Like a carton of milk, there may come a time when your relationship starts going sour. Fighting, crying, suspicious behavior … none of these are great signs for relationship longevity. But how do you know if it’s just a rough patch or time to cut your loses? What behaviors indicate it’s time to call it quits?
Here are four signs that indicate a relationship just isn’t working anymore:
1. You have your fights set on repeat.
Having the same fight over and over is a worse indicator of relationship health than we usually recognize. It’s not innocuous bickering — it’s doing real damage to your hearts.
Fighting in general is not a bad thing, as long as, over time, you adapt to talking about the deeper issue without re-triggering the fight. If the same topic triggers the same fight every time you attempt talking about it calmly, it means you two haven’t learned to comfortably discuss about problems.
Speaking about problems is an essential relationship skill. Without it, recurring fights build up tension and hurt feelings that cause real damage. Like a scab being ripped off over and over, eventually you’ll be left with a scar. And your relationship shouldn’t be giving you scars, should it?
2. You no longer see your partner as an equal.
This sign comes in two variations: either you view yourself as “above” your partner or as “beneath” your partner. Both versions are a sign it’s time to get out.
Believing you’re “better than” your partner leads to feelings of contempt. Google defines contempt as “the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.” That doesn’t sound like the kind of person you want to be toward someone you’re in a relationship with.
Believing you’re beneath your partner could be chalked up to having low self-esteem, or it could mean you have a lot of admiration for your partner. But it’s still a bad sign for relationship health because believing you are fundamentally worse than your partner, leads you to give away a large share of your power in the relationship. And when you have little power or control, you’ve lost yourself in the relationship.
3. Your partner can’t see things from your perspective.
It’s actually a sign of good relationship health to have disagreements. Disagreements mean you both feel comfortable expressing your feelings and are not afraid of communicating your individual truths.
Disagreements turn toxic when your partner can’t even understand where your opinion is coming from. He should be able to state your perspective of the situation to your satisfaction … and then disagree. This is a healthy dynamic, and one that shows respect for each other’s opinions.
But disagreeing without understanding the other person’s perspective indicates a deep lack of understanding of the other person, in general. And somebody who doesn’t understand you will not make a great long-term partner.
4. You fear your partner will leave any minute.
Having a constant, nagging feeling that he’s about to leave is a sign of relationship instability. It’s not healthy to feel like any little negative event could blow the relationship apart.
This type of relationship insecurity typically stems from a breakdown in your caring systems. In other words, a healthy relationship can ride out bumps if both partners act like they still fundamentally care about one another, even though times are tough. Times can be tough, but if you still feel cared about, it’s worth making the relationship work.
However, if you no longer believe he cares, you’ll be trapped waiting, anticipating the minor incident that blows it all up. Is that really any way to live?
If you’re seeing any of these signs in your relationship, it’s time to start drastically changing your behavior towards your partner … or quit while you’re ahead and end the relationship gracefully.