"Sexuality is powerful... powerful enough to make you ignore reality," says Henry Cloud, Ph.D, relationship psychologist and bestselling author of The Power of the Other. But if you're putting up with a lot of B.S. just because of a pretty face, your relationship is destined to crumble. "When you take the physical out of the formula for a moment, what else is there?" Cloud asks, "Do you like talking to her? Doing activities with her? Can she challenge you?"
Ask yourself these questions, and look through the 10 warning signs outlined below. If this sounds like an autobiography of your girlfriend, don't walk, run out the door. Also check out: How to Break Up With Her (The Classy Way).
Take note: If she's more concerned about how she looks than the experience of what you're doing together—like refusing to go swimming at your family BBQ because she doesn't want to get her hair wet or wash her makeup off—that's a red flag.
"The warning sign is that she's more in to external appearances than reality," Cloud says. "You'll either get bored or have to deal with the reasons she's so concerned about her appearance: self-centeredness and insecurity," he adds.
When you're still riding out the honeymoon phase of your relationship, you probably spend most of your time together. When you're not working, she's at your apartment 24/7. When you are working, she's calling you twice, sometimes three times a day and leaving you endless Snapchats, text messages, and tags on Instagram. "You want her to need you and want you but if she has no life apart from you, she will suck you dry," Cloud warns. She'll have a hard time giving you space, and you'll feel the need to ask permission in order to make plans with just your guy friends or family.
A strong bond between mother and daughter is ideal, but things get questionable when her mother has too much influence over how she reacts to situations, what emotions she feels, and starts to manipulate her every move. "Men and women, in order to have a good relationship, have to be adults," Cloud says. "Make sure you're dealing with a grown woman, not a child who has to do what Mommy says and wants," he adds. Otherwise it'll feel like there's three of you in the relationship, and you'll never be a top priority in her life.
You have issues. She has issues. Together, you will have issues. That means awkward, uncomfortable, sometimes hurtful conversations come up. Does she become defensive and reactive if you try to tell her things that bug you? "If she can't take feedback without going on the counterattack, or getting defensive, it makes solving a problem impossible," Cloud says. You'll never resolve anything, build trust and understanding in your relationship, and you won't be able to move forward. Likewise, if every argument she relays to you about friends or family is a sob story where someone's attacking her, and bad things only happen to her, then she's clearly the problem. "Make sure she has her own sense of power," Cloud suggests.
"Life has felonies and misdemeanors," Cloud says. "Does she treat spilled milk as if it's murder, or can she go with the flow?" Quite frankly she's going to run you ragged if she cries over every little misstep you make. (Say you didn't introduce her to your Aunt Jane at your parent's anniversary party, and she locks herself in the bathroom for 45 minutes.) It's not like you want to date a robot, but you want a partner who gets upset over things that actually matter, and lets the little things be little, Cloud says.
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Like the saying, "How can I miss you if you never go away?", you need space, Cloud says. Sure, a healthy relationship celebrates togetherness, but you will lose your marbles if she wants you to adopt all of her hobbies, hang out with her crew of friends, and ditch everything that's comprised your life up until now. "Does she see any independent time or activity you do away from her as abandonment or that you don't care?" It's a sign of insecurity, a lack of trust, and a deep-seeded need to fixate and root herself to another being that won't leave you any room for you. Ultimately you'll lose yourself in a relationship with a girl like this.
She whines about the service at the restaurant, grumbles over the phone with her mother on the ride home (then relays every detail to you in the car), and digs into her laundry list of complaints about all the things you do wrong: the toilet seat's always up, never on time, can't fold laundry right. If you feel like you can't get a word in edgewise, or every conversation tears you down in some way, leave her. "Complaining as a lifestyle gets really old fast," Cloud says. If she's always bugged with someone, or her expectations are never met, you'll always be fighting an uphill battle.
If she's constantly going through friends, ditching the ones who get too honest and say something she doesn't want to hear for another who's all-too-eager to please, you could be next. "She is the center of her universe and self-centered lives are not fun to share," Cloud says. Take note if she's entirely self-serving—only befriends people who can boost her status—or if she serves others in some facet. Does she volunteer? We're not saying she has to be a saint, but if her life is void of serving others who can't do anything for her, that's a big indicator of her core values.
Being blamed for something you didn't do is infuriating—grounds for childish tantrums, stomping, grumbling. (Kidding, sorta.) But if she points the finger at you everytime something goes wrong, you're going to hit your breaking point. What's more, it's not just a singular event, you assume the role as scapegoat, Cloud says. Sometimes things don't go as expected. Sometimes shit happens. If she runs into a fence while you're riding bikes, then puts the blame on you for making her laugh; it's not actually your fault. (Maybe she's clutzy.) On a more serious note, if she blames a slipup at work on you for having her over your parents house for dinner, that's not fair.
"If she lacks self-observation and the ability to say 'I'm sorry' or 'I was being a brat,'" you'll have a difficult time growing in your relationship together. She will never see herself as part of a problem, so you'll never reach a resolution. What's more, she sees herself above you and others. To her, she doesn't have flaws or make mistakes. "If she can't turn the microscope on herself and see where she was wrong, then express it, and apologize," you're doomed, Cloud says. Move on to someone who treats you as their equal.