Relationship Healthcheck

Signs & Signals

Occasionally, relationships break down without any apparent sign that there is something wrong - sometimes one partner chooses to leave for reasons they never share. However, in the majority of cases the breakdown of a relationship is more gradual with clear signs and signals along the way. Many people look back and realise there were indicators long before real problems arose. Here are some of the most common signs that there may be trouble ahead.

  • Communication breakdown. Do you spend hours with your partner but never talk about anything other than what's for dinner? A breakdown or deterioration in the type and level of communication is usually one of the first symptoms of a major relationship problem.
  • Needing reassurance. Are you constantly moaning about your partner to your friends or even anyone who will listen? Do you ask other people what they think of your relationship more than you discuss your relationship with your partner?
  • Covering up. Do you find yourself putting on a brave face and pretending that everything is OK whilst inside you have a heavy heart?
  • Feeling secure. Are you always comfortable being yourself or do you worry about everything you say or do in case it upsets your partner or makes them want to leave you?
  • You are the last to know. Does your partner talk to you about their life, their work or their habits? Or do you find out where their have been and how they feel about things from friends or family? When you question your partner are they evasive or dismissive?
  • Change in appearance or behaviour. Have you noticed any recent changes in your partner? Although a level of comfort with long term partners is normal, a sudden negative change in personal appearance can indicate issues to do with self esteem, feeling valued or not giving a damn. Alternatively, a person who suddenly starts dressing very well, showering more often, using different cosmetics or aftershave should be a warning sign. This may indicate they are attempting to attract other people.
  • Arguments. Do you argue frequently? Some couples argue more than others but if you repeatedly argue about the same issues without any resolution or the levels of disagreement are clearly escalating, then your relationship may be in trouble. Violent or abusive arguments should be taken very seriously.
  • Lack of intimacy. Is intimacy declining? Most couples settled into a comfortable relationship notice a decline in the level of cuddling, kissing and sex from the initial heady days of falling in love. Where the decline is sudden or one partner feels frustrated or rejected then there is cause for concern. There may be times when intimacy may decline (after childbirth etc) but it should be temporary.
  • Lack of trust. Do you trust your partner? If either you or your partner are constantly uneasy and suspicious of the motives and movements of the other, there is clearly an issue to face sooner rather than later.
  • On the look out. Are you on the look out for other interesting potential partners or do you feel that your partner is not 100% set on you? If so, your relationship has some serious hurdles to cross if it is going to survive.
  • Not spending time together. Would you rather spend your time doing something other than being with your partner? If either of you seem to find excuses not to spend time with each other then it may be time to explore the reasons why.
  • Sex has become an ordeal. Is sex still enjoyable? Most of us experience fluctuations in libido, how desirable we feel and our desire for physical contact with others. However, if either of you feel the need to get sex over with as quickly as possible or if you sometimes shy away from attempts at foreplay, then it is time to consider the reasons and decide how to proceed.

If you are currently experiencing relationship problems and recognise some of the signs and signals above then you could choose to tackle the problem before you reach the stage of separation or divorce.