There's always that moment when it all becomes so clear.
Your perception of a lover shifts and it's gradual at first. Then, all at once, you're sitting at dinner talking about the same things, and there's a hiccup in the fabric of your life and you can see The Matrix running behind the surface of your relationship.
And you don't ever look at him or her the same way again. In fact, you can't even remember what it felt like not to look and see it all written out.
Then your friends begin to tell you how they saw it all along. And you have to deal with anger on top of disillusionment. And you're not sure you can ever trust that feeling again.
Were there signs? Could you have seen it coming?
Here are 9 quick ways to check up on the outlook for your romance.
1. Criticism and Contempt.
Expressing displeasure at an issue is part of negotiating life in a partnership, but if you direct constant criticism at the person and not the issue, you're expressing contempt. And if you're really that unhappy in your daily life, you need to change it up or move on.
If you want to change, try adding in 5 positive comments for each time you criticize, says Melissa Cohen, a couples therapist in Westfield, New Jersey. Develop the habit of noticing what goes right and it will go right more often.
As in, if you have none, it's time to ask yourself why you're sharing life together. If one partner has broken the trust in the relationship, there may need to be a period of rebuilding in which the other partner has greater access to those elements of personal information (social media, finances, etc) that will help demonstrate a change is occurring or has occurred.
Body language reveals a great deal about how a couple feels about one another. Cohen says that touch reciprocity is the key to whether a couple is healthy in terms of emotional intimacy. This means the level at which one partner responds to the other partner's physical touch.
And while sexual intimacy is a great form of connection, it is not necessarily a signal that all is otherwise well with the couple.
We've all met couples who refer to one partner (usually the female) as "passionate" as a euphemism for high drama. If your relationship is in a constant state of conflict or conflict resolution, you need to evaluate whether you're truly compatible.
Love is supposed to fire our blood but soothe our souls. Communication is out of whack in relationships like these, even if they are talking and arguing all the time.
Just as too much drama is a bad sign, if big emotions are off the table, the relationship is in trouble. This means one or both sides have shut down and it's red zone time for the couple.
If one or both partners are involved with others, either romantically or in intense and separate friend groups, and not giving that time to the relationship, the future is not good. Couple must make time for each other above their connections to others.
If one or both is meeting emotional or sexual needs with a lover, this is often the death blow to a relationship.
Healthy couples want to be involved in each other's worlds. If there are long, bored silences between partners, it's time to re-visit what brought a couple together to begin with.
To be able to put oneself in another's shoes is critical in a relationship. When the ego and needs of each partner overrides the union, there is a higher likelihood of passive aggressive or cruel jabs to force the other to "feel what I feel."
No matter what the couple encounters from the list above, or how many, if a couple genuinely wants to make things work, there must be motivation to do so. If a couple is emotionally healthy, there is an ongoing desire to see success in the relationship, to work on building new connections and support mechanisms and strengthening ones that already exist. In the absence of that motivation, the relationship will likely end.
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