I’m flattered enough to be in a romantic relationship that I don’t tend to ask a lot of questions for fear of chasing away any chances of making it work. So when I started a long-term relationship began with a guy I’d been crushing on from the second we met, I didn’t say anything when these red flags started waving. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well.
He lived with his mom for no good reason.
I’m not here to shame anyone. Living with your parents can be a great way to get past a bought of unemployment, start kicking some student loan butt, or help your parents as they get older. But by the time I started dating him, he was in a well-paying job with a public loan forgiveness program and his mom could run a faster mile than either of us, so I never did understand what continued to be the draw of us having to duck around like high schoolers.
He almost never wanted to sleep over (or let me sleep at his place).
I would stay at his house or he’d stay at my apartment until two or three in the morning, then we’d lean against the extra car outside and talk for another half hour before we could pull ourselves away. Yet I had to press harder than I was comfortable doing to get an invitation to stay over, or to convince him to stay at mine. I felt like by not literally sleeping together, we were missing out on a huge bonding ritual that made me feel loved.
He had a habit of answering questions with off-topic nonsense.
This just made me mad. We’re both writers, and I do love a turn of phrase perfectly balanced between wit and romance, but if I ask, “Where do you feel like eating dinner?” I don’t want to navigate an Edgar Allen Poe quote to get your answer (true story). If anything serious came up, he’d stare in silence at me until I cracked and either yelled or cried.
He didn’t tell me he worked every other Saturday until way too late.
I was coming from a previous relationship that had felt stifling, so I appreciated my sudden weekend independence. Still, as I got more restless by myself, I wanted to spend more time with him and I only found out why we couldn’t after I started a fight about it and he indignantly pulled his trump card: “I have to work a lot of Saturdays!” Thanks for the timely heads up on that.
He wanted kids.
Again, purely personal preference, but I don’t want children—ever. I can barely keep a small dog from eating his weight in leaves when I take him out to poop, so I have no confidence or will to raise kids. But this boyfriend eventually wanted to become a dad and I staked everything on that “eventually.” I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life, but we never managed to talk about the future.
He didn’t want penetrative sex
. We satisfied each other by thinking outside the box, so to speak. But the one time we tried penetration, which I personally love, it didn’t work. We never tried again and we never talked about it again. Not the way to an awesome sex life.
He wouldn’t text or call me for days at a time.
Another hangover from my previous relationship—I got severely insecure about not hearing from my significant other after a couple days. All I wanted was a “hi there!” text, Facebook message, something to let me know he was thinking of me. What I got were paragraph-long philosophical dumps once a week or less, or hours-long phone calls just as I was on the cusp of giving up. It was very feast or famine, which just fed my cycle of paranoia. I told myself it was just me and that I should stop worrying about it.
He made plans with friends we both knew and liked without asking me if I wanted to come along.
It’s embarrassing how many times I stared at this guy’s name in my phone with tears in my eyes wondering if I should call him or not about something. Why wouldn’t he want his girlfriend around when he was with our mutual friends?
He gifted me t-shirts that were obviously way too big.
They were all cool and nerdy and exactly to my tastes–except they hung on me like elephant skin. And it kept happening, even after I held the first one up to my chest and we both saw it droop. PSA: If you feel awkward asking a lady her size, just sneak a peek at her clothing labels. When we broke up, I gave away an expertly curated collection of nightshirts.
He didn’t tell me how bad I made him feel until he said he didn’t love me anymore.
We fought a lot, and most of it was my fault for not knowing how to handle my insecurities and anger. But I honestly thought we were OK and that we were working things out… until he said something that made me ask, “Do you still love me?” and he said, “Not right now.” I should’ve gotten out then and saved us even more heartbreak.
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