I’ve been dating with my fiancé for close to six years now. In that time, I’ve spoken about what it’s like to be in a long-term relationship with a lot of other people in them too, from friends to family members to acquaintances looking for common ground. A lot of these convos are fun and interesting, but some leave me feeling a little unsettled. I’ve come to learn that there are a lot of things couples do, or that one partner does to the other one, that a concerning amount of people think are okay, but that actually aren’t normal in a good relationship.
Let me explain that a little better: a lot of people open to me (and anyone else also in a long-term relationship) about the realities of their relationship because they assume I’ll *get it* since I’m in one too. And sometimes, I do! Like when a friend complained to me about how she gets so annoyed with her boyfriend’s family. But other times, I… definitely don’t. Like when a friend complains to me about behavior that sounds like it’s on the verge of emotionally abusive actions, and expects me to understand because she (or he) thinks it’s just normal dating behavior. In those cases, I have to sit there, staring at their innocent face, and wonder how to tell them that, uh, they probably shouldn’t stand for that, because it’s not cute or normal at all.
It’s not that my relationship is so perfect that no other one can compare to it – it’s not that at all! No relationship is perfect, but there are some definite things that separate a good relationship and a bad one. If you’re dating someone, or you ever want to, you have to know what those things are for your own sake. Here are a few things you might think are okay, but actually aren’t normal for a good relationship:
Purposely Not Talking About Them In Front Of Your FriendsI have a friend who is dating a guy that none of us (her friends) like - for good reason, it's worth pointing out. She used to talk to us about their relationship, ask for advice, complain about the crappy things he did... and we would constantly tell her to break up with him because he was a jerk. So, eventually, she stopped talking about him to us. She won't bring him up, she won't complain about him, and she dodges questions. She does this because she knows we're right, and she doesn't want to hear it (and also, probably, because she gets annoyed that we're so down on him. But it's for a good reason!). If you find that you're doing this - purposely avoiding bringing up your bae to your friends because you don't want to hear their opinion - then something might be wrong. It's one thing to keep your relationship private (that's fine!), but it's another to deliberately avoid discussing it because you don't to hear what others have to say. That might mean some negative stuff is happening that you actually need to confront instead of avoid. Source: iStock
Feeling The Need To Get Their ApprovalIt's normal to want your partner to like what you're doing, how you look, how you act, etc. We all seek some sort of approval from the person we're dating. But that doesn't mean you should feel the need to get it about literally everything. Your bae isn't going to like every single thing you do or feel, and that's okay - they don't have to. You don't have to stop doing something you enjoy doing because they're not into it. You don't need to end a friendship with someone they don't like. And you don't need to run plans by them waiting for them to approve like they are your parents. That constant need for their okay could very easily slide into a controlling relationship, or it could just be a sign that things need to be worked on. Source: iStock
Lying About Past PartnersHere's a little story that probably sounds familiar to most of you. The other day, I was out with a friend and her boyfriend when we saw a mutual friend she used to date. She immediately grabbed my arm and hissed at me not to say anything about their past. We said awkward hellos even though he was trying to be friendly, and we left. When her boyfriend asked who he was, she blew it off like he was no one. I was... shocked. Listen, you don't have to disclose your entire romantic past to anyone. But I also don't think you should lie to your partner about past hookups or partners. You don't need to point out everyone you've ever made out with, but if they ask you who someone is, don't lie! That's not right, and if they find out you lied, they will be 100 times more mad than they would be if you were honest. Also, if they're going to get mad at you for the fact that you were with other people? That's lame, controlling, and ridiculous. Source: iStock
Feeling Sad Whenever They Aren't AroundIt's natural to miss your boyfriend or girlfriend when they aren't around, especially if you go a few days without seeing them. But if you can't do anything without your partner without feeling sad and miserable, then that's a sign that you're way too attached, which isn't good for anyone. You guys both have to be able to have your own lives. It's unrealistic to think you'll be spending 100 percent of your time together, so you have to learn how to, you know, be a person when you aren't with them. Feeling miserable without them means you need to take a step back. Source: iStock
Spending All Your Time Feeling Jealous About Their Girl BFFJealousy is par for the course with any relationship, so a little bit of it is expected and normal. But you shouldn't be spending a good majority of your time feeling jealous about one specific person or a few specific people. If you are, that means either your partner is being shady OR that you guys have trust issues that need to be worked out. The one that applies to you obviously depends on your situation, and you can figure that out - but either way, it means something needs to change. Source: iStock
Constantly Going To Functions AloneI have a friend who has been dating this guy for years now. One would think that he would be by her side for certain functions, like parties with all of our friends, birthday stuff, family events, weddings, etc. Uh, no. The dude almost never goes to anything, and every time he does show up, he seems miserable and distracted. Your partner doesn't have to go everywhere with you (they shouldn't!), but if you're in a long-term, serious relationship, then yeah - there are some things they need to show up for. And if they won't, and don't have a legitimate excuse, that's not cool. Source: iStock
Snooping Through Each Other's StuffI hear a lot of people talk about snooping through their partner's stuff - reading their texts, figuring out their Facebook password to go through messages, creeping on their Snapchat. I also hear these same people talk about it like it's no big deal, like it's normal in a relationship, even like it's expected. Guys, no! If you feel the need to constantly be snooping around through your partner's private stuff, that means something is wrong. It either means they're doing something shady behind your back that makes this behavior feel necessary, or it means that there are major trust issues. Please don't assume everyone does this. Source: iStock
Making Fun Of Them To Other PeopleI was recently hanging out with a friend when she started complaining about her boyfriend. She was complaining A LOT, and then she said, "Right? You get it, right?!" and sat there and seemed to be waiting for me to then complain about my boyfriend. Except I didn't, because her complaining wasn't just venting... it was just talking badly about them, and I didn't want to engage in the same behavior. A few days later, a different friend was straight up making fun of his girlfriend to all of us when she wasn't around. Listen, light teasing with each other is fine, and venting to friends is sometimes necessary. But if you find yourself talking badly about your partner a lot, that's not good. You two need to be each other's biggest supporters. Source: iStock
Allowing Them Some Sort Of Control Over What You WearOkay, this is my last personal story. I just feel like they help with any examples! ANYWAY. I recently went shopping with a friend and she found a top she loved. It was a little revealing, but it wasn't crazy. She didn't buy it, saying she wanted to come back with her boyfriend, which I thought was weird, but whatever. Then, later that day when we were with said boyfriend, she mentioned the top. He asked what it looked like and she said it kind of showed off her cleavage. He said, "If you buy that, you can wear it while you're single, because we won't be together anymore." They proceeded to get in an awkward, hushed fight, and then, guys, SHE NEVER BOUGHT IT. Even though she loved it, she wouldn't buy it because of him. This is... lame AF. Your partner should never be telling you what you can and cannot wear. Please don't listen to them, and don't let them have that kind of control. Source: iStock
Always Defending Them To Friends and FamilyThis seems pretty obvious, but a lot of people manage to blow it off by acting like the nay-sayers are just haters. Listen, they honestly probably aren't. If you find yourself constantly defending your partner to everyone, then maybe it's because they truly act like a jerk! Source: iStock