What S/he’ll Be Like Long-Term

Early warning signs that your partner will worsen later.

Posted Mar 28, 2018

Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

It’s only natural that when trying to deepen a relationship, you’re on your best behavior. Alas, that leads many partners to be shocked when, for example, after the wedding, sweetie changes.

Sometimes the change is obvious. The person gets skinny for the wedding and then soon gets fat. Other times, it’s less conspicuous. Before moving in, your partner was interested in what you’ve been doing and thinking but afterwards, it’s me first, take you for granted. Before the wedding, your partner put you on a pedestal and when there was disagreement, s/he managed to find common ground or other equitable resolution. Now it’s fire and brimstone. Before tying the knot, you were sexually compatible, now, s/he’s withholding. Early on, s/he claimed to be committed to career but soon after the rice was thrown, noises began about quitting and leaving you with 100% of the family’s financial burden. Before the wedding bells, s/he didn’t seem addictive but soon after, substance abuse, spendaholism, or anger issues exploded in your face. Arggggggggh!

Of course, many couples don’t encounter such surprises—What ya saw was what ya got. But in my coaching practice, I have often heard, “S/he changed completely! But there was no way of knowing!” Not necessarily. There often are warning signs.

Weight. It’s unfortunate that, like most human characteristics, weight has a genetic component. So if your partner tends toward the chunky despite careful eating, there’s risk that later on, significant weight gain awaits—It’s tough to be careful often enough about eating for a lifetime—You can be “good” for five meals in a row and, if you have the tendency to gain weight, a single “cheat” can yield a net weight gain. Gain just a pound every two weeks and you’ve gained 26 pounds in just one year. And if a person is of normal weight but tends to pork out, as metabolism slows, exercise decreases, and the complacency sets in from your having committed “’til death do us part," obesity is in the offing. Before the wedding, s/he may often enough resist, “I’d love some pizza or ice cream” but after the nuptials, “Aww, it’s just once.” Right.

Caring about you.  An early warning sign is if you ask about your partner more than s/he asks about you, your going out of your way to please your partner, even to your detriment, more than s/he does for you. For example, beware if after both of you have put in a long work day, s/he usually wants to be left alone for the entire evening while you’re more often asking about and really listening to your partner and offering to be helpful.

Disagreeing lovingly.  It’s a good sign if, even when stressed, your partner rarely expands the argument but rather finds a way to kindly come to an agreement. For example, you forgot your partner’s birthday. Does s/he say, “I understand you’re swamped at work but I feel a little uncared about. Might I ask you to be a little more mindful in the future?” Or is s/he likely to seethe, “You are so selfish, so self-absorbed, so narcissistic. This is just one example. Remember last week when I wanted to go see grandma and you said you wanted to watch the game?!?! Selfish! Egotistical! Narcissistic! And don’t you try to gaslight me, telling me that I’m crazy!!”

Sexual compatibility. Incompatibility can reign early in a relationship, for example, because he’s eager while she needs more time. But after the first, say, ten get-togethers, if one partner is much hotter-to-trot than the other, beware. In the old days, low sexual desire was often caused by hang-ups religious or psychological but today, that more likely reflects a physiologically lower sex drive or a psychological issue so deeply rooted that it may be difficult to ameliorate.

Substance abuse. Early in a relationship, abusers tend to hide their problem. Look for signs such as their appearing under the influence but claiming not to have used. Ask questions neutrally so as not to reveal your perspective, for example, “Recreational pot is now legal. What are your thoughts on that?”

Anger issues. Some people go from zero to 60 in two seconds. Early in the relationship, you may see that start to happen but the person almost always restrains him or herself. If your partner loses it more than very occasionally, beware. And even one instance of physical violence is a serious warning sign.

Working. Some people claim to intend to make serious dollars during the marriage. Yet soon after the wedding, the person “changes” his or her mind or claims, for example, that the job market is bad, or that s/he needs to stay home full-time to be a parent,. (too often a helicopter parent. ) It’s worth probing this directly, again using a neutral tone: “How clear are you that you plan to keep working after we’re married? How about after we have kids?”

Spending addiction. We all occasionally buy things we don’t need or spring for a fancy version when a modest one is fine. But if your partner seems too enamored of Mercedes, $300 ripped jeans, and fancy vacations, beware. Spendaholism tends to reflect an emotional hole that a person tries to fill by buying stuff. But the hedonic treadmill moves ever faster until the person or the partner falls off.


Having had conversations about relationships with countless clients and friends, I still believe in love, indeed in long-term relationships—I’ve been with my wife for 45 years. But the love highway is littered with road kill. Being alert to these warning signs can help you find a relationship that thrives through the journey.

I read this on YouTube.

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