How to combat 4 not-so-obvious relationship threats

Relationships aren’t always a bed of roses. With the exciting, adrenaline-filled bits of the relationship, the lulls and the lows are inevitable. That said, relationships are not supposed to feel distressing and anxiety-inducing. Relationships require time and patience for working through any issues that might crop up. But what must one do when there are subtle threats that go almost unnoticed? Here are four such threats to a stable relationship and how to combat them:

Concerns that remain unaddressed due to poor communication:

Once the honeymoon phase gradually wanes out and the normalcy and comfort start to settle in, the relationship may start to feel...not so special anymore. This is not unusual, but leaving it out of the conversation isn’t a good move.

Between the two of you, there might be worries about feeling “lesser than” or “not good enough”, which might lead to one overcompensating to conceal it. While everyone wishes to present their best selves to their partners, in the beginning, not feeling comfortable enough to address the feelings of inadequacy or insecurity can pose major problems as time passes. Maybe you feel so because your partner consciously or unconsciously does/says something to contribute to it. If left unaddressed, this might lead to strong negative feelings of contempt or disdain towards yourself and/or your partner.

Here’s what you can do to combat this: Communicate. It is imperative that you talk about this to your partner at the earliest. This also sets an important base (or adds on) to build a deeper level of trust between the two of you.

Not recognising coercion and gaslighting for what they are:

Gaslighting has been a subject of much discussion, especially in recent times, as more people are becoming aware of what it means. It is a form of emotional abuse where one person manipulates their partner by making them question their thoughts, feelings and memories. What makes gaslighting a serious red flag in a relationship is that it can be very difficult for the person on the receiving end to recognise it for what it is. This, and coercion, which is the act of forcing someone into doing something they are not comfortable doing using force or threat, are very harmful signs of a toxic relationship. If left unchecked, they can have serious repercussions such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Evaluate the situation with a third-person perspective and distance yourself from the situation momentarily. Try to put forth your feelings about this with your partner by being confident about your version of the events. Do not hesitate to seek out support systems or even professional help to deal with this effectively.

Micromanagement of each others’ lives

With relationships comes an understanding of being aware of the little things about each other and being involved in each other’s lives and activities. It is expected, endearing too. But there is a fine line between wanting to be involved and wanting to micromanage every aspect. Signs of micromanagement are not very overt and obvious; they creep up slowly and can catch you off guard. By doing so, your partner is only showing that they are controlling and do not respect you as an individual who needs their space.

There is no way to go about it than to let them know that it is not okay. Communication is key. It is only when you communicate do you learn of each others’ boundaries and needs. Maybe you are doing this unconsciously too. Talk it out to arrive at a healthy middle-ground.

Creeping roommate syndrome

Something that happens with long-term relationships, the “roommate syndrome” is where you feel like your partner has become your roommate after being around one another for so long. You’ve both fallen into a comfortable routine, which might initially seem harmless, but you might gradually realise that any romance or intimacy has long left the relationship. This develops over time, which is why it may go undetected early.

What can you do? Recognise the subtle signs early. Don’t allow it to fester for long. A problem resolved early is always the best thing that can happen.

Relationships can be and are very important but they should not take up so much space in your life that no room is left for anything else. A healthy relationship should make you feel energised and loved, not leave you feeling drained. Any signs that indicate it feels draining would require you to pause and take a good look at your relationship.

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