Top Signs your Relationship is Failing
Aside from being fun, the dating world’s ultimate purpose is to provide you with a partner to match you, and with whom you can build a fully-functioning life. Finding that person, or someone you firmly believe to be that person, can be as much of a ride as going out every night to find them.
It’s not all roses. Two independent lives can be incredibly difficult to intertwine, and doing so takes work, timing and trust. You also have to be extremely receptive to tiny signs that could be pointing to wider damage to your dynamic.
When considering the all-important question “Should I break up with her?” it pays to really assess whether the relationship is worth salvaging, or whether you should be rebuilding yourself and continuing your search. If my relationship seems to be ending, do I break it up or do we work it out? A bad relationship can be toxic and all-encompassing; losing a good relationship that could have been salvaged can be just as bad.
In previous relationships, I’ve missed the signs we are going to break up, and I know first hand that it’s crucial to look out for these signs and gauge if you are in a position to work on them. These include:
- Jealousy and trust issues
- Boredom and never going out
- Decreasing and deteriorating sex
Let me break down how to know when there are relationship issues.
This seems like a pretty obvious one to point out, but there are a few different types of argument. You have the necessary ones – where to live, if/when to have a baby, issues with your partner’s family – that can span pretty hefty issues that would take time to resolve between any two people. That’s part of sharing a life with another person and is not a sign that all is lost. If you communicate, you should find a happy compromise.
The real problem with arguing comes when it is for the sake of arguing, and this normally manifests itself from petty issues or simply a general confrontational air. It’s very often not about the chore you were postponing or the post-work beer you had. It’s often just a vocal expression of just how frustrating it can be when a relationship is simply not living up to either of your expectations.
“What’s wrong with my relationship?” can be a pretty difficult question to answer, but it’s important that you circumvent the petty arguments to sit down and discuss the core relationship problems at hand. If you co-habit, get some space from each other, either with friends or alone, and use the time to simmer down and articulate some real talking points before reconvening for discussion.
It can, honestly, be harder to say “there are some real issues here” than to scream and shout and swear at and insult each other. But taking that step is the only way to gauge if these underlying issues are insurmountable.
A relationship can and should become a large part of your life. However, if all you do is hang out, cuddle and watch TV, you can become dependent on a relationship. Feeling comfortable is great, but feeling too comfortable can mean that you forget to work on yourself. Not only that, drifting into comfort can be selfish too – placing too much focus on how good she makes you feel about yourself, rather than building together and investing in the relationship.
This, alongside the additional pressure you put on someone when you are dependent on them, can mean that neediness can be a creeping menace. And it’s comfortable, so by nature confronting it is like wriggling out from under a warm duvet when you have to go to work. But this is where you can get sideswiped by a surprise dumping before you even get to asking “are we ready to break up?”
This is a situation that is far from terminal for a relationship, but if you don’t clock it early enough you may be too far gone. Go on dates (more on that in a bit) and dedicate special time to each other, but also be sure to do your own thing. Go to gigs without each other, have an activity or hobby you do alone or plan some time away with friends. More than any other time in history relationships are comprised of two individuals with disparate lives, and to forget that can be to drive your partner away.
JEALOUSY AND TRUST ISSUES
These can spring from neediness – if you are so focused on one person, the fear of losing them may override any sense you can apply to her inevitable conversations and friendships with other men – or past experiences. Either way, if you find yourself unable to trust someone, whether they give you reason to or not, it’s unlikely that you will be without your relationship problems. It means that one or both of you are not ready. Or, even worse, not trustworthy.
This is not to say that you can’t or won’t look at other women or that she can’t joke about a celebrity crush. Act respectfully and know the boundaries of your relationship. A little casual flirting at the cash register is only going to be good for your confidence, but leave it there. Enough to know you’ve still got it, but not enough to convince you to try and push your luck. Then take that confidence home to your partner.
Acting jealous, checking her phone messages and interrogating her every time she comes back from a night out with her girlfriends is going to do you no favours either. If you’re starting to see a pattern in your reactions to her lifestyle, or her reactions to your own, you may need to start considering your compatibility, or your preparedness to be in a meaningful relationship.
Relationship counselling can be a key way to diffuse this kind of friction. Sometimes an external mediator can see your actions from a clearer perspective and will be able to strengthen your trust. If there really are clues pointing to foul play, then communicate with her clearly and raise the issue sooner rather than later.
If you’re co-habiting, or live locally to and spend a lot of time with your partner, you are inevitably going to reach a point where you get takeaways instead of going out to eat. Or you sack off plans with friends to stay in and binge Netflix. Or you never leave your town because it’s easier and you have each other. This routine will ultimately lead to one place: boredom.
A relationship needs to be fun, and to add value to your life, not tie you to the sofa. It’s probably the most easily solved on this page – simply go out and do more. But often it’s hard to see the trappings of domesticated comfort until it is far too late. It can also detract from your drive and focus in other parts of your life, like work.
If you’re bored to the point of not enjoying your time with your partner, the real test will be if she wants to work with you on getting out more, and going on dates. If the excuses keep coming, it’s only going to leave one horse pulling the cart, and that will wear you down.
When a relationship is ending, it’s often not anger or malice that puts the nail in the coffin. A creeping complacency and hollow disappointment can be all it takes. If you’re not going out, you’re not making an effort.
Sex is not the be-all and end-all, and not getting laid for a couple of weeks does not mean the relationship is dead. Life, work, health and all manner of things stand in the way of an erotically-charged encounter, and the physical side will naturally slow down after you’ve known someone for an extensive period of time.
It’s important to have perspective – communicate openly about it and normalise it as a point of discussion, sure, but as men we can put focus on it after just a few days of limited action, and can create problems where there are none. A relationship can’t survive without sex, but it can be perfectly healthy outside of the bedroom. Take stock of what you have before you take issue, or you’ll open up some cans of worms that could make things needlessly awkward.
This being said, if you’re not having sex at all, or it’s a listless fumble when you are, it one of the first hints as to how to know when there are relationship issues. In my sessions, I often find that relationship issues come from not trying, and it applies here.
Whip out a massage with some lotion, try new things like handcuffs or blindfolds, or whisk her off for a romantic spa weekend somewhere to get her mind off wherever it is when she’s not in bed with you. Don’t whine, complain or guilt trip – just be proactive. Negativity lands nowhere near sexy.
If you’re not having sex, it’s down to having hit one of the first four relationship roadblocks. It’s a symptom, not a cause. So use it as an opportunity to improve both yourself (work out, learn an instrument – make yourself eligible again) and the relationship. Also put it to use as a chance simply to work out if you still want the relationship.
Ultimately, do what’s best for you long-term. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, and work to prove you deserve it when it does come your way.