Is your relationship really ending or is it just going through some growing pains? These guideposts can help you decide, or, if your relationship has already ended, they may help you clarify the reasons why it did.
Relationships should enhance our lives, and although every relationship includes unpleasant experiences, when the majority of the experiences are unpleasant, then questions about the viability of the relationship need to be raised.
Here are some of the classic signs that a relationship is truly ending:
If the relationship has become a battleground, the only experience youíre truly sharing is conflict. Fighting can be a positive thing within a flourishing relationship, but repetitive, purposeless fighting more often indicates that a relationship is ending. In a healthy relationship, although there may be several repetitions of a given conflict, eventually some insight occurs or some new information is revealed so that the partners know more about each other, feel closer to each other, and will conduct their relationship differently in the future because of the insight that has occurred. When fighting is indicative of the end of relationship, however, it is essentially nonproductive. Instead of feeling closer after the fight, they finish it feeling estranged from each other and totally hopeless about their situation.
Feelings of disconnection and depression could indicate that the essential vitality in your relationship is gone. This can mean that youíre not having enough ongoing transactions that have meaning or provide sufficient nourishment for your relationship to be alive and well. Although depression and boredom donít necessarily signal the end of a relationship, when you are feeling bored and frustrated about your life, your partner will serve as a refuge from those awful feelings; your relationship will be a healing and comforting place. When the relationship itself isnít working, you find yourself turning away from your partner. You find that all your significant nourishment is coming from other sources. Divining whether itís your relationship or life itself that is causing your boredom takes a certain amount of research. Check out all the other external factors that may be causing your feelings. There is an important difference between boredom and familiarity, comfort and security where you value your daily involvement with the other person, viewing your partner as a resource and ally. When your partner is no longer seen as a resource or ally, or when your partner is no longer interesting to you, then you are genuinely bored.
3. Emotional Distance.
Emotional distance occurs when you come to the place in your own consciousness where, for whatever reasons, you have moved away from your relationship. You are, in a sense, holding back your emotions and expending them elsewhere. Youíve decided to limit the depth of your contact with your partner. Deep emotional distance is often an indicator that there is no turning back in a relationship, that on an unconscious level both partners have already created an alternate private reality based on their differing values.
Affairs are classic indicators that something isnít right with a relationship. Sexual bonding is one of the ways we define primary relationships so it generally does have a corrosive and divisive effect when we dilute our commitment by having sex outside of our primary relationship. Sometimes, when we are trying to end a relationship but donít know how, we often engage in an affair. Unconsciously we know that the affair will communicate our real intentions, which weíre afraid to express in a more direct way.
The marriage that is constantly punctuated by affairs is not a marriage or an intimate relationship, it is a circumstantial arrangement and will survive only as long as both partners are content to have a marriage of convenience.
People who indulge in affairs may indeed be selfish, self-indulgent, and inconsiderate. But what is also and more importantly true is that affairs may not be so much a statement about individual character as they are about the quality of the relationships upon which they inevitably impinge.
Adapted from Coming Apart, by Daphne Rose Kingma (Conari Press, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by Daphne Rose Kingma. Reprinted by permission of Conari Press.
Adapted from Coming Apart, by Daphne Rose Kingma (Conari Press, 2000).