couples

The five telltale signs your relationship is over, according to an expert.

Let’s not sugarcoat it, break-ups are monumentally sh*t. And often even sh*ttier when it’s the breakdown of a marriage.

The transition from them being your forever person to becoming an ex can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to navigate.

Obviously none of us enters a relationship thinking it’ll end in separation, but with one in three marriages ending in divorce, it’s something we need to talk about, even though we often don’t.

Which is why we’ve launched brand new podcast The Split, hosted by Mandy Nolan.

Mandy now relishes in her beautiful, blended family; one made of her ex husband, her ex partner, her current husband, and her five children aged between 10 and 23. She knows a thing or two about the messy intricacies unique to divorce.

Over eight weeks, Mandy will be delving deeper into separations, and their impact on our lives.

Whether you’re unsure about the split, have had your heart smashed into smithereens, or you know that breaking up is the right decision, it can still be an incredibly lonely time.

Mandy shares her personal pearls of wisdom along with someone else who knows a thing or two about separation. The Split’s resident therapist Melissa Ferrari has over 20 years’ experience in couples counselling and individual psychotherapy. She shared a few telltale signs a relationship is in trouble.

Of course, no two relationships are the same, but, in her experience, the following signs are a good indicator a couple is heading straight for splitsville.

Incoming: Listen to the first episode of The Split. Post continues. 

Making threats.

The aim of the game for all couples is to have a ‘secure functioning relationship’, meaning, rather literally, that you two function as a secure couple. 

“Secure functioning couples don’t ever make any threats to the relationship,” says Melissa. “They never say things like ‘I’m leaving, I’m done’, they don’t say things like, ‘I’m not doing this any more’. A good relationship is one that’s safe and secure.”

Talking about your life in singular terms.

Melissa says when she hears people “talking singular about their lives rather than it being a partnership”, it’s a pretty good indication they’re starting to grow apart. Basically, when they’re having a conversation like they’re the only person in that relationship.

This can be observed in behaviour too, Melissa noting, “When a couple aren’t good at engaging with each other or looking at each other in a loving way.”

Not having each other’s back.

“A secure couple have each other’s back. They won’t throw each other under the bus, or make remarks in public that could be embarrassing,” says Melissa. But, as she admits herself, this is sometimes easier said than done.

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“We throw each other under the bus all the time without knowing,” Melissa explains.  “You need to be aware when you’re doing that because you don’t want your partner to feel shame, just because you’re having a conversation with someone.”

Not having your OH’s back is something so be aware of both publicly and privately. It’s all about being attuned to their needs and taking care of those needs. “If your partner knows they’ve distressed you, then they fix it. If they’ve upset you, they’ll make it right again – that’s a healthy partnership.”

Melissa says it’s also important your partner is the person you go to first with exciting news, and not have them being the third or fourth person you tell.

“Being each other’s go-to person is always going to be a more secure partnership.”

Being overly-critical.

This is (unsurprisingly) a big indication the relationship is in trouble.

“If the criticism is really heavy, and you’re seeing those looks of contempt or one is really looking  down on the other, that’s a massive red flag,” says Melissa. “Coldness and abruptness, too.”

Not having sex.

“Sex is such an important part of having a relationship,” explains Melissa. “Having that physical contact – eye to eye or skin to skin – is really going to help a couple keep that bond going. If a couple has really grown apart to a place where they don’t want to have sex with each other or are avoiding each other, that’s really not a good sign.”

Melissa says if a couple is not having sex or one is wanting it more than the other, it can be worked through. But in her experience, it’s very important.

“While there are some couples who can decide it’s not an important part of a relationship, my observations are that sex is an important part of a relationship and if it’s not happening, then it does have to be addressed.”

Mandy also chimed in with a very good point: You’re nicer to your partner if you’ve been having sex.

It’s because of all those lovely positive hormones. Melissa says it takes you back to the start of your relationship. “You’ve got the oxytocin which is the bonding hormone and that’s the hormone that’s so prevalent there in the beginning when you’re going through that bonding experience so actually, after sex you’re going ‘oh yeah, I remember that feeling’ and ‘I remember you and all those great times in the beginning’. It reinforces that bond and it’s why you do feel more in love.”

How did you cope – or flourish – during or after your split? Share your tips with us below.

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