By: Liora for Divorced Moms.
We’ve all heard the song “Love Hurts.” A few of us have probably played it on repeat post-breakup while drowning our troubles in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. But love isn’t supposed to hurt, scar, burn, or any of those things. While a relationship can feel like that and still be love, it’s not the sort of love that you want or need.
No relationship is perfect – we all have our flaws, our eccentricities and those puzzle pieces that are hard to fit together. Arguments and disagreements are a part of a healthy relationship too, but with a priority on open communication and a shared goal of mutual happiness, they are supposed to make you grow stronger, not leave you a sobbing mess.
1. There is frequent criticism or belittling – either from him or from you.
If you’re staying together hoping his hyper-critical behaviour will change, newsflash: the odds are stacked against you, and with so many fish in the sea, you’ll find someone who doesn’t hurt you like that. Also, if you’re always criticising him, you’re not good for him either.
In every relationship, there’ll be annoying things about each other. It might even be trivial things (chewing noises, neat freak when you’re messy, etc.) that you just accept for peace in the home. But if he or you are regularly criticising/mocking each other, that’s just not healthy.
Frequent criticism or belittling are also signs of emotional abuse. In these relationships, the love you feel for someone who damages your self-esteem is called traumatic bonding. It’s part of the cycle of abuse; you shouldn’t have to live with a love based on trauma and pain. They say “love conquers all”, but it doesn’t conquer that.
If he doesn’t like you as you are, or vice-versa, and either of you make the other feel bad about themselves, then it’s better to get out than to carry on being hurt.
2. You break up regularly, or threats of break-ups are used to control you.
Feeling like you’re constantly walking on eggshells and on the verge of losing your partner if you don’t comply is not a way to live, let alone to love. If every time your Facebook status changes to single, your friends heave a sigh of “yeah, right!”, then alarm bells should be going off.
Likewise, if you’re regularly threatening to break up with him if he doesn’t change, then just get it over with. As mentioned before, the odds are stacked against you: people generally only change when they want to. If the behaviour is legitimately unacceptable, ask yourself why you’re staying. Threatening break-ups isn’t a healthy tactic to elicit change: if things are that broken, cut your losses.
3. Every molehill turns into a mountain.
Communication is key to a healthy relationship: if you can agree to disagree, understand that you’re allowed to have different opinions, and handle disagreements respectfully with the shared goal of a happy relationship, then the arguments will make you stronger, not tear you apart.
But if even trivial things turn into attacks on your character, full-blown screaming matches, etc. then run for the hills.