As a younger woman, I envisioned romantic relationships filled with smiles and kisses and fueled by respect and adoration. I always believed in notions of happily ever after and life-long commitment. While those concepts haven’t been completely dismissed, I’ve grown to understand the range of complexity living between the words along with the effort required to have a relationship go the distance. It’s never been easy although childhood fairytales positioned it as such. Bedtime stories omitted mentions of growing beyond communication gaps, questionable judgment, commitment phobia, and emotional immaturity. Because the magic potion is still in development, we’ve been forced to learn by doing.
During a particularly tumultuous relationship in my late twenties, I was introduced to an important lesson.
For us, a timeout would not have made much difference. We were incompatible from the start yet hoped reality wouldn’t catch up with our disillusioned minds. It did. Reality gut punched us and left our relationship on a nearby street corner. Fast forward a few years and many additional lessons. Even though the aforementioned connection wasn’t my happily ever after, it taught me how to dodge potholes and spot warning signs. And yesterday, as a girlfriend asked if she should consider taking a break from her boyfriend, I recalled those signs and lessons before opening my mouth. Because even though every secret wasn’t revealed in a ten minute bedtime story, I’d learned enough over the years to know when it was time to take a break or time to take a bow.
Here are 3 signs your relationship could use the former.
1) Constant arguing: If ever there was a clear reason to step away from a significant other, it’s to regain a sense of peace. Arguing ranges from squabbling over the insignificant to yelling about the unimaginable. No one wants to pick up the phone, answer the door, or sit down to dinner fully expecting a daily dose of raised voices, sarcastic overtones and rolling eyes. It’s a sign of issues that span beyond mere communication dysfunction. It reaches to the heights of past distrust, disrespect and all out drama. When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, some people become combative and distant while others crave intimacy. If you’re arguing nonstop, take shelter in your respective corners and do a little soul-searching. Be introspective and ask tough questions. Do you believe in the long-term viability of your relationship? Do the problems appear temporary or more permanent? Do you feel disconnected from or smothered by your mate? Are you listening during disagreements or simply trying to argue your point? What role do you play in the communication breakdown? It may take several hours or days but eventually, you’ll gain the clarity needed to either move forward together or head in different directions.
2) Feeling depleted & drained: A healthy relationship starts with healthy people. You can’t offer your best to another if you’re void and without. My friend’s biggest complaint was feeling tired and emotionally spent after every phone call with her boyfriend. It was so draining, she rarely had energy to do more than sit on her couch and ponder the complication that is their relationship. When every interaction leaves you feeling like you’ve just gone toe-to-toe with a heavyweight, it’s time for a relationship pause. Often, this is a result of #1 and if not properly addressed, will make you ‘miss’ his calls, ignore her texts and celebrate canceled dinner plans. We all want someone that adds to our lives, not a person that depletes and depresses. It’s essential to evaluate your feelings and determine if the connection is building you up or bringing you down.
3) A wandering eye (or mind): If you constantly allow yourself to consider straying, you most likely will. Relationships require work without the added issue of infidelity. While dreaming isn’t cheating, I question whether it strengthens a partnership. Most people are aware of the wandering eye but what about a disconnected mind? I once had a relationship with so little stability, I assumed any disagreement would spark a breakup. I never allowed myself to fully invest in a future with him because I didn’t know if he was all in or halfway out. No one wants to feel like an afterthought or a pity prize. Taking a break allows both parties to decide what they truly want before doing something that cannot be undone.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!