This article was originally written for and published in Divorce Force.
If you have ever been in a relationship, then you know that relationships are complicated. There are moments of pure joy, and then there are times when you question everything and wonder if this is a red flag. Through the highs and lows, it’s hard to be certain whether or not you and your significant other are meant to be, or not. Sure, in every relationship, you need to be able to work through the “bad” together. But, when do you say enough is enough? At what point do you draw the line between rough times and simply just settling?
After every toxic relationship ends, many people say they wish they could have seen the warning signs. As a divorced person, I can promise you there are always signs. The problem is our “love can conquer all” glasses won’t let us see them until they are so blatantly obvious they create an avalanche.
So before you say “I do” and wish you didn’t, here is a list of signs that might be pointing you toward ending the relationship rather than taking the next step and walking down the aisle.
1. You called me what?
Words hurt, and they hurt relationships. Name calling and hurtful words sting, leaving an indelible print on the relationship that no apology can truly wash away. It is hard to go back and respect that person you love after they called you horrible names. Plus, you will always wonder if they meant what they said in anger. If it becomes a pattern where he/she is overly critical, doesn’t value your opinion, or makes you feel stupid, then you have to seriously walk away. This is a prerequisite to abusive behavior that becomes more insidious as time goes on. You deserve better!
2. Where’s the sex?
Sex is crucial in a happy and healthy relationship. And when sex isn’t on the table anymore (literally or not), it’s a sign something bigger is happening. If you are both too “busy” for sex before marriage, it will be non-existent once you are married. It may be that you have both grown distant, emotionally and physically. Or, it could be a sign that you have different sexual needs. If one of you feels like there isn’t enough sex and the other feels that it’s perfect as it is, then you have different sexual make-ups and it will very likely be a prevailing issue throughout your marriage.
3. Where’s the trust?
You need to be able to trust your partner. It is the building block for every solid relationship and you cannot have a solid, loving relationship without it. Do you read through his emails? Do you not trust her when she goes out with her friends? Checking each other’s phones, social media accounts, and emails is not the foundation of a healthy, trusting relationship. If your relationship is starting to look less like a romance novel and more like mystery book, then you might want to make a run for it.
4. When is bad not good?
Sometimes being bad can be a good thing, especially in the bedroom, but when the bad in relationships seems to outweigh the good in all things, there is a big problem. For instance, if you can’t even remember the last time you were happy with your partner, then that would be bad. It may be that you are simply not compatible, have different communication styles, or fight and bicker often. It’s best to figure that out before you say “I do.” The most important warning sign of love gone awry is your instincts. If you are thinking that the relationship isn’t working, then it probably isn’t.
5. Spend time together much?
When you’d rather spend a night out with friends every weekend instead of your partner, it’s apparent that there is an issue. If you are happy in your relationship, you will want to spend most of your time together — not the opposite. If you’re making excuses to not see your partner, then perhaps you need to re-examine why you haven’t ended things yet. If you aren’t spending time together, and do not seem to miss it or want to change it, this cannot lead to a happy place.
6. How much fighting is too much?
Arguing in a relationship comes with the territory. Each couple is bound to have everything from insignificant fights to explosive, can’t sleep for two-day fights. It’s a part of relationship growing pains. However, if you’re amazed that you lasted a week without fighting, then you might need to take a look in the relationship mirror. Or, if you even have trouble staying civil on vacations when you are in a beautiful hotel with room service, beautiful scenery, white sand beaches and tropical daiquiris, then it might be time to say goodbye.
7. Focusing on changing him/her?
This is not a good sign if either he/she wants to change the other person. It will surely make you question whether or not they love you. If you are not loved or accepted for whom you are, then you should not be with that person. Surely no one is perfect and we could all stand to improve ourselves in some way, but not because our partner says we should. There are times that one partner would like to enhance the relationship by having better communication, spark up the sex life, or think of fun ways to spend more time together, all these things are positive changes that couples can do together to improve the relationship. However, if the focus is on changing the other person to fit a mold or an image, then muster up your self-esteem and get out of that situation.
8. Fantasizing of others?
It’s all fun and games until you can’t stop thinking about someone else. In a happy and strong relationship, you should be thinking about your partner. When unhappiness starts to creep in, so do thoughts and fantasies about other people. This may be the point where attention from other men or women fills an emptiness you’re feeling from the relationship. Flirting on social media or drunkenly texting your ex, are clear signs that something is missing in your current relationship.
