While there is no perfect partner and all relationships go through rupture and (ideally) repair phases, there are some major signs that indicate a high probability of emotional risk and pain.
We are all attracted to a certain type of person that knocks us out of balance and often these epic attractions that start with a big bang lead to pain further down the road. Really getting to know a person before consciously entering into an intimate relationship is a good way to take care of yourself and avoid unnecessary pain. I see women jump into bed with guys they hardly know, blindly trusting in what the guy says without any evidence that they are actually capable of following through on what they say or promise and go the distance. A couple of weeks later they are on the phone with me, having their heart and self-esteem burnt and their spirit dampened.
There are always early warning signs for those who want to see them – and act upon them accordingly. And of course there are exceptions to the rule.
Unavailability: from the most radical form like the other person being married or in a relationship to the most frequent form of emotional unavailability. While we all open and commit at a different pace and level, I would consider a person who continually acts hot and cold, lets you guess the relationship status, remains unwilling to commit over time and avoids emotional closeness a clear warning sign to not invest your heart.
Not over ex: If the person you are dating has recently gone through a divorce or breakup without taking the time to learn the lessons, forgive and move on from that person in mind, heart and soul, I would assume that your relationship would be highly turbulent and frustrating.
Lying and cheating: The way we do anything is the way we do everything. Little lies to avoid confrontation or pain? Just an innocent kiss with the colleague at the Christmas party? Inconsistent stories about what they have been up to lately? Just a coffee date with the ex? But they tell you it´s you who needs to be less serious and cooler?! If you can´t trust the other person´s integrity there is no healthy foundation for a happy, long-term relationship.
Clash in attachment styles: There are 3 major attachment styles to be found in adults: secure, anxious and avoidant. Just over about 50% of the population is securely attached and they can bond with any of the other. Around 20% are anxious, 25% are avoidant and the rest a rare combination of anxious-avoidant. If an anxious and an avoidant get together, it can be literally hell on earth for both of them. While the anxious needs a lot of reassurance about the relationship, the avoidant partner is unable to provide this. The more pressure is put on the avoidant partner, the more they withdraw. The anxious is rewarded with a kind of reassurance only sporadically and it´s uncontrollable when this will happen. It´s not easy to break free of this downward spiral so it´s really best to be aware of your attachment style and learn to read another person´s attachment style before becoming involved with someone. Since this is particularly important, I´m going to write an separate blog post on this topic.
Any kind of addiction: If a person you are dating sabotages their health, happiness and life in general with any kind of active addiction, this will also sabotage your potential relationship. Any person who is unwilling to get qualified, professional help and isn´t committed to getting over the addiction no matter what it takes, is unlikely to co-create a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Period.
Emotional and psychological disorders: If the person you are dating has significant psychological problems (see ICD-10) that are not being treated professionally and they refuse to get adequate help, I would assume that they are not able to co-create a healthy, fulfilling relationship at this point in time.
Struggle: If the person you are seeing is struggling significantly in one or several areas of their life like job, money, health or self-worth and your role is more that of a caretaker than a partner I would consider it fair to assume that this might not lead to healthy, fulfilling partnership where both contribute equally.
Selfish behaviour: The other person puts themselves and their needs always first? While we should all take care of our needs, I would consider it a warning sign if you can´t experience a generosity of spirit as an essential human quality in the other person.
Hurtful behaviour: The person you are dating degrades you, criticizes or minimizes your personality, looks, career, behaviour, family or friends in private or even worse in public? Then out of the blue, they shower you with affection, compliments and generosity? I would assume that this rollercoaster would not lead to a healthy and stable relationship. If on top there is any form of physical abuse, I recommend you get help and get out of there right now.
From my own journey of dating and relationships, I have learnt to only invest my time, energy and above all heart in a person who is emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically healthy and by that I mean responsible. It doesn´t mean that they need to have it all together. It means that they take care of themselves in the best way possible and that they make a conscious effort to find solutions for those areas of their life that aren´t working. And obviously I need to bring that to the table, too!