You can settle on plenty of things in life: Where to have dinner for your mom’s birthday, for instance, or booking the less expensive, but just as nice resort for your next vacation.
One thing you should never settle on? Your relationships. Below, marriage experts share seven qualities you should never accept in a relationship.
1. A partner who won’t give the relationship 100 percent.
Fall in love with someone who’s keenly interested in keeping your relationship happy, healthy and fresh, not someone who tends to tune out and let you do the heavy lifting, said Carin Goldstein, a marriage and family therapist in Sherman Oaks, California.
“The worse thing is being in a relationship where your partner is unable to self reflect,” she said. “They need to recognize how their actions affect the relationship.”
2. A partner who can’t say “I was wrong.”
It’s vital that you’re with someone who can admit her mistakes, said Gal Szekely, the founder of the Couples Center for therapy in Northern California.
“You don’t want to be with a partner who gets defensive or tends to shift blame,” he said. “When we are not open to taking responsibility, we are not open to learning and change. And if we can’t change and grow, we won’t be able to adapt to the changing circumstances of our lives and the changing needs of our partners.”
3. A partner who doesn’t share your sense of humor.
Life is bound to throw you a few unexpected punches. To lessen the blow, it’s important that you and your partner have a similar sense of humor, said Amy Begel, a marriage and family therapist based in New York City.
“You’ll need that to face the ups and downs of life and relationships,” she said. “Occasionally, I see couples in my office where one partner takes things too seriously. If you can’t tease each other during the rough-and-tumble moments in life, it doesn’t bond well for your relationship.”
4. A partner who won’t grow with you.
Choose someone who wants to grow and learn with you throughout life. Don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t want to better themselves, especially if their actions and attitudes are already in need of some improvement, said Winifred Reilly, a marriage and family therapist in Berkeley, California.
“When it comes to marriage, we all have plenty to learn. None of us steps in with all the skills that we need, nor can we know in advance how to face the inevitable challenges we’ll face,” she said. “The most successful partners are those who are willing to train a keen eye on themselves and let go of beliefs that aren’t so useful so they can adopt new ideas and behaviors.”
5. A partner who isn’t compassionate.
If after complaining about your long day at work, your S.O. lifts his head up from his smartphone and says, “Huh, what did you say?”, you may not be with the right person, said Goldstein.
“Having compassion toward another is the foundation of any relationship,” she said. “Entering a relationship where the other person is unable or unwilling to put themselves in your shoes is like trying to get water out of a stone. You’ll essentially be in a relationship where you feel all alone.”
6. A partner who isn’t your biggest cheerleader.
In a good relationship, your S.O. is totally Team You. She doesn’t dismiss your good qualities or discourage you from your goals, and in general, she adds to your life rather than subtracting from it, Szekely said.
“A quality partner supports you, cheerleads for you, helps you face your fears and boosts your confidence,” he said. “They usually hold some qualities that you don’t have and so they can complement you in some way. When you both do that for each other, each one of you is better — you are the best version of yourselves. The bottom line is, you feel better in life and are able to grow together.”
7. A partner who’s too dependent on you.
As a couple, you and your partner complement each other’s lives but at the end of the day, you’re separate people who could, if need be, be fine and fulfilled on your own, Begel said.
“There needs to be a mutual capacity for self-sufficiency,” she said. “This is a hugely important and rather underrated quality in a partnership. This falls under the category of self-love; a healthy dose of this quality in both partners tends to promote mutual respect in the long run.”