I often talk to people riddled with angst over whether all is going well in their romantic partnership.
For example, Katelyn told me, "I just hope everything is okay with my boyfriend; I never know for sure. I love hanging out with him but then when I don’t see him I feel completely disconnected and worry he is out with other women. I try to talk to him about it, and he gets angry with me. He says I’m overly sensitive, and that I need to give him his space. I need to be more secure and less emotional."
And Simon revealed, "I’ve been married for seven years and I don’t want to leave my wife. But I always feel like I’m on eggshells, as if I can’t be myself or she will explode. I stopped doing hobbies and hanging out with friends. All I do is worry about what my wife will think or not think about my actions. When I try to talk to her she turns the tables and tells me how I have let her down. I think I need to try harder to be what she expects me to be, but I can’t crack the code to keep her happy."
Here are five ways to determine whether you need to let go of a relationship:
1. Trust Your Emotions.
If you feel insecure and ill at ease about your relationship more often than you feel good about it, pay attention to this perception. You are not overly sensitive, insecure, needy, and irrational all of the time. People tend to tell themselves these things to push their negative emotions away and avoid confronting the possibility that a relationship may not be sustainable. Instead of criticizing yourself for your feelings, take them seriously and try to talk directly with your partner. Does your partner habitually dismiss you, reject you, or turn the tables by blaming you for your feelings? This is an indication that your relationship may simply not be workable. Manipulation through making you feel guilty, saying that you are overly sensitive or needy, and turning the tables are key signs of a toxic union.
2. Trust in Reliability.
The basis of healthy love and friendship is believing that people will do what they say they are going to do. It means something if your partner often leaves you hanging, shows up late, or doesn’t show up at all. We all have off days, or events come up that are out of our control, but most of the time your partner should be reliable. There's a major issue in your relationship if you live with anxiety about what’s going to happen next or constantly wonder whether your partner is going to let you down. Living off small crusts and crumbs of pleasure with your partner is a sign that your relationship may not contain enough sustenance to keep you happy and healthy.
3. Trust in Intuition.
Have you ever had a hunch about someone but then talked yourself out of it, only to later have your original hunch confirmed? When we partner up, we often want so badly to believe in a person or in love that we dismiss our intuition. We know something is off or not quite right about our new partner, but choose to ignore these feelings in favor of getting swept up in romantic love. Sometimes people push their intuition away for years or even marry, only to eventually see things fall apart when they can no longer ignore what they have always known to be true. When you have a hunch that something is off with your partner, talk with him or her about it. When you continue to have the same sense that something’s not quite right, don’t push your instincts away. Your intuition is telling you that this particular person may not be a keeper.
4. Trust Your Experiences.
It says something important if, when you’re around your partner, you often feel ill at ease, uncomfortable, or worried about tripping a switch to a fight. You should usually feel safe, at ease, and comfortable with your partner, and with bringing him or her around to your friends and family. Remember: When things start off poorly, they are unlikely to improve with time and hard work.
5. Trust Insecurity.
Be aware that you have a major issue if you feel insecure most of the time about how your partner feels about you, or about their level of commitment to you. It’s not your fault when this insecurity wells up. Talk with your love about your feelings, your worries, and your concerns and see if you feel better afterward. You may have things you need to work on as an individual, but you should be able to talk with your partner about these things. Once your partner knows what makes you feel insecure, he or she should not continue to trigger these feelings. You should feel safe and secure with your partner, not worried about feeling insecure in their presence.
Jill Weber, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C., and author of Building Self-Esteem 5 Steps: How to Feel "Good Enough," Getting Close to Others 5 Steps: How to Develop Intimate Relationships and Still Be True to Yourself, Toxic Love 5 Steps: How to Identify Toxic Love Patterns and Find Fulfilling Attachments, and Breaking Up and Divorce 5 Steps: How to Heal and be Comfortable Alone. For more, follow me on twitter @DrJillWeber, follow me on Facebook, or check out drjillweber.com.