Not long ago I found out what it's like to be with someone who says he loves you but somehow makes you feel utterly alone. We'd been together for years.
There I was sitting across the table from him at a nice restaurant, pushing asparagus around my plate with a salad fork, with nothing on my mind other than the thought that, eventually, we'd just be two strangers sharing dinner together, who can't describe to each other what's missing, or what's already gone. But did I really know it was going to end the whole time we were together?
If I'm honest with you and myself, I have to say yes. When I look back at our relationship, there were plenty of times there should have been something going off in my head somewhere that said: "Warning. He's not that great. Smiling comes naturally and doesn't have to be forced." Now that I have the fortune of hindsight, I know just how many signs there were along the way. Here are four signs that he isn't right for you.
People say you've changed:
This one's hard to pick up on at first. We all just want to love and be loved by somebody, and sharing interests and time with our partner is necessary when building any relationship. That's how I've always felt and how I still feel, to some degree. But now I know how important it is to hold onto what makes you unique.
Before we were together I spent weekends with my family and went out with my girlfriends at least once a week. Nothing extreme. After a while, as we became closer, I spent less and less time with the people I cared about. The truth was I couldn't. My partner made it impossible for me to go anywhere. When I wasn't with him, he texted constantly and wouldn't leave me alone. It got to the point where I just shut down, just quit making the effort to go out or be a position where I might be seen with anyone but him. I lost myself. If you're in a relationship that changes you and the way you used to live your life, maybe you should think about whether or not it's a healthy relationship.
You avoid his company:
I remember what it was like not being able to imagine what life would be like without my partner. I would lie in my bed half-dressed in his t-shirt and breathe in the scent of his lingering cologne, never thinking that someday its spicy top notes would become more nauseating than English Leather.
I couldn't put a finger on any point in time when avoiding his company became essential to my sanity, but somehow, after a while my schedule became filled with various errands and activities, as his schedule did as well. Have you made plans, real or otherwise, to have some time for yourself or with someone else? Why would you avoid someone who's supposed to mean so much to you?
He's number one:
This is one of the most blatant warning signs that it's time to pack up and hit the metaphorical road. Early on in our relationship, my partner made it very clear that what he said and did was what mattered most. This didn't happen years down the road. Oh no. It started subtly, with comments dropped here and there that if my plans included him that he'd have to come first. In the beginning, I laughed these comments off, but when his career, his friends, his life outside of what we shared mattered more than what I had to do or say, I couldn't ignore it any longer.
Humans are naturally social, people pleasers. If you have to give in to your partner's every whim and desire, what does that leave for you? A great relationship starts with mutual respect and a desire to foster the development of each partner. You don't have to come second. Love isn't a contest for attention or wish fulfillment.
You're reading about what to do:
When I was with my ex, I couldn't believe how many books, blogs, conversations and other relationship advice sources I sought. I read so much in an attempt to find out if I was the cause of our problems and how I could fix myself. It was crazy!
Just breathe. You're not crazy or likely the underlying cause of your problems. When things feel like they're falling apart, it's easy to start internalizing the problems. The bad thing is that oftentimes we blame ourselves for things that are completely out of our control.
Meeting the right person can feel as elusive as finding a polar bear in a snowstorm. But you don't have to feel stuck or settle for someone who isn't right for you. Happiness is something you shouldn't have to work hard for in a relationship. Truly, you have to be happy with yourself before you can find happiness or be with anyone else. If he's not right for you, don't waste your time. You're worth it!
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