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11 Parts Of Your Relationship That Aren't Normal (Or Even Close To It)

by Ellen "Jelly" McRae 2 months ago in marriage / love / dating / advice
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Yeah, the relationship red flags are stacking up and you're so far away from a healthy relationship…

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Ok, you got me, there is no normal in relationships.

Everyone has their own weird, wonderful version of what a relationship should be. What's normal to you isn't normal to me. And vice versa.

Fundamentally, normalising relationships, and therefore denormalising relationships, is cruel. 

Talk about ways to make you feel like you're failing, or you need to fix something that doesn't need fixing. We hyper analyse everything at the moment, why add something else to the list?

Despite feeling this way, I can't deny there are some behaviours in a relationship that aren't healthy. Things that aren't helping you grow as a team, or strengthen your relationship. 

These qualities are actually destroying your relationship but you're happy to pass it off as 'normal'.

Call them red flags disguised as green. Or gaslighting. Or whatever term you want. But this abnormal quality of your relationship should have you concerned.

Permission for public negative self-talk

One of the couples I'm friends with got into a conversation about being the perfect partner. The husband started listing the reasons why he considered himself a bad husband. 

It was a heartbreaking list, as he detailed every way he let his wife down and what things he needed to do to improve.

I'm not sure where the list came from; him or her. Not that it mattered.

But as we sat there, she didn't correct him. She didn't say anything to support her husband or correct his negative self-talk. She sat there, even nodding at one point.

It's not normal to let your partner degrade themselves, or have someone else pick holes in their behaviour, and do nothing.

Even if you agree, even if everything they're saying is true, silence implies you condone public character assassinations. And that's not a supportive partner.

Zero financial teamwork

Successful couples don't have to pool all their money together. But it's not normal or healthy to have opposing financial goals and sabotage each other's financial hopes through reckless spending. 

This type of sabotage could be anything like:

  • Spending big when your partner is saving
  • Not participating in saving and expecting your partner to do it all
  • Take out loans behind their back
  • Default on credit card payments and joint debts without telling the other person
  • Making significant financial decisions without telling the other person

Married, living together, sharing kids, or even hoping for a future together, it all comes down to money. Your spending and values towards money need to align if you stand any hope of building a cohesive team.

Thinking you can avoid this isn't normal; it's burying your head in the sand.

Zero knowledge about each other's career

There are some basics you should know about your partner's work. Like, basic basics. It's the same basics as knowing their birthday or what their last name is. 

Without telling you what to do, it's not normal if you can't answer the following about your partner:

  • Job - What they do for a living
  • Where they work - The exact location, name of business, who they work for (or their business name if they own a business)
  • Their job title at that business - Are they an executive? Assistant? Supervisor?
  • What they want to do with their career - Dreams, hopes, what they're working towards

And even if you don't find it abnormal, if you don't know these things, it makes you look like you don't care about them. 

You don't care to know, or you have a relationship where you don't speak about a major part of each other's life.

Silence when you know something is up

When it comes to your friends or people you don't know so well, it's normal to not inquire why they look upset. Or why they look unlike themselves. It's all depending on your relationship with them.

Hesitation is a normal thing. But such hesitation in a romantic relationship isn't. 

It actually suggests:

  • You don't care about the other person's feelings
  • You care more about other aspects of life than your upset partner, which implies you have messed up your priorities
  • You don't think it's your place to intervene, even though they're your partner and they need you to lean on
  • You don't notice when they're upset, which means you don't know them as well as you should

If this is the case for you, here begs the question; why are you in a romantic relationship with this person? If you don't care, or act, when your partner struggles, is this someone you should be with?

Food for thought.

Pleas to not tell your partner

I have one friend who constantly tells me things about their life, things that I would assume their partner knows. 

But every time the conversation ends, this friend ends with: 

"Don't tell my partner."

It's pretty messed up that I'm made to keep a secret from the partner, especially as this partner is a friend of mine too.

But it's more messed up that there are secrets between partners.

It's not normal for someone else outside of the relationship to know more than your partner. They should be the first person you tell everything to. And if not, they should end up in the knowing, never being the last to find out.

