The initial stages of a relationship can be deceiving as we are often on a high, a chemical high.
We get those dizzy in-love feelings that swim around our brain, which are essentially just endorphins that are released when we enter into any type of intimate relationship. Endorphins release oxytocin, which is a powerful bonding chemical that works to create something that looks very similar to co-dependency.
Basically, oxytocin is associated with mother and baby relationships to form a strong and difficult to break bond.
So, we can now imagine how this same chemical affects us in our relationships. It tricks us into thinking we have to be at the other person’s side and in close physical contact. Not only that, it creates something not too different from addiction.
Due to the chemicals pulsating through our systems we are often blind to things that could be major red flags in our relationships that would let us know that all is not well.
As these chemicals simmer down, and the relationship becomes a little less intense and physical, we begin to see a much truer version of our relationship—we basically begin to see what looks a lot more like reality.
And sometimes, it isn’t pretty.
When we begin to notice the signs that our relationship is not all what it seemed, quite often, the initial changes are easier to see in the way we are behaving, not the other person, as all too often our own reactions to other people can be a huge indicator that something is not right.
Anxiety. Anxiety is often the first signal that something is going wrong in our lives. It is a state or inner turmoil and is strongly associated with fear. Even though anxiety is a different emotion from fear, it can be felt when we perceive ourselves to be in some form of danger, whether real or imagined.
Feeling Crazy. That feeling when our head is spinning, we can’t catch our thoughts and we don’t know whether we are coming or going is often a sign that something, somewhere is going seriously wrong. If these moments happen regularly within a relationship, it’s a sure sign that something within the relationship needs to be addressed. Often, that “crazy feeling” is a sign that things are spiraling out of control.
Being Blamed. Whenever someone is passing on the blame for things going wrong to someone else, it is a sign that they are not taking full responsibility for their own behaviour and actions. We are all accountable for our own role that we play in the dynamic of the relationship and when we tell someone else they are to blame, we are shifting the responsibility away from ourselves and onto others. Therefore, if a partner is constantly blaming us for things they aren’t happy with, we need to refuse to accept the blame and step away from the situation to look at why they are offloading all the responsibility onto us.
Blaming someone is very different to airing grievances. Open and constructive communication is the only way a relationship is going to thrive. Blame lies with power and control, so it is imperative we do not take on the full responsibility for anything within a relationship as in doing so, we are immediately weakened, which is the sole purpose of blame.
Scared about their reactions. If we are constantly fearful of how our partner is going to react to everyday aspects of life, this is a clear indicator that the relationship is abusive. The fear can begin with worrying if we miss a call or a text message and can range to being afraid to say the wrong thing or to go out with friends.
If our partner reacts negatively and aggressively to simple things that go on within the relationship, it is then a huge worry if something more significant goes wrong. Relationships aren’t always plain sailing and we should never be afraid or scared of how other people will respond to things we do or say. Often the person who is reacting will try to blame you for their response (as above—blame), however, placing blame is a way to get out of taking responsibility.
When we are in a relationship, we should above all else be able to trust that the person we are with is not going to be causing us emotional, mental or physical harm. Simple things like feeling scared about missing a call can very quickly lead to walking on eggshells and being fearful of how we choose to live our lives and feeling nervous about most other parts of the relationship too.
Making excuses. As soon as we hear ourselves justifying our partner’s behaviour we should see this as an alarm bell ringing. It’s one thing to explain why someone has behaved a certain way, but there is usually trouble around if we are making up excuses that do not reflect reality. Also, what can happen is that we begin to believe the excuses we make. We usually want to see the best in the people we choose to be in a relationship with, therefore, it kind of hurts (a lot) when they behave in ways that are hurtful. So, we make up little excuses here and there to justify their behaviours, the worrying thing is though, these little excuses can quickly develop into a habit and cause us to turn a blind-eye to major red flags.
Being the only one to apologise. I’m sure we have all dated someone who was Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. The thing is though, they really weren’t perfect, none of us are. Therefore, we all need to take our turn in apologising. We all make mistakes, we all mess up and we all need to own up to it, take accountability and say sorry. We don’t all like the use of the word sorry, so it’s okay to find our own ways to make things up. The problems arise when one or both parties refuse to take any responsibility for making up and for accepting their part in whatever may have gone wrong.
When there is only one person apologising, a dynamic can quickly form whereby the other person will wait it out until the person who always says sorry gives in—and apologises. This kind of dynamic isn’t healthy for any relationships. There must be give and take and it is never one person’s fault continuously for things that go wrong within a relationship.
These are just a few signs that things may not always be what they seem.
Unfortunately wishful thinking can keep us in a relationship that we know we really shouldn’t stay in. We hope, wish, pray and even firmly believe that people will change. We wait around, have patience, try our best to love unconditionally and accept people exactly as they are, however, sooner or later we must be aware of the types of relationships that are causing us harm and those that are good for us.
No relationship is worth sacrificing our emotional, mental or physical health and well-being for. As difficult as it sometimes is, we really must figure out whom we love more, ourselves or the other person. Hint: it should always be the former. And it is usually because we don’t love the former enough, that we end up entwined in these types of relationships in the first place.
Writing: Alex Myles
Main Image unsplash Chermiti Mohamed