9 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t self-reflect

Reflecting on ourselves, our emotions, and our actions is an important part of being a mature adult.

And it becomes even more important when we enter into a relationship with someone else.

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Certainly, it’s true that people who don’t take time to reflect on themselves lack awareness and miss opportunities for personal growth.

That can make those who are not self-aware tough to be in a meaningful and committed relationship with.

Keep an eye out for these signs that show the person you’re in a relationship with doesn’t self-reflect.

1) They don’t practice gratitude

We all have something to be grateful for.

Some people’s lives are undoubtedly easier than others, but even those of us facing challenges can focus on being grateful for what we do have.

In fact, practicing gratitude can even make us happier.

There are many ways to practice gratitude, including:

  • keeping a journal documenting what you’re grateful for
  • meditating on your relationships with others and what they have given you
  • focusing on your senses to stay mindful of the world around you and appreciate your ability to experience it
  • verbally appreciating when other people do things for you

Think about it.

Practicing gratitude in this way requires a high level of self-awareness which comes from self-reflection. 

If your partner, family member, friend, or colleague seems incapable of expressing gratitude for what they have, even if it isn’t much, it’s a good sign that they don’t self-reflect enough.

2) They don’t learn new things

In her book Insight, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich points out that 95% of us think that we are self-aware, but only around 50% of us actually are.

This inaccurate belief can be dangerous.

Here’s why:

People who don’t reflect on themselves are unaware of just how much they don’t know. Therefore, they are unlikely to be interested in learning new things.

Being self-aware means being aware of the limits of your knowledge. So if you’re in a relationship with someone who thinks they know everything and who has no interest in learning anything new, it’s a good sign that they may not be doing enough self-reflection.

3) They aren’t kind

Reflecting on yourself leads to self-awareness. And self-awareness leads to compassion.

After all, the more you reflect on yourself and get to know yourself, the more aware you become of your own personal failings, blind spots, and weaknesses.

This kind of reflection helps you to appreciate that none of us are perfect, and that we all have work to do to become the people we have it in us to be.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who isn’t kind, that’s a red flag for many reasons.

And it’s also a sign of someone who hasn’t taken the time to reflect on themselves enough to understand that we are all works in progress.

4) They have no regrets

How often have you heard someone say you should have no regrets in life?

That’s a nice idea. Especially when it prompts us to live life on our own terms to make sure we don’t end up regretting how we spent our time on earth.

However, none of us are perfect. Ideally, we strive to be better versions of ourselves every single day, but we can’t change the past. 

If you take the time to self-reflect, you’ll almost certainly identify times when you didn’t live up to your principles, weren’t as kind as you could’ve been, or when you fell short of your ideals.

That doesn’t mean you should go around beating yourself up for your failures. Nevertheless, it does mean you should have a healthy dose of humility about the things you’ve done wrong in the past, along with a desire not to repeat the same mistakes.

If someone claims to have no regrets, they could simply be lying. Or it may be that they haven’t done enough self-reflection to consider the times when they have let themselves and other people down.

And hand-in-hand with having no regrets, you often find…

5) They never admit mistakes

None of us like to admit when we’re wrong.

I certainly don’t.

But not admitting when we are wrong is more than a bad way to manage relationships.

It’s also the perfect way to cut yourself off from the growth experience a mistake provides.

People who don’t self-reflect often have a hard time admitting mistakes. Because they have never done the work of questioning their own actions and motivations, they will take the easy way out by refusing to admit fault.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who does that, it’s a good sign that they are not a reflective person.

6) They don’t take any risks

highly independent people struggle with most in relationships 9 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t self-reflect

In a way, not having any regrets in life goes hand-in-hand with never taking any risks.

We all have different tolerances for the risks we will and won’t take. You’d never find me skydiving or swimming with sharks, for instance. 

However, I have started several businesses and moved to multiple different countries to live and work.

All of those experiences required some risk. And they also made me who I am today.

Finding the strength to risk something comes from self-reflection. Not only do you need to know what you want, but you also need to have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses and what you can and can’t tolerate.

People who take no risks are often that way because they have never taken the time to think about what they truly want and what they are willing to risk to get it. And in a vicious circle, not taking risks makes them even less likely to reflect on themselves.

The result is often that…

7) They don’t know what they want out of life

We all get asked what we want to be when we are kids. Not many of us end up doing what we wanted to when we were younger.

However, dreams are for living. And pursuing a goal, even if you never get there, is one of the surest signs of a life well lived.

People who don’t self-reflect, however, are often unsure about what they want out of life.

Here’s why:

if you don’t self-reflect, you don’t understand your own motivations. You may know that you prefer one thing over another, but you will have no idea why.

This can lead to a life without direction.

Not everyone has to always know what they want from the future. 

Even ten years ago, I didn’t envision myself living the life I currently do. 

But through self-reflection, I have a very good idea of the kind of life I want to live, and that has guided my decisions to get me to where I am today.

People who don’t do that kind of self-analysis often lack a clear idea of the life they want. And that may not be someone you want to be in a relationship with.

8) They are judgmental and critical of others

Self-reflection involves looking at yourself critically.

Paradoxically, that often means that you become less critical of others.

Understanding your own motivations and your own weaknesses as well as your strengths can help you develop compassion for others. This inevitably makes you less judgmental and less critical.

People who only have criticism for those around them are often so negative because they have never taken the time to reflect on themselves.

If you are in a relationship with someone who is always criticizing the actions of others, it’s probably a good sign they need to do more self-reflection.

9) They are vague about their feelings

Does someone you know struggle to express themselves and their emotions in a healthy way?

There can be lots of reasons for that. After all, not everyone has the emotional language necessary to talk about complex feelings.

However, self-reflection is a key way to understand and put your feelings into perspective. That means that people who reflect on themselves regularly often have an impressive emotional language they can use to express their feelings.

On the other hand, people who don’t self-reflect lack this precision and understanding of their own emotions.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who struggles to be clear about what they feel, it’s a good sign they may need more self-reflection.

The importance of reflecting on yourself

None of this is meant to judge people who don’t self-reflect or imply that they are not people worthy of love.

However, relationships are difficult enough as it is. And they can be much harder when one partner refuses to reflect critically upon their own emotions, words, and actions.

If you are in a relationship with someone who exhibits these traits, it’s a good sign that they may need to do more self-reflection in order to relate to you better.

And if they won’t? You may have to question whether this is a relationship you really want to maintain with them.

Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley

“Ryan Frawley is a France-based writer with a passion for psychology, philosophy, science, and anything that attempts to answer life’s biggest questions. Reach out at ryan@ryanfrawley.com”

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