Being in love can feel like a dream come true, but all too often, we convince ourselves that a bad relationship is as close to perfect as we’re going to get. It’s time to stop that! We deserve the absolute best, and that means we must stand up for what we want, and, more importantly, what we need in a relationship. Your significant other probably has some habits that you’re not particularly fond of, such as chewing too loudly or always leaving the toilet seat up, but they may not be actual deal-breakers.
Each of our own deal-breakers are subjective, but there are several core things that none of us should have to deal with from our significant other. Here are some things you should never have to settle for in a relationship. His or her annoying little habits are one thing, but these are entirely another and should not simply be brushed aside.
1. Any form of abuse
This one should be a given, but it’s easy to get caught up in a relationship and lose sight of what’s really happening. If you’re ever being physically, emotionally or mentally abused, that is absolutely not okay. Don’t make excuses for your significant other; love yourself enough to walk away.
“If you shrink rather than expand, if you feel trapped, limited, held down, cornered or feel that you can’t express your opinion, those should be deal-breakers for anyone,” says Patrick Wanis, a human behavior expert.
A relationship should build you up, not tear you down in any way, which is something Becky*, a senior at Ohio State, discovered. “I recently went through a relationship where my boyfriend of the time would be a jerk to me when he was drunk, and especially in front of his friends,” she says. “It was totally degrading, and that's something a girl should never be okay with. I would confront him repeatedly, but the behavior never really stopped. I'm glad I've moved on!”
You should never feel embarrassed or put down by your partner, and if you do, it’s time to walk away. You deserve to be treated with love and the utmost respect. Never let someone make you feel like less of a person through how they treat you physically or verbally.
2. Constant fighting
Every couple fights; it’s not only natural, but oftentimes healthy because it’s important to be able to resolve your issues when they arise. However, if you and your partner find yourself constantly fighting over trivial things, it’s time to reevaluate why that is and if the relationship is worth it. Wanis says that “if you argue more than you laugh,” that’s a relationship red flag.
Relationships should be enjoyable, not a constant battle. We often force ourselves to forget the bad times when the good times finally come, but if the fighting will always return, then what’s the point of the relationship in the first place?
Shira, a senior at Franklin & Marshall College, says, “When I was with my ex, towards the end things weren't so great. We would fight a lot (he even called me ‘miserable’ once), and I basically felt a lack of respect from him and a lack of interest on his part on maintaining the relationship. Looking back, these were signs that this relationship was a no-go and that we should have broken up long before we did.”
Trust us, there are so many better things you can put your time and effort toward than fighting all the time when you could be happily single or with someone who wouldn’t put you through that!
3. Lack of attention from your partner
Men and women alike are going to find others attractive even while they’re in a relationship; we’re only human. And it’s fine if your man can appreciate a beautiful woman, just as you can appreciate a handsome man, but he never should ogle other women more than you. Wanis says, “If he comments on other women’s beauty, but never yours,” that’s another red flag.
In other words, your significant other isn’t required to compliment you 24/7 (although it’d be nice). But he or she shouldn’t be hitting on other women while neglecting to show you the attention you deserve. According to Wanis, it’s okay if he’s “just commenting on her beauty and [you] knows he still loves [you] and he still thinks [you’re] the most beautiful woman.” It’s not necessarily something you need to feel threatened by, but you should always feel appreciated and respected in your relationship.
If your significant other is always looking at, commenting on and flirting with other women, then it’s time to think about how that makes you feel and what his intentions truly are so that you can know whether or not to walk away.
4. Addictive habits
If your significant other partakes in destructive and/or addictive behavior, such as substance abuse, take that as a warning sign.
Kim Olver, life coach and author of Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life, says to ask yourself if you’re willing to stay with this person even if he or she never changes. “If yes, then I would ask, can you accept that your boyfriend is going to continue with this addiction and give up the need to try to get him to stop?” she says. “This mean you would have to let go of all anger, resentment and frustration. If the answer is yes, then I say stay in the relationship. If the answer to either question is no, then the relationship is pretty much doomed.”
