Sometimes, your seemingly successful relationship can go off the rails. You start noticing flaws in the foundation—like how you can’t help but end a date feeling like words were left unsaid. And how you can’t help but wonder if you’re being too clingy or putting too much effort into the relationship. Even though you know you shouldn’t, you wonder if there is something wrong with you that is making the relationship go sideways. Often times, these thoughts swirl around in the heads of those whose significant others are not good enough for them.
There are often small signs that make you think that a girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t the right one for you. If they engage in activities that you don’t approve of, if they don’t put in the time or effort to appreciate your interests, or if they are constantly asking for you to pay for dinner and movie tickets, then you might be feeling like your relationship is a bit unbalanced. You don’t want to add up all these minor signs when you’re knee deep in a long-term relationship. Before you fall head over heels, be alert for signs that your partner truly isn’t good enough for you.
1. You're constantly doubting yourself.
Often times, people make others feel bad about themselves because of their own insecurities, according to an article from Psychology Today. If your S.O. truly is not good enough for you, they may feel threatened and feel the need to dull your shine in order to make themselves feel better. Take this as a sure sign to GTFO. Additionally, according to a study by Bentley University, if a significant other causes you to constantly question your thoughts, feelings, decisions, and makes you feel guilty for expressing your opinions, you may be in a harmful relationship. Your partner should encourage you to speak your mind, not penalize you for doing so.
Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls and Bad Boys says, "If your partner loves you unconditionally, they will support and appreciate you. This isn’t to say that they need to pretend you are perfect or that they shouldn’t mention things that you might want to do differently, but they shouldn’t make you doubt yourself all the time. This will erode your self-esteem."
2. They only come around for the *good* stuff.
In most cases, the good stuff refers to that good, good loving. According to Psychology Today, if your partner implies that they only value you for one thing, “whether it be sex, your looks, or your ability to earn money” this may be a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship.
Dr. Lieberman adds, "A partner who only comes around for the good stuff is only thinking of themselves and is not to be trusted. They are not really into you, just into what you can provide for them, such as sex or money or a distraction from their loneliness."
Dr. Patrick Wanis, celebrity life coach and expert in human behavior, prefers to describe feeling "too good" for your partner as "deserving better" or that you "deserve better than this relationship." He also emphasizes the distinction between one's conscious and subconscious feelings about the relationship. In other words, feeling unsatisfied or uncomfortable in the relationship never has to do with the person you are with, it is all about yourself and why you—consciously and subconsciously—are with that person, according to Wanis. Dr. Wanis cites an example of a woman whose boyfriend calls her fat and says that she should consider herself lucky to be with him. In response to this, he says, "She consciously knows this is wrong, yet she can't break away from him. One: Is it security? Two: Is it fear of being alone? Or three: Is it because subconsciously that she believes that she doesn't deserve to be treated better even though consciously she says I deserve better?"
In response to why a person would remain in a relationship where the other party is only interested in the physical aspects of a relationship, Dr. Wanis says that it could be a couple of things: Is it about this particular girl not being able to ask for what she wants? Is she afraid of being alone? Is she afraid to speak up for herself, to explain that she wants more from the relationship? Is she afraid of rejection? Is she afraid of conflict? Dr. Wanis advises, "Ask yourself what are you afraid of and why I am I choosing to stay in [the relationship]?"
3. They're not giving as much as you do.
According to a study, Marital Equality: Gender and Power in Couples Therapy by the Marriage and Family Institute, equal relationships have less stress, more intimacy and are overall more stable. In addition, the study notes that equality “involves the perception of mutual give and take over the long-term rather than just an immediate comparison of specific outcomes." If he or she does the dishes one night, that does not mean they should be sexually compensated or praised for contributing to the relationship. Over time, if you feel that you are more devoted to making the relationship work than your partner is, it may be a sign that you are too good for them.
On this topic, Dr. Lieberman says, "After a while, it becomes easy to spot a partner who is not giving as much as you do to the relationship. They may be afraid of giving too much, for fear of it not being reciprocated. Or they may simply be selfish. Either way, it’s a big red flag. They are likely to just keep taking from you as long as you let them."
