Nothing is impossible, but some things just take too much effort to resolve and is not worth putting up with. If your partnership is dysfunctional in any of these ways, it might be time to call it quits.
Mismatched Sex Drives
It can be a challenge being with someone whose sex drive is not aligned with yours. Sex is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship, but it’s certainly important for both partners to feel that their sexual needs are being met. Whether you and your man are intimate several times a week or once a month, you should both agree that the amount of sex you’re having is right. Sometimes, one partner’s lack of desire might be due to medical or emotional issues, such as impotency, stress, anxiety, grief or depression; but if you’ve noticed that your partner never wants sex when you do, or vice versa, and there’s no reasonable explanation for it, then you might want to rethink your relationship. If the problem is due to a medical or emotional issue, talk about it, or get help from a sexual therapist or a mental health expert.
Passive-aggressiveness shows up in a variety of ways: stonewalling (when one person gives the other the silent treatment), psychological manipulation, disguised verbal hostility (like making a backhanded compliment), guilt baiting, unreasonable blaming, underhanded sabotage (such as purposely undermining something that’s important to you), and victimhood (co-dependency and exhibiting a “woe is me” attitude), just to name a few. There are many reasons to explain a person’s passive-aggressiveness, some of which may stem from his upbringing or childhood experiences, but this sort of behaviour is not conducive to a healthy relationship. Everyone deserves a partner who is attentive to their needs and supportive of their goals, who can communicate effectively and respectfully, who is empathetic, understanding and kind, and who does not resort to manipulation or guilt baiting to get their way.
If you or your partner was unfaithful just the one time and is certain that nothing like that will never happen again, then it’s possible to get over that hurdle and work to rebuild your trust in each other. However, if the cheating is constant and neither partner is remorseful or willing to change, then you have to ask yourself what hope there is of ever having a healthy and happy relationship. Chronic infidelity is not just indicative of weakness and selfishness. It’s not just about being dissatisfied or bored with one’s partner, or about needing attention. It’s also a clear sign that you and your man lack the emotional and/or sexual connection that’s vital to a romantic relationship. Without this bond, you have nothing to build a lasting union on.
Difficulty Opening up or Communicating
It’s one thing to not consider yourself a verbal person or to have trouble finding the right words to articulate your frustrations, but if you feel uncomfortable opening up to your man, or if he feels the same way about opening up to you, it can be pretty disastrous for the relationship. After all, how can you work towards solving problems together if you feel like you can’t get them out in the open? Keeping your emotions bottled up isn’t just unhealthy for your state of mind; it can also create tension, anxiety and resentment between both partners, and eventually cause a rift that can be difficult to mend. If you find it hard to verbalise your feelings, try expressing yourself in a letter. In a healthy relationship, both partners should be able to discuss their feelings openly with each other, without fear or shame.
There may be certain things about your family or your past that you feel need to be kept private, and that’s fine, as long as you’ve not carried them into your relationship and they’re not likely to affect your future with your man (so a chronic medical condition or lingering debts, for instance, should be divulged because your man has a right to know such things). But where secretiveness can pose a problem in a relationship is when it starts breeding mistrust. If your man refuses to tell you where he’s going, won’t say how much he earns, or won’t open up about his alcohol addiction, for example, you should ask yourself what he’s trying to hide. If you want a relationship that’s based on mutual trust, some issues require full disclosure.
Jealousy and Possessiveness
Some people don’t mind if their partner acts jealous once in a while – a little jealousy makes us feel valued and can help strengthen our connection with our man as well as motivate him to be a better partner. But this same emotion can also be a destructive force in a relationship. Defined as “unhealthy jealousy”, it can drive one partner to try to control the other through exaggeration, lies, threats, manipulation, and/or abuse. This kind of jealousy leaves the perpetrator feeling distrustful, and the victim, afraid, anxious, and feeling like he or she has no freedom. If you’re dating a man who exhibits unhealthy jealousy traits, don’t bother getting him to change. Jealousy of this magnitude is typically the result of serious insecurity, fear and a lack of self-confidence, and is too complex a problem to eliminate overnight.
Constant Blame and Criticism
Criticism is not the same as a critique or a complaint. The latter tend to be about specific issues, whereas criticism is an outright attack on a person’s character, flaws and shortcomings. It is not constructive, encouraging or inspiring and, over time, it can lead to resentment and contempt, and ultimately destroy a relationship. People who are constantly critical have a few things in common: they find it easier to find fault than to praise, they’re easily offended, they’re perfectionists and insist that things be done a certain way, they’re highly critical of themselves, their parents were extremely critical or had high expectations of them, and they tend to be judgmental of others. If you find yourself always playing the blame game with your partner, it might be time to walk away for good. If you’re the critical one, you’re best off being alone until you learn to deal with your overly critical attitude.
We’re all a little narcissistic to some extent, but there’s a difference between having narcissistic traits and suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Dating a narcissistic man can be draining as you attempt to meet his unreasonable demands for appreciation and admiration. At the same time, he contributes very little to the relationship, is unwilling to listen to your feelings or concerns, has zero empathy for you, and shows no interest in what’s important to you. Sadly, such a relationship tends to be one-sided as it’s all about the narcissistic partner. If you believe that you’re with someone who fits this description, realise that you will always be emotionally alone to some degree. Extreme narcissists are resistant to change and can never love you the way you love them, so you’re better off cutting them loose.
Text: Sasha Gonzales / Her World Plus / June 2016
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