17 Signs You’re a “High-Maintenance” Partner
If it's always your way or the highway, it's time to listen up.
Throughout your life, you’ve probably met a few demanding people. You know, folks who love their designer clothes, are picky about where they eat, and always want to be the center of attention. But sometimes, just sometimes, you might get an inkling that you could be a high-maintenance person yourself—especially in your relationship.
For example, maybe your motto for date night is always “go big or go home.” Or maybe you can’t deal with your texts going unanswered for more than a few minutes. To help you know where you stand, we’ve rounded up all of the signs you might be a high-maintenance partner.
You’re extremely inflexible with your schedule.
Sometimes, a big meeting comes up at your partner’s job and you have to cancel your dinner plans. It happens. And when it does, how do you typically cope? According to Lauren Cook, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology and author of The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness, high-maintenance individuals “have a really difficult time adjusting to the unexpected… and will often pout, guilt, or shame their partner for a schedule switch-up, even if no one is at fault.”
You’re never satisfied.
While it is important to know what you like—and to share your needs, wants, and desires with others—your finicky nature could be a sign of something more. “High-maintenance partners are very difficult to please,” Cook says. “They want it their way… and theirs alone.”
You get upset when texts go unanswered for 10 minutes.
Cell phones are great in that they allow you to reach your partner in case of emergency or notify them about any last-minute changes of plans. However, if you find yourself texting your partner every second of the day—and requiring an immediate response every time—you might be demanding too much of them.
“High-maintenance people perceive every need to be an urgent need,” says Adina Mahalli, a certified mental health consultant and family care specialist at Maple Holistics. “They need immediate replies and constant validation.” If they don’t, Mahalli says, they could become upset, anxious, irritable, or annoyed.
You ask your partner for help and then criticize them when the task is done “incorrectly.”
Have you ever asked your partner to pick a few things up from the store only to chastise them for their selection? (Single-ply toilet paper?! Really?) Spoiler alert: You may be high-maintenance.
“Fussing over every tiny detail can really wear down those around you,” Mahalli says. “If you like things done a certain way and nothing below that standard will do, you might be picky to the point of high-maintenance.”
You complain constantly.
No, it’s not normal to be constantly peeved by customer service or unhappy with the accommodations at even the poshest hotels. If you are, your lack of fulfillment could be a sign you’re a high-maintenance person—and you can bet that trait weighs on your relationship, too.
“The high-maintenance person is never satisfied. Nothing is enough,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California, and the author of The Self-Aware Parent.
You can’t handle when date night doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Sometimes, the steak you ordered medium rare comes out well done, or the rock climbing place you wanted to visit turns out to be closed for a private party. That’s life, right? Well, while some people can roll with the punches, high-maintenance folks will have a hard time moving forward.
“Many high-maintenance people are perfectionists,” says Walfish. “They want to be the best and have the best,” and anything less is disappointing.
And you’re not into low-key date nights, either.
If you’re high-maintenance, you appreciate the finer things in life and you know you deserve them. So when it comes to going out, dive bars, diners, picnics, and strolls through the park are a no-go—and you would never be caught dead camping.
Small gestures disappoint you.
A thoughtful partner expresses their love in a multitude of ways, both big and small. But if you’re only appreciative of more elaborate displays of affection—things like bouquets of roses and impossible-to-find concert tickets—you might be high-maintenance. After all, a lunchbox love note is just as romantic, if not more, than a fancy dinner reservation.
You’ll never hang out at your partner’s place.
If you find yourself unwilling to spend time at your significant other’s pad, you might be a high-maintenance partner. Relationships require comprise—and that means you should be willing to commute a little extra or carry an overnight bag at least as many days of the week as your partner does.
You monopolize most conversations.
While being a chatterbox isn’t a bad thing, talking too much is a defining trait of high-maintenance individuals. “High-maintenance folks are verbose,” says Walfish. “They talk incessantly and search for a listening ear.” Next time you’re out with your significant other, make sure the conversation is split 50-50.
You want the final say in every decision.
Do you always need to have the last word on everything in your relationship? If so, you might be high-maintenance.
Yes, if you find yourself unwilling to let your partner pick a restaurant or movie, you may be more stubborn and difficult than strong-minded and decisive.
You demand gifts but never give them.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be pampered, but if you place more weight on stuff than your significant other, you might want to rethink your priorities. “Some people place high material demands on their romantic partners,” says David Godot, a licensed clinical psychologist from The Psych Lab. “They want lots of expensive gifts and extravagant experiences… [but they often] ignore the more emotional aspects of the relationship.”
You get jealous when your partner pays more attention to their friends than to you.
Having your own friends and interests is essential to any healthy relationship. And that means that sometimes, your partner will prioritize their friends and family over you. If that grinds on you, you might be high-maintenance. According to Godot, high-maintenance people demand a lot of attention—especially from their significant others.
You—and your partner—must be perfectly presentable at all times.
Sure, making a good impression is important. But once you get into the habit of nit-picking your partner’s outfits and behaviors, that means your high-maintenance attitude is leading you to unfairly hold your partner to the same impossible standards that you hold yourself to. At that point, your obsession with keeping up with the Joneses has gone a bit too far.
You splurge on everything from skincare to designer duds.
Wanting to look great is one thing, but being a snob about your champagne taste is another one entirely. “High-maintenance people can be materialistic,” Walfish says plainly. “They need money to be happy.”
You’ve been called “wound up” or “uptight.”
Due to their intense needs and desires, high-maintenance people are often viewed as high-strung. “They are wound up tightly and anxious about the things they require,” says Walfish. So if you live in a state of ongoing drama and frequently find yourself teetering on the edge of a breakdown, you may be high-maintenance.
And you never, ever say “I’m sorry.”
By saying “I’m sorry,” you’re admitting that you were, in one way or another, wrong. Unfortunately, if you’re a high-maintenance partner, you might take issue with doing that—either because you’re, A) unable to realize you’ve made a mistake, or B) unable to summon the humility to apologize. Put simply, if the words “I’m sorry” haven’t slipped through your lips in awhile, you might want to consider why. And for more advice on how to maintain a healthy, long-lasting relationship, check out these 40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today.
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