If any of these signs hits home with you, then I’m afraid you have some serious thinking to do. If you come to the realization that ending the relationship is the best move for you, try to remember that as hard as it is to break up a relationship or an engagement, ending a marriage is much more difficult. And, just as the glass is half full, the heart-breaking end of something can be the beginning to a fresh start and a possible new love in the future.
Once you have made the decision to either separate or divorce your spouse, and I know how heart-wrenching a decision this can be, it’s important to note the road ahead is long, but with a little planning you can avoid some of the pitfalls and save yourself some money and a whole lot of aggravation.
Is it me, or does it seem like there are more and more narcissists in the world than ever before? Maybe it’s because we are breeding a generation of them with the hordes of reality shows today. Kanye and Kim quickly come to mind, but they are not alone in the narcissist kingdom.
Narcissists (N’s) seem to live in their own little world where they are king or queen of their domain and yours if you live with one. They are the ultimate rulers in their own little empire. If you are granted permission to enter, then you had better prove worthy over and over again.
If you live with an N, you should know that you can never be quite as good-looking or smart as they are, since they are truly the best at everything (according to them anyway), but you sure better try. After all, N’s have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, they believe they are special. They have an excessive need for admiration, have a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others to achieve their own ends, and are extremely arrogant, just to name a few of their endearing qualities. But most of all, they expect you to appear perfect so you don’t break the façade of perfection encased around them. Since the N is entitled to everything, because they are simply the best and the only real important one in the family, he or she is entitled to have his or her needs met immediately.
To be fair, I would say that everyone has a bit of narcissism in them, but true N’s are a whole different breed. But what if you are married to a narcissist? To say that your life will be difficult is an understatement. Having been married to an undiagnosed narcissist, I can attest they are difficult on the best of days and will do their personal best to make your life a living hell, even after you are divorced. You wouldn’t purposely marry a narcissist, but they are very good at trickery and manipulation.
Below are some traits to be on the lookout for. But just know if you are living with one, do not ever expect them to change, since you cannot tamper with perfection. You must either learn to live with it or leave. In case you are unsure, if you are involved or married to a narcissist, I’ve compiled a list of 20 traits.
1. They have a strong sense of entitlement.
2. Bides time before their true colors come shining through.
3. Takes more than they give. The man or woman who once happily gave you attention and care, has done a 180 and is now the constant taker.
4. They love to talk, especially about themselves.
5. They love social media and are constantly boasting of where they are and constantly taking selfies.
6. They have excessive reactions to everything and their behavior is unpredictable.
7. They are great manipulators.
8. Their needs are the most important and always come first.
9. God help those who do not agree with them.
10. They are always right.
11. They are superior, especially to their spouse.
12. They lack the empathy gene.
13. Exaggerates and lies all the time, even if there is no reason to.
14. They love to belittle. It helps them feel more superior.
15. A narcissist blames everyone else. It’s always the bosses fault, the lowly co-worker, the kids, and mostly your fault.
16. They are hyper-sensitive to criticism and get extremely angry when criticized and will attack back with their wordiness to the point of a high-level interrogation.
17. The narcissist must be recognized for every little thing they do, or like a toddler will have a temper tantrum.
18. They are mighty control freaks. Many people overuse the term “controlling” when referring to their spouses, because once you are knee deep in a relationship with a narcissist, controlling takes on a whole new dimension. He/she will not let up until your once loud voice is a mere whisper.
19. They must, must, must, get the final word!! In everything!
20. Not only do they not know they are narcissists, but if they read the signs above, they would think that you are the narcissist.
Sound like a great catch, right? If the guy or woman you are dating has many of these signs, then cut the cord and run for the hills. It won’t be easy getting rid of them, since they have to be the leavers, but do it. Living and or marrying this person will make your life a living hell. Trust me!
If you have ever seen Gone with the Wind, then you know that when Rhett Butler says the infamous line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” to Scarlett O’Hara, he has crossed the line of giving a shit about her anymore. Unfortunately, this sentiment is shared by the many people that file for divorce. The once treasured relationship has gone south permanently, and one or both of the spouses cannot see their way out other than divorce.
As in Rhett Butler’s case, Scarlett kept mistreating him, believing she loved someone else, to the point of no return. And, when she finally realized she did love Rhett, it was too late for him. He had given up hope and was tired of her childish antics. For some, like Scarlett, they cannot see how good they have it while they have it, or believe the grass is greener elsewhere, only to realize too late that it’s not.
