- In an ideal world, your relationship should feel like a perfect partnership, with each person contributing equally
- In reality, the balance of effort is more likely to constantly shift, with periods where you or your partner need extra support or attention
- This is natural, but if you feel as though you’ve been picking up the slack for your whole relationship, it might be time to re-evaluate things
- Here are five signs to look out for
You’re constantly working to their schedule
No matter you or your partner’s love language, spending quality time together is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship. However, if you find yourself continually being the one to make plans that fit around your partner’s life, then that’s a warning sign that they might not be as invested in the relationship as you are.
Of course, there might be situations in which you have to work around the other person’s schedule if you actually want to see each other. Your partner might work long or unusual hours, or they may have to balance the relationship against other commitments, such as caring for a family member or raising children. If this is the case, your partner should be enthusiastic about making the time to see you, whether that means a quick coffee date on their lunch hour or you dropping by the park while they’re there with their kids.
Not only that, but if dates need to be scheduled around your partner’s life, then it’s only fair that they also take charge in planning them. If you’re the only one suggesting new restaurants, booking experiences or planning picnics, then you never get to enjoy the experience of someone else taking charge of the schedule while you relax. If you feel as though dates would never happen at all without your input, then you may be falling into the trap of a one-sided relationship.
They constantly bail on commitments
Speaking of quality time together: whose schedule the dates revolve around and who takes the time to plan them are not the only things you need to worry about. There’s also the question of how often you find your partner delaying or cancelling plans, and how they approach these alterations.
The phrase “the best laid plans often go awry” endures for a reason. Life gets in the way constantly in relationships, and you won’t always be your partner’s only priority. Everything from bouts of the flu to a childcare emergency to a work meeting running late can throw a wrench into your perfectly planned date night, and part of good communication is being able to deal with these kinds of mishaps in good humour.
The important thing to recognise is that there is a difference between reasonable cancellations and flakiness. If your partner cancels plans repeatedly, cancels them last-minute via text message, and never apologises or gives any kind of explanation for their absence, then that is a sign that they simply don’t really value your time together – or your time full-stop. As Bustle‘s Lea Rose Emery frankly puts it: “if you find that you’re being constantly cancelled on and your partner is always flaking, they must just not be invested in the same way that you are.”
You apologise when you don’t need to
Learning when and how to apologise is the cornerstone of any good relationship. Knowing how to apologise when you’re in the wrong, without getting defensive or guilt-tripping the other person, can keep a relationship going smoothly even in the face of everything from banal squabbles to life-altering events. With that said, in some relationships it can feel like you spend all your time apologising, even when you’re not quite sure why.
If you’re in a relationship where you are putting in all the effort, you might find yourself apologising every time something goes wrong. You might begin taking responsibility even if the situation couldn’t possibly be attributed to you, such as when a barbeque you have planned gets rained out, or you are running late to an event thanks to traffic. You might also apologise in cases where your partner should really be understanding – such as an accidentally burned dinner or a forgotten commitment to go to the shop.
The reason for this is simple: when you’re responsible for everything good in a relationship (planning dates, tidying around the house, remembering anniversaries and co-ordinating cute surprises), it can feel like you’re responsible for all the bad stuff too. Women especially are socially conditioned to apologise even when they don’t need to, so watch out for this red flag that can imply you’re putting way too much emotional energy into a relationship.
They never seem to be looking ahead
Countless episode of TV have centred around the question of when it’s ‘too early’ to invite a new partner to an event happening weeks or even months away. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday party or bringing someone as your date to a wedding, knowing when to take the step of inviting a partner to an event not in the immediate future can be pretty daunting.
However, past a certain point in a relationship, making space for your partner in your future plans is expected. So much so, that if you’ve been together a long while but your partner is still treating you like you’ve just completed your third date, that can be a warning sign about the health of your relationship.
The best-case scenario is that this stems from some insecurity of your partner’s; maybe they are fretful of planning too far ahead because they are afraid to lose you, or don’t want to jinx the relationship? However, it could also signal a serious mismatch of expectations – could your partner believe you are in a casual relationship, while you think you are working your way towards something more serious?
Last of all, a failure to factor you into their future could be a sign that your partner has settled into the relationship, but doesn’t actually see you as the person they want to build a life with. Whatever the explanation, a serious conversation may be needed to recalibrate your expectations.
They never return the favour
Nothing is worse than those friends who seem to always be keeping score. Asking your roommate to Venmo you for the sip of your coffee they took is a surefire way to ensure you won’t be invited out on the next squad get-together, and refusing to lend someone a pencil at school in case you don’t get it back is seen as the highest form of stinginess. Unfortunately, all of these selfish stereotypes can make us reluctant to ever be the kind of person who keeps track, and that can lead to the opposite problem.
Wanting to spoil your partner is natural, but it should never feel like you’re always giving and never taking. While you and your partner’s individual situations might dictate how things are split between you – maybe they earn more and so pay for dinner more often, but you have more free time and so opt to cook most nights – you should still feel like you can rely on your partner to do their share.
If your partner is constantly asking you to pay for dinner, watch their pets, stay home for the package to be delivered or take over domestic and childcare duties, they may be treating you as more of a maid or butler than they are an equal partner. It’s important to discuss this inequality to figure out if this is a result of your accidental over-giving, or deliberate neglect on their part.