What Are Some Signs You’re In A Bad Relationship?

Generally, it is easy to tell if you’re in a good relationship. You and your partner are happy, you spend time together (and apart) doing things you love, and your friends and family will talk about how wonderful the two of you are together. It can be easy to spot a solid partnership, but somewhat difficult to decide if you and your partner are in a bad relationship.

Six Signs You’re In A Bad Relationship

The following are six signs you’re in a bad relationship — it doesn’t mean you need to break up or confront your partner directly, but they are clues that something is not working the way it should.

1. Bargaining

I once had a girlfriend who would withhold affection or development of our relationship based on my behavior. She was “bargaining” with me — saying things like “I’ll move in with you if you lose fifteen pounds” or “We will have more sex after you graduate college because I’ll respect you more”. There is a big difference between making compromise (a healthy relationship trait) and being forced into a bargain. Bargaining is something you do at an antique store, not a tactic you use with a loved one. When a partner bargains with you, it can mean that they see you as a commodity and not a person. If your partner is constantly making bargains with you, you may consider countering their bargains with statements like “I’m happy the way I am, and I wish you were too”. This is a bit confrontational, but it may be the one thing that can save you from a bad relationship.

2. Criticism

Constant criticism can be one of the many signs you’re in a bad relationship. It’s also a form of bullying, and in extreme cases can feel abusive and hurtful. Healthy partners want to lift each other up, not push one another down. If a partner criticizes you more than you think is necessary or normal, it could mean that he or she is holding you to an unfair standard — a fact that will only get worse as the relationship deepens. A partner who is “kind of a bully” today may end up being completely physically or emotionally abusive in the near future. This is one red flag that should be of great concern to you, as there is very little you can do to change a critical personality. Try expressing how your partner’s bullying makes you feel. If this doesn’t work, it may be time to pack your bags.

3. Lack of attention

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You shouldn’t expect to be your partner’s whole world. No one wants to be the center of a lover’s attention 24 hours a day 7 days a week — but sometimes, lack of attention becomes a problem. I am guilty of treating one of my ex girlfriends this way. Something about our relationship was flawed — and she pointed out that when we were home alone, everything was perfect and I lavished attention on her. But as soon as we went to a party, or out to a bar or restaurant, I was talking to friends or even looking at other women. Looking back, I know that I was simply unhappy with this partner, and this unease was manifesting itself as a lack of attention. If your lover is inattentive, it could mean that they simply aren’t interested in a relationship with you, and are staying with you for a bad reason. Perhaps your partner doesn’t consider your presence in his or her life as anything but temporary. Let your partner know that you feel ignored, and if they are willing to work on the problem with you, congratulations — you have a healthy relationship.

4. The Family Connection

This one is simple — if your partner is reluctant to introduce you or involve you with his or her family, it is a plain sign that they have misgivings either about you or your relationship. A partner who is proud of his or her lover will be quick to show that person off and make their family proud. Of course, there could be mitigating circumstances. Before you jump the gun and decide that your partner simply doesn’t want them to meet the family, feel free to ask questions. Many people are ashamed of their family, and the opposite may be true — perhaps your partner wants to protect you from an overly critical parent or sibling, or perhaps there are deeper family issues that prevent a meeting from happening. Communication is the key here.

5. The ‘ex’ factor

We’ve all experienced it — a partner who is constantly comparing us to their last girlfriend or boyfriend. At first it may seem cute — you may be flattered that your partner thinks of you this much, or you may just write off the comparisons as a quirk of your partner’s personality. There’s a difference between sharing stories of past loves (we all do this) and literally comparing and contrasting your current lover with one of your ex’s. This constant comparison could be a sign that your lover isn’t over their last partner, or wants you to model yourself after an ex. This is a touchy subject, and is best approached gently — you can simply ask “Are you still in love with _____ ?” and the question alone should point out the problem.

6. Abuse

Of course, the number one sign you’re in a bad relationship is any form of abuse. Abuse between partners can take many forms — emotional (withholding love), physical (hurting you physically), verbally (constant criticism and put downs), sexually (forcing you to do something sexual that you don’t want, or even withholding sex), and even financial (constantly borrowing money, stealing, dominating financial decisions) — and often the abusive partner doesn’t realize the extent of what they’re doing. If you truly feel you’re being abused, the only correct course of action is to put distance between yourself and your partner, and if necessary contact the authorities. At the very least, you may be saving someone in the future from being abused, or saving your own life. Remember, you are valuable, and you don’t need to attach yourself to someone who is going to hurt you.

Other Signs You’re In A Bad Relationship

There may be many other signs you’re in a bad relations outside of those listed here — but these six factors cover a lot of ground, and are unfortunately quite common. I can’t say it enough — communication is the key to turning a bad relationship into a healthy one, and many of the problems listed here can be fixed. Your relationship can grow, and in fact there must be communication in order for it to grow. Best of luck.

See Also: Falling in Love with a Friend and Fun Questions to Ask Friends.