Whether a relationship is “meant to be” is often determined by how much work each partner decides to put into it. And if you feel you’ve done all that you can, and it still hasn’t worked out, then you decide the relationship wasn’t meant to be. But let’s review some signs that could help you identify sooner when a relationship is wrong for you.
If you saw these signs in previous relationships, but didn’t get out when you could have, go easy on yourself: You had a different point of view then. My purpose isn’t to make you feel regretful about your past, or panicked about your current relationship. This is just a reminder to sharpen your radar and consider your options. The result could be more honest conversations with your partner or a shift in your own behavior.
Here, then, are five signs you’re in a relationship that’s not “meant to be.”
1. You don’t feel like you.
Everything you’ve liked about yourself, who you are, or what makes you uniquely you, is faded or gone.
Unfortunately, this happens a lot in relationships. I coach people going through this all the time. And it happens very gradually; otherwise, we would stop it right away.
Sometimes partners try to control us and call this behavior “love.” Over time, this strips away at who we are or want to be. Then, one day, we wake up, look in the mirror, and don’t recognize ourselves. This is a sign—a bad one.
Let me stop and note that it may not be 100 percent the other person’s fault. You may find this to be a pattern in all of your relationships, which means that the common denominator is you.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in our relationships. This usually happens due to a distorted understanding of love as self-sacrifice, rather than thinking about it in terms of healthy compromises and growing together. If you follow the logic of this mindset, you’ll usually end up thinking about your upbringing and what you learned about the experience of love as a child. The key is to be aware and to work on finding yourself again, no matter what it takes. If you don’t, you’re not bringing you to the relationship. You’re bringing your conditioning.
2. You’re constantly trying to prove your worth.
It’s bad enough that we have to constantly seek our worth in the world. But if we’re also doing this in our relationship, there’s something wrong, because that’s the one place where you shouldn’t have to prove your worth.
How do you tell if you’re constantly trying to prove your worth? Start by acknowledging that there’s a difference between seeking approval and validation, which we all do to a certain extent, and seeking your worth or value.
Here are some signs that you’re constantly seeking your worth in a relationship:
Your ideas are shot down.
Your partner doesn’t support your dreams.
You rarely get to talk about you.
Your partner may listen to you but they don’t hear you.
You feel invisible.
It’s not your partner’s job to make you feel valuable, but it is their job to create a safe space where your worth is encouraged instead of being ignored or even bashed. Your relationship shouldn’t make you feel invisible; it should make you feel invincible.
3. You feel like you’re witnessing a relationship instead of being in one.
Many people get to a state where they let life happen to them instead of allowing themselves to happen to life—by engaging and truly living at their fullest, and making their dent in the universe. You can start to go through the motions of life rather than fully living your own.
This can also happen in relationships, too. You recognize the relationship but you no longer engage in it. You know that you’re “taken,” not single. You know the important dates and when to buy gifts. You know the routine for dinner. You know what he or she likes in bed. But all of this is information, not presence. The relationship is no longer built on passion but based on routines. If you believe in your heart that this is due to him or her more than to you, it’s a big sign. Scratch that: It’s a giant a banner that says “You Two Are Not Meant to Be.”
4. You break up with you.
At some point, you’ve ended the relationship you had with yourself. You’ve given up or given in—and you may not even realize it.
Maybe you convinced yourself that this is what a relationship is supposed to look like. Maybe you told yourself that “true love” means finding someone who makes you want to live longer and be a better person. And maybe that’s how you justified changing yourself in order to make the relationship work.
Whatever the case, if you and your needs are no longer in the equation because of your relationship, you are probably not meant to be in that relationship. At this point, it’s not about signs. It’s about whys.