The course of true love ain't plain sailing.
In a Disney fairytale, the princess typically gets the guy, and they trot off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Truth is, real life relationships aren’t nearly as idyllic. There’s no fairytale castle, enchanted forests or noble steed: instead there are trust issues to contend with, money problems to resolve and recurring arguments about where to order takeout. The modern relationship is less ‘Happily Ever After’ and more ‘Making It Work Ever After’.
But what if you’re knocked with a relationship crisis that seems to big to overcome? And how can you tell if those complications are just a bump in the road or a cause to call it quits? We enlisted a little help from the experts to work through some of the most common relationship dealbreakers.
“Sex is a great barometer of compatibility and the relationship,” says dating expert Hayley Quinn. “However before calling it quits on a relationship where the sex isn’t so hot I’d consider the following things.”
One – not everyone experiences love in the same way, so ask yourself how important is physical intimacy to you? Often libidos and sexual preferences can be slightly mismatched but you ideally want to look for a partner who is on a similar wavelength.
Secondly, advises Hayley, asks yourself “Was it too soon?’ Even though there’s nothing wrong with an early dating hookup, if you’re not fully relaxed this is the biggest factor that will affect your sexual connection,” she makes clear. Thirdly, “Can you communicate what you like more clearly?” Hayley asks. “Most guys (especially the good ones) will appreciate you telling him what feels good for you.”
“Honest opinion: quit giving,” says Hayley. “As much as compromise is an important part of a relationship, boundaries are equally important. If he isn’t giving you enough, don’t try to bridge the gap by giving more. Cool off and refocus on yourself,” she advises. “Find less time for him and he should soon get the message that he needs to step it up. Remember the most important person you can give your energy to is you.”
“There is no easy answer to this one because when a person’s trust has been broken it is quite common that they would want to protect themselves from being hurt again, which can lead to being regularly suspicious and accusatory,” says Amanda Lynch, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist at Psychotherapy Dublin. “This rarely ends well. However, if you make that choice to stay in the relationship then it’s going to take time to build up the trust that was once there.”
Working through infidelity is by far one of the greatest challenges to any relationship that encounters it and ultimately it takes understanding and patience from BOTH sides to get through it. Infidelity happens all too often in relationships and there is always a reason why. It is not about whether the reason is justified or not but whether both of you can work through whatever this reason may be.
“It is a very difficult conversation to have but necessary if there is a chance to move beyond it,” she clarifies. “If you understand why someone has hurt you and you both agree to work towards a solution then trusting again is possible, but it takes work, time, communication, honesty and understanding.”
“It is normal in the course of a long term relationship for there to be times where you feel really in love, and others where you feel things have fizzled out,” explains Hayley. “It is also oh-so easy in the dating app age to assume a better option is just around the corner. I would advise taking the first step of spending a bit more time apart, not with the view to breaking up, but to re-establish your feelings of being two separate people.
“Go out with your girlfriends, and then spend less time but more quality time together going on nice dates. If you still feel the same then you may want to double check that the dissatisfaction you’re feeling isn’t because you’re unhappy elsewhere, or just not ready for a relationship period, rather than something being wrong in your connection as a couple.”
“This is always a tricky one, because we want to believe that love conquers all,” says Amanda. “However love does not factor in the fine print and practicalities of life. This is where the balancing of being both objective and compassionate comes in.”
We all have a very singular relationship to money, to how we spend it and the value it has for us. This is where communication can play a pivotal role in your relationship. Finding a balance and coming up with a spending plan together that will work for both of you is a way to cut through the arguments, agreeing on a budget that works and hopefully having a bit left over for your own personal needs.
“Listening to each other’s needs and and being conscious of the other person’s spending habits is a good way to get the conversation going. We all want it to be our own way but that can’t work in a relationship.”
This isn’t necessarily something to worry about, says Hayley. “I would consider a few factors: Firstly, have you expressed that you feel uncomfortable about that, and has he ignored your feelings? And secondly, are these just ‘fantasy women’ like celebs, and not someone he could actually meet, for example.”
Thirdly, “does it stop at a like?” asks Hayley. “A quick like is very different to actively sliding that DM and messaging another woman. I would remember also that the most powerful (and attractive) stance you can take on this is indifference. Remembering that sense of your own self worth and security in your own attractiveness will mean his attention always returns to you.”
“First things first, where is this feeling coming from?” Amanda asks. “Is it from an event in the relationship or your partner’s actions? If not, then you must ask yourself why YOU are feeling this way. The problem with niggling feelings is that they are often assumed to be instinct or a sixth sense, but the truth is that it is in fact imaginary.
Often, it can be the case that if a person’s trust has been broken before then what can seem as a niggling feeling or instinct can be a shadow from a time that they were previously hurt, Because you have lived or witnessed it before, that feeling can seem very real or relevant as it’s something that you may have already went through.
And if that feeling is coming from a change in your SO’s behaviour? “Communication is key,” advises Amanda. “Talk to each other, and make a choice to trust or not. Suspicion and accusations over these kind of niggling feelings can bring about the demise of very loving relationships. Don’t get caught up in assumptions. A relationship must be looked at on its own merits and remember the niggling feeling is more often than not coming from you, not from your partner.”
“Not at all,” Amanda makes clear. “There are many reasons why couples bicker over the small stuff. Sometimes we like to be argumentative, this can be a personality trait. It also depends what
the bickering is about. If it’s down to things like emptying the dishwasher or choosing a place to eat on a Saturday night then the solution is finding that middle ground.
“Sometimes,” Amanda points out, “it’s your turn to give and sometimes it’s your turn to take. Speak to each other about the bickering, and try to see it from the other’s point of view. A lot of arguments can be avoided if you listen to each other, try to see where your partner is coming from and also explain your position on things, then together create a solution rather than trying to win the fight, otherwise it will perpetuate.”
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