This originally appeared on In Our Words. Republished here with permission.
In relationships, we get hung up on a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter too much, like whether or not they know who our favorite obscure indie director is or their weird chest hair pattern. People break up every day for all kinds of ridiculous reasons, because they think those reasons are important. They are convinced that this tiny thing is a huge dealbreaker. How can they NOT know who Whit Stillman is? I mean, Jesus. So, instead of sweating the small stuff, I (with counsel from my Facebook friends) came up with a list of things that really do matter. Next time, sweat the big stuff.
1. They won’t or can’t say I love you, even after years and years of being together, or can’t show you how they feel, even in non-verbal ways.
2. They won’t introduce you to their friends or family members and you haven’t been to a single family get-together. However, the latter is understandable if their family genuinely sucks and they don’t go to those either.
3. They won’t kiss you or look at you during sex.
4. They absolutely refuse to go down on you ever or give you pleasure, because they can’t see that giving you pleasure is pleasure for them, or rebuff your requests for reciprocation.
5. They call you names, like “stupid,” “idiot,” “bitch,” “whore,” and “slut.” (Also, as a personal preference, please don’t refer to me as “dude” during sex.)
6. They don’t understand what consent is or that sex is not an obligation.
7. They don’t know what your middle name or your favorite color is or key facts about you that you would expect every single person who knows you to know.
8. They don’t let you speak during conversations, consistently talk over you, and interrupt you or just won’t shut up ever. Find someone who knows when to be silent or can sit and enjoy the silence.
9. They won’t marry you, even though they know that you really, really want to get married and you’ve been together for seven years. It doesn’t make them a bad person, but it’s good to be with someone who wants the same things you do.
10. They won’t pick up after themselves, ever, and always make you do it. You are not their parent and they should not be looking for one.
11. They refuse to participate in things they know you really like and are meaningful to you, even though you’ve explained how much these things mean to you and have repeatedly asked them.
12. They won’t let you like the things you like, because even if they don’t like your favorite band, they should see why that band is important to you and respect that.
13. They yell at you a lot for no reason. Or they yell at you at a lot for any reason. Someone who wants to be with you will communicate with you in a respectful, low-decibel manner.
14. They refuse to communicate what is wrong, any time that something is wrong, until whatever was wrong blows up five months later into something that is much worse than the argument that might have ensued had that just accepted your invitation to talk about it in the first place.
15. They still act like a child—not in a cute, fun, let’s-play-Hopscotch! way, but in a still-throws-temper-tantrums-in-public way.
16. They never listen to you when you are speaking or when you are talking about your day.
17. They don’t value or respect your opinions or take you seriously.
18. They won’t let you win in arguments or let you be right, ever, because everything is always about them.
19. They don’t know what your needs are, because they haven’t asked and didn’t listen when you told them what they were, or aren’t willing to evolve as those needs evolve.
20. They won’t make simple compromises with you or try to find common ground and ask that you make sacrifices that they won’t return the favor on.
21. They can’t see the value in your career or life goals and do things like insist that, were you to have children, you would have to be the one who stays home with them all day.
22. They always insinuate that their career or job (read: life) is somehow more important than whatever you are doing, because even being a stay-home parent is a lot of work.
23. They aren’t willing to adapt to the little quirks and eccentricities that make you so wonderfully yourself.
24. They repeatedly body shame you and make you feel bad about the way you look.
25. They don’t know the difference between being cute jealous and being Othello.
26. They spend money outrageously irresponsibly, like using the money you had saved up buy new lenses to go on a shopping spree, and won’t do the work to become more fiscally mature, because they won’t do the work to become more mature.
27. They are out of work and won’t look for a job; it’s not that they can’t find one, but that they won’t get off the damn couch.
28. They are cheating on you or in love with someone else when the two of you are monogamous or they are already in a monogamous relationship with someone else.
29. They spend more time playing with video games or the Twitter than they do playing with you.
30. They make fun of you for being who you are or try to change you into someone you don’t want to be—when that change has nothing to do with your well-being or safety.
31. They don’t care for themselves or about themselves, particularly in the universally agreed upon areas of personal hygiene.
32. They won’t look up from their phone at the dinner table, during sex, or while ordering from their barista. Or call and text everyone else but you.
33. They are nice to you, but only you—and a tool to your friends, your family, their friends, their family, your dog, their dog, the mailman, the busboy, their secretary, the cab driver, the barista, and almost every other person you see every day.
34. They lie to you consistently about everything or hide major things from you—like that they have a secret family.
35. They won’t be a part of your chosen family.
36. They continually shame you about your past or the person you were before you met them and refuse to let go of that thing you’ve asked them to repeatedly. You have to accept someone else’s baggage.
37. They can’t respect your privacy and have a habit of going through your email, Facebook, phone, diary, underwear drawer, planner, or pager (if anyone still has one of those) to look for “evidence” or check to see who you are talking to, because if you have to check up on someone to feel comfortable in a relationship, that is probably not the relationship for you. You can’t have a relationship if you don’t trust each other.
38. They can’t find any joy or pleasure in life and have no passion or drive for anything, not even small things.
39. They will let you go to bed mad, because they don’t really care if you get mad, because they’re OK with just giving you the silent treatment and that’s it, because they aren’t mature enough to resolve conflict or don’t really care about your feelings.
40. They speak fluent passive-aggression.
41. They don’t let you be with other people, like your friends and family, and don’t understand that you have a life that exists outside of them. Space is important.
42. They won’t ask for help, because they don’t really think they need help, won’t allow themselves to be helped, refuse to change for the better or can’t allow anyone to be a part of facilitating that change.
43. They won’t kick back and relax or be silly with you, like those times you just really just want to have a Buffy marathon, stay in bed all morning for no reason, or sit and just enjoy each other’s presence.
44. They can’t take criticism, like if you gently bring up that they chew with their mouth open and they lash out at you for it, as if you are supposed to be the one who chews their food for them. People like that won’t take any fault in the relationship, which is a problem when attempting to build a life with someone.
45. They don’t understand the difference between being helpful and proactive and a little type-A and being incredibly controlling and manipulative.
46. They hurt you or injure you as a joke, because setting someone on fire is “soo funny.”’
47. They have a secret Twitter account to complain about your relationship, rather than just voicing their concerns and complaints to you.
48. They won’t learn, grow, or try new things, ever, even new things that you really want to try and promise them sex in return for trying, and won’t experiment in the bedroom.
49. They hit you. Even if they say they are sorry. Even if it’s just one time. Forgiveness is your choice, and I won’t shame you for forgiveness, but in my opinion, you can forgive someone without ever being in a relationship with them ever again. You can move on by moving on.
50. They just aren’t in love with you anymore, and you aren’t in love with them anymore. There’s no sense in spending all that time on someone you don’t really want to be with.
Nico Lang is the Co-Creator and Co-Editor of In Our Words and a graduate student in DePaul University’s Media & Cinema Studies program. Lang is a Change Coordinator for LGBT Change, the Co-Founder of Chicago’s Queer Intercollegiate Alliance and a columnist for HEAVEMedia. At HEAVE, Nico writes a column on film called Found Footage and talks about nerd stuff on a weekly podcast called Pod People. Elsewhere in podcasting, Lang hosts Broad Shoulders, a monthly podcast for Chicago’s Live Lit community. Nico is also a contributor at Thought Catalog and the Huffington Post and has been featured in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, The New Gay, The Guardian and on their mother’s refrigerator. Follow Nico on Twitter @Nico_Lang or on the Facebook.