Relationships are no cake walk. Bringing together two different people with different, often diverse, upbringing and coming up with agreements that not only work, but nurture both people is one of the most difficult tasks we will face in our lives. It requires understanding, openness, patience, commitment and a sincere desire to do what it takes to make it work. It also requires both people to be committed not only to the relationship, but to their own personal growth. If one or both partners are not open to look at their own issues, which we all have, the relationship will ultimately run aground.
People stay in bad relationships for many reasons; children, fear of being alone, insecurity and lack of self-confidence. All relationships have their ups and downs, arguments and disagreements. This is normal and relationships change over time as both people change. If there are no children in a relationship and you have the feeling that your relationship is a never ending horror story, it likely is and the sooner you leave, the sooner it will end and you can begin a new chapter in your life. Your gut instincts, or feelings, will tell you the truth. Listen to them as you know at some level what you have to do.
Your partner never takes responsibility for their words or actions
According to your partner you are the problem and if only you would change everything would be alright. They have no issues and have worked everything out in their life. They never apologize and bristle at the thought they might not know everything and vehemently deny even the possibility that they too may have brought some baggage into the relationship. Everyone has issues that they need to work on. We are all ongoing works in progress. If your partner fits this description, you may be in a hopeless situation, and the sooner you realize it and get out, the better.
All relationships have arguments. There are arguments that couples get over, go beyond and may even serve to strengthen the relationship. These arguments follow rules for fighting fair. One of the ways of bringing up something that bothers us about our partner that does not undermine the relationship is to use I statements. For example, “When you don’t do something you promise, I feel that I’m not important to you.” This gives your partner the opportunity to respond without feeling they are being attacked and need to defend themselves. If those rules are broken, arguing begins to tear at the very fabric of a relationship, eventually destroying it. The boundaries of fair fighting are crossed when we find ourselves criticized for our personality, character or something we do other than a specific behavior we would like changed. These may be hurtful remarks about our character, physical appearance or any attribute that we have that is personal and we can’t change. There is a big difference between someone saying “I would appreciate it if you would clean up after you make yourself a snack” and “You’re such a slob, weren’t you ever taught to clean up after yourself.” The first is an invitation to work on an issue that can be resolved without damaging the relationship. The second leaves a deep wound that will eventually kill the relationship.
Silence being used as a weapon
Silence may be golden but in a relationship it can also be deadly. There are many couples who don’t speak to one another for periods of time because they are angry yet are able to make up and carry on. If used as a weapon against the other person, this can be very destructive to a relationship. An example of using silence as a weapon is if someone were manipulating to try and get their way or using silence as a form of punishment.
Lack of sharing personal thoughts and feelings
Do you have a partner that has trouble sharing their thoughts and feelings with you? You feel that you really don’t know them and have to guess at what they are thinking and feeling. Even though you have asked them to share, you are getting little from them. Healthy relationships require intimacy and sharing of ourselves with our partners, our greatest fears as well as our dreams and hopes. If your partner will not share with you, suggest they get help and offer to be there to support them in their change. This may be difficult for them to open up deep wounds from their past and if they will need your support to do so. However, if they steadfastly refuse, they are making a choice. Don’t be a martyr, move on.
Constant and ongoing criticism
Do you get the feeling that you can never do anything right? That you will never be good enough for your partner, never be able to live up to their expectations? Do they constantly criticize you, not only in private but even in front of your family and friends? Perhaps it is to the point that you dread being with them or going out with your friends. Do your family and or friends ask why you put up this? Even though you have told them how it makes you feel when they treat you that way, it seems to fall on deaf ears. You deserve better than this. Get out before your self-esteem hits rock bottom.
Lack of physical affection and interest in sex
Over time in any relationship, sexual urges and energies slow down. This alone doesn’t need to cause any undue concern unless all affection goes out the window as well. For couples whose relationship is working, take the time and effort to connect with each other through touching, hugs and good bye kisses to let each other know they still care. Does the thought of having sex with your partner seem like a chore, like doing the laundry? Worse, do you dread the thought of sleeping with, or even touching him or her? This is a good indicator that the rot has seriously set into your relationship.
Lack of interest in your life
Couples that are close take an active interest in each other’s lives, supporting and encouraging each other. Does your partner ask you about what you are doing, how your day went or show any interest in what you are involved in? It is natural and healthy for each person to have some interests, friends and passions separate from each other and adds vitality and strength to a relationship. As well as growing the relationship, we need to also spend some time developing ourselves as individuals. The more developed we are as people, the more we can offer a relationship. However, there is a problem when we stop doing anything with our partner, even preferring to spend time with friends and family. While it is good to have some of our life separate from our partner because some of our interests are different, it becomes an indicator of a relationship gone bad if we use outside interests to avoid, or get away from them.
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