“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” – Frida Kahlo
I love this quote from artist Frida Kahlo about choosing a lover. You know why? Because it’s a great reminder about not settling for less than you deserve.
Maybe it’s phrased in a tad too idealistic and overly romantic manner, but hey, think about it –
Doesn’t a lover who looks at you like you’re a wondrous creature have a better chance of treating you well?
We could all stand to think about romantic partners that way. Because the truth is, too many of us accept treatment we don’t deserve. We gloss over certain warning signs we should speak up against.
In this article, I’ll talk about ten red flags that you’re settling for less than you deserve in a relationship. Let’s dive in!
1) You walk on eggshells
Do you feel like you can’t express your true feelings or opinions because it might trigger disapproval, or worse, a fight?
Heads up – that’s not normal, nor is it healthy. It’s definitely not something you should ignore.
I used to be in a relationship like that. My then-boyfriend had a volatile temper, and I would often push my feelings down for fear of getting him angry.
It got to a point where I felt like a piece of driftwood – just coasting along and agreeing to everything because I didn’t want to make waves.
After a while, I no longer felt like myself. In fact, after we broke up, I had to do a lot of soul-searching to get back to who I was, the one who got buried under layers of pretension and suppression.
In a healthy relationship, you’ll feel safe expressing yourself. Your partner would know how to listen and respond to your concerns, not react violently or dismiss you.
Living under constant pressure to conform to someone else’s expectations is a surefire way to lose yourself — and that’s not something your fabulous self deserves.
2) You make all the sacrifices
Another red flag that you’re settling for less than you deserve is that it’s a one-sided relationship.
By that, I mean that you’re the one who’s always making adjustments and sacrifices.
You’re the one whose schedule needs to be fixed, or whose hobbies need to go, whose social life needs to take a backseat…
Meanwhile, your partner gets to do whatever they want.
Isn’t that unfair? And exhausting?
Sacrifice is a normal part of any relationship, but it should never be a one-way street. It should feel equal, with both of you making concessions to make each other happy.
You deserve someone who’s willing to meet you halfway. Relationships are about compromise, but you should never be the only one giving in all the time.
3) You don’t get much in the way of emotional support
If you’re the one having to constantly adjust, I’m willing to bet you aren’t getting the level of emotional support you need, too.
This is another evidence that you’re in a one-sided relationship.
For me, emotional support is non-negotiable. After all, that’s what partners are for, right?
Someone to hold you when times are hard.
Someone to cheer you up when you’re down.
Someone to tell you you’re brilliant when the world tells you otherwise.
That’s the ideal, and the thing is, it’s a very achievable ideal. Your partner might not be perfect (none of us are), but they should at least manage to be your rock and safe space.
And your cheerleader, as the next section shows…
4) Your accomplishments are downplayed
This is something I experienced with the boyfriend I told you about earlier. Whenever I did something awesome, he wouldn’t have as big a reaction as I’d hoped.
I mean, I didn’t need all the bells and whistles, but I did expect some sort of jubilant high-five. Or even a tiny pat on the back.
Because that’s what I’d do for him whenever he achieved something. In fact, I’d treat him to a nice dinner to celebrate his wins.
But me? When I got a promotion at work and texted him about it with lots of exclamation marks, all I got back was: “That’s great”
No exclamation points, no happy face or any other emoji. Nothing to indicate emotion.
Then right on the heels of that message: “Josh is dropping by later, we’re going out to lunch.”
You can imagine how deflated I felt. At that moment, I realized I deserve someone who could do more than mumble “that’s great/how nice/okay” when something fabulous happened for me.
You do, too.
5) The relationship is all about them
All of those sections above point to one main thing – you aren’t the main star in this relationship.
It’s your partner who is.
If you feel like you’re just their sidekick, someone who’s there to support them and cater to their needs, that’s a red flag you shouldn’t ignore.
It’s your relationship, too, which means…you too need to be in the spotlight!
6) They never take responsibility
How about this? Do you find that your partner struggles with accountability?
If so, that’s another sign that you might be settling for less than you deserve.
You see, accountability is essential in any relationship. It goes beyond merely saying sorry and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
What it does, on a deeper level, is to:
- Build self-awareness
- Built trust and intimacy
- Foster a culture of collaboration – a teamwork attitude
A healthy relationship requires accountability from both sides. If it’s just you who gets this concept, that means you’re settling for an emotionally immature partner.
Believe me, that can get pretty tiring. Being with someone who plays the blame game and makes all kinds of excuses instead of admitting they’re wrong will lead you down a path full of resentment and frustration.
And worse, because they never see the need to apologize…
7) You feel the need to apologize for them
Have you ever said things like these about your partner?
- “Oh, you just have to get to know them.”
- “I’m sorry, they’re just having a bad day.”
- “They’re really great when it’s just the two of us.”
I have in the past, and what I now realize is that it made me sound like a parent excusing their kid’s misbehavior on the playground.
Look, you are not your partner’s mom or dad. You’re their equal. You shouldn’t be “overseeing” their behavior and making amends when it’s unpleasant.
What’s more, apologizing for your partner’s behavior only enables that bad behavior. On top of that, it encourages the lack of accountability.
Not exactly what you should be settling for in a relationship.
8) You’re constantly second-guessing yourself
I’ve always believed that one of the best signs you’re with somebody who’s good for you is when they bring out the best in you.
That means you grow in confidence, you’re free to be yourself, and you feel loved for who you are.
So if you’re not feeling any of these things, and instead you’ve turned into a ball of self-doubt and insecurity…chances are, you’re settling for less than you deserve.
Somewhere out there is someone who won’t just love and respect you – they will CELEBRATE you.
So, no matter how lonely you feel, hold out and don’t settle for less than that.
9) You have unresolved, recurring arguments
Every relationship has disagreements. And according to psychologists, arguing can even be healthy for relationships, if done the right way.
So why are recurring arguments a red flag?
Because it means that the issue is still unaddressed. And that further means that your partner isn’t committed to resolving the issue.
In short, they don’t have the same level of concern as you about the health of your relationship.
10) You’re more in love with the idea of love than the person themselves
Now, this one’s an inside matter, rather than an issue with your partner.
I’ve sabotaged my own happiness this way. When I was younger, I’d stay in less-than-ideal relationships not because I was in love with the person, but because I was in love with the idea of love.
With the idea of being in a relationship.
Has that happened to you? For example, do you stay with somebody, never mind if you’re not compatible in terms of interests and values, just because you love being in a relationship?
The human mind is a complex thing, for sure. It can convince us of all sorts of notions that may not be in our best interest.
But down the road, we’re bound to feel empty, as if something’s missing.
Something’s missing, all right. Because we’ve settled for less than we deserve.
Only when we approach relationships free of that romantic notion can we truly see our partners for who they are and judge objectively if they’re right for us.
Confronting the red flags in our relationship is never easy. Even more so when they wake us up to the fact that we’ve settled for less than we deserve.
But that’s what red flags are for – to save us from making decisions that will only lead to more heartbreak down the road.
So as difficult as it may be, if you see these red flags in your relationship, consider what you can do. You can work on your relationship or make the more drastic move of walking away.
Either way, remember that you deserve a partner who lifts you up and helps you be the best, most magical version of yourself.