Some relationships require reassessment.

Doubts creep in.

Interactions become a cause for concern.

When red flags wave and warning lights flash persistently, it’s best to pay attention before running ahead into heartache or disappointment.

Consider these 10 solid reasons to step back and rethink where your relationship is headed:

1. Disrespect is commonplace.

On a basic level, you should both feel safe, valued, and equal in your relationship. There is no place for controlling behavior, emotional manipulation, or abuse of any sort. Boundaries should be clear and honored.

If either of you routinely engages in passive-aggressive behavior, emotional or physical alienation, or put-downs and sarcasm as a means of dealing with each other, the relationship is not healthy. Consider counseling to prevent a toxic situation. If you’re in danger, consider violence a deal breaker and prioritize your safety.

2. Your core values don’t connect.

Core values are key, essential, and non-negotiable. They are central to who you are as a person. A major disconnect in values is a serious concern. Is your culture, a desire to have children, or an unwillingness to have a traditional marriage important to you? Does your partner disagree? If your core values differ greatly, there is a major red flag waving in your future, even if you currently get along well.

3. You lost sight of your wants, needs, and commitment.

Do you feel “lost” in your relationship or the desires of your partner? If you feel a significant loss of identity, you may need to reevaluate things on your own.

Take time to reflect and get to know your own mind again. Determine how you got lost in the first place. Don’t be afraid to seek out some breathing room to work through it all. Clarity often comes through solitude, journaling, or work with a therapist.

4. Routine attempts to avoid, ignore or bury problems makes things worse.

Do your differences of opinion frequently dissolve into passive aggression, power plays, or raging resentment? Worse, does your relationship have difficulty recovering between conflicts?

Normal conflict should not create competition and contempt between you. Healthy couples engage in conflict-resolution and utilize communication tools that encourage goodwill and maintain a loving connection.

5. Lopsided loyalties isolate you from each other.

Prioritizing your relationship ensures a closer bond. You’ve simply got to put the time in to make it work. If you’re choosing not to do so, you should ask yourself why. If you’re consistently willing to put your careers, extended families, hobbies, and more before your relationship, you’re sending each other a strong message about the declining value of your connection.

6. The single life keeps calling. And you’re listening.

If constant thoughts of separation, divorce, or breaking up dominate your mind, you should question the validity of your commitment. Are you really “all in” or do you have some other reason for remaining in the relationship?

Be fair to your partner. Tell yourself the truth. Are you bored, dissatisfied, afraid of commitment, or simply ready to be alone? Take some time to consider the allure of singleness and what it means in your current situation.

7. Infidelity is an issue.

Are the limits of faithfulness tested in your relationship? Does your partner tend to strain the foundation of your connection with a wandering eye, flirtation, or out and out pursuit of other partners? Decide now how you want to proceed. If fidelity is important to you, how will you require it? Don’t allow yourself to settle for less.

8. Addiction or destructive habits are doing damage.

Addicted people are, by nature, self-focused. Their need for the substance or activity of choice trumps their relationships every time. Thus, you’ll likely do well to protect yourself from inappropriate behavior and damaging choices that might compromise your physical, mental, and relational health.

It may also be best to encourage your partner to pursue their own path to recovery before pursuing more commitment in the relationship.

An experienced counselor can help you make wise decisions in these circumstances as well.

9. Unaddressed mental health problems drive you crazy.

Mental health issues are not necessarily reasons to break up. But there is reason to rethink your relationship if treatment and support are not part of managing the condition together. It is very difficult to live with someone who refuses to deal with their issue or disorder, resists the necessary medication if so prescribed, or allows emotional health issues to languish unchecked. The relationship can become unsafe and unhealthy for either of you to manage over time.

10. Failure to grow

Healthy relationships need to blossom, develop, and encourage individual growth. If the relationship is not growing, it is dying. This happens in a myriad of ways. Affection, humor, sharing, support, teamwork, and adventure are great ways to grow together. If, instead, you feel stagnant, stifled and disappointed by your relationship, why continue on the same path? Talk about your future together. If it no longer excites or interests you, tell yourselves the truth and make some key decisions.

Still not sure what to do? That’s okay. It just means it’s a great time to visit a relationship counselor for guidance and direction.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a serious look at your relationship and figure out what needs to be done, I would like to help. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT


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