I don’t have the greatest taste in partners. In fact, my preference is mostly commitment-phobes, cheaters, and people who don’t like me back. Every time I have a new crush, there are always signs he’s not boyfriend material, but I pretty much like to overlook them. Red flags? I love flags! They’re so fun to look at.
In this era of modern dating, it’s hard to tell who is actually looking for a relationship, and who just wants to fool around and fill their time with several Tinder matches. People can give the illusion of monogamy to the several different people they are currently dating, without ever actually having to commit to a single one of them. While true love is still out there — yes, it exists — you just have to get through a minefield of cheaters, people still hung up on their exes, and the financially unstable first. Even if you want a relationship with the person you’re seeing, you have to ask yourself, are they even worth committing to?
I asked dating and relationship experts Julie Spira and April Masini about the signs the person you’re seeing is nowhere near relationship material, because in this dating culture, it’s important to know. And oh, man, I have dated a lot of these.
1. They Still Love Their Ex
a white man resting his elbow on his knee and holding his head in his hands while sitting on the side of the bed
The last guy I dated would talk about his relationship with his ex and his broken heart incessantly, which he said took months to mend after their relationship ended. Well, he talked about her so much that it was pretty clear his broken heart wasn’t quite mended quite.
“When someone can’t seem to get over their ex (i.e. they drive by his or her house, stalk their social media, and compare everyone to their ex), they’re not ready for a relationship,” says Spira. “If you end up with them, it’s likely you’ll be their transition person, which isn’t a lot of fun.”
No one likes to be a rebound, and I was definitely this guy’s rebound. While most of his dialogue revolved around trashing his ex and their relationship, that is just another form of obsession, indicating your partner is still linked to their past — and bitter about it. Plus, if your significant other speaks about all their exes in an unflattering light, then most likely, they’ll just end up speaking about you that way, too.
You can never compete with an ex. If your partner is still in love with someone from their past, then run fast.
2. They Still Live At Home
family sitting on the beach side by side with kids, grandparents, blue shirts, jeans, white pants, beach, sand
Listen, the price of living is expensive. I’m a freelance writer and certainly not Ms. Moneybags over here. Paying rent can be hard, and sometimes, we make compromises to get by, like that time I lived in a gross apartment with two frat guys. But when you get to a certain age, dating someone who lives in their parents’ basement is just not that desirable.
“When someone is a perpetual student or lives at home with their parents, it’s hard to develop a relationship with them, especially one that includes overnights,” Spira says. “It’s best to wait until they have a job and can find a pad with a roommate that didn’t raise them.”
The last time I dated a guy who lived at home was in high school, and when we had sleepovers, I had to spend the night in a different room — his parents’ rules. You don’t want to be in that same predicament in your 20s or 30s.
“If your partner has never married or lived with someone — and they’re living with a parent or other blood relative — chances are, they’re not in it with you for the long run. They like living with a parent or a sibling, in spite of their age, and while dating is fun for them, they don’t do it because they’re looking for a life partner,” Masini adds. “One of the downfalls of online dating is that it makes it super easy to always have a date and avoid boredom.”
3. They’re A Party Animal
Guy gets caught on date in London by his girlfriend
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you don’t want to date a party animal. The party animal is not looking to settle down. The party animal is looking for a good time, and they’re probably looking for a good time with a lot of different people.
Spira says, “For the guy who loves to party — and you’ll see this in the drunken group shots on Instagram or Snapchat — do you really want to add on to the harem of partiers? If so, they’re just not ready for the real thing.”
Unless you’re looking for love in da club, the party animal is not for you.
4. They Won’t Commit
couple being romantic with each other
I once dated a guy who said there wasn’t a label that could define our love. Well, the label was definitely girlfriend, but it was pretty easy to see he was trying to cop out of a relationship with me. Not defining a relationship is a great way to get out of a relationship entirely and deny yourself any accountability for your actions.
“If the person you have a crush on wants to keep you in rotation and won’t plan on spending weekend nights with you, they’re just not ready for something serious,” Spira explains. “When someone wants a relationship, they will let you know right away. They’ll take their profiles down and flat out ask you to be their boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Surprisingly, dating is actually pretty simple. When someone likes you, they’ll tell you. Otherwise, they’re just not that into you.
5. They Let You Know They’re Not Ready
Frequently, my friends will send me screenshots of their conversations with the people they’re seeing and ask me to analyze them. Or they will tell me what their significant others said and explain how it contrasts vastly from how they’re acting, which is leaving them confused. But, it’s actually quite simple: Always believe someone at their word.
“Often, singles think they can change someone’s mind about what they’re looking for, but if they say, ‘I’m not looking for anything serious,’ believe them and find someone else who wants to make you their SO,” says Spira.
If someone says they don’t want a relationship, believe them. We can get in a lot of trouble trying to change people.
6. They’re A Cheater
I am a big believer that people can change. For example, I cheated once in my past and know without question that I would never do it again. However, if someone is a serial cheater, then they are probably not the best choice for you.
Masini explains, “If your partner has a history of cheating, and not just once or twice, but a real, clear pattern of cheating, chances are, they’re not relationship material. People cheat for all sorts of reasons, but the bottom line is that if you have a partner who has a history of cheating, you’re not going to be the one to change them.”
Again, it all comes down to the desire to change people, which is something that you cannot do. “Respect their history. This is who they are, and they’re doing what they do for a good reason that’s personal,” she continues. “This isn’t about you, so don’t even bother. Move on.”
7. You Don’t Agree On Relationship Deal Breakers
If you and your partner don’t agree on the same relationship deal breakers, then they are probably not relationship material.
“If you want children and your partner doesn’t, this is an incompatibility that makes you both not relationship material for each other,” Masini says. “Having children is a big deal, and therefore, a deal breaker for many people, and it’s much better to be upfront with yourself and any dating partner, instead of trying to make things work or avoid the topic because the sex is so hot. If one of you wants kids and the other definitely doesn’t, you’re not relationship material — at least not for each other!”
That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t be right for someone else.
8. They’re Financially Irresponsible
Full disclosure: I just spent $500 that I do not have while online shopping last night, so I am definitely not relationship material. Men of the world, watch out for me!
“Financial irresponsibility is a tough trait to live with in a partner. So, if you’re dating someone who’s fiscally irresponsible and, say, doesn’t pay taxes, runs up debt, has no retirement plans, spends without income to support purchases, and basically, has a dysfunctional relationship with money, you’re looking at someone who is not relationship material,” Masini explains. “If a partner can’t work with money, they’re not going to be able to work with you with money — and that’s a relationship landmine.”
In all seriousness, this is a big one, especially if you’re looking for relationship longevity and the things that come with it, like commingling bank accounts, buying a house, or having kids one day — activities that require and involve money.
9. You Have Different Relationship Goals
If you and your partner don’t have the same goals in mind, then they are probably not relationship material, at least for you.
“If you want marriage and your partner wants to keep you in their rotation until someone better comes along, they’re not marriage material,” says Masini. “You should be able to tell within the first few months if someone wants to get married — even if it’s not to you — or if they’re just playing the field and having fun with dating.”
But how can you tell? Well, Masini continues, “When you meet parents, start spending holidays together and become each others’ plus-one for business parties and events, you’re on the road to monogamy. But if you don’t hear from your partner over some weekends, they don’t spend holidays with you, and you’re not their go-to person for New Years’ Eve, you have different relationship goals in mind.”
If you recognize any of these traits in your partner, then they might not be relationship material. But don’t worry; there are bigger and better things out there. It’s important to never settle for crumbs in your relationship and truly get what you deserve.