Don’t stay for the wrong reasons.
Sometimes, relationships are like ugly old sweaters: they’re not flattering, they don’t make you feel good, and they’re actually kind of scratchy, now that you think about it. But they’re so familiar, you just can’t bear to get rid of them. Consider giving yourself room for something better – or just have fun being single for a while. Here are signs it may be time to part with the familiar.
You barely spend any time together.
It’s no surprise that, with both partners often working full-time jobs, modern couples may spend less time together than ever. Some couples juggle a lot of responsibilities and strain to see each other on a regular basis – that’s fairly normal. However, a big red flag should pop up when you find that you just aren’t mustering the effort to make it work. If you’d rather stay home and watch movies alone than go out on a romantic date or even just a casual get-together with your boyfriend or girlfriend, something is not right.
Your partner makes you feel bad about yourself.
You should never find yourself believing that you’re not good enough due to your partner’s words or actions. Even if it’s said in a joking way, a jibe about your looks, your job, your intelligence or any matter that relates to self-esteem can really hurt. Don’t just sit back and take it when the “jokes” keep adding up, or your partner doesn’t even bother to cloak his or her constant criticism. There’s a difference between constructive feedback or advice and comments that are meant to tear you down.
You can’t stop fighting.
He doesn’t help out around the house. You nitpick the way he drives. He ate the last cookie that your mom made for you. You made a funny face that could be interpreted as eye rolling. The sky is blue. If you find yourself getting into arguments over nothing and everything, there’s trouble brewing. Constant fighting is a sign of high tension, and while stress can certainly be a big factor in this, there are often underlying relationship issues causing your conflicts. When you can’t work them out – or simply don’t care to – say goodbye.
Your goals in life don’t mesh.
You’re on a quest for self-improvement, or at least a better life, and he’s content to sit in that armchair playing the latest XBox game until the end of his days. You’re growing as a human being, thinking about getting a better job or moving to a new place or having children, and she’s thinking about doing the same old thing she has done virtually every day for the past five years. Don’t sit around waiting for your partner to change. Unless you settle for less than what you truly want in your life, or your partner has some kind of epiphany, things aren’t looking good.
You try to justify repeated wrongs.
Making excuses for your partner’s ill deeds is not doing anyone any favors, least of all yourself. You tell yourself that he’s cold because of his relationship with his mother, that she doesn’t comfort you in your time of need because she’s distracted, that he cheated those three times because he was drunk and you were working late. If even after discussing these issues, they continue to recur, don’t keep justifying them; it just gives your partner permission to continue hurting you indefinitely.
You daydream about leaving.
You used to get lost in visions of cozy domestic life with your love, and now you’re longing to pack your bags and live like a bohemian artist in Paris. Everyone thinks about these things every now and then, but the danger comes when such thoughts become almost like an obsession. When you’re soothing yourself to bed at night with fantasies about starting fresh, you’re looking for a way out.
You’re staying out of self-sacrifice.
When it comes down to it, you realize that you’re no longer in love, but how can you leave? He just wouldn’t be able to get by without you. Maybe you’ve got children, and you worry about how the dissolution of your relationship will affect them. That’s totally understandable, but you’ve got to give yourself more value. Are you really helping your partner by staying with him or her at this point? Is your unhappiness affecting your kids anyway? Don’t waste what little time you have. Give yourself a chance at something real.
You keep secrets.
Once, there was nothing you kept from each other. You confessed all of your deepest secrets and told each other about virtually every aspect of your day, from the antics of an annoying co-worker to worries about your health. But now, things have changed. You conveniently forgot to mention that you’re back in touch with your college sweetheart, or that you’ve been putting money into a secret savings account that’s just for you. Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t have to mean giving over every little detail of yourself, but there definitely shouldn’t be any deception involved.
You’re not having sex.
Libidos change, and sometimes medical issues can cause serious shifts in sexual desire. If your sex life has gone off a cliff, eliminate any physical causes first. Then examine the state of your relationship. If either you or your partner just aren’t interested anymore, it may be a sign that your relationship changed from romantic to platonic when you weren’t looking. It’s not the end-all be-all issue for every relationship, but for most of us, sex is an integral part of a healthy union. When the spark fizzles out despite all efforts to revive it, you may be better off as friends.
The thrill is gone.
A big part of graduating to the real world of adult relationships is realizing that the early butterflies-in-your-stomach phase is supposed to blossom into something more stable and, perhaps, less exciting. Chances are, even if you’re with your “soul mate,” you don’t feel quite the same way about him as you did when you first met. But what if seeing your partner after an extended absence stirs no strong emotions whatsoever? Stop accepting mediocrity and meting it out in return. It’s time to move on.
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Photo: illusive photography