1. Your body type. Everyone gets into a relationship with someone knowing what they look like, and if that body type isn’t good enough for you or isn’t what you want, you don’t have to date them. But the relationships where it starts off with acceptance and ends up with pressuring to look a certain way are bound to fail. I used to date a guy where I was afraid to eat in front of him because he would talk about my “tummy” (even though I am pretty thin). It’s just dangerous.
2. Your favorite music. If someone makes fun of you for liking Ke$ha or Fall Out Boy or whatever you like, they are not right for you.
3. The friends you love. Now, I don’t believe that every couple has to be best friends with each other’s friend groups. But you also shouldn’t be in a situation where you feel like you have to change who your friends are, especially the really close ones, because they aren’t the kind of people your partner would want to hang out with. We all know the couples where one person has been dragged away from the friend group, and no one should be that person.
4. Your relationship with your family. If your partner starts to tear you away from your family, or try to question your relationship with them, that is a huge red flag.
5. What you want in the long-term, relationship-wise. Sometimes these things change naturally, but there are also a lot of people who are so desperate to be with the person they love that they will completely erase all of their goals to please them and be a “match.” If you want marriage and kids and a big wedding, and you pretend not to to stay with someone, you are bound to be unhappy.
6. Your sense of humor. When a guy says “I want a girl with a good sense of humor,” but he only means “I want a girl who laughs at my jokes,” you probably shouldn’t be dating him. No good relationship forces you to pretend to find things funny.
7. Your values. People have lots of different values, and what seems normal to one person can be totally outrageous to another. I have dated people who tried to change me because there were certain things I wasn’t comfortable with or wouldn’t do — they told me that “all people my age do it” — and I really considered it, but I am glad that I didn’t cave into their pressure.
8. Your religion (if it’s important to you). Sometimes people choose to convert, and that’s fine. But a good relationship means embracing the faith that you have and sharing it or living in harmony with the other person’s. If your belief in God is important to you, no one should try to make you stop.
9. Your politics. My husband is a conservative and I am a liberal, and we get along just fine. I told him when he proposed that I was not going to change, and that I was going to vote for Obama again, and he loves me just the way I am!
10. The things you like to do on weekends. Everyone should get a chance to do the thing they love. If one of you wants to watch the game, and the other one wants to go to a farmer’s market, you should both get a chance to do it, even if you have to take turns.
11. Your favorite foods. If you like Spam, you should keep eating Spam. If you like kale, you should keep eating kale. Putting pressure on each other to adapt a new diet is something that no good couples do.
12. The way you like to dress. If you feel like you can’t express yourself in your clothing, you are never going to be comfortable. A lot of people put on a certain style because they want to impress their partner or come across as a different person, but if someone doesn’t love you in your Uggs and yoga pants or whatever, they don’t love you for who you are. And they can date someone who fits the look they want to see.
13. Your aspirations. I gave up my professional career because my biggest aspiration was to have a family. But I know that this choice is not for everyone, and you should never let someone try to tell you that what you want to do isn’t good enough. Someone who loves you supports your dreams, and there is a difference between compromising and giving up. You should know what it looks like.