Q. I have been in a long-term relationship for quite some time now, and have been starting to have some doubts. Any suggestions for couples faced with deciding whether or not a relationship is worth continuing?
A.With time, even the most loving relationships can face challenges. As partners navigate through life’s ups and downs, they may not see eye to eye on everything, and personality quirks once endearing may start to get annoying. So how do you tell the difference between relationships where partners are mutually invested in working through the ups and downs of life together as a team, and an unhealthy relationship? While each situation is unique, since you asked a general question without any specific context I will share just a few of the common issues which tend to recur in unhealthy relationships.
i) Unrealistic Expectations. Do you and your partner expect too much of each other? Do you and your partner expect each other to be able to read each others’ minds? Is there a silent expectation that each of you will be able to fulfill the other’s unexpressed needs? Having expectations that can reasonably be met by your partner is key to a healthy relationship, and if your partner and/or you consistently seem to be failing in each other’s eyes, is it possible the bar may be set unrealistically high?
ii) Dishonesty. Dishonesty is one of the biggest reasons that relationships fail. Being dishonest with your partner—even about little things—may reflect that you don’t feel safe sharing important things about your life with your partner.
iii) The Relationship Needs To Be Kept A Secret. Feeling the need to keep a relationship secret is a big red flag that something isn’t right with the partnership. In this situation, you need to ask yourself: Would your family or friends disagree with or disapprove of the relationship? If so, why? Think about what the answers might be, and decide if you’re really in a well-serving situation.
iv) You Love What Your Partner Does For You But Not Who Your Partner Is. Partners in a healthy relationship often do things to make each other’s lives easier. But being in a partnership just because your partner buys you things, pays your bills or takes care of other things for you—instead of appreciating your partner for who he/she is as a person—is a sign that your relationship may not be on the right track.
If your relationship is beginning to show signs of being unhealthy, it’s time to consider how the two of you can work together to improve the situation. A loving, happy relationship is worth the effort.
Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio. Jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.