Updated 12 July 2013

Is this relationship a non-starter?

You're in love and walking on air. But all might not be moonshine and roses. There are definite signs - usually early on - of relationships that should never have been.

You have stars in your eyes and every time the phone rings, you jump six feet high – it might be the new object of your affection. But all might not be moonshine and roses. Often years down the line, you'll ask yourself, "Why didn't I see the signs?" But what are these signs everyone speaks of?

A quick whip-round the office revealed some tell-tale early signs of a coming disastrous relationship.

Pit of despair. You find that somehow you always talk about the other person's bottomless pit of problems and there never seems to be time for you to discuss yours. There never will be – get out while you can. Also stay away from people who love catastrophes – they will create them, if they don't happen by themselves.

You get stood up. OK, this happens in the best of families and one mistake one can still forgive. But when it happens a second time, think carefully about whether you feel like spending the rest of your life waiting for someone who might not turn up.

Hard cash. When it comes to paying, your partner just somehow never has the money. That's fine, as long as it was discussed beforehand. If you find yourself constantly paying for everything, prepare for a life where you work twelve hours a day to support someone who spends his/her life in front of the TV or looking for that big break which never comes. Your money is for the bond and the insurance, his/hers for CDs and clothes.

Are you sure this is the right one? If many of your friends are asking this question, take note. One person could just be jealous, but two or three have spotted that you are not really well-suited. Take heed, before it gets too difficult to get out.

Lying through the teeth. If you find out that you have been lied to, chances are that there are many occasions you were being duped and didn't realise it. Do you feel like spending years of your life with someone who does not respect you enough to be honest with you? OK, maybe it was a small lie, but what else have they been lying about?

Mine, mine, mine. Being jealous is a natural thing. Being overly jealous is a sign of danger in a new relationship. Do you feel like being involved with someone who treats you like a prisoner – watching your every move, in case you talk to someone else or have fun with anyone but him/her? Don't confuse love and jealousy – they are two very different things.

In-law trouble. Right, you are far from getting married, but having trouble with each other's families could be a sign of future trouble. This could be the beginning of years of recriminations and endless trouble and strife. This is not true in all cases, but people often end up copying their parents' relationship styles. Could you live with what you see your partner's parents doing?

A good clout is a bad clout. If anyone hits you, get out immediately. This will not get better, it will only get worse. You cannot change this. If someone is used to sorting out problems or arguments with violence, chances are they will not change, especially after they have married you.

All your fault. If you start finding yourself apologising for things that are not your fault, red lights should start flashing. You have communication problems with this person, and he/she would rather blame you than sort out whatever the problem is.

Why do you find that funny?
If you can't laugh with someone, hit the road. Humour is often the thing which gets people through very difficult patches. If you don't find the same things funny, maybe your perspectives are just too different to consider a relationship.

When my ship comes in. Everyone has to hope and dream, but many people have unrealistic dreams in terms of what their future holds. Dreaming about pots of money is fine – if the person is prepared to put in the kind of work required in order to get hold of this. Endless get-rich-quick dreams point to a life of hardship for whoever is the partner of this unrealistic dreamer.

Hitting the bottle. Addiction to any substance points to future problems. There are many people who manage to sort this out, but there are also many people who never do. Do you really feel like a life where the money for the electricity bill disappears down your partner's throat or up his/her nose?

Do as I say. One person in the relationship gets to make all the decisions and there's hell to pay if the other doesn't toe the line. Whether you make the decisions, or are spoken for, neither is a position which is pleasant to be in in the long run.

Heaven knows when I can see you. There is always something more important in your partner's life than you. Exams, family, sport whatever. OK, none of us can be priority number one all the time, but if this person never has time for you, rather start a relationship with someone who does.

Let's keep it a secret. If someone does not want to acknowledge to the world that they are in a relationship with you, there's a problem. If everything's fine when you are at home, but you get ignored at parties, there are problems on the horizon.

Let's play heart-lung machine, heart-lung machine. If someone wants to spend every minute of every day with you, you are going to get crowded out and claustrophobic. Everyone needs time by themselves. Don't get involved with someone who seems to have nothing else in their lives besides this relationship – it will eventually become a burden.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2011)

(Picture: unhappy couple from Shutterstock)


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