By Naomi Kent
Contrary to popular belief, a good relationship is not measured by how often the “L” word is said, nor is it gauged by the frequency of gift-giving and public displays of affection. In reality, the strength of any relationship can be easily determined simply by observing how partners treat one another on a day-to-day basis.
If you’re questioning the validity of your partner’s love, your uncertainty in itself should be a warning sign that something is not quite right. But if you’re still on the fence when it comes down to sticking it out or throwing in the towel, read the telltale signals below that indicate if your relationship is one to invest in, or one to close the book on.
1 – Your Partner is Attentive When You’re Alone Together, But Ignores You in Public
If you don’t get an introduction when bumping into your partner’s acquaintances at a social event, or even on the street, your significant other may not think of your relationship as something permanent. Sometimes a missed introduction is simply due to forgetting a name or nervousness, but if your partner neglects to introduce you regularly, you may want to reconsider your status in his or her life.
2 – Your Partner Constantly Criticizes You
If your partner is always pointing out your weaknesses, puts you down, or bullies you into changing, they’re attempting to make you something you’re not. This form of behavior usually comes from people who are looking for an unattainable ideal, even at the expense of the other person’s feelings. If your significant other is always putting you down, it’s time to move on and find someone who will truly appreciate you for who you are.
3 – Your Partner Holds the Proverbial Dangling Carrot
Bargaining is not the same as compromising in a relationship. If your partner refuses to commit unless you: get a higher paying job, lose 20 pounds, or cut all ties with your friends, understand that you will be making all the sacrifices in the relationship. Manipulative behavior does not lead to loving and respectful unions. A person who continually uses bribes is seeking authority – not love, and in turn has no respect for the person they are attempting to control.
4 – You Have to Argue With Your Partner to Get Them to Spend Time With You
This doesn’t mean you should be living out of each other’s pockets, but rather you should have similar expectations about how you spend your time together, and how often you see each other. If you’re troubled because your partner would rather spend their weekends with other people, or do things that don’t include you, you many have different expectations concerning the level of commitment in the relationship. Opposite personalities do tend to mesh, but couples need common interests to form a strong bond that will last for the long haul.
5 – Your Partner Avoids Having Their Picture Taken With You
This seemingly insignificant behavior can tell you a lot about your partner’s long-term intentions. If your partner perpetually avoids being photographed with you, they may have a reason for not wanting to document the moment. If you’ve e-mailed a photograph of yourself or the two of you and it has been hastily deleted, you might want to start moving some of your eggs to other baskets. Keep in mind that some people hate having their picture taken at all costs – but all lovebirds like to have at least one picture as a couple, even if it’s not the most flattering picture.
6 – Your Partner Keeps His/Her Family and Friends Separate From You
This can mean two things: either your partner is ashamed of their friends and family, or they’re ashamed of you. Either way, you’re not fully integrated into your partner’s life until you’ve experienced all aspects of it, and that includes meeting the people who they interact with on a personal level.
7 – Your Partner Neglects to Help You When You’re in Trouble
This is the true test of love. If your partner doesn’t offer to help you when you truly need it, it’s time to throw in the towel. This doesn’t mean they should fund your addictions, or pay your rent when you’ve drained your bank account on the latest gadget; but when life throws you a curveball that turns things upside down, a person who truly loves you will offer support without hesitation. Of course, it is not their responsibility to get you out of the mess, but they should at least be there for you during the difficult time, and to help you work out a solution. By the same token, if you neglect your partner in their time of need, you may want to reconsider why you’re in the relationship in the first place.
8 – Your Partner Continually Compares You With An Ex
It is perfectly fine to talk about previous relationships; lots of new couples share past love experiences. But when you’re constantly being compared to “the ex,” your partner is either not over that person, or they’re wishing you were more like that person.
9 – Your Friends and Family Dislike Your Partner
Although it’s maddening when your friends can’t see your partner’s good side, take stock of what they do notice about your partner. Often when people are in love, or are floating in the sea of infatuation, they fail to see the warning signs in a relationship. If you’re wondering whether to hoist the sails or to jump ship, adopting the perspective of your closest mates may steer you in the right direction.
10 – Your Partner is Verbally or Physically Abusive
There is no excuse for abuse. If your partner causes pain to you physically or emotionally, toss aside all reservations and get out while you still can. Apologies don’t heal bruises, and a low self-esteem can take years to recover.
Remember, relationships have to have a solid foundation to have a fighting chance in the long run. If you’re unsure about your partner now, chances are it’s not going to improve when marriage and children are thrown into the equation. The simplest method of deciding whether to stay or leave is simply to ask yourself if you’d be happy living the rest of your life in your current circumstances. If the answer is yes, then you’re probably in a good relationship; if you’re hoping things will change, then prepare yourself for a lifetime of heartache and uncertainty.