Like most things, relationships are addictive. They’re comforting and consistent. They give us a sense of belonging and establish a familiar routine in our lives. That’s probably why so many couples continue in a lifeless relationship for months or even years before acknowledging its postmortem condition. It’s inevitable that couples cool as a relationship matures, so don’t be too quick to blow off a partnership just because it’s lost a little fire, but if these warning signs look familiar, your relationship just may be past its expiration date. He (or you) cheated… again The first time a significant other cheats is usually a good time to head for the exit, but while it takes a lot of healing and rebuilding of trust, there are relationships that are capable of surviving infidelity. A second indiscretion, however, leaves no grey area. Even if it were never to happen again, you’re either committing yourself to a sentence of distrust and suspicion or compromising a substantial level of your self-respect by staying with him. If you know he’s strayed again – even if it was only a kiss, even if he’s truly, completely and excruciatingly sorry – it’s over. And if it’s you whose attention has wandered, it’s time to admit that this isn’t working for you. When you cheat on a loved one you cheat yourself of a partnership that is whole and honest; you’re better off looking for someone who can hold all of your attention. You look to someone else first It’s natural for people, particularly women, to crave communication and social intimacy with close friends in addition to their romantic partners. The many relationships in our lives satisfy different needs, and there will always be issues that are easier to discuss with some people than others. However, your significant other should play a significant role in meeting your emotional needs. If someone else is consistently the first call you make in a major event, it’s probably time to ask yourself why that role isn’t being filled by the person you call your partner. You talk yourself into him Love isn’t always easy, but you should never have to work at how you feel. There are enough complications in navigating the communication barriers, compromises and vulnerabilities between two people to have to worry if your feelings for each other are legitimate. Your affection for each other should be the force that makes everything else worthwhile. If you think you’re convincing yourself that he’s good for you, convince yourself to take a step back and reconsider. You fight to win, not for each other Arguments are normal. They’re good for your relationship. They foster more honest communication, lead you to solutions, and can ultimately strengthen the bond you share. But in the course of your disagreement, you should never lose sight of the reason you bother fighting with this person – to reach resolution with someone you care about. When winning – or worse, hurting the other person – becomes the focus of your argument, you have to question what you’re really fighting for. Or you don’t bother fighting anymore at all Couples who no longer see the point in arguing at all face a similar question. If it isn’t worth communicating that your relationship is falling short of your expectations, on some level you are making the decision to give up. Once you’ve checked out emotionally, you face a slow, non-confrontational death of what was once a meaningful partnership. Do yourself a favor. If you can’t find it in yourself to fight to be together, make your peace by going separate ways. You avoid his calls The butterflies that swarmed at the mere mention of his name may no longer flutter, but he should still be a highlight in your daily life. If you consistently find yourself screening his calls, or making excuses not to see him, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong. Before throwing in the towel, you might try to pinpoint what it is you’re avoiding. Is there some specific topic you dread addressing? Are you anticipating conflict or is the relationship progressing to a level you’re not ready for? Most anxieties are manageable if you can identify and find a way to communicate them. But if it’s truly him you’re avoiding, save yourself the energy. Take one of those calls, and let him know.
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