4. They don't support you or constantly make you feel like you're wrong.
There is nothing worse than being with someone who doesn’t value you and your goals in life. My biggest pet peeve is being talked down to, and I was stuck in a relationship where my S.O. constantly talked like he was smarter than me (when in reality, it was the opposite). According to Psychology Today, if a partner distinguishes themselves as the “smart one” or discourages you from doing things because “you wouldn’t understand,” this may be a sign of a toxic relationship.
Additionally, Dr. Wanis emphasizes the importance of knowing what a healthy relationship is, in order to assess one's own situation. One should ask themselves, Is this a healthy relationship? Do I deserve to be treated better? Why do I allow myself to stay in it? What is it giving me? If a partner constantly puts you down, step back and ask yourself, "What is a healthy relationship? And is this relationship healthy for me?"
Rhonda Ricardo, author of Cherries Over Quicksand, says, "One of the biggest warning signs that you are too good for your S.O. is bullying. If he or she brings up one of the skills you are still working on, like baseball, public speaking, cooking, or especially anything super personal, and then makes fun of your struggles in front of other people to either, put you in weak light, make themselves feel/look superior, or shock you into getting their way, run away fast!" She goes on to say, "If body shaming is your S.O.'s MO for getting their way, don't hesitate, GO quickly in the other direction."
Dr. Lieberman also adds, "If your partner is constantly criticizing you, it may be because they are secretly afraid that you are too good for them. So, they want to keep you off balance and make you feel lucky that they are giving you the time of day." When in reality, they know that they are lucky that you are giving them the time of day.
5. They aren't planning for the future.
We don’t mean marriage and babies, but ambitions of their own that you can support them in and motivate them to achieve. The study by the Marriage and Family Institute defines equal relationships as those in which “both parties have and express desires, are active and empowered.” While you may be ready to take over the world, if your S.O. plans to major in Netflix, you can take it as a sign that he or she is not up to your standards.
On this subject, Dr. Lieberman says, "Some partners are afraid to plan for the future because they have seen their parents’ marriage end in divorce, and this has made them afraid of intimacy. Other partners aren’t planning for the future because they really don’t see a future with you. They are just biding their time until ‘something better’ comes along."
In this situation, Dr. Wanis says, "It all comes down to what do you want from the relationship." In answering this question for yourself, he suggests that you remember "a satisfying relationship contains three elements: passion, intimacy, commitment." When considering these elements, he advises, "Get clear about what you want from the relationship ... If you don't know what you want, you're just going to accept whatever is given to you, and people are just going to take from you what they want, such as the guy who comes over and just wants sex."
Ricardo adds, "Do you already find yourselves the mirror image of an elderly couple, sick of hearing the same old story from across the table? If you do, know that boredom breeds arguments for the sake of excitement. Boring is not hot, especially in college. One or both of you might need to either step up your accomplishments and life goals or move on. Unless you plan on dancing on the table with your S.O. after dinner, you’re too young to settle for a great playlist and headphones you can wear while you eat to block out each other’s constant story reruns."
Consider Ricardo's words when considering whether or not to end a relationship based on an unequal give-and-take: "College is about growing. Sometimes a couple’s bond grows stronger, but if you both do not have time for each other, that’s natural too. You’re young and growing in the direction of your dreams and goals and so is your S.O. If you are already attending medical conferences while you go for your degree and he/she is at home playing video games, either you have a great stay-at-home parent candidate, the next video game inventor bazillionaire, or a lazy donkey-choo that will eat all your cereal then leave sticky bowls in the sink for you to scrub for the rest of your college days. Only you can make the call to stay or send their video race kart down the road. Beep, beep!"
Being disappointed in your partner doesn't mean that you are being unrealistic or that you need to set your standards lower. If there is one thing that should be high, it should be your standards. Be proud of who you are and don’t settle for someone who doesn't deserve you. Be conscious of your self-worth and if you feel that you're being taken advantage of, know the signs that you're better than that and move on!