Is your romantic partner right for you? Or is it time to move on? There is no single answer to this question, because everyone's situation is unique, but there are some indicators that it may be time to part ways. Before reading on, prepare to step back from your relationship for a moment and look at it from the perspective of an outsider. (These items are written with the perspective of a woman thinking about a relationship with a man, but the advice applies to everyone.)
1. You Have Different Core Values.
Core values are non-negotiables, such as the desire to marry, to have kids, or to move to Iceland. If you and your partner's core values differ significantly, that is a major red flag, which by itself should be cause for concern, regardless of how well you currently get along.
If you are willing to negotiate your so-called core values, those values are not in fact — or no longer are — your core values. Granted, it's possible for you to truly change your core values, but changes of this kind shouldn't be the result of pressure or suggestions from a romantic partner. They should be the result of personal growth.
2. Your Partner Takes You for Granted.
You watch the movies your partner picked out earlier. You eat the food he decided to bring home from a local take-out place without consulting with you. You dress the kids in clothes you know he likes. Meanwhile, he never acknowledges any of this. He simply takes your submissive behavior for granted. In his mind, it's assumed that this is how things are meant to be. It feels as if you could be replaced by an inflatable sex dolls. Would it make a difference to your partner's behavior? Probably not; he would just have a larger share of the Chinese takeout.
3. Your Partner Does Not Respect You.
Lack of respect can show up in many different forms. One is the lack of forward-moving actions. Others are verbal or emotional abuse, and passive-aggressive behavior. All of these forms of abusive behavior can be so subtle that it is hard to recognize it for what it is. Your partner might be well aware that he fails to do his share of the household duties and yet does nothing about it (passive-aggressive), or he might attempt to create distance between you by making plans for the weekend without first attempting to make joint plans with you.
Sometimes these styles of abusive behaviors are less subtle. A partner may call you derogatory names, like bitch, and never apologize. They might even repeat it. Or they might disguise it: "In those clothes, you look like a slut." By putting it that way, your partner attempts to control you without you having a direct way to blame him. The abuse is disguised; after all, he didn't actually call you a slut.
4. Your Partner Does Not Care About Your Emotional or Sexual Needs.
Everything you do, you do because it fits your partner's way or your partner's day. He expects you will want whatever he wants. He takes but rarely gives. He expects you to make things easy for him, so he hardly has to do anything to remain in a relationship with you. Your partner may question the frequency of times you perform oral sex, while virtually never reciprocating, even after your hints or requests. If you think about it, you may realize that you can count on one hand the number of times your partner has focused on your needs, satisfied them, or even just tried to understand them.
5. Your Partner Is a Care-Taker but Rarely a Care-Giver.
It may have taken you a while to notice, but it eventually strikes you: You always care and inquire about your partner — how he is feeling, what he is up to, what his plans are, what mood he is in. But your partner doesn't display caring in the same way about you. It's rare for your partner to ask any of those questions about your welfare. Well, maybe you shouldn't blame him; maybe you are his new mom, or his second mom, if he is on good terms with his real mom. And moms (and dads) are caregivers, while children (even seemingly independent adult ones) are the receivers of that care. If you've taken on that role ion the relationship, something's gone wrong.
Berit "Brit" Brogaard is an author of On Romantic Love.