If his lifestyle makes you uncomfortable or worried and he doesn’t seem concerned or willing to get help, then walk away before you get yourself hurt, or worse, involved in his addictive habits as well. “The addict will continue addictive behavior and the woman will continue to complain, criticize, nag and threaten to get him to stop,” Olver says. “This behavior will destroy the relationship and likely give the addict more excuses to continue to use.”
5. Your SO is in lust, not love
Sexual attraction is a wonderful thing and an important part of a relationship. However, if you feel like your SO only wants you in that way and doesn’t cherish you emotionally, it may be time to hit the road.
Wanis says that “if he only touches you sexually and rarely affectionately,” it’s a warning sign. Your man should love being with you just as much in bed as in the grocery store or the car or even the dentist’s office. If he only tells you you’re hot and never beautiful or always wants to have sex when you’re alone together, he’s not worth it.
As women, we generally get emotionally attached to men much quicker and more easily than they do to us. Therefore, make sure you’re both equally invested emotionally. It’s easy to get caught up in a steamy, physical romance, but if you’re looking for a serious, committed relationship, then it should be built on more than just his carnal desire for you.
Spend time together just talking and hanging out, and take note if it seems like his intentions are always sexual. Sex is awesome and should be enjoyed and encouraged by both of you, but there’s much more to a relationship than just that. According to Olver, “the woman has to love herself more than she loves the guy. When she does that, she will be able to walk away and wait for a guy who will love her for who she is instead of what she does for him.”
6. No longer feeling special
A relationship should be a happy addition to your life. Of course, after time some of the excitement of a new relationship will wear off and you may fall into a routine, but that doesn’t mean all the great quality of being with and wanted by someone else should wear off as well. “Everyone has problems in relationships,” Wanis says. “But if you ever get to the point where you don’t feel special anymore, you don’t feel he adores you, you don’t feel that he loves you, then it’s time to dump him.”
It can be easy to make excuses for your SO being a little distracted every once in a while and not necessarily making you a clear priority due to personal issues, etc. But you should both be making each other feel special and desirable as often as possible, because that’s why you’re with each other in the first place!
“One thing I noticed myself doing was being blinded by love,” says Kelly*, a senior at Stetson University. “I have been so in love with him that even though he blatantly said he was unhappy, I was doing anything to make him happy even if it went against my standards, my will or my comfort. I was putting his happiness over mine, and he just started to take advantage of that.”
It’s important to notice these signs and give yourself the chance to have the relationship you deserve.
7. Pressure to change
Some women often think it’s their job to change their man, Olver says. “We really do think if we hang in there long enough, love him hard enough, then we can change him,” and that is an issue in and of itself, she says. According to Olver, it is not your job to fix him. “It isn’t fair if you’re not holding him accountable for who he is, but who he should be,” she says. “Trust he’s showing you who he is and not who you want him to be.”
Equally so, it’s not your significant other’s job to fix you. You should always be true to yourself, and any successful relationship needs acceptance and understanding from both parties. “If he respects and loves you, he wouldn't want to change you,” says Kasia, a senior at Villanova University. “Everyone has their flaws and shortcomings, but your partner should embrace them instead of making you feel insecure about them. Women should be proud of who they are, including their imperfections, and their partners should raise them up, not make them feel badly about themselves.”
If your SO is trying to change you into something you’re not, or if he or she is trying to change you in any way at all, then it’s time to take a step back and reconsider your relationship.
Maybe you’ll only date a guy who shares your religious views, or maybe you simply refuse to date someone who doesn’t like cats. Regardless, it’s important to decide on your “non-negotiables,” as Olver calls them, and stick to them. She urges us to write them down and, in doing so, make a promise to ourselves of what we deserve. That way, we can hold ourselves and our significant others accountable to our relationship expectations. If your SO is not meeting them, it’s time to walk away and stay away.
But most importantly, if your significant other is falling into any of the above categories, it’s time to seriously reconsider your relationship. No one should have to settle for a relationship that involves these crucial deal-breakers. Have the courage and confidence to stand up for yourself and walk away, because you deserve to be as happy as possible!
*Names have been changed.