By: Jenny Foungher
Those Gershwin brothers (and everyone else who’s ever employed a tired cliché to make a point) sure got it right when they said that love is blind. I used to think this phrase referred to looks – as in, once you fall in love with someone, they look good to you regardless of whether they work out 15 times a week or mainline Oreo Double Stuffs like it’s the end of days – but after dating a few dudes whose looks (or lack thereof) I never stopped noticing (even after I fell desperately in love with them), I realized that ‘love blindness’ probably refers instead to the hormone-induced phenomenon of no longer noticing your partner’s faults, no matter how detrimental to your relationship they may be, once you’ve entered head-over-heels-ville.
Ignoring your lady’s shortcomings isn’t all bad. If you were always frustrated at the annoying way she chews her gum or the tendency she has to laugh a little too loudly in a movie theater, then you might forget that she’s a great Monopoly player who knows exactly how you like your back massages. But there are some signs that shouldn’t be ignored, lest you miss the fact that your relationship is headed for disaster (or worse: that your relationship will keep you in a perpetual state of emotional turmoil for the rest of eternity).
If you’ve ever had a nagging feeling that something just isn’t right, or if you continually wonder what it would be like to be free of your partner’s ___________ (insert destructive tendency here), then perhaps you’re experiencing flashes of clarity beneath the haze of goo-goo eyes and lovey-dovey heart flutters. Should any of the following give you that “oh, crap” feeling deep down in your gut, then take a cue from the Prez and do a State-of-the-Relationship assessment to figure out where you stand. (Just don’t do it during Lost. That won’t end well.)
She belittles things you love
Your woman might not want to play in your touch football league (and, come on, you probably don’t want her there anyway), but that doesn’t mean she should make fun of you when you hold strategy meetings with your teammates and sport your custom-made game shirts around the house. When a woman repeatedly mocks something you love, it can make you more reticent to share with and open up to her, which spells disaster for important relationship things like “trust” and “communication”. More importantly, spending time with someone whose interests differ from your own presents an opportunity for learning and personal growth – how else do you explain your continued interest in tai chi, despite having broken up with your martial arts-inclined girlfriend a decade ago? – which is virtually impossible when the other party spends all of her time making derisive comments and chastising you for what you do on the weekends.
She’s all over other guys
Women who are naturally effervescent and outgoing are often perceived as flirtatious, but the difference between a girl who’s nice to everyone and a girl who throws herself at the mailman, the garbage man and the Potbellies guy is that the former isn’t a desperate attention-seeker who can’t get past her many debilitating insecurities. Aside from innocent things like hugs and high-fives, your girlfriend shouldn’t really be getting physical with other guys, and her actions definitely shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. A girl who’s all up on other dudes is not only disrespecting you, she’s also embarrassing the men on whom she’s foisting her business (unless, of course, you’re on an MTV show that takes place in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, in which case you’d better be ready for other dudes to creep on your woman any minute of any day). You’re a relatively laid-back guy; if you’ve begun to feel like the third wheel whenever your girlfriend talks to anyone else, then you might have a situation on your hands (and not the good, hilarious kind, unfortunately).
She resents you for being successful
The world would be a wonderful place if we could all just revel in one another’s awesomeness without secretly worrying that our own accomplishments weren’t as impressive as everyone else’s. Sadly, that’s not really how things work; in a culture where entertainment empires are built on schadenfreude, it’s easy to get sucked into competing with everyone you meet, including your significant other. Many women feel pressure to be just as or more successful than their boyfriends or husbands – blame it on feminism or pop culture or hormones or whatever – which can sometimes translate to resentment, which can then translate pointless fights in which you’re forced to defend yourself for being successful. If you find that you’ve resorted to playing down your accomplishments in order to keep your partner happy, or if you’re so self-deprecating around her that you begin to think less of yourself, then you might be letting her lack of self confidence undermine your inherent greatness. Your lady should build you up, not tear you down, so if you’ve forgotten how great of a catch you are, then it might be time to put yourself back in the ocean. There are a lot of fish out there, you know.
She makes fun of you in front of everyone
Sarcasm is the cornerstone upon which most humor is built, but it can, on occasion, cross the line to become downright mean. Sure, we all make fun of one another at times for things like fugly pleated khakis, but you and your other half should be able to cut it off before it gets too personal or too hurtful. If she hasn’t figured out the second part of that equation, then she hasn’t figured out that you’re a person with feelings who should be treated as such (yes, you’re a big strong man who doesn’t get sidetracked by stupid things like emotions, but I bet you also don’t want your girlfriend making you the butt of all of her jokes. No one wants that). My advice? Tell her to get some new material, or tell her to pack her bags.
She sweats the small stuff
Women are notoriously sensitive about strange things, but some women take things so personally that it can be difficult to say anything at all to them without getting into an argument. I’m not going to make you believe in a world in which women never get unreasonably upset – that would be cruel, for such a world only exists in your dreams, my good fellows – but I will tell you that you shouldn’t have to monitor every word that comes out of your mouth because you’re afraid that admitting you want cereal for dinner will get you the silent treatment for a week. You can’t walk on eggshells forever, so if you’re dealing with an oversensitive lady, try talking it out with her; she might not know that she’s stressing you out with her daily freak-outs, and hearing your side of the story might just help her keep her tantrums in check.
She keeps big secrets
I’m not talking about the time she forgot to tell you that she won $10 from a scratch-off lotto card, or even that she had platonic coffee with an ex a few weeks ago; I’m talking about earth-shattering, life-altering information like the fact that she has an illegitimate child or that she was in rehab for eight years before she met you. When you’re in a serious relationship, it’s important to get the Big Stuff out of the way early-on, or you risk feeling betrayed when the truth inevitably comes out. Keep in mind that her efforts to hide Big Stuff from you probably has more to do with her fear that she’ll scare you off than it does with a desire to keep you in the dark about her life, so if it’s an isolated incident, cut the girl a little slack. If you’ve discovered a mountain of skeletons in her closet, though, then it could be time to close the door for good, because if you can’t trust her, then you certainly can’t be in a relationship with her.
She never meets you halfway
In addition to trust and communication, good relationships are built on compromise. You take her to chick flicks because you know she loves them with the fire of 10,000 suns, and she (ideally) watches football on Sundays wearing nothing but a jersey because she knows it’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The way she acts in innocuous situations like this is indicative of how she’ll act when bigger things arise (for example, if she’ll leave her job to move across the country with you should you get an offer you can’t refuse, or if she’ll put off wanting to have kids for a few years until you both can get your finances in order), so if she’s rigid now, then it’s a sure bet that she’ll be absolutely unyielding when it comes to decisions you should be making as a pair.