dating

Dating is not only something we do to pass the time, but rather a means to determine who might be right for us long-term—and who is not “the one.” “Through the experience of dating, we learn what is important to us, what we will compromise on, what we have to offer, and what we are willing to accept,” explains Lexa Bender, MA, registered marriage and family therapist intern and mental health counselor intern. “As we grow in a relationship, we can either grow with our partner or apart from him or her and can take the knowledge from past relationships to have a better understanding of what we are looking for in a partner.”

If you’re dating someone who you’re not totally sure is the right one for you long-term, check for these red flags that signal he or she is likely not “the one.” 

Your value system isn’t aligned.

If you’re going to spend the rest of your life with one single person, it’s important that you value the same things in life, such as having a family and living away from the city to have more space. “An important conversation in a relationship is looking at what you are willing to be flexible on and what you will not waver on,” explains Bender. “If neither of you are willing to come to an agreement that you are both okay with, then it is best not to continue pursuing a relationship with that person.”

You have different life goals.

Similar to your value system, if your life goals do not complement one another’s, this may indicate that the person you are dating is not the one. “For example, if one person wants to travel and not have kids, while the other wants to settle down and have a family, this can create conflict within the relationship,” explains Bender. “If your hopes and desires for life do not match up, and there is no compromise or shared goal, the relationship is not ‘the one’.”

Your partner tries to control your life.  

If your partner tends to have a controlling personality, it’s not automatically a red flag, however, if he or she does not allow you to have friends, activities or an opinion outside of him or her, it’s a serious cause for concern, according to Bender. Additionally, if your partner is abusive in any way (verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually), they are not the one. “It is not always obvious that your partner is abusive, and it may begin gradually,” Bender says. “In this situation, seeking outside help through friends, family, or a helping professional may be necessary.”

You feel at the bottom of your partner’s priority list.

“Within a relationship, we want security that our loved one will choose us,” explains Bender. “When we feel that there is a list of things that come above us, it can make us question our place in the relationship.” If you communicate with your partner about this and nothing changes, she recommends considering whether or not the relationship is right for you long-term. 

Your friends and family don’t like them.

While the most important person to like your significant other is you, your friends and family matter too. In fact, their dislike may signal something bigger than you think. “Your friends and family are the ones that know you the best and always have your best interest at heart, so if they don’t like your significant other, this is a major red flag that this person is not ‘the one’,” warns Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of CupidsPulse.com. “It is concerning because these people would love nothing more than to see you find your other half and live happily ever after, so if they are saying something, it must be pretty bad and they know you deserve better.”

You can’t fully be yourself around them.

Think about how much time you spend—and will continue to spend throughout your life—with your significant other. It’s important that you’re not only comfortable, but that you can be yourself. If you feel like you can’t really be yourself in your relationship, that you are always trying to say or do the “right” thing so that you can be who they want you to be, that’s a sign that this person is not “the one”, according to Amy McManus, LMFT, relationship therapist and owner of Thrive Therapy, Inc.

You want to change a bunch of things about them.

Chances are, your partner has some qualities you like—but if the list of qualities you don’t like are much longer, he or she might not be the one. “In a long-term relationship, there will definitely be things that you both need to work on to make the other person happy, but you shouldn’t want to fundamentally change the person that you are with,” says Bizzoco. “If you feel this at the beginning of the relationship, it's only going to get worse as time goes on.”