In our individualistic society, it’s usually left up to young people to find their mates without help from the wider family. Often, it just seems to be a matter of luck who ends up struggling through an unhappy relationship to end up divorcing, and which marriage sails from strength to strength.
The First Flush of Love
A new relationship affects your emotions like a drug. Your new love makes you feel ridiculously high, and incredibly happy. It’s the infatuation stage, otherwise known as ‘being in love’.
After the event, a love that doesn’t last is often called an ‘infatuation’, while a lasting affair gets the credit for having been ‘true love’ from the start. It’s a little unfair, because how is a person to tell the difference? The love part is the same hormonally induced bliss in both cases. What makes the difference is not the quality of your blissful loving feelings, but whether or not there are other factors that will lead to unhappiness once the feeling of ‘being in love’ fades.
The hard part is stepping outside that loving feeling to look critically at the relationship, before committing too far. Don’t be too proud to take advice. Online resources like this toxic relationship test can help you to step back and be objective enough to identify problems as early as possible.
Marry in Haste
The old saying that goes ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure,’ makes a good point. Your head as well as your heart should be engaged in the decision to spend your life and start a family with another person. The initial infatuation can last between 18 months and three years, so it’s a good rule not to marry until you have known your partner for at least two years.
After that time, it’s a good bet that the rose-tinted spectacles will have fallen from the eyes of both partners. Problems in the relationship can then be looked at objectively, and hopefully worked on. If that’s not possible it should be less of a wrench for the parties to tear themselves away from each other than it would have been in the early days of the relationship.
So what are the things you should try to be aware of during the first intoxicating phase of a loving relationship, so that you don’t get too carried away and commit yourself for life before the fairy dust wears off?
Signs of Trouble
The truth is that even in the first flush of love, there are signs to watch for that show this partnership isn’t a good bet.
Did your lover say that s/he loved you on the first or second date? That looks like insincerity, immaturity, or maybe even a deliberate attempt to play on your emotions, speaking of a cold and manipulative person.
Does your partner subtly undermine you, implying criticism of your judgment at every turn? That’s a way of making you doubt yourself, increasing your dependence on the partner.
Is your partner a liar? Do you find that their first reaction is to cover the truth when it reflects badly on them? That’s a natural instinct, but not the basis for a good relationship. You need to be able to trust your partner.
Does your partner want to know what you are doing, and why, all the time? Do they resent relationships that you have with other people? That’s a sign that they don’t see you as a person with a right to your own identity. As far as they are concerned, you are there simply to fulfil their needs.
There are people who are difficult to deal with because they are so self-involved. There are people with deep problems and dependencies that make them impossible to be with. There are also many cases of relationships that don’t work because the parties are simply incompatible.
There’s no need to categorize your partner as a ‘sociopath’, or a person with ‘narcissistic personality disorder‘: maybe the two of you are just not good together.
Do you feel that your partner deserves your respect, and that he or she has respect for you, going beyond your initial love? Can you trust each other enough to be really honest with each other? Do you enjoy each other’s company without needing to know where the other is the whole time? If the answers are all ‘yes’, then a good long-term relationship may be on the cards.
Joy Sanderson has been a qualified relationship consultant for the past 12 years. She had a degree in psychology and is considered the go-to Life Guru amongst friends. She writes on topics of the heart for different women’s lifestyle blogs.