7 Times It’s OK To Ignore Your Gut About Your Relationship, According To Experts
We've all been told countless times to trust our guts, but what does that actually mean? You probably know that your gut is that tiny tickle inside your belly, the 'uh-oh' feeling you get when something just isn't right. But on the other hand, sometimes overthinking, stress, or anxiety gets in the way. Should you always listen to that feeling? Perhaps, sometimes, it's perfectly OK to ignore your gut, and carry on with faith.
This is particularly true when it comes to relationships. When you're with someone for an extended period of time, it's actually completely normal to have doubts. In fact, it's healthy to check in with yourself often, and make sure you're both happy and fulfilled in your partnership.
So when you find yourself having a fight-or-flight reaction over a minor problem that you haven't brought to your significant other's attention, or even fully thought through, consider slowing down. Take a deep breath, and react with intention, not out of emotion.
Here are the seven times experts say it's always OK to ignore your gut reaction about your relationship, and give things time to develop and show their true nature.
1. When A Similar Thing Happened In A Past Relationship
Perhaps your gut feeling really is just déjà vu — and you're worried your partner is going to hurt you in the same way that an ex did. But just because something horrible happened to you in the past, it doesn't necessarily mean it's occurring again in the present.
"Is it my gut, my fear because of something in the past that was painful, or is my "gut" more a reflection of what I want to feel about someone, regardless of the reality of the situation," licensed psychotherapist and sex and relationships expert, Dr. Gary Brown, tells Bustle. "I highly recommend that people who are experiencing a gut feeling that something is or is not right, ask themselves the above question." Don't let your past heartbreak dictate your current relationship.
2. When You Haven't Thought It Through
While following your heart is definitely important, it's also crucial that you act rationally, from a pragmatic point of view, before making any big life decisions.
"While our gut is often right, there are times when it is not," Dr. Brown says. "There is an old saying that goes like this: 'Follow your heart.' I would add the following: "Follow your heart AND bring your brain along with you to help you exercise some reason." When it comes to relationships, rationale and reaction to hand-in-hand.
3. When You're Acting From A Place Of Desire
Is your gut really telling you something important, or are you using your gut as an excuse to act on a desire that you've been feeling guilty about for quite some time? That is an important distinction to make.
"There is a difference between seeing actual red flags that indicate one or more problems, and fear or desired-based feelings that may or may not be accurate gut reflections," Dr. Brown says.
4. When You Haven't Addressed It With Your Partner
Before following any major gut reactions that concern your partner, perhaps bring it up to them first in an honest, non-aggressive fashion, and see how they react. "Overall, I recommend that if there is a question in your mind — or your gut — to actually share your concern with your partner," Dr. Brown says. "This can help you with reality testing."
Always give your partner the same benefit of the doubt that you'd hope they would give you in return. If you have doubts, bring them up to your partner first, before doing anything extreme.
5. When You Have A Historical Fear of Commitment
Are you simulating a gut reaction because you actually just have a huge fear of commitment, and are subconsciously worried that your partner is getting too close?
"If you are a person who tends to live in general fear when it comes to relationships, then you may be vulnerable to either over or under interpreting the motivations and actions of your partner," Dr. Brown says. If your relationship is going emotionally further than you've ever gone before, that gut reaction might not be a hazard sign, but butterfly nerves that result from true vulnerability.
6. When You're Knowingly A Blind Optimist
Optimism can be a great thing — it's wonderful to always be able to make lemonade out of lemons (especially when its 90 degrees out). But the truth is, your relationship isn't always going to be perfect, and having arguments is totally healthy!
"if you live in a perpetual state of optimism and tend to go through life with blinders, that also makes you more vulnerable to misinterpreting your gut when your gut typically says 'everything in my relationship is good all the time', Dr. Brown says. "Why? Because that is never true — even in the very best of relationships."
There's no such thing as a perfect relationship, and one fight that leaves your stomach in knots is not your gut telling you that you're partner is not the one.
7. When Your Gut Has Repeatedly Gotten It Wrong
If you're someone who often follows their instincts, ask yourself how many times going with your gut has actually proven to be a solid method for decision making.
"You also have to take into consideration your own track record when considering your gut feelings," Dr. Brown says. "How often, in general, have your gut instincts proven to be right? For many, our gut actually is much more right than wrong, but we are not infallible. Nobody has perfect radar. If, on the other hand, your gut "instincts" have not been accurate, then you have to be careful in evaluating your relationship."
If trusting your gut recently led you to buy that top you knew you couldn't afford and subsequently consist on peanut butter for two weeks, maybe it's time to rethink your approach.
Our instincts exist for a reason — but listening to your gut is not an exact science. Sometimes it's best to take a step back, check in with yourself, and think it over. Don't ruin a good thing just because your tummy is grumbling.