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In my sadly long history of deleting and re-downloading dating apps like Tinder and Hinge over and over again, I’ve come to recognize familiar faces each time I return to those God forsaken apps. And each time I stumble on a familiar profile I can’t help but laugh and think about how in all the years of being on these apps neither of us have managed to have any success with a relationship long enough to not come back here.

Now, do I have a PhD in relationships? Yes, if PhD stood for pretty huge disappointment.

But in all seriousness I’m no expert when it comes to successful relationships. But am I an expert when it comes to failed relationships…also no actually, but I’ve had more of those than successful ones. Between that, countless talking stages (some more successful than others) and years of talking to and observing other couples, I’ve managed to spot a few signs that let me know if a relationship is going to go up in flames or not.

You’re someone you’re not when you first get into it.

This one goes out to all the people who stalk their crush ahead of time to learn everything they like so they can make it their whole personality in the hopes their crush thinks they’ve found some perfectly compatible unicorn. But if you’re acting like a rom-com version of yourself every time you’re on a date, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. No one can pretend to act like Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Anniston forever.

Ladies I promise you, if a man comes up to talk to you, in his head he thinks he’s Ryan Gosling.

In the initial phases of a relationship, it’s natural to put your best foot forward. However, if you’re portraying an image that isn’t genuine, the act can only last for so long. As time goes on and the true you emerges, your partner may feel deceived, leading to trust issues, arguments and ultimately one of you elbow deep in a tub of ice cream post break-up.

When trying to pick a partner you should see if they match your personality, but too often what happens is you decide you like someone and decide to change everything about yourself to fit their personality. It’s a bit like laying the foundation for your relationship using Lego bricks.

You keep comparing it to other relationships

This comes in two flavours, your past relationships and other peoples relationship.

If you’re comparing your current relationship to your past one(s) I only have one thing to say to you; stop it. Just stop it. For one thing, if you keep comparing every relationship with “the one that got away” gold standard from your past, you clearly need to get over them first before you date someone new and give them the same commitment issues you clearly have. And secondly, love is not a game of Pac-Man, your new partner shouldn’t feel like they’re competing to beat someone else’s high score in order to be a “winner”.

Then there’s the comparison to other people’s relationships. It feels like this is a much bigger issue for our generation than past ones. People used to live quiet and private lives. You wouldn’t know what’s going on in your neighbours relationship unless someone gossiped about it and you caught word of it.

Anyone that has gone through this knows how infuriating it is to hear your partner say “well such and such did this for her, they did this, they did that”. It’s even more frustrating when you know that in real life the couple they’re referring to is on the verge of killing each other every other week.

In my experience the couples that post online the most and try make it seem like they have the perfect relationship are often the ones that bicker and fight the most behind closed doors. Happy people don’t have to keep telling other people they are happy, they just are.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Continuously comparing your current relationship to previous ones, or to the relationships of those around you, can breed discontent. It not only sets unrealistic expectations but also hinders you from appreciating the unique qualities and experiences your current relationship offers.

Whatever you do just don’t be this person.

Blaming it all on bad timing

Life is anything but simple, and sometimes you stumble on to someone who’s the best thing since sliced bread, but something in your life is making it hard to invest fully into that relationship.

Whether you’re trying to make your professional dreams come true, fighting with some personal shit or just dealing with some other unforeseen life event, it can hard to bring another person into that equation.

I say all this with a big however attached to it, because the truth is there will never be a “perfect” time to get into a relationship. Love needs effort, even when the timing sucks. Recognize the difference between genuine bad timing and using it as an excuse to avoid commitment.

Relationships, romantic or otherwise, are always the first to suffer when things go astray in our personal lives. That’s because it’s often easier to make choices without the need to consider how they will affect your partner, so it feels like the only choice we have is to cut them off instead of trying to figure out.

Overcoming things together as a couple is how you strengthen a relationship. If you can get through the “bad timing” in one piece then your relationship will be better because of it. The last thing you ever want is to come out the other side of your struggle to realize you let go of something special because you were too hasty with your decision making.

Shutting up when you really shouldn’t

Do you want kids? Do they? Does one of you have dreams of travelling the world while the other is a homebody who doesn’t like to stray too far from home? Serious topics should probably be talked about sooner rather than later in a relationship. But even more important than talking about the big things is making sure you talk about the small things that happen day to day.

Effective communication is the backbone of any successful relationship. Without it, misunderstandings arise, feelings get hurt, and issues go unresolved. And before you know it you’re suddenly breaking up over tofu salmon at her sister’s wedding.

If something is wrong, say it! I can’t stress this enough, unless you’re in a relationship with Derren Brown, your partner can’t read your mind. If you don’t appreciate it when your partner does something, it’s so important to say it, especially if they don’t realise that you don’t like it. Say what you feel, express what you need, and listen—really listen—when your partner does the same.

Sure, there is the rare occasions where you’re better off saying nothing at all. But as a general rule, the phrase “silence is golden” definitely doesn’t apply to relationships, because if it did then monks would be the world’s biggest playboys.

you keep a mental scorecard

Ok so they put the red socks in the wash with your favourite white hoodie that one time, does that really mean you’re allowed have one over on them now?

Keeping a mental tally of your partner’s mistakes is a bit like driving while only staring in the rear view mirror. Now maybe your name is Vin Diesel and you can do that with no problem, but for the rest of you it will most likely end with a nasty crash. And for what? To be “even” with them on that mental scorecard you’re keeping? It’s not worth it

Holding on to petty shit only prevents you from being able to forgive and forget. Now obviously if they run over the family dog you might rightfully hold it against them and that’s more than fair. But holding a grudge because they didn’t clean the dishes after dinner just seems like a waste of energy.

This behaviour not only prevents forgiveness and healing but also leads to an environment of resentment and continuous conflict. A successful relationship requires letting go of past mistakes and focusing on building a better future together.

If you keep track of every little transgression then before you know it you will be competing with your partner for who can be the most petty.

Saying yes when you really want to say “fuck no”

You make concessions that you’re not ok with and then resent the other person for it.

Look, compromise is essential in any relationship, but some of you bend yourselves so out of shape for other people that even Olympic gymnasts are jealous. You have to make sure that these concessions don’t lead to feelings of resentment. It’s one thing to compromise on pizza toppings, it’s a different story when it comes to compromising on core values and beliefs.

When you constantly agree to things you’re not comfortable with, it builds internal discontent. Over time, this resentment can manifest in passive-aggressive behaviour, anger, or distancing yourself from your partner. It’s like creating a ticking time bomb within yourself and every new compromise is like a spark just waiting to blow your relationship up.

No one wants to argue in their relationship but sometimes there just isn’t a good compromise that will make both people happy. When that happens it’s important to stand your ground rather than concede to the other person at the cost of your own happiness. That argument will make you unhappy now, but the compromise will make you unhappy in all the days that follow.

Don’t tell yourself you can live with it when deep down you know you can’t. Resentment will kill a relationship faster than a billionaire can melt an ice cap.

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