We all know that dating is a scary game. It becomes even scarier when we get serious and start to imagine our lives involving that one special person forever. Once we entangle our finances, future goals, and children (existing or future hypothetical ones) into a relationship, stuff gets real and the feeling can be unsettling. Sometimes we’re just being paranoid, but sometimes we’re being exactly as smart as we ought to be. Here are a few of the red flags that you should recognize in a long term relationship, and ones that should definitely make you run far away.
- He tries to control you. This is more than a red flag; it’s a huge red blinking “DANGER” sign. If he attempts to control who you hang out with, who you call/text, what you wear, and your career decisions, this guy is bad news. Being controlling is usually the first visible sign that someone is likely to become physically, verbally or emotionally abusive. You’re a strong, intelligent woman and you deserve a partner who respects you, not an overbearing parent figure who wants to own you like a possession.
- He puts you down and makes you feel like crap. It’s a sign of insecurity when a guy has to put you down to ensure (in his mind) that he can keep you. Take notice if he insults your appearance, intelligence, or career on a regular basis, because his true motive is to lower your self-esteem so that you think you can’t do better than him. You deserve better than that, and you can find it. Ditch that zero and be your own hero.
- He tries to make you dependent on him. If he suggests that you quit your job and let him “take care of you,” it’s usually not a gesture out of the goodness of his heart. Once upon a time, that was the norm but not anymore. In many cases, this is the ultimate Trojan horse because it sounds like you’ll have an awesome life free of work, but the reality is that you’ll also have no income to your name and will have to ask for an “allowance” every time you want to go get brunch with the girls or get a manicure. It’s every controlling insecure man’s dream and every independent woman’s nightmare, so keep your own money train chugging and maintain your financial independence.
- He makes you think everything’s your fault. His team clearly lost because you didn’t do the laundry quickly enough and his lucky jersey was in the dryer. He’s mad at you for being late because you should’ve known there would be a terrible accident jamming up traffic for two hours. You get the idea; everything bad that happens in his life could’ve been prevented by you simply being more perfect. This is a form of gaslighting, and it’s akin to emotional abuse.
- He accuses you of cheating on a regular basis, but you’ve never cheated. This is yet another form of gaslighting, and it’s also rooted in insecurity on his part. If he’s constantly stalking your Facebook page to see who liked your pictures, going through your texts like a detective, and asking who you were with when he thought you took too long at the grocery store, you should quietly begin packing your bags and get the hell out of there. The ironic thing about guys who constantly accuse faithful women of cheating is that, in most cases, they’re actually the ones doing the cheating.
- He tells you he’s committed to you but doesn’t actually commit. Actions speak louder than words! If he basically lives with you but refuses to actually share an address or any other association with you on paper and gets angry every time you bring up marriage, he’s not committed to you. His goal is to string you along and use you as long as you allow him to. You aren’t a doormat, so stop letting him walk all over you.
- He doesn’t think he should have to pay an even half of the bills. If you live together and he balks when you expect him to cover not only half of the rent but half of the electric, cable, and groceries, that’s a bad sign. Does he really want a girlfriend/future wife or does he just want a free ride so he can spend his paycheck on video games or racecar parts? One of the toughest parts of being an independent woman is that some guys will see our professional drive as an invitation to take advantage of us. You can help yourself avoid this situation by having the bills and finances talk before ever moving in with someone.
- He expects you to do all the household chores because they’re “women’s work.” Living in a clean home is not just a privilege; it ought to be a right, and it shouldn’t all fall on one person to keep it that way. He is just as capable of cooking, doing laundry and loading the dishwasher, and he should be okay with helping around the house because he’s supposed to be an equal partner in the relationship. Unless you’re severely type A and prefer to do all the chores because he would just do them wrong, it’s perfectly normal to expect him to do his part. This is another area where you can be proactive and have the discussion about household chores before ever moving in together.
- He tells you that your hobbies and interests are dumb. No two people are going to agree completely on everything, but they should be able to maintain a respectful compromise. He doesn’t have to sit there with you making little pumpkin decorations you saw on Pinterest, but it’s not cool to trash you for it just because he thinks they’re lame. It’s also not okay for him to hog the TV watching dude shows all night every night because he thinks you’re wrong for wanting to watch something girly that he doesn’t like. Even if you love him, you’re not obligated to let him completely hijack your life.
- He makes you feel insecure about your vagina. Anyone who has been through high school health class should know that vaginas look and smell different at different times in our cycles due to hormonal changes. If he’s critical of the natural changes you go through down there or treats you like a leper when you’re on your period, he clearly isn’t man enough to handle being with an actual woman and should go back to his perfectly unrealistic girls in the sex videos.
The bottom line here is that choosing a long term partner is a big freaking deal because it affects your entire life. You need to make sure that the person you choose is right for you and treats you the way you know you deserve to be treated. Nobody in this world is looking out for your best interests but you, so it’s up to you to be decisive and weed out the bad apples before they spoil your whole life and future.