Every relationship has its doubts and hardships. Occasionally, this means facing doubt. “Is this the relationship for me?” “Did I marry right the person?” “What if I made a mistake?” Even the most rock solid relationships go through stormy seas. It’s not about having to face the storm, it’s about how to face the storm, together.
Normal Relationship Doubt
WHAT IT LOOKS & FEELS LIKE
“What if I didn’t marry this person?” “What would it be like if we broke up?” “Would I be sad or would I be okay?” These are all common thoughts, even if you consider yourself to be in an awesome relationship. It’s your “fight or flight” response kicking in. Not only that, it’s natural to try to predict the future. The only key we seem to ignore is that we’re usually pretty bad at it.
“Is this the right person?” “Does this mean it’s over?” “What if this isn’t ‘the one‘?” First, nix the idea of “soul mate”. It’s not helpful. Secondly, anxiety can crop up for many different reasons. It’s not always because you guys had a fight over the “same damn thing”. Sometimes, the anxiety was already there from your job, family, finances, etc. and attached itself to this.
There are some fights that are resolved as soon as they start. There are others that seem to drag on. These fights can occasionally lead to “Dooms Day” feelings, or feelings that “the end” is near, when in reality, you’re both too stubborn to say the important thing, “I’m sorry. I love you and I need you in my life more than I need to be right”. It’s okay to give yourself space before you get there.
The Sensation to Run
This sensation typically feels like the need to run away or escape. It’s the “flight” response to “fight or flight”. Again, this is a natural instinct that comes around when we’re feeling “unsafe”. In this case, “unsafe” refers to your emotional sanctity. After a fight is not a time we feel emotionally safeguarded. It’s normal for this feeling to hang about until everything completely de-escalates.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
You’re going nowhere fast when you try to pretend that certain emotions don’t exist because they’re ugly. Acknowledging emotions is like saying, “Hey, I know you’re there. Stay as long as you need to”. You don’t have to necessarily interact with them, but you do need to let them surface as they come. Pushing them down only intensifies the emotions. Emotions will always find their way up.
Make a List
Write down what you’re feeling. I usually do this in bullet point form. I note what doubts I’m facing, what negative emotions are cropping up, and what my partner said/did to create this reaction. This is a list for your eyes only. Even if you’re angry or you think your partner may be understanding, this is not the ugliness to shove in their face. Keep it in your diary or shred it afterwards.
Talk About It
If you want a relationship that works, you’re going to have to speak up. Once you’ve had time to yourself to handle your emotions, have an adult conversation with your partner about your fears. Present them in a non-threatening and non-blaming way by using “I feel…” and “I think…” statements instead of comments that start with “You did…” and “You said…”. If you begin to feel your emotions escalate, back away from the topic. It will still be there in a few hours or days, just be sure to come back around.
Serious Relationship Doubt
WHAT IT LOOKS & FEELS LIKE
Resonating with Break-Up Posts
You’re reading posts like “How to Know When to End a Relationship” and you’re putting checkmarks right down the line. You find yourself actually doing research on how to know when it’s time to pull the plug. You may discover that you probably should’ve done it a few months ago. It’s okay if it’s painful to admit. Break-ups are not supposed to bring up “feel good” feelings.
Justification of Affairs
You may not even see them as affairs. After all, it was just a little flirting. A kiss doesn’t hurt anyone. They wouldn’t even get upset about that. So what you slept with so-and-so? It was after a bad fight. You thought everything was done for and it was only once. This is not good, my friend. There are no excuses for affairs. More importantly, you need to step back and examine why you feel like your needs aren’t being met.
Too Much Heat
It’s true. Every couple fights. The amount of fights that happen in any given time span is dependent upon the relationship and mental state of the people involved. However, if you find you and your sweetheart getting too heated every day, then it’s time to look at that with a more critical eye. This is especially true if you find yourselves in another fight before resolving the previous one.
Googling “Abusive Relationship”
MAJOR red flag alert! If you have to google what an “abusive relationship” is in order to determine if you’re in one, I can 99% guarantee that you’ve fallen into the trap. Start googling ways to work your way out of it while maintaining your safety.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Examine It More
Spend some time with yourself away from the situation. This may mean getting out of the house and going for a hike. Don’t be afraid to explore the crevices; it’s usually where we find the answers that we’ve buried. You don’t have to make any rush decisions with this. Take all the time you need to do what’s right for you.
Be Open to Possibilities
Keep an open mind about this situation. Be open to everything going madly right or going wildly wrong. Don’t make a hasty decision and stuff this into a mental box and throw away the key. You might be surprised by how things turn out if you’re willing to release control. Focus more on listening to understand and less on listening to respond.
Take a Break
Talk with your partner about taking a week to step back. You would both still be in a mutually exclusive relationship, but with no contact for a week. This means no Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, etc. After a week, regroup and see how you feel. If you feel like the break should be permanent, then that is your decision. Just remember: a relationship is a mutual experience. You cannot force something, especially if your partner returns with a desire to end the relationship. Don’t let that possibility steer you away from a break. What will be, will be. I promise you’ll still be loved.