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The Psychology Shop

Bad Romantic Relationships: Part 3

Do You Have An Icky Boyfriend (Or Girlfriend)?
When To Stay And When To Run! (part 3)

In the first two parts of this series, the basics of dating and things to watch out for in your partner were discussed. Now it's time to discuss things that YOU may do which are warning signs that your relationship may need an overhaul or a change of partners. If you experience any one of these behaviors, it may be a sign that you need to look deeply into your own actions and decide if you are acting differently because of your partner or your own issues. If it is your own issues, please work through them. Your issues may be based upon previous bad relationship experiences, a dysfunctional family upbringing, or a traumatic event. No matter what the cause, the end result is that your issues may be impacting your relationships. If these signs are caused by your partner's behavior, now may be a good time to RUN!!. Or as my grandmother always said, "no matter what your heart tells you, listen to your gut".

    • Are you re-arranging plans with family and friends, or do not make plans in case your partner calls and arranges a date?

      This can also be a sign of insecurity in the relationship or an act of desperation. If your partner is not able to take into consideration other people that are important in your life or is considerate enough to make plans in advance, now is a good time to set these boundaries. The expectation that you are always available will only get worse in time, and it is not fair to you.


    • Are you becoming a stalker? For example, have you driven by his house, called his home repeatedly, like 17 times per hour)?

      This behavior, especially from someone who is essentially "normal", indicates a lack of trust in your partner. Does he make you feel important, does he call you or show up when he says he will? Does he stare at other women when he is with you? For any healthy relationship, you have got to be able to trust the person you are with. If you find yourself doing things that you normally do not do, this is likely to be a result from your partner’s behavior. Who needs this drama? Remember, drama is not an indication of love, just future heart-aches (and headaches).


    • Do you wait for a call or constantly check your messages?

      Breathe, girl, breathe. Remember, your partner wanted to date you because of who you were before you met. Continue to enjoy your life, he will call. If he doesn’t, consider it a reflection of him, and possibly a huge favor.


    • Are you jealous?

      Jealousy can be caused by your own issues (insecurity, low self-esteem) or it may be indicative of things that your partner does. Does he frequently look at other women instead of paying attention to you? Is he dating others, or do strange woman contact you to discuss him? If there is nothing unusual that your partner does and the jealousy is actually a reflection of your own issues, now is a great time to get help so you can have an improved relationship. If your jealousy is actually due to your partner’s actions, why do you put up with it?


    • Are you always tense around your partner and are afraid to say certain things. Do you feel that you are "walking on eggshells" or turning into an emotional pretzel?

      If you are normally confident in relationships, why are you afraid to speak your mind now? Is your partner critical or highly defensive if there is a disagreement? Ewwwww...all relationships will have disagreements. A partner should enhance your feelings of well-being, not cause increased personal stress or low self-esteem.


    • Do you feel that you are not good enough or pretty enough.

      You were good enough to date in the first place. Therefore, you are enough. If you are being told frequently how to improve your looks, personality, coping, or general living, now is a really good time to run away fast. Remember, we enter this world pretty much looking alike (small, toothless, and often bald), and will pretty much leave this world looking like each other (shorter, gray, often bald, sometimes toothless, and certainly wrinkled). It is what is in the heart and head that counts. Be proud of who you are.


    • Are your values being compromised? Does you partner purposely lie to others, take unfair advantage of others, steal, or lie to you?

      If your partner does any of these, even if not to you directly, how can you really trust him with your personal well-being? Part of a healthy relationship is to be able to trust your partner and the relationship even in the worst of times. If your partner does not share similar ethics and values, where will the trust be? Remember, "but I love him" is not enough, and you really can not change another person.


      Here are a few easy rules for all relationships:

  • Be true to yourself; your partner was attracted to you as an individual, if you change, you lose that part of yourself.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Set boundaries; if you do not want to do something, tell your partner (in a polite way, of course) you are not comfortable with that specific behavior. This is all part of keeping true to yourself.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on the relationship. Time and experience will show if this is someone you really want to be with in the years to come. The more you rush a relationship, the more impersonal the relationship becomes. Only date someone that you would have as a great friend. If you say to yourself, "if this guy were a girlfriend, I would back away"; then why are making an exception that is emotionally and physically more intimate. In my practice I have a saying "Never date anyone that you would not have as a good friend". If you would not take a bad behavior from a girlfriend, why would you take it from a boyfriend?

Romantic relationships are one of the most emotionally powerful life events what we experience. They can be so rewarding, and yet, also have such power to potentially cause tremendous pain. Be true to yourself, set personal boundaries (this can do amazing things in relationships), and accept your partner for who he or she is. If you feel the need to change your partner, then you really are trying to date somebody else.