Carrie Bradshaw (probably) once asked in Sex and the City—How do you tell if your relationship is working, if it’s too much work? Of course we all need to work at our relationships, but what happens when the work feels more like hard labor? Feeling like we should be wearing orange jumpsuits and working in a chain gang is not most people’s ideal relationship. Each couple is different of course—some thrive on conflict; After all, making up after breaking up is always hot. But there are some pointers which, if you identify them, should make you look more closely at whether it’s working for you. So… IS there a cut and dried way of how to tell if your relationship is working?
Are You Always the One Saying Sorry?
If the apology always comes from you, then it’s time to square up or walk away. The old adage “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” is, quite frankly, bull shit. Look, we all come home from work tired and irritable sometimes, and we snap. And then, if the other person is important to us, we say sorry. But if it’s always you on bended knees, then you’re driving down a one way street. Living with someone arrogant enough to think he or she never has to say sorry is exhausting and soul destroying. Unless your partner is so perfect that there is genuinely never a need for sorry, then you’re in for an uphill struggle. The chances are you’re living with a narcissist, and that spells trouble, with a capital SHIT.
Has Your Partner Cheated On You?
A lot of couples claim that an infidelity makes their relationship stronger. But introducing mistrust and suspicion into any partnership is like pouring poison into a glass of vintage champagne. It spoils it. Your partner now knows that any indiscretion will, in all likelihood, be forgiven and you are left wondering who that text came from, or whether he is dipping his nib in the office ink. Again. And just like ink, cheating leaves a stain that you can never quite rub off, even though he will probably quite enjoy the rubbing!
Do You Find Your Mind Wandering to Someone Else?
Another good yardstick in the how to tell if your relationship is working "book" is whether or not YOUR mind is focused on your partner, or someone else. Let’s say you’re at work, and you find out one of your male colleagues is off sick. Do you feel like you’ve been cheated out of your eye candy for the day? Or, when you’re in bed and your partner is in you, do you close your eyes and wish it was someone else? We all have our fantasies—who doesn’t imagine they had Gerard Butler, or a naked butler, or even just someone else’s naked butt, lying next to us from time to time? But if you wish you had just anyone else lying next to you, then your relationship is in trouble.
Has the Sex Stopped?
Oh dear. Our sexual activity is a barometer for how healthy our relationships are. If you have gone from rodgering like rabbits to shagging like sloths (in other words, it’s all too much trouble), then it’s time to take a cold hard look at what’s going on. And when we say hard, we mean is it? If your man just isn’t turned on by you any more, then there’s something going on. And equally, if he makes your skin crawl where he used to make it tingle, then, as the song goes, you’ve lost that loving feeling. Unless there is some medical reason (and let’s face it, if you have a good relationship, you’ll know about that anyway) why things have gone flat (excuse the pun) then it’s time to consider calling it quits.
Could You Retire With This Person?
A great example of how to tell if your relationship is working is to ask yourself “Could I retire with this person?" Before you recoil in horror at the thought of even being that old, let me tell you—it creeps up on you—you’re only ever just one gray pube away from it! But, ask yourself this—could you imagine giving him head that far ahead? What excites you more, the thought of him going down on you, or him going down to the pub so you can get some peace? It’s definitely food for thought. If he takes a sick day at work, does having him home with you unexpectedly fill you with delight, or fill you with dread? If it’s the latter, then you need to re-evaluate your relationship, because if you stay together and it comes to retirement—he’s going to be there with you every day. Every. Damn. Day.
Does Being Alone Scare You?
If you are with your partner because the alternative of being alone is the glue that is holding the pair of you together, then you need to give this relationship some serious thought. I mean, what’s so bad about being single anyway? You get the entire bed to yourself. And all the covers. Or not—if you are single you are free to invite whomever you want into that big bed. And kick them out again before the snoring sets in. You can have the girls (or boys) over whenever you want, get drunk, be silly, and have fun without having to worry about what someone thinks. Of course, if you’re with the right person, none of this will tempt you. If you can resist anything, including temptation, then it’s probably working for you.
Is He Interested In You?
Ok, picture this. You both come home from work. You ask him about his day. He tells you all about what happened, who he saw, who did this, who said that. Or maybe he doesn’t, maybe he mumbles something non-committal. (Red flag number one—he’s not interested in sharing his day with you.) So you wait. And you wait. And he asks what’s for dinner. Never what happened at your work, or how you are feeling. (Red flag number two.) If you are looking for warning signs, then this one is a great big skull and crossbones with the word poison written underneath. He doesn’t care about your day, your feelings, or your life. He just wants a servant. And honey, even if you dress it up with a little French maid’s outfit, and wield a feather tickler, he won’t notice. He’s just. Not. Interested.
Do You Bitch About Him to Your Friends?
Ok, so we all bitch about our partners to our besties. It’s one of the things they’re there for. (That and pulling our skirts out of our knicker elastic when we come out of the bathroom. No? Just me then.) But if you find yourself constantly complaining about everything he does, or doesn’t do, then you need to take a step back and think seriously. If he’s been an ass, then of course you are going to tell your girlfriends—and they will side with you and plot his death with you, and then they will forgive him when you do, and life goes on. But if you find that your friends’ eyes are glazing over when you moan about him, or if they all exchange "looks" (you know the ones—the "is she seriously still with this guy?" looks) then it could be that you’ve gone from healthy bitching, to "Is there nothing about this guy she likes?" If you’ve reached that stage, chances are you’ve also reached the end of the road as far as that relationship goes, and it’s time to move on.
What Would YOU Tell Your Friend to Do?
Women everywhere have been wondering how to tell if their relationship is working for centuries. So in honor of our historical, and hysterical, sisters, let’s have a bit of role reversal here. Imagine your best friend is going out with your boyfriend. Would you be happy for her? Would you think he was a man worth keeping? Or would you want to gouge his eyes out, or cut off his penis and make him eat it, mafia style? Sometimes we’re too close to the action, or inaction, to see what’s going on. But friends are pretty good at seeing the signs. And if you would advise your BFF to dump him if he were her fella, then you should probably take a swig of your own medicine. Come to think of it—if the thought of your mate with your bloke doesn’t hit you in the solar plexus, then it’s definitely time to kiss him goodbye.
Is Guilt Making You See the Relationship Through Gilt-Tinted Glasses?
Has your other half stuck through you during some rough times? Maybe he stayed with you through illness, or a time of real stress? Do you feel obligated to stay with him because of it? If that is all that is keeping you together, then you need to sort it out. Nobody wants a pity fuck, and if guilt is what’s making you stay, then that’s all it is. Staying with a guy out of guilt is not fair on either of you, and believe me—blowing a man you don’t want to be with will just leave you with a bad taste in your mouth! If he’s not the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, do both of you a favor, and get out now!
Every relationship is different, but if you are feeling more barf sick than love sick when you look at your man, then that would be a great place to start wondering how to tell if your relationship is working.