Imbalanced effort

You know this whole teamwork thing I've been talking about? Well, it's not normal for one person to put more effort into the relationship than the other. The imbalance of effort can happen in many forms. It could be:

  • One person works on the emotional side of the relationship - One side is trying to build emotional connections, and the other doesn't.
  • One person handles more of the logistics of the relationship - One person puts in all the leg work (does all the food shopping, driving, planning) and the other does nothing.
  • One person does all the cleaning, housework, cooking
  • One person does all the socialising - Keeping up with friends, family, socialising

Imbalances in specific areas of a relationship are normal. What isn't is when the one letting the team down doesn't do anything to make up for their lack of effort.

It's in this situation, they don't do the food shopping, nor do they do any cleaning or emotional connecting either.

Basically, they're lazy.

Goal sabotaging

So this one happened to me, so excuse me if I'm a little emotional talking about it.

But my last boyfriend, before I found my amazing husband, was always out to put me down.

He didn't see the joy, need or desire to support my goals as a writer. And, with extreme and disturbing amounts of effort, he sabotaged me.

I thought it was normal, by the way. I hadn't started to pursue a creative idea like this before, so I assumed this is how a partner would react. It wasn't until my friends and family supported me I realised how abnormal this behaviour was.

Your partner is your teammate in life. When they act as the opposition, you don't have a teammate at all.

Zero independent decision making

I know teamwork has been the theme of this piece, so why not touch on it again? Well, some people take this idea of teamwork way too far. 

In imbalanced relationships, partners believe they can't make a decision without their partner. It's not normal for:

  • A partner to run through every decision, major or minor, with their partner - Minor decisions get treated the same way as major decisions. What to have dinner has the same discussion as what car to buy.
  • A partner to treat every decision as one that affects the relationship - If the partner goes out for lunch when the other partner is interstate for work, they still feel the need to run the decision through their partner.
  • A partner to assume their other half needs consulting on a decision that only affects them - You can't buy a pair of jeans without your partner's consultation.

What makes this list worse is the desire to run through every decision because of fear. It's a fear of what their partner will say or do when once they discover a decision was made without them.

Fearing your partner isn't normal.

Zero sex

If your relationship has always been sexless, ignore this.

What's normal for one couple isn't normal for others. But no sex? Or when the frequency you're used to completely evaporates? Well, that's not normal.

But don't mistake periods of explained abstinence with zero sex. There are times in your life when sex isn't important or possible within the relationship. This could be:

  • After having children
  • During physical or mental health challenges
  • During a time when you can't be alone for extended periods of time
  • Physical separation due to work and travel

But for neither of you to want to have sex with each other? For neither of you to want to make an effort?

You already know what I'm going to say.

Chore like sex

And when sex feels like it's something you have to do, or you're counting down the moments until it's over, that's not normal. It's an indication something bigger is at play. It could be a sign:

  • You're not physically attracted to your partner anymore, or never have been
  • You're not enjoying the sex anymore or it has become stale
  • You don't have any emotional connection to your partner so the sex becomes torturous
  • Your sex frequency doesn't match that of your partner, in that one wants it more or less than the other
  • You're struggling with what sex means in your relationship, in that you're only using it for reproduction or because you have to, rather than for pleasure

Partner v partner attitude

Whoever told you that it's normal for your relationship to be a battle, not a team, was leading you into trouble.

Whether it's been from the eternal battle of the sexes, down to clashing personalities, fighting your partner, being right at every step, isn't normal.

Though you don't have to agree on everything, purposeful disagreement is harmful behaviour. As well as thinking that every decision, action or event in your life must have a battle of wills first.

Relationships are designed for two people to build a life together, as a team. If you or your partner view one another as someone to win over, combat with, or tiptoe around, the dynamic is all wrong.

You can't build a team if you're playing for different sides.

How normal are you?

Well, there are no winners here. 

Your relationship isn't better than others because it's normal. And your relationship isn't failing because it has some red-flag-like values.

It's your relationship to love, grow and treasure. Yet, if you're feeling like you're accepting these red flags to avoid breaking up, or rocking the boat, you're compromising.

And once you start compromising one thing, everything goes, including your happiness. Don't lose your happiness. 

Because it takes a lot of work to get it back.


About the author

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

Writes about romanceships (romance + relationships) | Loves to talk about behind the scenes of being a solopreneur on The Frolics | Writes 1 Lovelock Drive | Discover everything I do and share here:

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