| January 14, 2014

You don't have to be single to wonder whether or not you are ready for a great relationship. In fact, millions of people who aren't really ready find themselves in the middle of relationships.

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Regardless of your status, you should know the signs that indicate you aren't ready for what you are doing, or about to do. Once you understand your limitations, then you can go to work on them and ready yourself for a real, loving relationship. Read on to learn the signs that may cause trouble in paradise.

#1. You Blame First, Defend Second

Something goes wrong. What's your first instinct? For many of us, it is to seek someone or something to blame other than ourselves. This may be human nature. It is the next step that really kills relationships. After initially blaming your partner, you set up a wall of defenses to lock the blame in place. Acting defensively automatically turns your partner into an enemy. It's hard to be emotionally intimate with an enemy.

READ: How to Fight Right — And Win

If your initial reaction is to blame, then put all of your efforts on letting go of defensiveness to act like a team player.

#2. You Think You Own The Other Person

You're in a relationship, so you introduce the others as, "My wife, my husband, my girlfriend, my partner, etc…"

There are two ways to think of the word "My":

  • A. Mine is a term of endearment. My dearest, my beloved. You are mine in that I love you.
  • B. I OWN you!

Using "my" or "mine" in the sense of ownership is risky business. You are my husband, so you have to do what I say. You are my wife, so you have to put up with me. I own you, so you have to cooperate. Not!

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Investing in endearment leads to intimacy. Investing in ownership leads to conflict.

#3. You Can't Receive Constructive Criticism

Does your romantic partner have some feedback for you? Does she have to call in National Guard in order to help make her point? Being open to feedback and constructive criticism is essential in any partnership. In a romantic partnership, such feedback can hit home in devastating ways. For example, perhaps your partner is not satisfied in bed and wants you to step up your game. If you respond like this, you are not able to receive feedback. "How dare you suggest I am anything but a total God in bed! If you're not satisfied, it has nothing to do with me!"

Again, defensiveness isn't going to solve the problem and neither is hanging onto your false sense of superiority. Work together with your partner to resolve these issues and improve your mutual experience of being together.

READ: Ask Diana: My Girlfriend Doesn't Believe in Monogamy

#4. You Agree First, Stab In The Back Second

Ah, the passive aggressive. You think you want to avoid conflict, so you agree with whatever your partner says. Then, you proceed to do whatever you originally had in mind. This, of course, causes a massive conflict! It also destroys your emotional connection and makes an untrustworthy liar out of you. No one wants to be in a relationship with an untrustworthy liar.

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#5. You Think Your Friends Are All That

Putting friends and social life in front of your primary relationship is a common way to avoid the problems — and the intimacy — of that relationship. Social butterflies, both men and women, sometimes need to learn that making a romantic commitment means letting go of some other commitments. Refusing to scale back your social life in favor of an intimate partnership may mean that you aren't ready.

#6. You Have Lazy-Slobbish-Disgusting-Child Syndrome

I don't know if this syndrome is listed in the DSM-V, but it means that you think it's funny to pass gas, belch, swear like a sailor, pee on the toilet seat, leave your dirty underwear lying around, chew with your mouth open and generally make a childish nuisance of yourself in front of your partner.

READ: 15 Foods That Will Gross Out Your Date

You may even think her disgust is cute. It's not. Her disgust means she actually finds you to be a disgusting person. Next, you'll want her to make love to you, right? If she does, she might be grossed out by that, too, thinking back on your antics throughout the day while you are getting your thrills at her expense. Clean it up if you want a mature relationship.

#7. You Are A Selfish, Petty, Grandiose Narcissist

Partnership is sharing a life together. Sharing a life means sharing stuff, sharing time, sharing emotions, and sharing responsibility. It will involve some sacrifice of your individual desires. That sacrifice should pay dividends, as the two of you are creating something beyond what either of you could do alone. So, you can't keep all of your selfish desires satisfied while simultaneously working toward your mutual goals.

Have you ever been around a narcissist? It's feelings shockingly dismissive. If your partner is feeling this way, then your relationship is a ticking time bomb, believe it or not.

#8. You're A Whiner!

Things go wrong. What are you going to do? Fix them and work together to do your best as a team. If you tend to whine like a mule, that will break down your team. Now, in addition to dealing with problems, your partner is dealing with a whiner. Whining is a sign of immaturity and it doesn't serve a purpose in a healthy relationship.

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#9. You're A Martyr!

Emotional martyrs are those who shoulder too much of the burden and refuse to ask for support. This leads you straight into resentment of those around you, who obviously are too callous to lend a helping hand. Again, in relationships, teamwork is the name of the game. Martyrs make teamwork impossible. If you cannot express your needs and give others the chance — and even make demands — then you might not be ready for a healthy relationship.

#10. You Are A Rebel Who Is Asking To Be Controlled

Do you like to cooperate with others? Or, is your nature more along the lines of, "Stuff it, pal. I do things my way. Stay outta my business." A lot of guys think of themselves this way. Surprisingly, many women do, too. Here's the deal with this one: You only think you are a righteous independent rebel. In fact, by refusing to cooperate with others (that you have agreed to cooperate with, by the way) you only invite continual monitoring (of you).

In other words, when you don't play by the agreed-upon rules, people will naturally intervene, trying to get you back on track. You are just asking to be monitored, controlled and nagged when you rebel. So, you love to be controlled. Not a great quality in a partnership.

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No one person is perfect so there is a chance you and your partner are guilty of certain signs. But when are these signs deal breakers? This is a question only you can answer, but here are some thoughts to consider:

No one is issue-free. We all have our personality difficulties. The bottom line is whether or not you are aware of yours. Then, can you adapt and adjust your behavior accordingly? Can you talk about your issues and take responsibility for them? That would look like this:

  • In relationships, I tend to be a martyr, but I'm working on it. If it ever feels like I am moping around resentfully and refusing to accept help, feel free to call me on it.
  • I have a tendency to whine. So, if I ever whine, you can ask me to stop and I will do my very best.
  • I tend to exclude the ideas of others and want to do things my way, period. I want to work together with you, so if you feel like I am being a rebel, just say so.

If you have issues, you can still be in a healthy relationship. Own them and take responsibility, relieving your partner of the burden of your "stuff." Beyond these issues are those of relationship compatibility. Compatibility is a foundational concept that most people actually ignore when making commitments. Why? For several reasons. Sometimes it is emotional desperation. At other times it is due to pure ignorance of how to evaluate a relationship's potential. As a person, I am not issue-free so when I mess up, my goal is to see it, own it, and make different choices. To the degree that I am successful in this, my relationships are healthy.