They say our thoughts create our lives. And by "they," I mean people who make pretty quotes for Instagram. Because where else would you get life advice Seriously speaking, though, following that logic, our thoughts have some real power over our love lives, especially if we're worried about settling in our relationships. When I helped struggling couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I helped a lot of unhappy people sort through a lot of overwhelming and unhappy thoughts. And one of the most common questions I got was,"How do I know if my thoughts are just normal thoughts versus when they're trying to tell me that something's wrong?"
I understand these feels. As a person with anxiety and ADHD, my thoughts often get the best of me. And while negative thoughts will always come and go, there are some specific thoughts that tend to indicate more often than not that trouble is on the horizon. They may mean your relationship has one foot in the grave, or they may just mean you need to make healthy, positive changes in order to feel happier and more fulfilled. Either way, these are some thoughts you really can't avoid, especially if you want things to last.
1. Am I Settling?
It's cool to wonder this on rare occasions, especially during rough patches or disagreements. But if you ask yourself if you're settling on a pretty regular basis, chances are, you already know deep down that you are. Your gut and your instincts might be trying to get your attention by bringing this question to the front of the thought line in your brain. If your relationship isn't already doomed for failure, it's destined for some changes, at the very least.
2. You Don't Understand Me
If you're going to spend your life (or at least a good chunk of your precious, valuable 20s) with someone, they should get you. They should make you feel understood, supported, loved, special, and wanted. If you're always thinking about how your partner doesn't make you feel these things, especially understood, you're probably settling for less than what you deserve. If these thoughts cloud out your happiness on a regular basis, it's a good sign your partner isn't meeting your needs. A partner who doesn't meet your needs is not the partner for you.
3. I Can't Ever Rely On You
You may think these kinds of thoughts are just your way of venting frustration at one of your partner's most annoying flaws, but it's actually much bigger than that. Being able to rely on your partner (or feeling like you can rely on your partner most of the time) is a key component to feeling safe and secure in your relationship. It's also a crucial part of your foundation of trust. So if you're struggling with an unreliable partner, and thinking about how it bothers you on a somewhat regular basis, you need to put a plan in place to deal before things go south. This is not a thought pattern you can ignore.
4. You Only Do What You Want
You know who only does what they want? Selfish people. You know who also make really bad partners? Selfish people. Being in a relationship means compromise and the occasional sacrifice. It means having to do the dishes against your will, or having to go to your in-laws when your show is on (else risk spoilers!). If your partner doesn't do anything selfless, ever, that's not healthy. You need to have some serious discussions about your feelings and expectations if you want this relationship to survive, otherwise it's going to go down in a blaze of glory.
5. Don't Ever Touch Me
There are some couples who are not big on affection, or who identify as asexual, but for the most part, people in relationships need affection and sex. They snuggle, hold hands, get down and dirty, hug, and all that jazz. If you're always recoiling from your partner's touch, or thinking "dear sweet 6lb 8oz baby Jesus, please don't let this person touch me," then there's probably some disconnect in your relationship that needs addressed, ASAP. I'm not talking about the, "It's so freaking hot that I need you to not sleep all up on me," or the, "I'm so tired, please don't let them try to sex me tonight" kind of stuff. I'm talking about not wanting your partner to touch you because you sincerely don't want them to touch you, and won't want them to anytime in the foreseeable future. That's a big red flag that there's trouble.
6. Are You Really Working Late?
Oh, trust. It's so hard to master it once you've been burned. Like when I thought my partner was headed to work, but she was really headed to a make-out session with her mistress. But you have to find a way. If you're always having thoughts about what your partner is doing, where they are, if they're being honest, or if your whole life is a lie (woah, that escalated quickly), then you need to figure out where these issues come from. It's basically an unbreakable healthy relationships rule that you can't be together if you don't have trust.
7. Don't Worry, I Got It. Again.
If you're always thinking about how you have to pick up your partner's slack, then you have an imbalance in your relationship. You can't be expected to take care of everything, like housework, bills, dinner, pets, kids, and so on. There needs to be equality, and that means no one gets to be selfish all the time, and no one gets to do more than their fair share of the work. If you have a partner who isn't doing their fair share, eventually anger and resentment will choke the love out of your lives together.
8. My Life Would Be So Much Better If I Was Single
Ouch. If that's what you're thinking, then that's probably your truth. If you feel like you're giving up too much, missing out on too much, or just not happy enough to be in your relationship, those thoughts aren't going to just go away. They're going to turn into regrets and resentments. If you truly wish you were single, even if your partner is awesome, then it's probably time to be single. You have the right to feel how you feel and to end any relationship you want to end, even if it's a healthy one.
9. I Wonder If I Can Afford My Own Apartment
If you're already doing the math on your solo lifestyle, your relationship is in real trouble. No one wants to move. No one wants to uproot their whole entire lives and start over from scratch. We do it and it's often the best decision for us (even if it's hard at the time) but no one really casually contemplates how much electricity they use or how many roommates they'll have to live with just for fun. They contemplate it because it's a real possibility.
10. I Wish You Would Get Hit By A Car So I Wouldn't Have To Break Up With You
Terrible? Yes. But it's a common thought process, no worries. You don't actually want your partner to get hit by a car, or injured in any way. Your brain is just trying to process ways for you to get out of your current situation without having to be the bad guy. And it's already starting to process the grief and loss, even though it hasn't really happened yet (because it has accepted that it needs to or is going to happen). Your brain is good at problem solving, but sometimes it can be a little ruthless. At this stage, though, it's not really a question of if you should eave. It's a question of how and when.
Spending a little time playing thought detective can reveal some startling insight about the future of your romance. Never ignore your inner monologue. It's often connected right to your gut.
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