leave the relationship at any time which is confusing and devastating. Some less obvious signs of someone who may fear commitment are: they only see you on their terms, they don’t let you leave any of your possessions at their place, or, they have a very hard time talking about the future.
6. Abuse of any kind (emotional, physical, mental, sexual): Again this seems like a no-brainer but emotional and mental abuse are more common than one might think. Any time when you are in a relationship where someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, hurts you in any way, demoralizes you, or makes you feel unsafe, is not a relationship you should be in.
7. They are selfish: Narcissism has the power to destroy any relationship. Narcissism is when your partner lacks empathy and only does what they want to do with little regard for others needs or feelings. If you are dating someone where everything is on their terms (where you go, what you do, how you spend your time, how often you see each other) you may want to think about looking for a relationship where your needs are met and valued.
8. They don’t respect the life you had before they came along: Sometimes there is a power dynamic in a relationship where one person is more dominant than the other. When someone doesn’t respect the life you had before they came along they want you to give everything up and be available to them to do what they want, when they want to. They may not enjoy hanging out with your friends or family and don’t look at things as being equal when deciding whose friends and family to spend time with. Is it really fair to be with someone who expects you to give up your whole life and adapt fully to their life? Some people do give up everything for someone else and feel that it is worth it. However, for most, a healthy relationship is when both partners spend a relatively equal amount of time honoring the other persons friends, family, interests and hobbies in balance with their own.
9. You’re unhappy way more than you’re happy in the relationship: Life is way too short to be unhappy for most of it. If you feel that you are unhappy in your relationship significantly more than you are actually happy, you may be dating the wrong person. It may be better to be single and open yourself up to the idea of being with someone whom you could feel happy with the majority of the time.
10. You look for any excuse to avoid being with your partner, you act out, you cheat or think about cheating: If you are looking for “exits” in your relationship then you may not be in the right one. You may want to do some serious self-reflection and think about the reasons you are in a relationship with someone that you want to avoid or are always looking for the next best thing. It could be that you need to work through some things on your own, or, it could be that you’re just not with the right person.
**Punch Purpose Correspondent Lena Aburdene contributes to enriching peopleâ€™s lives with purpose.Â She is a psychotherapist at the Imago Center in Washington DC where she works with individuals, couples and groups on a variety of issues.Â Â She currently writes a column for the online Washington DC Examiner on Feminism and Relationshipsthat explores many of the issues that come up for her clients. Lena lives in Washington DC with her husband and her cat Lou.Â @LenaMarieAÂ Blog:Â http://imagocenterdc.com/
**Punch Purpose Correspondent Lena Aburdene contributes to enriching people’s lives with purpose. She is a psychotherapist at the Imago Center in Washington DC where she works with individuals, couples and groups on a variety of issues. She currently writes a column for the online Washington DC Examiner on Feminism and Relationshipsthat explores many of the issues that come up for her clients. Lena lives in Washington DC with her husband and her cat Lou. @LenaMarieA Blog: http://imagocenterdc.com/blogs/lena-aburdene **