In poking around the internet, I found a host of articles about how to know a man isn't right for you. It's funny that there aren't nearly as many articles about how she isn't right for you, or at all geared towards people with poly inclinations, or who are trans or homosexual, or any number of "not the norm" sexual proclivities. Obviously, some of the signs that "normal" articles point to as reasons that a relationship won't work are going to be spot on for anyone. However, there are some of those that I'm going to pick on a little, too. I'll even alphabetize them for you, and try for sub-groupings. I hope that I have compiled the most comprehensive list possible. I figure with all of my years of "how not to date" experience, I should be an expert by now. Hopefully by the end of this, you will be too, and without my terrible memories as proof. Hey, we live in the real world. It doesn't pay to live with blinders over our eyes. Here we go.
Note - since I am not addressing a specific gender, rather than have to switch constantly between the singular "he" and "she," I will mostly address your intended or significant other as "Other," to save time and my headache.
Addiction - If you or Other struggle with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, whatever, you or Other need to spend the time working on self, rather than trying to be part of a unit. No one can be a healthy partner in a healthy relationship when one has a monkey on one's back. Don't fall into the trap of trying to save this person. The only person you can save is yourself. Anyone who wants help has to make that decision alone, and does not need to drag anyone else along.
Arguing - both excessive arguing to the point where there is little harmony or peace in the relationship may be a sign that both parties are lawyers, or that there isn't enough common ground. Just so, avoidance of all conflict may be a sign that one or Other is being too compliant, and not expressing true feelings. This goes along with the incompatibility entry a bit later.
Change - You trying to change Other, Other trying to change you (this includes attempts to get you to lose weight, dress differently, etc.). Additionally, if you find Other's habits so extremely annoying that you feel the need to nag, or vice versa, you may be attracted to the potential you see in this person rather than the person you are getting, or this person may be attracted to one aspect of you, and try to change the rest. When you love someone, you have to accept them exactly as they are, and they need to afford you the same consideration, warts and all. If either of you can't live with that, you should move on.
Cheating - Since this covers all different types of relationships, I want to be very clear that if someone breaks the rules in a poly relationship, that is still cheating. There are some people who find the thought of cheating exciting, either being cheated on or doing the sneaking around. If you are with an Other like this, and you don't have and don't want the type of relationship that allows for this person to fulfill their sexual cheating needs, then you need to run as fast as your legs can carry you. An Other like this will only bring you heartbreak. As a reminder, cheating doesn't have to be physical. Being disrespectful enough of you to take up your scheduled time with your Other to set up dates or have intimate conversations with others is a sign that perhaps this Other isn't mature enough yet to handle multiple partners. If the Other you are seeing is already taken and not clearly poly or in an open relationship - and - out to the other relationships in Other's life, this is not worth your time. Seek more honest and forthright pastures, since without communication, NO type of relationship is going to work properly.
Dishonesty - This also includes lack of candor and lack of trust,which go for both parties. Relationships cannot thrive without honesty. I'm not talking about needing to tell your Other what you had for breakfast that morning or you're the problem, but if you don't feel you can share the big events that have happened in your life because you don't trust this person enough, perhaps you should rethink whether or not you want to share your body with this person. Obviously, if you catch this person lying to you, that's an immediate strike out.
Disrespect - This includes quite a bit of stuff. Public ridicule of either party to either party is a sign that the relationship has gone downhill - fast. When Other doesn't want to introduce you to friends, or for you to spend time with Other's friends, this may be a sign that Other is not proud of you, and you deserve a partner who is proud to have you on his or her arm! When Other downplays your relationship when introducing you to people, that is another sign that perhaps you are not being shown the respect you deserve. Also in this category are: not paying attention when you speak, speaking poorly of you to others (though this may be slow to reach your ears), and not speaking up when others are disrespectful to you in Other's presence.
Emotional unavailability - When you have an Other who will not comfort you when you are sad or otherwise distraught, and you need to use friends or family to fill the emotional vacuum created by this lack, you might consider examining whether or not this is a relationship or if you simply fill needs for your Other. You may also notice your emotionally unavailable Other filling sexual needs with you and then dismissing you, or allowing you to shoulder financial burdens for activities rather than attempting to share them with you.
"Fear of Commitment" - This may be you, or it may be a claim that Other has made. Either way, it is a glaring, neon red sign to get out now if you want a real, healthy relationship. You cannot, and I cannot stress this enough, you CANNOT fix this person. If this is you, forget relationships for a while, and explore this with a counselor or at the very least, a trusted, introspective friend with lots of extra psych classes from college.
