When you and your partner are completely in love, it’s easy to believe that you can overcome any challenges. But the reality is, you can still be in a relationship that has no future even if you truly love each other.
“We are told as we grow up, that once you find someone you love all will be well,” Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT, tells Bustle. “No one prepares us for the other pieces that need to line up in addition to this.” Although it’s important for relationship longevity, sometimes love is just not enough.
According to Thompson, loving someone too much can blind you to the other essential pieces that don’t line up. No one is going to be perfect, she says. But if you want a future with someone it’s important to have the basics, like common goals, shared values, trust, and respect. “In addition to love, partners should actually like each other,” Thompson says. “When we like our partner, we want to spend time with them. We want to be around them.”
Recognizing that your relationship has no future isn’t easy — especially when you’re in love with your partner. So here are some signs to look out for, according to experts.
Physical intimacy is necessary for relationships to thrive and it’s also the defining factor between intimate partner and friend, Thompson says. And physical intimacy isn’t just about sex. It also includes hand holding, massages, and the little touches you give each other.
You and your partner may love each other deeply. But if you find that you argue and fight all the time even about the tiniest of things, Thompson says it’s a sign that you just can’t get along. If that’s case, your relationship may experience more downs than ups.
Besides having constant disagreements, staying mad at each other for days is a sign your relationship may not have a future. According to couples therapist Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, this could mean that you and your partner struggle with accountability. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to admit when you’re wrong. But if you want your relationship to last, it’s important to be willing to put aside your pride and take responsibility for your part of the conflict.
“Lasting romantic love requires more than surging chemicals and dizzying feelings of attraction and longing,” psychotherapist and relationship coach, Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, tells Bustle. In fact, there are two other “essential elements” that must be there in some measure — friendship and intellectual stimulation. These help form a deeper connection and move your relationship to the next level.
When you’re intellectually compatible, you can easily relate to each other, you have the same sense of humor, and you can challenge in each in healthy ways. “When you have these things, the relationship is always interesting, it meets your needs on many levels, and you have a bond that has the right stuff to grow and last through the challenges and changes that a shared life will bring,” Coleman says.
It doesn’t matter if you met online and established communication habits through texting or social media. A relationship that has a future doesn’t rely on social media or even texting. “Feeling that you’ve discussed something because you’ve texted, or because it’s on Facebook is not the same as actually communicating,” psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD, tells Bustle. “Spending your free time surfing Facebook or Instagram when you could be having ‘face time’ with your partner is a poor choice.” Nothing beats that in-person, one-on-one time.
If you’re apologizing way too much, Tessina says it’s time to think about whether your relationship dynamic is healthy or not. “You need to learn how to stand your ground when it’s appropriate,” she says. “Apologies can be a good thing. It’s a way to heal small rifts between you, but not if it’s all one-sided.” Compromise is necessary. Both of you should feel like your feelings are being heard and your wants are being met.
“No matter how much you love each other, your relationship can not last if you are with someone who views your feelings as criticism,” Laurel House, relationship coach and host of the Man Whisperer podcast tells Bustle. For example, when you tell your partner that you’re feeling lonely in the relationship they might take it personally, get defensive, and shut you down or invalidate your feelings. According to House, your partner may not mean to react this way. It may just be an issue of different communication styles. If that’s the case, it definitely needs to be worked on if you want a happy future together.
If your partner avoids negative emotions or copes in unhealthy ways (i.e. physical aggression or substance abuse), this is a major warning sign your relationship won’t have a healthy future, therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, tells Bustle. “Even if those emotions have nothing to do with you now, it doesn’t mean they won’t feel something negative towards you or your relationship moving forward,” she says. Basically what you’re witnessing now is a “window” into how your partner will handle difficult emotions and situations years down the line. If your partner avoids negative emotions, it’s important to talk to them, express your concerns, and think about if it’s really the right relationship for you. If they’re coping in unhealthy ways, don’t be afraid to seek help.
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own life or the problems of your relationship that you forget the importance of tenderness. “Affection, politeness, and everyday sweetness are the WD-40 of your relationship,” Tessina says. “They make everything run smoother.” You don’t have to be super lovey-dovey if that’s not your thing. But just be mindful of the little thoughtful things you do for your partner and vice versa. If you fail to do the small, sweet things for each other, your relationship may not have a future.
“Being in love is a very powerful feeling, one that can wrap us up and consume us,” Williamson says. “While these feelings are important, we have to keep our heads in the game as well.”
You should be with someone you’re in love with — but that can’t be the only thing your relationship has. Remember, letting go of the wrong one will bring you one step closer to the right one. So don’t be afraid to let the wrong one go.