It’s so easy to bypass all of the flaws of an unhealthy relationship when you’re in love.
I’ve done it; my friends have done, you’ve probably done it without even realizing it — maybe you’re even doing it right now.
You find someone, and you click so well with one another. You’re happy, they’re happy, everything feels so damn good, but as time goes on, what once felt so effortless and seamless starts to fall apart.
No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, things always end in an argument. And yet, you keep trying.
Relationships are hard work, right? They’re not supposed to be easy. You remind yourself.
You’re right, they’re not easy, and they are hard work. Still, a massive difference exists between a relationship being problematic because of external issues and relationships being complicated because of internal problems.
If you’re in a relationship right now, that’s making you doubt yourself or making you feel so mentally exhausted and overwhelmed that you don’t even know what to do, maybe you’re just trying too hard to make something that can’t work — work.
With that being said, here are just a few things to look out for.
You feel drained.
Relationships are complicated; we all know this. However, they shouldn’t make you feel like you’re working a part-time job on top of everything else going on in your life.
Whether you’re coming home from work or you’re finishing it up from the comforts of your home, you shouldn't feel more tired or mentally exhausted because of your partner.
You shouldn’t feel like your workplace is a happier environment than your partner. You shouldn’t feel like spending time with your friends rejuvenates you more than having a nice night with the person you love.
Family and marriage therapist Heidi McBain says,
“If you start to find your relationship and being together draining, and you find more joy and fulfillment in your life when you’re not together, then this might be a red flag.”
If you’re constantly exuding energy into something that simply can’t be fixed, you will feel only feel more and more frustrated with yourself and your partner.
You know when you go out shopping, and the fitting rooms are closed so you buy a pair of jeans and you pray to every God there is that they’ll fit, and yet when you try them on at home — they don’t? It doesn’t matter how much you suck in; it doesn’t matter if you dieted all week, sometimes a bad fit is just a bad fit.
It might suck letting go, but oftentimes the hardest decisions you make are the ones that turn you down the right path.
Your futures aren’t aligned.
Have you ever dated someone who starts talking about what they want to do in X amount of years, and you’re just like… where am I in this?
A few years ago, I dated someone I tried really hard to make it work with. Why? Beats me! But anyway, he met me after work at a pizzeria, and as I’m enjoying a slice after working a double, he starts talking about his year-long travel plans.
Here’s the thing, as he was talking about how he’s planning on backpacking through Portugal (or wherever he said he was going), my mind was completely calm.
I wasn’t angry; I wasn’t wondering, why isn’t he including me in this? Shouldn’t he have asked if I even want to go there? Instead, I finished off my pizza and went home.
That night wasn’t the first one that opened my eyes to the fact that our future wasn’t intertwined.
If the two of you aren’t on the same page about the future, and more importantly, if one of you sees a future without you in it, then it’s time to let them go.
When you’re in a relationship with someone, a serious one at least, you don’t make plans about the future without talking about it to your partner.
You can’t have a healthy partnership if your partner fails to include you in it.
You’re constantly asking others what they think.
I’m someone who does seek advice from others, for example, my mother.
Or alternatively, I read relationship advice online. It’s healthy to ask your friends or family what they think of the person you’re with or to seek out advice when you come across issues.
However, not everybody has your best interests at heart, and while getting advice can be helpful, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before involving other people in your problems.
- Why are the two of you constantly in the weeds?
- How do you genuinely feel about the relationship?
- Why do you feel the need to constantly “fix” your relationship?
- What do you think you’ll gain by involving another person?
- Have you sat down with your partner and discussed the situation first?
In previous relationships, I often did ask for advice from friends, and most of the time, I went through with their advice despite it not being right.
For instance, I stayed with someone simply because my friends said we were great together.
Your friends and family don’t know everything that goes on between the two of you, some aspects of your relationship are and should remain sacred, so if you feel like you constantly need to involve others in the complexity of your relationships, maybe you need to identify why you need that validation in the first place.
You never feel good enough.
You do everything to try and make them happy. You even do the things that, honestly… you could go without.
You cater to their needs; you give up your time for them, you let them bail on you, you bail on your friends for them, you take up an interest in sports even though you have zero interest in that topic, you change your hair because they once mentioned how much they prefer blondes.
And yet, nothing you do, and no matter how hard you try, it feels like your partner still doesn’t appreciate you or love you the way you want to be loved.
Relationship expert Amica Graber says,
“Healthy relationship should make you feel like the best version of yourself. If you feel like you’re constantly falling short, it’s time to reevaluate the people that are making you feel that way.”
I’ve been in love with the same man for the last (almost) 3 years, and when I first entered the relationship, I was confident in myself. I invested time into learning how to fall in love with myself first before loving a man.
I knew exactly what I was bringing into my partnership — and since then, nothing has changed except for the fact that our relationship has evolved and advanced and made me even more confident within myself.
If you feel like the person you’re with isn’t enhancing your life, helping you improve, and vice versa, it’s time to reevaluate. The two of you can’t grow together if one of you brings the other down or makes you feel less.
You don’t know who you are.
If you’re constantly putting your needs on the back burner in your relationship, it’s a red flag.
“If your relationship has become more about trying to satisfy your partner’s needs while ignoring your own, it’s a red flag.” — Amica Graber.
Take a moment right now. Do you do things for yourself? Are you upkeeping your health? Your hobbies? Do you wake up in the morning feeling happy and fulfilled, or do you feel like everything you do is meant to satisfy everyone but you?
Usually, unhealthy relationships require a lot more effort to keep them going, which means dialing back on the things you used to love to do daily that genuinely brought joy into your life.
Before meeting my partner, I took a dating hiatus because my past relationship made me lose myself. I was young and trying to discover who I was but too caught up in the yo-yo attention my ex gave me.
I was giving up my friends constantly, my dreams and aspirations, quality time with family, and most importantly, quality time with myself.
If you feel lost right now in your relationship and you feel like you don’t do a single thing for yourself, don’t take a step back; in fact, close the book and start a new one.
You can’t have a healthy partnership with someone who constantly takes from you and doesn’t allow you to work on yourself.
It’s not worth spending your time — your life — with someone who doesn’t make you feel good and wholesome about yourself.
Your partner should make you feel good, happy, and joyous about your time together. Not drained and mentally exhausted.
If you feel like you can’t advance, improve, and grow together, then what are you even doing?