Stealth problems can chip away at even the strongest unions.
Abuse, addiction, and infidelity are all loud and clear signs of a partnership in distress. But most relationships don't flame out dramatically, they fade. PT bloggers (psychologytoday.com) offer clues on the subtle problems—and strengths—that can matter most over time.
Ditch the Pedestal
Having a critical partner is certainly unhealthy, but so is having a partner who thinks you are perfect. The best relationships are achieved when someone sees you for exactly who you are, flaws and all. Being worshipped sounds great in fairy tales and romance novels, but in reality it should be treated as a big red flag. If your partner puts you on too high a pedestal too early, the most likely result will be a painful fall. —Lynne Soraya, "Asperger's Diary"
Turn Off the Charm—Sometimes
Do you like yourself when you're around your partner? A good relationship supports and nurtures your best, most authentic self. If you can bring your whole, complicated, messy, imperfect, human self to the relationship and feel safe, seen, heard, and known, those are good indications you're in the right place. If you offer this person a polished, always "on" version of yourself, that's a bad sign. —Pamela Cytrynbaum, "Because I'm the Mom"
Come On, Get Angry
I used to be proud that my romantic relationships were devoid of anger and arguing. I have since realized that when there aren't occasional outbursts and disagreements, one or both people are probably silencing essential parts of themselves. Open disagreements still feel "icky" to me, but they're far better than sacrificing parts of myself to maintain a make-believe peace. No one can get along 100 percent of the time. —Victoria Maxwell, "Crazy for Life"
Stop Working So Hard
I see a lot of college-age women pushing to "make" a relationship work, and a lot of young men uncomfortable with pulling the plug. Sometimes upon further examination, it turns out that perhaps the woman's partner was going along with the relationship for convenience but was never really invested in the first place. Inequity in maintenance of a relationship is often an indication that something else is wrong. —Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D., "Millennial Media"
There is a big difference between "being needed" (healthy) and "being needy" (unhealthy). If your partner is constantly in need of your attention, you will eventually get burnt out or begin to harbor resentment. While it is true that a relationship is more than the sum of its parts, each part must be fully functional on its own. —Glenn Alperin, "Face Off"
Beware of the Familiar
We gravitate toward relationships that echo the models we acquired during childhood. For those who had secure and healthy attachments to their parents, that's a good thing. But for others, a partner's behavior can feel familiar even while making us deeply unhappy and keeping us locked in old patterns. So pay attention: If a relationship is both painful and familiar, you're in the wrong place. —Peg Streep, "Tech Support"
Bring Out the Best
All relationships involve two people who will agree on some things, disagree on others, fight sometimes, do things in ways the other doesn't like. Are you with someone who, on the whole, is making you a better person? Stay with them. Are you with someone who, on the whole, is making you worse? Start looking for other options. —Eric Charles, Ph.D., "Fixing Psychology"