In relationships, it has been said, “Take me as I am or watch me as I go.” We are taught to accept each person for who they are because everyone is different. And yes, everybody has flaws, and relationships take plenty of grace no matter who you end up with. But when it comes to love, there are certain characteristics and stipulations you shouldn’t settle for. Here are a few examples:
We all say and do things that unintentionally hurt others. We make rude jokes or word things in a way that the other person might not appreciate (despite our best intentions). In these cases, there are people who believe they shouldn’t have to apologize for offending their partner because “this is who they are.”
However, an unwillingness to apologize can thwart your relationship from growing. It’s difficult for any relationship to develop when one person regularly refuses to acknowledge they have hurt the other. Saying “sorry” is not always synonymous with “I was wrong.” Rather, it’s a display of empathy towards your partner for realizing your actions may not have been as edifying to your relationship as you had hoped.
Being able to admit your wrongdoings and take ownership of your actions are signs of both maturity and respect—two traits you should be looking for in a significant other.
It’s important to be open-minded toward people of different backgrounds, cultures and upbringings. These differences can enrich and add color to our relationships. But sometimes reality bites as we come to the cold, hard realization that we are just too different from our partner.
It’s one thing to have different hobbies or taste in music. However, things like how you spend your money, how you prioritize your family, your faith and the types of dreams you share will have a huge impact on your relationship for as long as you both shall live. These are the factors that will ultimately mould your relationship and determine how you spend your time together.
If your relationship is not rooted in the same values or faith, what kind of foundation are you building your relationship on? Don’t think you need to stay with someone just because he or she meets the majority of the criteria on your list.
Settling down; tying the knot; putting a ring on it. These are not new concepts to anyone who is or has been in a long-term relationship. In fact, this is usually the desired outcome of people in such relationships. But if you find that your partner tends to make plans with you only on his terms or that she dodges any conversations about marriage, it could be a sign that commitment might not be in his or her vocabulary.
Many in this situation hold on to the ever-burning hope that their partner will eventually come around or that they just need more time. But after five years of dating, if the only image of your wedding is the one you’ve been visualizing alone in your head, how much more time are you willing to give them? While marriage isn’t something to rush into, it is a conversation you should expect to have with your partner once the relationship become serious.
If you hope to see a mortgage, kids or a joint bank account in your future, a person who is reluctant to show any signs of commitment is someone you might want to cut loose. Why should you have to settle for “What if?” when you can have the assurance of “When”?
Moreover, marriage is not just a relationship status. It is a calling. If you are expecting to one day exchange vows at the altar but your partner is not, it could have bigger implications than just being with someone who is “not ready.”
Are you always the one to blame when something goes wrong? Do you ever feel like you have to abide by your partner’s rules? Are you constantly being nagged, controlled or scolded? If so, your partner may have assumed the parent role in your relationship. This is problematic on two levels: 1: It could cause you to feel constrained. 2: It throws off the balance in the relationship.
It’s OK to encourage and advise your significant other when something goes wrong. But they should never embarrass you or make you feel inferior. Someone who treats you like a child most likely craves power and authority. Your partner should be your equal, not your parent.
I originally thought of calling this heading “The Non-Compromising.” However, in reality, relationships aren’t about compromise; they’re about sacrifice. In relationships, there will be times where either party will have to make sacrifices for the benefit of the other person. It could be giving up time, a purchase, future plans or part of your lifestyle. Relationships require you to constantly be thinking about the other person and his or her needs. But this goes both ways. You shouldn’t be the only one giving while your partner is only gaining.
Giving something up for another person is one of the hardest things to do. But this is what makes it one of the noblest acts of love—the kind of love God has for us, which provides us the ultimate example of what relationships should look like.
In no way should it be your goal to change your partner in any way, shape or form. But a person who can’t adjust to the conditions of being in a relationship and is unwilling to sacrifice for you could be carrying a huge red flag.
Relationships are hard work. Don’t make yours any harder by subjecting yourself to one of the above scenarios. If anything, choosing not to stay with someone you know ultimately isn’t right for you can liberate both of you from a lifetime of unnecessary bickering and regret.
Sarah is a coffee addict and has been writing her whole life. She loves long drives, deep conversations and listening to 90s hip hop. When she isn't daydreaming about her life, she is binge watching TV shows or planning her wedding.