Hindsight is 20/20. We've all had relationships where after they're over, we look back and ask ourselves, "Why did I stay so long?" Chances are, we were in a situation we wished and thought could change, instead of being present in reality. But blaming ourselves for not clearly seeing what was in front of us is not the answer - the answer is learning to pay attention to our own needs early on, so we don't waste time and energy that would be much better spent on dating and finding someone truly compatible. Women especially have a tendency towards idealizing their relationships, and when things don't live up to their expectations, they often blame themselves, and when unable to "fix" the situation, resentment and discord can follow, usually much to the surprise of their partner.
Signs It's Time to Move On
1. You avoid all conflict. When conflict is avoided, it means you've placed more value on "keeping the peace" than having your needs met. It can also mean your relationship doesn't have an accepting or loving enough dynamic present, for you to be able to work out your problems in a mature and communicative way. This, as we all know, only leads to misunderstandings, inauthenticity, and resentment down the line.
2. Mutual respect is absent. When one or both partners doesn't respect the other, it is impossible to have a balanced and healthy relationship. Are you proud of each other? Are each other's needs just as important to you as your own? Do you genuinely care about their feelings? If you're embarrassed of each other for any reason, that is a sign of lack of respect.
3. You can't imagine having a family with them. If you can't picture yourself raising children with this person, or see them as being able to be the type of parent you'd want your children to have, something is fundamentally wrong. And if you want to have a family in the future, why would you continue to be with this person?
4. When you're upset, you don't turn to them for comfort. You and your partner need to have a friendship in place - they should be your soft place to land in hard times, and you should be theirs. If someone is unable to offer comfort, it means they're uncomfortable with seeing you in a vulnerable state. If you feel unable or unwilling to let them see you in this state, you're not being yourself in front of them.
5. You don't trust each other. Lack of trust can come from a partner's behavior, but it can also come from our own learned inability to trust others. Either way, when it's absent, there is a lack of truth in your relationship. The behaviors that manifest from lack of trust are wholly destructive, and it's only a matter of time before things will disintegrate.
6. Addiction. If one or both partners struggle with addiction, you're starting out with a huge deficit. When someone is addicted, their addiction will always come before anything else in their life. It is impossible to compete with, and it's impossible to help someone out of this situation - it's a personal struggle that can only be solved by the owner of the problem. People with their own issues of inadequacy are often attracted to those with addictions, it's a way to make themselves feel like they are worth something.
7. Physical attraction isn't what you wish it to be. Unfortunately, this is one of the things that often can't be worked on in a relationship - it's either there or it's not. Convincing yourself that everything else about them is enough to keep you satisfied will only keep things going so long - sooner or later you'll have to face up to that fact. This quality in a relationship is often a precursor to having an affair.
8. You have a list of things you'd like to change about them. True love is based on acceptance of who we are at this moment, not what we wish a person to be. Be realistic about who you are actually involved with - don't make excuses, and don't tell yourself, "If only they would do this they'd be perfect."
9. Your non-negotiable goals are not compatible. You want to live in separate cities, or one of you doesn't want children - whatever it may be, holding out hope that the other person is going to acquiesce to your line of thinking is a delusion. It's better to be realistic about these things before you're so invested you end up giving up your own dreams.
It's just as important for us to realize what we're bringing into the relationship, and how we could possibly be contributing to its problems. We are responsible for our own happiness, whether that means changing something about ourselves to make that more possible, or by extracting ourselves from a situation that's no longer working - it's up to us to determine the direction we want our lives to take!
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