Admit it, we all want love. Blame rom-coms, blame Valentine's Day cards, blame your lizard brain, but there's a hopeless romantic lurking in all of us. I mean, why else would we put ourselves through the mind-numbing torture of dating? OK, fine, dating can be fun, but mostly it's a hot mess of mixed signals, unsolicited dick pics, and weirdos. Or is that just me? Anyway, the question is, once you're in a relationship, how do you know if it's actually a healthy one? Is there a little nagging voice in your head asking: Does your relationship feel off?
Maybe you're just jaded from too many failed relationships, but it could just as likely be your subconscious is sending up a big, red warning flag that something's not quite right. It can be hard to tell when to heed that voice and when to shake it off as nerves when you're too close to the problem. So, I turned to the experts for advice on how to tell the difference.
Obviously, things like physical, mental, or sexual abuse are always a deal breaker, but sometimes the the problems are more subtle and difficult to diagnose. Here's what you should never have to wonder about if your relationship is in good shape.
1. How Much You Trust Them
Do you find yourself constantly giving bae the side eye? Wondering what they're up to when you're not around? Lori Salkin, Senior Matchmaker and Dating Coach art SawYouatSinai.com, explains why a lack of trust is an indication that your relationship is not a healthy one.
“Trust is the most important element of any relationship,” she says. “Constantly trying to sneak a peek at your significant others' phone, email, texting, snooping around their apartment or just regularly asking, where were you last night, or what are you doing with that person at work is a recipe for disaster. Whether it be their whereabouts, who they are talking to, their finances or past relationships, showing your significant other you don't trust them could ruin a relationship.”
Does your partner warrant this level of suspicion? If so, the prognosis is not good.
2. If You Are A Priority
One of the best things about being booed up is having someone you love to spend time with. Sure, life gets busy, but in a healthy relationship spending time with each other is a priority, not an obligation or a chore. Salkin explains that while no one wants to spend 24/7 with their partner, "there should always be a mutual effort to balance a healthy amount of time together as a couple with time for your personal life and strong communication when you are not together."
It's that desire to carve out that quality time that shows you are important to one another. So, if you're feeling like you're second fiddle? Perhaps its time to go solo.
3. That Their Eye Won't Wander
Here's a fun little quiz. Picture this: You're out grabbing dinner and a foxy lady walks by. Does your partner A) Keep their eyes locked on yours? Or B) Keep their eyes locked on that booty as it goes by?
If you answered B, then I think you know where this is going.
4. If You Can Count On Their Support
In a healthy relationship, you are each others' teammate, ally, and fan club. “When something fun or exciting happens for you at work, you should be able celebrate with your partner, not feel as though you have to dim your light in order for his to shine,” says Alessandra Conti, Celebrity Matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City. "In a healthy relationship, both members should feel like they are the best versions of themselves, and are constantly growing and succeeding in their lives, with the full support of the partner.”
If your success makes them insecure, it's time — gurl it's past time — to GTFO of the relationship. I mean, how sad are they? Your partner should be someone who encourages you to improve, advance, and be fulfilled. Period.
5. If They Will Stick Around
Does your partner disappear for a multiple days at a time without warning or explanation? Not a great sign, my friend. Communication goes hand in hand with a healthy relationship.
There are different levels of communication that make sense for different points of the relationships. Conti explains, "During the courting period, it is not totally out of the realm of normalcy that he wouldn't be communicating with you every single day, but once you are exclusive with each other, there should be a steady and daily check-in (even if it is just a cute text telling you that he is thinking of you despite his hectic day). If you are in a relationship and your partner goes missing for a few days, it's time to reevaluate.”
In a healthy relationship, you won't be left wondering where they are and when and if they'll get back to you. Because you'll already know. Not because they are "checking in" out of obligation, but because it's a natural bi-product of communication when you choose to share your life with one another.
6. That You Will Always Feel Safe Around Them
OK, this one seems obvious, but it needs to be said: In healthy relationship, you should feel emotionally and physically safe. If the relationship is new, ask yourself if they have a temper, because as Conti explains, that's a great indicator of future behavior: “When things don't go his way, if a man lashes out at other people in an angry, curse-fueled tyrant, take note. The way a man treats other people in his life (his family, his friends, the waiter) is the way that he will treat you once he gets comfortable with you.”
If your relationship is solid, these are all things you shouldn't be worried about. However, if some of these are weighing on your mind, there is still some hope (except for number six — that one is a deal breaker). Conti gives one last bit of advice about how to decide if a relationship can be salvaged or if it is DOA:
I always say: Is an issue a fluke or a flaw? Is it something that happened one time (a fluke) or is this something that continues to happen (a flaw)? If it's a fluke (maybe staying out late one night with friends and forgetting to text you), this is an issue that you can totally work with. If he is understanding as to why this would hurt your feelings and open to making a change, the relationship is totally fixable. But, if he is constantly staying out late, and doesn't feel as though he needs to change his behavior despite you expressing that it was upsetting you, it is time to reevaluate.
There you go, and now… the doctor is out.