Gut feeling - Straight up, just listen to yourself. Your subconscious notices things your conscious self may not be aware of yet, like something that could lead to emotional abuse or physical abuse later, or a whole host of other issues. If you feel like this Other is a bit off, chances are, you shouldn't give extra chances, because your best friend will likely be in for a good, old fashioned round of, "I told you so," a bit down the road. Some additional feelings may include being unable to imagine this person as a good parent, if you are looking to settle down and breed; your friends intensely disliking this Other; etc.
Incompatible - There are several areas of incompatibility that are important to address. I'd like to start with sexual incompatibility. I'm talking about libidos. If you have a drastically different preference in frequency of sexual activity with Other, this isn't going to get better. This is going to slowly fragment your relationship over years. If you don't believe me, go check out every advice columnist ever (especially Dan Savage over at The Stranger) and all of their letters about how a wife or husband of 20 years doesn't want to have sex. Trust me when I say that being the higher libidoed person in a relationship is killer on the psyche, and ends up drowning you in insecurities about why you're constantly being turned down. End it now before you breed together and have this fight once a week until the divorce papers are drawn up. Incompatibility can also include lack of attraction by either party (this can loop around to the "change" issue, such as when someone likes your personality, but wants you to lose weight to be worthy of attention, etc.), finding Other boring or unintelligent, or vice versa, lack of common ground, feeling as if you can't be yourself around Other, and dissimilar end goals, such as when you want kids but Other hates kids, or you want marriage and Other doesn't believe in it. This doesn't go away. You don't fix those fundamental desires in a partner, you move on to someone who wants what you want.
Investment level - This is another issue of incompatibility, but this is when Other doesn't ever call first, avoids you, or is too busy to make time for you. You may be a booty call or a friend with benefits, and Other may not realize you are investing the majority of the effort thinking this is a more serious relationship. This is the kind of issue where a clarification conversation may be needed to DTR, and should that not roll out as you hoped, you may need to invest your energy in a relationship that is going where you want to head.
Locked in the closet - There are all kinds of closets we hide in. This may be a person hiding in the straight closet who is bi or just not straight, or someone who screams about wanting monogamy while every action tells a different truth. It isn't your job to crowbar this Other out of the closet that Other is clinging to. If you want to wait until this Other is ready to calmly exit the closet and be honest, not just with you, but with Other's self, there may be a chance at that point, but you deserve more than to sit around and wait for someone that may never decide to accept one's self. In this case, I would advise moving on, with the possibility of lending a compassionate ear in the future, but not ruining future prospects over it.
Personal emotional issues - I'm talking to you now. If you maintain a relationship because you don't want to be alone, or are scared of potential rejection on the singles field, you need to find yourself a counselor (or trusted friend, blah, blah) and work through that shit. Being codependent will not get you anywhere you want to go in life. Be whole, assertive, and emotionally healthy, if at all possible. Then, and only then, start hitting up your local comicon in search of a smokin' hot Other.
Poor communication skills - This can be an either / or. Shallow conversations with your Other, where you never really learn anything about each other are not a great foundation for a relationship. You also want to make sure that if you have an open or poly relationship that you have your guidelines clearly set, because without that, feelings are bound to get hurt. It takes a great deal of honesty and emotional maturity to successfully maintain long-term open and poly relationships, and while people can have the relationships without those things, remember that honesty is always easier than lying, because then you don't have to remember the shit you made up.
Selfishness - This can display as an unwillingness to sacrifice, a refusal to make time for events you care about, or a general assumption that things are owed to Other, and that you need not be appreciated for the things you do. No one wants a selfish partner, because that's not a relationship. That's a monologue with a stagehand.
Wandering eyes - This one seemed to be a popular reason to leave an Other, which is just sad, but makes me laugh a little every time I see someone complain about this. Seriously? Don't throw a relationship out the window for this, unless it has progressed to be an attempt to change you, or to make you feel bad about yourself. Let's be honest. When you stop looking, you're dead. If we're talking just boy-girl, ladies, get over it. Guys, she's as bad as you are. Feel free to point that out the next time your non-comic-book-reading girl gladly goes to see Thor or Captain America with you. You know why she went. Of course, if she's smart, it's to check out Scarlett Johansson's ass, because that's a piece of eye candy that everyone should find hot, regardless of orientation.