Starting a new relationship is such an exciting time! The initial ‘honeymoon’ period is filled with starry-eyed happiness, and it feels like you are the only two people in the whole world to be really in love.
However, that initial zing doesn’t always last… (ouch!) No one wants or expects it to happen to them, but one day you may suddenly realise that some parts of your relationship no longer feel right.
Keep in mind – relationships need nurturing, just like your body, mind, spirit, a puppy or a plant does. A stunning romance doesn’t happen by accident. It takes guts, thought and effort from both people. Ask yourself these five questions. Your answers will help you consider the health of your relationship.
1. Do you feel like you need to change who you are to make him happy?
In every relationship, you should always feel comfortable enough to be yourself. It’s normal to be a little bit nervous to show your quirks when your relationship is in its early days, but if you find you’re still hiding, further down the road, it could be a warning sign.
If you finally muster up the courage to show your bae part of yourself that you’re insecure about, you should be comfortable enough to express yourself without fear that he will reject you or try to change you.
2. Do you find it more and more difficult to really communicate?
It’s so important to talk – to enjoy getting to know each other, how each other sees the world and what you’re both interested in. But if you find it constantly difficult to talk with him, it could be a red flag. Poor communication can come in many forms. He may flat-out refuse to discuss certain topics, a technique sometimes called ‘stonewalling’. You may also find that any time you try to tackle certain topics, he gets super defensive and the conversation quickly devolves into a fight.
3. Do you feel personally responsible for your BF’s wellbeing?
It’s not up to you to make him feel good, and he shouldn’t rely on you to do so. It’s not cool if, when he is angry or upset, he constantly blames you for his negative emotions and expects you to make it better. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells to keep him happy, it’s a bad sign. Someone else’s happiness is an unfair burden to carry, an unrealistic expectation you’ll never meet! If you feel this pressure, don’t fall for it, your guy is the one responsible for himself.
4. Do you feel you trust each other?
A lack of trust can manifest itself in different ways. Does your guy demand to know where you’re going and who you’re with? Do you feel as though you want to go through his phone because you don’t believe what he says to you? (Not recommended out of respect for him!) All of these indicate an intense lack of trust that can be toxic. Don’t be blind though, you might have reason not to trust him. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate the relationship? (See point two.)
5. Do you feel belittled?
Disrespect, like a lack of trust, can show itself in a variety of ways. A common sign is someone who mocks or invalidates your emotions. He may tell you that you’re being stupid or whiny. Insults are another common sign of disrespect. If your beau is constantly making fun of you or putting you down (even as a joke), that is a big red flag! Good friends try to support each other in ways big and small.
Romantic relationships are a complicated and personal thing. No relationship is perfect, but there are certain things that you should simply not tolerate. If your answer is “YES” to more than one of these questions your relationship may be unhealthy.
Consider talking to a trusted older person, school chaplain or counsellor to help determine the best next step.
Words by Leticia Summers, of Ramos Family Law, a freelance writer based in Texas who has been writing about family and relationships for nearly 10 years.