It can be tricky to diagnose the difference between a temporary slump that may improve over time, and a relationship which has become patently unhealthy. Without further a-do, here is my subjective list of signs that your current relationship may have become something you might want to do without.
Fear or insecurity can lead to situations where we are made to feel chronically inadequate. While it should be considered normal to deal with a modicum of emotional push and pull during the course of a long-term relationship, guilt should never come to erode our self-esteem and be allowed to negatively redefine our character.
If you find that you are unwilling or unable to trust your partner, it will become progressively more difficult to weather bouts of resentment and insecurity (it builds up). This downward spiral can be difficult to stop once set in motion. Your partner may also become increasingly more insecure and distrustful as a direct response of your gradually increasing distance, turning the relationship into a snake biting its own tail.
If brutally honest communication doesn’t seem to work, consider taking some time off in order to view the relationship as objectively as possible. Chances are both of you could use a little detox.
Indifference, and not impulsiveness, is the hallmark of a relationship that has gone sour. If you or your partner care enough to get heated, it means that — at the very least –you still care enough to make a point. If a “yea, whatever” sounds like an eerily familiar answer to all your questions nowadays, you are either being taken for granted or have plummeted down your partner’s priority list. Unless the status quo is shattered by calling the bluff, the relationship is destined to perpetually drift in an ocean of emotional imbalance.
Be on the look out for symptoms of depression that can build up subtly during the course of a turbulent relationship. If your every day routine is beginning to bring you down, it is imperative to pin-point the source of the depression.
Breaking up isn’t always a necessity, sometimes factors wholly unrelated to the relationship can catalyze depression. However, sacrificing crucial aspects of our lives in order to appease our partner will never work in the long-term. Fulfillment as an individual is as important, if not more so, than fulfillment as part of a couple. In fact, I would hedge that you can’t have one without the other.
5. Lack of intimacy
Sex alone is never a solid indicator of how your romantic connection stands in a relationship. External influences such as stress and fatigue can greatly impact libido, even if the relationship itself is secure. Intimacy is a far better indicator of distance and attachment. Even small gestures such as a hug or back rub can convey a great deal of comfort. If both sex and intimacy are a memory in your current relationship, there is every chance that it has become unhealthy.
6. Letting go
As time goes on it is normal to relax and become more comfortable in a relationship, which usually entails quelling the urge to constantly look ones best.
However, in an unhealthy relationship high stress can cause us to “let go” of our overall health and appearance. This constitutes a typical symptom of long-term anxiety, and for this reason change almost certainly needs to occur in order to re-establish balance.
Love and caring are based on a solid foundation of respect. Both willful manipulation of our feelings, along with other cruder forms of disrespect (such as being constantly put down or being publicly embarrassed) constitute warning signs a relationship has reached boiling point.[alert-note]It goes without saying that everyone is entitled to having a bad day, and even in functional relationships accidents do occur. As with most of the signs I’ve listed to so far, behaviors become unhealthy once they become the norm, and not the exception.[/alert-note]
8. Fear of change
Sooner or later we all fall prey to the fear of the unknown. Complacency, dependence and routine can overrule our happiness if we lack the resolve to seek fulfillment over security. If you are unhappy with your relationship, but fear what might happen should you cut yourself adrift, it’s time to remind yourself what you stand to gain and not only what you stand to lose.
I find that there is a distinct difference between being partners in crime and being co-dependent. One is a choice, the other isn’t. Consider co-dependency the figurative shackles that prevent you from exercising your free will and seeking fulfillment at an individual level.
While a measure of sacrifice and compromise are necessary in order to peacefully co-exist and thrive as a couple, co-dependency can begin to limit your life by injecting fear and insecurity into your daily emotional shake. While many people have openly disagreed with me regarding my stance on co-dependence (and likely many readers will continue to do so), I would consider needing your partner, rather than wanting them, a sign that a relationship might have become unhealthy. The reason for this is simple; your own actions require external validation, steering you away from the path of emotional self-sufficiency.
10. Loss of self
This last point aims to tie every aforementioned point together. As far as I’m concerned, the single greatest threat to most relationships is the risk of losing oneself in order to salvage the potentially unsalvageable.
At the end of the day I feel it pays emotional dividends to unconditionally accept that a relationship can change, and that it may ultimately fail — despite our best efforts. That a breakup does not necessarily constitute abject failure, or a negative reflection of our own worth. But remains one of the most powerful chances we have to learn, improve and progress as individuals.
Finding a compatible long-term partner is difficult, but salvation from loneliness will never come at the expense of our own identity. If anything, a healthy relationship will help crystallize our drive, character and energy and not draw from it!
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