Security in a relationship
It may sound very cliche, but a good analogy of a typical romantic relationship is like a kite: hold on too tight and the strings of the kite would snap; hold on too loosely and the kite would eventually drift away into the sky.
8 ways to identify if you are in an unhealthy LT relationship
1. Enmeshment and Jealousy
In every relationship, there needs to be proper and firm boundaries set. If you feel that your spouse is intruding into your privacy, you may feel enmeshed or trapped. Is your spouse/significant other demanding that you reply to his or her texts 24/7 every day? Is he/she calling you at your workplace 10-20 times a day?
Are you required to report your whereabouts to him/her every hour of the day? Does he/she require constant attention and reassurance from you all the time? Codependent behaviors are unhealthy and these can become entrenched over time.
Have you watched Fatal Attraction? Controlling and possessive spouses are not only found in drama serials and blockbuster movies. Yes, they quite commonly show up in real life as well.
Does your spouse or significant other accuse you of:
- Choosing to hang out with other men/women instead of him/her?
- Having an affair behind his/her back with no concrete evidence?
- Ogling/Leering at other men or women on the street?
Does your spouse or significant other:
- Insist on reading all your text messages and monitoring your calls?
- Gaslight you and make you question your sanity?
- Try to install spyware or tracking devices on your phone?
Ask yourself these questions. Does your spouse/significant other get riled up when:
- You have to work overtime at the office
- You decide to go for after-work drinks with your colleagues
- You decide to go on a family vacation with your parents and siblings, without him/her
- You attend your friend’s Stag Night/Hen Party and he/she is not invited(assuming that he/she is of the opposite gender)
Lack of trust can destroy a relationship and ruin intimacy. The world does not revolve around him/her, and open communication is very important, to ease any doubts and suspicions in the course of the relationship.
If your spouse starts to hit you or threaten physical violence, it is probably a big red flag in your relationship. Violence is a big NO-NO, so you must walk away immediately. Don’t hesitate to call the police if the situation escalates.
3. Emotional Dysregulation
Your spouse has erratic mood swings and/or anger management problems. He/she accuses you of things that you didn’t do, or uses you as his/her emotional punching bag. Although there is a common proverb: ”Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, words can cut deep into our psyche and affect us.
Emotional abuse and verbal abuse, although not as serious as violence, might gradually decrease your self-esteem and self worth. Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder with symptoms such as rapid mood swings, fear of abandonment and unstable self concept. There is a tendency for some sufferers to lash out at their significant other(s) when unwell or triggered. This illness is heavily stigmatised, and there is even a subreddit on the internet where scorned lovers complain about their ex-spouses with borderline personality disorder.
4. Feeling emotionally drained/falling sick constantly
According to Sofia Milan, a relationship guru, if you feel that you have to constantly walk on eggshells, and you feel drained after interacting with your significant other, it is a sign that the relationship may not be mutually beneficial. Reader’s Digest also highlighted that you may constantly fall ill and develop symptoms of anxiety and hypervigilance. In the long run, this is not healthy for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
5. Constant criticism
Are you intending to climb up the career ladder? Hoping to move overseas to work and expand your horizons? Planning to take up yoga or gardening to de-stress? Your spouse should be supportive and encourage you to pursue your interests, hobbies and goals wholeheartedly. Sarah Fielding, a writer from Men’s Health, mentions that, if your partner constantly puts you down or dissuades you from taking up a new hobby/stops you from chasing your dreams, it’s probably time to let go of him or her.
6. You feel isolated from your family members or friends
Melanie Curtin from Thrive Global warns that a toxic spouse/significant other will cause you to become more distant from your friends and family members, making you feel alienated and lonely. You need to have healthy relationships outside of your relationship with your significant other, for healthy emotional growth and wellbeing. No man is an island.
7. The relationship progresses too fast
One moment you are talking about your next date, the next moment you are talking about moving in together. Your boyfriend/girlfriend wants to have sex after three dates with you. Sounds familiar?
An intense and passionate relationship might be heady and intoxicating, but often, the flames of passion will die down quickly as well, just like fireworks or burning coals on fire. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as: ”Love at first sight.”
A genuine romantic long-term relationship is not solely based on looks or chemistry alone. It takes a long time to cultivate and nurture, and there needs to be a lot of give and take, a lot of communication and forgiveness.
Speaking from personal experience, there were guys who wanted to date me after meeting me for the first time, and I remember kissing one guy after my second encounter with him back in high school. There was a guy who was infatuated with me after knowing me for 3 months, but I felt that he didn’t know me well enough, nor was he financially stable.
8. You refrain from talking about your relationship to anybody.
Every couple has intimate details about their relationship which they would rather not disclose to outsiders. However, most people would talk to their friends about their partners from time to time, usually about affairs which are not too private. Whether it is your coworkers, your friends or family, if you keep even the most basic details about your relationship hush-hush, could it be that there is something shameful or embarrassing, such that you feel the need to hide.
What is my next step
Firstly, assess whether it is safe to have a frank and open discussion with your partner about the relationship. Would he/she fly into a rage at the slightest provocation? Is he or she amenable to constructive feedback and healthy criticism?
You need to assess the situation correctly to determine how to rectify the problem. If he/she seems to have a volatile temper/rigid mindset, perhaps, the next step is to seek help from the professionals. According to TIME magazine, if your spouse has a diagnosable mental illness/personality disorder which is causing rifts in your relationship, you should urge your spouse to seek professional help. For Borderline Personality Disorder, the treatment of choice is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or DBT for short.
It is a highly treatable medical condition and people diagnosed with this illness do improve with time, provided that they put in the effort to overcome their cognitive biases.
Subsequently, you can attend marital counselling or couples counselling to salvage your relationship if it is not too late. Join support groups so that you will not feel alone in the struggle.
Lastly, you should constantly maintain your ties with your family and friends outside your relationship, as they can help you assess the relationship and provide emotional support.
Widening your social circle will allow you to see things from a different perspective.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can contact your local domestic abuse hotline.
You are deserving of love and respect. Don’t settle for less. A successful and healthy relationship takes two hands to clap. You need to weigh the negatives and positives of the relationship, to evaluate whether your relationship is worth fighting for.