Most people enter a romantic relationship with dreams, expectations, and plans for the future, relying on their love to carry them through tough times. The thought of sharing one’s life with someone you love can be very exciting and enticing. Most people enter a new relationship with thoughts and expectations that their relationship will stay the same, remain happy. Few people enter a relationship searching for red flags or indications that their relationship will not survive the test of time. However, when the excitement slowly begins to fade, and cracks appear on the surface of the relationship some couples are ill prepared to handle the challenges. Unfortunately, it is easy for partners to get caught up in the thrill and excitement of a new romantic relationship, ignoring significant differences in a life goals, family planning, world views, etc.
During the course of a relationship there will be both exhilarating highs and devastating lows, times that include agreements as well as disagreements, connectedness and detachment, but the strength of the relationship depends on how partners navigate relationship challenges. It is safe to say partners will have disagreements at some point in their relationship, however, if disagreements are handled appropriately, relationship quality improves, and relationship bonds are strengthened. Partners that communicate effectively develop a better understanding of how his or her partner responds emotionally to the issues in the relationship, making it possible to for partners to avoid “hot buttons”, hurt feelings, or making comments that can lead to resentment.
Signs a Relationship Will Not Last Include:
• Partners avoid topics that he/she has a difference of opinion – Partners will not always agree on everything, acknowledging difference and discussing them openly allows partners to work through and accept differences. When couples ignore their differences, they can become “stuck”, unable to move beyond topics or issues that require effective communication.
• Partners no longer engage in future planning – One of the key signs that a relationship is no longer working includes failure to engage in future planning, partners desire for children/not have children, refusal to discuss commitment, or marriage.
• Communication is selective– Partners that engage in selective communication, guarded communication, or fail to be transparent in the relationship are more likely to lack trust in the relationship. Partners in a healthy relationship are typically forthcoming and open with each other because of their level of intimacy. Free flowing communication builds both intimacy and trust.
• Spending time with a partner feels like an obligation rather than a desire – Healthy relationships consist of partners enjoying time together, however, when spending time together feels like a chore, forced, or duty it can signal the decline of relationship health or the end is near.
• You do not have a voice in the relationship – Partners that are prevented from expressing themselves or being part of the decision-making process in the relationship are more likely to experience resentment and hurt feelings. If your partner constantly dismisses your choices, that’s a sign that your opinion isn’t valued. This can hurt your connection with each other.
• You are no longer sexually attracted to your partner – Most couple that are in love relish in sexual contact with his/her partner. However, when there are unresolved issues in the relationship sexual attractiveness can decrease leading to rejection or avoidance of sexual contact.
• Partners are fighting the same fight – Every relationship whether it is familial, friendship, or romantic will experience a disagreement, an argument. Some arguments are resolved with one person “winning over the other”, a compromise, or an agreement to disagree. When partners are “locked in battle” they often fight the same fight without resolution, compromise, or the ability to move forward in the relationship.
• Partners are not communicating, not arguing, but existing – Again, having disagreements or arguments does not have to be a bad thing, healthy disagreements can lead to relationship enhancement. Couples that “exist” within a relationship but do not engage or communicate effectively in the relationship fail to create a strong foundation that can adapt to change and overcome challenges.
• The relationship lacks trust – A relationship that lacks trust cannot grow or survive. Trust is a key component of relationship health, therefore, when suspicion and doubt are present partners are unable to fully give themselves to the each other or the relationship.
• Your partner is overly critical – When a partner is overly critical or criticizes their partner communication is often limited to “safe topics”, one-sided communication, or fear of saying the wrong thing, or something stupid”.
• Partners do not contribute to the maintenance of the relationship equally – Healthy relationships require “work”, support, sacrifice, and commitment from both partners. When one partner forced to make all the sacrifices for the relationship or “puts in all the work” toward it’s maintenance resentment builds, leading to tension and relationship decline.
• Core values do not align – It’s natural to have different tastes in music, food, activities, entertainment, etc., but, if you don’t share the big stuff like beliefs, morals, life, or family goals, this can turn into points of contention in a relationship.
• Jealousy is a constant theme in your relationship – When jealousy exists in large or excessive amounts it can be corrosive to relationships. In extreme situations, it may even cause excessive fighting or lead to violence. It encompasses complex feelings ranging from fear of rejection, loss and abandonment, humiliation, anguish, and even rage. Extreme jealousy can lead to negative energy in a relationship, it can be draining as well as limiting on the freedom of both partners.
• You talk, but no one is listening – Healthy relationships must consist of the sharing of feelings, emotions, and thoughts. When there are discussions, but one partners feels he/she is not being “heard” he/she is more likely to struggle with negative emotions, such as, low self-esteem, anger, sadness, devalued, etc.
• One partner constantly threatens to breakup – Threats of taking a break or ending the relationship aren’t going to solve anything and are signs of a toxic relationship. Partners that use breakup threats often do so to gain or maintain control over their partner. Constantly threatening to breakup with a partner undermine the safety and security of the relationship.
• You are afraid to be alone – Healthy relationships should include partners that are passionate about both their partner and the relationship. When you enter or remain in a relationship because of fear of being alone, you can actually feel more alone…more disconnected…than you might feel when you are actually alone. Fear of being alone and staying in a broken relationship can make it difficult to have/maintain a positive sense of self, create the future that you want, respect yourself, be happy, experience “real” love, etc.
• Unrealistic expectations – Although, there is nothing wrong with having expectations in a relationship, having unrealistic expectations can put stress on, and ruin, any relationship. Expecting something out of the relationship that the other is either ignorant of, unwilling to provide, or simply unable to provide, can be emotionally damaging for both partners. Needless to say, mounting frustration, resentment, and anger can result from harboring unrealistic expectations of one’s partner and the relationship.
• Your partner tries to change you – Partners in a healthy relationship are expected to support each other as they go through changes, experience new things, and manage challenges, however, partners should not try to change you into someone that you are not. Love is about acceptance, acceptance of who you are, faults and all.
All relationships require love, commitment, respect, and support to both grow and flourish. Starting a relationship is can be fun and exciting but creating a relationship that can withstand the tests of time and challenges is hard work. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for partners to maintain an honest, open flow of communication once they “newness” of the relationship has worn off. Creating a long-term, committed relationship can be difficult, but the benefits and the joy far outweigh the challenges.