Relationships are complex things by their very nature and there is no relationship that has not experienced periods of all kinds of uncertainty and angst. Relationships are hard work – a clichéd term, but it is true. To commit to someone long-term involves many periods of frustration, irritation, sadness, anger, and hurt – as much as there are periods of happiness, contentment, elation, delight and bucket loads of love.
Those are the normal ingredients of any relationship, and to experience times as a couple where there is uncertainty and pain are some of the building blocks that created strength and bonds that last a lifetime. You just don’t get to being married or in a committed relationship for 10 or more years without considering things like divorce at some point. It’s all quite normal.
But if you feel like you might be walking on eggshells, and treading lightly all the time – there may be much bigger issues to deal with, and it may be time to take stock of where you are going in your relationship.
The Petty Stuff – When does fighting become an issue?
That cautious fury you both feel after a fight about who threw the wet towel on the bed/left the lid off the toothpaste tube/put the precious silver sugar spoon in the dishwasher and totally ruined it – is not walking on eggshells.
If you live with someone, despite what mass media and reality TV shows tell us – you are not going to be in love all the time. You will go through periods of lust alternating with boredom and other times where you feel totally disconnected as well. These are all signs of happily ever after for the most part.
But when you feel that you are totally on edge every day, that you are always trying to pre-empt mood swings, keep kids quiet, keep the house tidy, and keep massive outbursts to a minimum – you most definitely have a problem.
When the signs tell you everything
Everybody knows when their relationship is not working. Chances are that your friends and family know as well, but saying it out loud and actually doing something about it are the difficult parts. And it is human nature to stick with it, staying unhappy in a relationship because of money, family, and fear issues. We literally wait until it becomes atrociously unbearable, or until one of our friends or family starts to say something or steps in.
If you already know that things are not going well – but would like some confirmation – here are the top 4 signs you may need to get out of your relationship.
1. One Foot out of the Door
Do you feel like your partner constantly has one foot out of the door, never wanting to make a commitment, and always just keeping his or her options open? Do they threaten you with leaving when you have had a disagreement and do you worry constantly that you might not make it to the following weekend with them?
There is no future with a person like this; they are never going to give you what you need – a commitment from them to be with you - or not any time soon anyway. They are just passing the time with you until something better comes along. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be alone than be second best – unless they can make you a priority, show them the door.
2. Black Mail and Manipulation
This is textbook stuff; the old manipulation and blackmail routine. Do you feel that you are continuously manipulated into doing things for the other person, feeling horrendously guilty if you ‘’let them down – again’’, do you feel like you can’t make any decisions and always have to do what your partner wants you to do?
Does the other person always make you take responsibility for the failings in the relationship or any fights you had – are you always apologising? You are being dominated and systematically broken down emotionally so that the other person can get what they want all the time. It is the foundation for emotional abuse – get out and get out now.
3. Affirmation at Any Cost
Are you absolutely desperate to get the affirmation you have made yourself believe you can’t live without – at any cost? If you are doing things like cutting out friends and family, reprimanding your children unnecessarily, all at your partners request to make them happy, your relationship is heading down a one-way road to nowhere.
Nobody who has a vested interest in you, and who loves you for who you are would only love you under conditions. Unconditional love doesn’t have any costs, doesn’t make any demands and doesn’t punish the other person. Never forget that.
4. Freedom of Speech
Do you feel as if you are not completely able to say what you feel or express your views on life with your partner? If you feel like you are constantly biting your tongue, not expressing yourself or saying what you really feel like saying, you are definitely walking on eggshells. But before you jump ship, ask yourself why you are doing it?
If you are in a new relationship and are feeling a bit shy, you may want to take it a bit slow until the other person gets to know you a little bit more, or you feel like you trust them enough to open up. And that is absolutely healthy and quite normal.
If you feel that it is going to start a fight, or the other person is going to launch into an intense debate just so you will come around to their point of view – this is not healthy, or okay at all. When you get to the point that you don’t trust your partner enough to share your views, wishes, hopes, dreams, and feelings with them, you are in dangerous territory and it’s difficult to make your way back.
Move forward without breaking eggs
But just because you are walking on eggshells doesn’t mean that you should end your relationship. Evaluate the things that are not going well for you both and if it is just a feeling of disconnection, this is vastly different than fundamental relationship flaws.
Respect and unconditional love, as well as friendship which grows over time, should be the basis of any healthy relationship worth fighting for. If your relationship has these qualities then try and fix it before you discard what has the possibility to be a lifetime of happiness. If it doesn’t have these relationship basics at all – close the door and shut it and move on.