We have all had those relationships where we are putting in much more than our 50% share, while our spouse is barely at 10%. However, in good relationships it evens out and can oftentimes be overlooked if we are aware that our spouse is dealing with a lot. Conversely, there are those relationships that are built on one of the spouses doing the majority of the relationship work and that gets tiring even for those that are self-less.
Perhaps you can identify with Rhett and have had it up to you neck with your partner. Or, maybe you can identify with Scarlett. Have you or your partner given up on your marriage or relationship but don’t know it?
Here are 10 signs to look out for.
1. Eye rolling. How many times have you caught yourself or your partner rolling their eyes? It’s a sign you do not take your partner or their suggestions seriously. Your partner may even laugh about it initially, but eventually, the eye rolling will become bigger than the Black Hole. Experts agree that this seemingly innocuous pastime is a sign of things to come.
2. Taking each other for granted. According to a 2013 poll in the Daily Mail, couples start taking each other for granted three and a half years into their marriage. Once the honeymoon period is over, many couples often let bad habits take over, and forget to go the extra mile to make each other happy. Spending time with friends takes on a renewed interest, less kissing, cuddling, and hand holding, less spontaneous gifts bought, slacking on chores, dressing down more often than not, and less sweet phones calls and texts just to say hello. These are some of the most common signs of a relationship failing.
3. There’s always tension between the two of you. Are people stressed when they are with you and your spouse because the two of you get over-emotional, defensive or aggressive and switch tones from friendly to adversarial in a nano-second? This not a good sign, not to mention you will be kicked off the invitee list for future events.
4. Avoiding conflict and avoiding resolutions. Sometimes, it’s easier to overlook a few differences rather than pick a fight over it. But if you find yourself grumbling or eye rolling to yourself about something, be it the dirty sink or the clothes lying around, but you still avoid talking about it to your partner, it’ll do more damage than good. The rage and resentment that accumulates inside you would start to distance you from your partner.
5. You’re always arguing. In a relationship, a certain amount of arguing is normal. Arguing all the time is NOT normal. If you’re always in a state of conflict, that’s NOT a healthy way of relating to another person, especially someone you live with. If the arguments start increasing in frequency and you cannot reach a middle ground, then you are clearly on a path of falling apart.
6. Loss of trust and respect. Respect for each other is crucial in a relationship. If you don’t respect your spouse, s/he will start to shy away from giving suggestions or even playing a part in the functioning of the relationship which will then lead to checking up on each other. When trust and respect start to wane in one area, it can become open game in all others. This is usually when a spouse will begin to spy on their spouse. It may start with checking email, then progress to their cell phone calls, text messages, social media, suit jackets, pant pockets, pocketbooks, and on and on. All this does is deepen the fragility of the relationship. If you want to know something, just ask. You may not get an honest answer, but at least you are not stooping to snooping. Blanket trust should be an essential in relationships and if you do not trust your spouse it is usually a signal that help is needed in the relationship.
7. Silence. Talk may be cheap and silence may be golden, but not in a relationship. Communication helps you both open your minds and assists in creating a strong bond. But if you spend you nights watching television together and not talking, but yet you both manage to keep tabs on all your social media accounts, this lack of communication will disconnect you further from each other. And soon enough, both of you won’t have anything to share with each other because your minds and ideas are so far apart.
8. Sex, or lack thereof. One recurrent theme you will likely read about from many divorced couples is how they became nothing more than roommates over time. Sex was either an occasional thing or nonexistent for years. Both of those scenarios do not bode well for the longevity of a marriage since sexless marriages tend to disintegrate any chance for love to continue.
9. You’re always wondering whether you should be with this person. Like Scarlett, if you’re always thinking of what could have been with someone else or thinking about leaving on a regular basis then you should leave. That behavior is just torturous to the other person.
10. You feel dread when they are near. If you or your partner withdraws when you are near each other, that is a terrible sign. If you look at your spouse with hatred and disdain, and find everything about him or her repulsive, this would be a clear-cut sign that you are not just falling apart, but like Rhett, you frankly don’t give a damn anymore. And, that is a clear-cut sign it’s time to leave.
Has been writing most of her adult life on various topics important to women and children. If you are contemplating divorce, then you should check out her e-book.