The arguments have gotten longer and more bitter. The loving late night cuddles are a distant memory. You feel alone but you’re still together. Could it be that your love story has turned into a nightmare? In any long-term relationship, it can be hard to figure this out: are you going through a normal rough patch or should you break up? It’s a tricky question to ask yourself. So, how about a little advice to help you out? Here’s what you need to know.
Constructive Arguing Can Be Healthy
Call it a spat or a lovers’ tiff – all couples argue from time to time. “There’s nothing wrong with couples arguing,” says Cate Mackenzie, a Psychosexual Therapist, Couples Counsellor and Love Coach, and member of COSRT. “The difference is how they repair and how they soothe. If they don’t do any of that, that’s when it starts to be a disaster.”
Getting past your conflict in a calm way could be the secret to longevity. One 14-year-long study found that couples who argued frequently but in a peaceful way were more likely to stay together than those who did not. Since it’s unlikely that you have the same opinion on every issue, you have to find a way to healthily deal with disagreements.
On the other hand, should you find yourself constantly in vicious battle, you may have to question why that is. Digging up old conflicts when you argue and making the issue bigger than it is will only make the situation toxic. Should this be happening more often than not, you may want to think about whether the relationship is doing more harm than good.
But Relationships Run On Principles
“All relationships run on principles,” says Cate, “and maybe even the couple works out what those principles should be.” When you first start dating someone, you might give no thought to what the main guidelines of your relationship are. Let’s face it, it’s hardly romantic to sit down together and write out your ground rules. However, having these principles in place could help see you through the rockiest of waters.
When you’re not sure what each other’s boundaries are within the relationship, it’s no wonder that you might have problems. Explaining to one another what you expect from the offset means that there are no nasty surprises down the line. Then, should one of you break those principles, you can have an honest talk about why that was disrespectful.
It doesn’t have to be a “one strike and you’re out” policy. However, if you find that your partner is bulldozing your principles on a regular basis, you have to question where the respect lies. Is it there at all? When you’ve been crystal clear about what you need in a relationship and your partner can’t (or won’t) give you that, it could be time to call it quits.
Certain Lines Shouldn’t Be Crossed
Regardless of how you might feel about someone, there are certain lines which no one should ever cross. “If someone’s violent, you can’t stay,” says Cate. “Of course, it’s totally possible that people can go and get help or work stuff through. But that needs to be thought about because the dangers are so high.”
What’s more, your partner doesn’t need to raise their hand to you to be abusive. Some of the most damaging cases of abuse are mental rather than physical. According to the Office on Women’s Health, this mistreatment can include gaslighting, insults, humiliation, and threats, among other troubling issues. With that in mind, here are some helpful resources and contact details:
Having respect within a romantic relationship is essential. When you start to notice a pattern of behavior that includes these things, it’s important that you get help. No one should have to be victimized by their partner so the sooner you take action, the better.
No Trust Means No Relationship
Do you trust your partner? If you hesitated before answering, you might want to consider whether the relationship will work out. Getting past a betrayal can be difficult, especially if it comes early on. One study from Ohio State University suggested that when the trust was broken in a new relationship, it was harder to overcome than if it happened later.
“First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust,” writes Robert Lount, co-author of the study and assistant professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “If you get off on the wrong foot, the relationship may never be completely right again. It’s easier to rebuild trust after a breach if you already have a strong relationship.”
Either way, when your partner betrays you in some way – be it by cheating on you or sneaking behind your back – it stings. It’s perfectly natural that the pain may leave a lasting scar and one that you can’t get past. If that’s the case, it may be better to walk away now and simply cut your losses.