You’re wildly attracted to her, but something isn’t right. You have a nagging feeling something isn’t quite right with your current relationship and you’re exhausted from it. It eats at your happiness and your self-confidence, spilling over into your work and even inhibiting your success. Sometimes your partner does things that seem to bring nothing but pain and conflict. She does them repeatedly, and you don’t know if it’s you, or something you’re doing wrong, or if it’s her, and just how she is. You want the relationship to work, but maybe the chances of it being the relationship you want are slim to none if she’s showing some or all (let’s hope not all) of these behaviors.
The key here is to look for patterns of behavior, not just an isolated instance. The trend is your friend in this case. It will tell you what you need to do, if you are aware of it. And by the way, if you see any of these behaviors in yourself, then it sounds like you also have homework to do. A wise man once told me (ok, it was my dad), “However it is when you’re dating, it will be a hundred times more so when you’re married.” So, if your relationship is a living hell, it’s time for you to decide, how you’re going to live the rest of your life. Watch and learn.
10. Substance Abuse
Are hard drugs and/or heavy drinking ever a part of her repertoire? Does she ever blackout and not remember what happened the night before? Does she ever start drinking early in the day? This is a particularly difficult situation, knowing that even should she decide to stop, there’s a statistical chance she’ll start again. You have to decide if you can live with these chances. A nine-year study of married couples done by the University of Buffalo showed that when one spouse drank significantly more than the other, the divorce rate was 50%. It’s your decision whether to stay with her, or not. Just remember, if you decide to stay with her, the odds are stacked against you.
The adult tantrum. It’s like a journey back in time where you get to see your girl as she was at 5 years old. Somehow, along the way, she learned to get what she wanted by yelling, screaming, and crying. And she found that it worked with you too, so now it’s a part of your lives. It’s ultimately a matter of whether she wants to change. If she does, then first she needs to acknowledge that she exhibits this behavior, and then she must be dissatisfied enough with it that she wants to change. If the tantrum is a behavior, as opposed to being a part of her personality, then there may be light at the end of the tunnel. A psychologist friend of mine once told me, “People can change behaviors. Personalities…not so much.” If this just a bad habit, and she thinks she can break it, then she probably can, with your support. If those conditions are not there, it’s decision time for you.
A little jealousy is normal. Too much is either a death knell for the relationship or the indication that you’ll have a continuous source of unhappiness and never-ending arguments. Her fears that are triggering the jealousy can be fear of comparison, fear of competition, or fear of replacement. You can work to ease her fears, but do this with the understanding that this is ultimately on her. The trigger for jealousy needn’t be sexually oriented with her too. Her emotional state is perhaps more important to her as a woman (Obviously this isn’t a license to be unfaithful, just something else to keep in mind.) And then there is the ultimate sign of what we call morbid jealousy. You’ve decided you can no longer be with her, but she won’t let you break up with her. If you’re at this point, don’t walk away…run away.
7. Unexplained Absences
What you need to know about each other’s lives depends on the stage of relationship you’re in. As you progress in your relationship, it’s only reasonable to know where each other is and when you’ll next see each other. If someone doesn’t keep their word to, let’s say, show up for a dinner date, that should immediately raise a red flag. And even if they text you, and give a good reason for their absence, but NOT propose a “Plan B”, then watch out.
Maybe you’re further along in your relationship, perhaps living together, and you are the one missing spending time with her, while she’s out for instance in social situations with her girlfriends. Then a late night, turns into another late night as you wait for her at home. It’s time for some communication. If the behavior continues, it then becomes time for you to make a decision. She’s not showing you respect as a person, and she’s placing herself in social situations, for instance, where there are regularly 1) other men, and 2) alcohol. As you probably know, it’s a potent combination.
Bottom line? There comes a point in a relationship where you just naturally know where the other is. If you’re at that point, and you don’t know where she is, it’s probably time to move on unless you want to live a life not knowing where your partner is. If you do, then maybe you should date a secret service agent.
6. Money…Too Tight Or Too Loose
Ask anyone with any amount of longer-term relationship experience what the number one source of conflict is between partners and they’ll inevitably say, “Money.” And when she is truly a “material girl” with an appetite for expensive things, and you can’t provide them, then watch out. Either get better paying work, or look for someone who also has a life outside of jewelry, clothes, and expensive consumables. You should also be on the alert for the credit queen who runs up large bills on credit cards. And don’t get me wrong. If this is what you want and you can afford it, then go for it. If you don’t want to work yourself to death supporting someone who gets the majority of their happiness in life from “things,” particularly “luxurious things,” then learn from this and move on.
5. Sexual Appetite…Too Much Or Too Little
Let’s face it, part of the reason you’re in this relationship is the sex. And you need to realize that there isn’t one size that fits all. Every successful couple works out a balance in their sex life. Is her appetite for sex even close to yours, or, for instance, do you find yourself always approaching her and being rejected more often than not? Face it. Her appetite may be different than yours. One of the worst case scenarios is if she uses sex as a manipulation tool, or psychological game (See “Crazy Making”). This can drive a man crazy, or even force them into the arms of another. Make sure that there is an authentic sexual component in your lives, and if not, decide whether this is an acceptable situation for you to live with for years, or even a lifetime.
4. How She Treats Others
How she treats others is a good window into her soul. Are you thinking of a future with this woman? Then watch how she interacts with children, if you want children to be part of your future. Or simply observe the way she treats the wait staff at a restaurant. How does she treat them? Graciously and appreciative of what they do? Or demanding and constantly dissatisfied? Is she too hard on that waitress who makes a mistake? Or do you ever find yourself wishing to be treated as she treats her friends? In other words, she is all smiles and expresses so much care and concern about her friends, but when it comes to you, you’re talked to and treated like the dog that has done something bad. On the other hand, does she spend too much time talking negatively about the people she knows, and then puts on a different face when she’s with those people? Watch and learn.
Arguments shouldn’t get physical. It can start small, with a pinch or a push, and then escalate. If so, you’re with someone who doesn’t know how to stay within the boundaries of civilized and mature behavior. Remember that violence against men is probably under-reported, as men may be more forgiving of physical confrontation, or would want to avoid being seen as a victim. This finding, confirmed from assembling the data from 200 independent studies of the available data, indicated that women were as likely as men to initiate physical violence. Remember, any level of physical violence is unacceptable. Even if she is violent to herself, or threatens to be, this also a major warning sign. If you can’t work it out, then get out!
You can make the most inoffensive comment, and yet she takes it as a slight. When she is offended too easily, you start to feel like your “walking on eggshells.” There’s almost never a relaxing feeling being around her. Some relationship specialists refer to over-defensive behavior as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in predicting the likelihood of future divorce.
This may be an area where you can help her by letting her know that the two of you are on the “same team.” But as is true with most areas of human change, she needs to be aware of and want to change it in order for there to be any chance of eliminating this destructive behavior.
1. Crazy Making
This is one of the nastiest psychological games some women play. According to her, you are doing just about everything wrong. It’s almost as if you can do no right. She’ll give you one signal and when you act on it, you’ve done the wrong thing again. She can’t remember when she made a mistake, but remembers every one of your mistakes in great detail. It’s hard to believe people will play power and control games like this, but they do. Whatever psychological reason there is for her to act this way, it’s still decision time for you. You need to decide if it’s time for you to start getting a little distance to confirm your fears. Are you feeling better without her than with her? If so, leave the relationship, if it can’t be worked out. And then pay attention to your own self-worth and self-confidence, as it will have most likely been diminished by being with a “crazy maker.”
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