How to know someone isn’t “the one”

Knowing how to spot these red flags can lead you to the relationship you are meant to have.

Wondering if this person you’re dating might be the one? Figuring out the answer to that question is difficult. What is slightly easier to answer is the opposite: does this person have qualities that may be problematic for a long-term relationship with you? In other words, it’s easier to figure out when someone is not the one.

The red flags I’ve compiled here apply to both sexes. But as you read the list, remember that it’s very hard to be objective about a relationship. Red flags or troublesome patterns are difficult to spot when you really want the relationship to work out. So take a look at the following points, and try to see if any ring a bell. If one or more makes you pause, then it’s time to take a step back and look more closely at the relationship.

1. X doesn’t put you first.

If your significant other doesn’t consistently put you first in big things and small, then that person is not someone you should devote your life to. Be it plans you make, conversations you have, or casual time spent hanging out, if X isn’t trying to get to know you and striving to make your life better, X isn’t the one. Does X listen to you? Do you feel heard? Do you feel appreciated and understood? Maybe X does nice things for you, but doesn’t try to get to know you. Maybe X listens to you well, but then doesn’t do anything with that knowledge. Either way, X isn’t putting you first.

2. You don’t put X first.

And if you are not trying to put your significant other first, then you’re not the right person for him or her. What does putting someone first look like? It means taking their likes and preferences into account when you make plans. It means trying to be aware of their mood, feelings, and energy level in conversation and during activities. It means sacrificing what you want if it’s not what’s best for them. If for whatever reason you’re not motivated to devote much time and energy to the person you’re seriously dating, don’t keep dating that person.

3. X makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you doubt your worth.

If your significant other often criticizes you instead of building you up, this is not a person you should be around for much longer. Supporting each other and offering encouragement is part of a healthy relationship. And if he or she can’t support you verbally and emotionally while dating, then he or she won’t magically start later on. True, some people have to learn how to better affirm and encourage others. But if criticism is constant already and affirmation is rare, X is not the one for you.

4. All the people you love dislike X.

Give your family and friends a decent chance to get to know your date. And if they still don’t like him or her, ask them why. They might have helpful insights, or they might have other agendas and past hurts that prevent them from seeing clearly. But if a majority of the people you love are not a fan of X, then take their comments seriously.

5. You don’t feel comfortable telling X certain things.

Can you tell X when they’ve done something that has hurt you? Can you be honest with X about how you’re really feeling? Can you tell X no? If you don’t feel like you can be honest with X, it won’t get easier later on. You have to be able to build trust and vulnerability now.

6. You do a lot of fun things together. And that’s about it.

A relationship high (having fun together, seeing each other only at certain times or in certain situations, etc.) may prevent you from realizing you’re not dating someone who cares about you, you’re just dating someone it’s fun to have a good time with. So, if your relationship has only been full of fun highs to date, throw in some “real life situations” to see how those go over. Try babysitting someone’s kids together, or making dinner together, or cleaning together. The more you do together (and the greater the variety of activities or experiences you have) the better you’ll realize whether your relationship can last through more than good times.

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