If you have ever been in a relationship, then you know they are complicated. There are moments of pure joy, and there are times when you question everything and wonder if it's a red flag.
Through the highs and lows, it's hard to be certain whether or not you and your significant other are meant to be, or not. Sure, in every relationship, you need to be able to work through the "bad" together. But, when do you say enough is enough?
At what point do you draw the line between rough times and simply settling?
After every toxic relationship ends, many people say they wish they could have seen the warning signs. As a divorced person, I can promise you there are always signs. The problem is our "love can conquer all" glasses won't let us see them until they are so blatantly obvious that they create an avalanche.
So before you say "I do" and wish you didn't, here is a list of signs that might be pointing you toward ending the relationship rather than taking the next step and walking down the aisle:
You called me what?
Words hurt, and they hurt relationships. Name calling and hurtful words sting, leaving an indelible print on the relationship that no apology can truly wash away. It's hard to go back and respect that person you love after he or she called you horrible names. Plus, you will always wonder if what was said in anger was meant. If it becomes a pattern where he or she is overly critical, doesn't value your opinion, or makes you feel stupid, then you have to walk away. This is a prerequisite to abusive behavior that becomes more insidious as time goes on. You deserve better.
Where's the sex?
Sex is crucial in a happy and healthy relationship. And when sex isn't on the table anymore (literally or figuratively), it's a sign something bigger is happening. If you are both too "busy" for sex before marriage, it will be non-existent once you are married. It may be that you have both grown distant, emotionally and physically. Or, it could be a sign that you have different sexual needs. If one of you feels like there isn't enough sex and the other feels that it's perfect as is, then you have different sexual make-ups and it will very likely be a prevailing issue throughout your marriage.
Where's the trust?
You need to be able to trust your partner. It is the building block for every solid relationship, and you cannot have a loving connection without it. Do you read through his emails? Do you not trust her when she goes out with her friends? Checking each other's phones, social media accounts, and emails is not the foundation of a healthy, trusting relationship. If yours is starting to look less like a romance novel and more like a mystery book, then you might want to make a run for it.
When is bad not good?
Sometimes being bad can be a good thing—especially in the bedroom—but when the bad in the relationship seems to outweigh the good, there is a big problem. For instance, if you can't even remember the last time you were happy with your partner, this is a red flag. It may be that you are simply not compatible, have different communication styles, or fight and bicker often. It's best to figure that out before saying "I do." The most important warning sign of love gone awry is your instincts. If you think the relationship isn't working, then it probably isn't.
Spend time together much?
When you'd rather spend a night out with friends every weekend instead of your partner, it's apparent that there is an issue. If you are happy in your relationship, you'll want to spend most of your time together—not the opposite. If you're making excuses to not see your partner, perhaps you need to re-examine why you haven't ended things yet. If you aren't spending time together, and do not seem to miss it or want to change it, this cannot lead to a happy place.
How much fighting is too much?
Arguing in a relationship comes with the territory. Each couple is bound to have everything from insignificant fights to explosive, can't-sleep-for-two-days arguments. It's a part of relationship growing pains. However, if you're amazed that you lasted a week without fighting, then you might need to take a look in the relationship mirror. Or, if you even have trouble staying civil on vacations when you are in a beautiful hotel with room service, stunning scenery, white sand beaches and tropical daiquiris, then it might be time to say goodbye.
Focusing on changing him/her?
This is not a good sign if either partner wants to change the other person. It will surely make you question whether or not he or she loves you. If you are not loved or accepted for whom you are, then you should not be with that person. Surely no one is perfect, and we could all stand to improve ourselves in some way, but not because our partner says so. There are times that one partner would like to enhance the relationship by having better communication, sparking up the sex life, or thinking of fun ways to spend more time together; all these are positive changes that couples can do together to improve a relationship. However, if the focus is on changing the other person to fit a mold or an image, then muster up your self-esteem and remove yourself from the situation.
Fantasizing of others?
It's all fun and games until you can't stop thinking about someone else. In a happy and strong relationship, you should be thinking about your partner. When unhappiness starts to creep in, so do thoughts and fantasies about other people. This may be the point when attention from other men or women fills an emptiness you're feeling from the relationship. Flirting on social media or drunkenly texting your ex are clear signs that something is missing in your current relationship.
If any of these signs hit home with you, then I'm afraid you have some serious thinking to do. If you come to the realization that ending the connection is the best move for you, try to remember that, as hard as it is to break up a relationship or an engagement, ending a marriage is much more difficult. And, just as the glass is half full, the heartbreaking end of something can be the beginning of a fresh start and a possible new love in the future.