One of the ways to know if the person you're dating is the right one for you is by paying attention to what parts of you they bring out. Do they help you to be kinder? More ambitious? More confident? If so, that's probably a sign you found someone who's not just a good partner, but one who's good for you. But unfortunately, not all partners, or relationships, bring out the best in you. So, how do you know if your significant other isn’t good for you? Is it just as easy to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship as it is in a healthy one?
According to relationship experts, the answer to that question is a definite yes — but only when you're really ready to examine both how you're acting around them, and what you're really feeling inside with open eyes. Because here’s the tricky thing: When you care about someone, even someone who isn't actually "healthy" for you, it's very tempting to just ignore the warning signs and hope it will get better.
So, if you suspect you SO is not a good influence on you, here's what experts say you should be on the lookout for — and what to do about it if that's the case.
In a healthy relationship, you should feel safe being your whole, authentic self with your partner. If that's not the case, Winter says it's time to examine why. For example, “[If] you feel pressured [to be more] interesting, exciting, and daring, [because] who you are isn't good enough, and only a heightened version of yourself is acceptable,” what that really means is that you don't feel confident and safe with your partner.
Chris Armstrong, founder of the relationship coaching company Maze of Love, tells Elite Daily an even clearer sign is if those feelings lead you to try become someone you aren’t or behave in ways that are simply not in line with your character. “You find yourself making big changes about who you are, changes that really turn you into someone that you are not comfortable with,” Armstrong says. “Sometimes, we can fall for someone so hard or so fast, we end up adapting to who they are in order to fit their needs and their lifestyle. This may include taking up bad habits, dumbing ourselves down, or dropping friends and family.” While changing and evolving when we are with someone is normal, it’s becomes problematic when those changes are negative, or you shrink rather than grow.
Having defined boundaries is important, and having a partner who respects them is essential. So, if your partner doesn’t respect yours, that could be a sign that they're probably not a positive match for you. Signs to pay attention to, according to Winter, include when “you find yourself engaged in risky behavior that has little reward. Whether the choices you're making are sexually or emotionally uncomfortable, you feel there's no other option.”
Erica Gordon, millennial dating expert, founder of The Babe Report, and author of Aren't You Glad You Read This?, agrees. “If your significant other doesn't respect your boundaries, they aren't right for you. You should only have to lay out your boundaries and explain where the line is once. After you've communicated your boundaries, the right partner won't cross that line,” she tells Elite Daily.
Are you walking on eggshells because of your partner’s paranoia or constant unwarranted accusations? If so, Gordon warns that this is a clear indication that your partner is not good for you, because again, you should feel emotionally and physically safe in your relationship. If you are constantly having to defend yourself or you're second guessing your behavior, this is probably not a partner who is good for you. “If your partner acts jealous, possessive or suspicious and is constantly asking to see your phone or accusing you of something, run for the hills. It's very unhealthy to date someone who acts like this," says Gordon.
If everyone around you is picking up on the signs, but you yourself are choosing not to see them, Armstrong says that, in and of itself, is a warning sign that requires further and honest examination. “This could also be about them picking up an unhealthy drinking habit, them verbally abusing you, or a number of other things,” he says. “Unfortunately, you are in too deep to truly open your eyes. The tragedy of it all is, you're not missing key signs and issues, you're choosing to file them in the back of your mind.”
If you’ve done the work of honestly taking a look at the dynamic with your SO and realize they aren’t good for you, it's time to take action. Both Winter and Gordon agree that the best thing to do in this circumstance is to end the relationship and seek out a partner who is good for you. “When you realize that your partner isn't good for you, you must leave. You need to be honest with yourself — no matter how much you love them,” says Winter.
Gordon warns against the temptation to “teach” them to be better. “You can't teach someone how to respect boundaries, consider your feelings, or accommodate your needs,” she says. “Teaching someone these qualities is not a job you should have to take on, and you're better off finding a partner who already possesses these desirable traits.”
Armstrong does offer some hope, though — but only in cases where your partner is ready to recognize how they are affecting you and are willing to make those changes themselves. “If someone knows that their partner is no good for them, they must address it,” he says. “If, for instance, you've [started] changing who you are in unhealthy ways, have the conversation with your partner. Express that you really love them but that you cannot continue being someone you are not. Do not blame them for your change but commit to being your old self again and see where they go with it. If they are apologetic for the negative influence and profess their love and support for you, stay the course. If they react in any other way besides this, leave,” he concludes.
The bottom line is that you need and deserve to be with a partner who cherishes and embraces who you are and also brings out the best in you. You shouldn't have to settle for anything less.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.