Whether it’s a hot romance or a new friendship, there’s nothing quite as exciting as the early phase of a relationship—before you discover anything about the other person that doesn’t fit your fantasy of what they’re going to contribute to your life.
But what happens when this other person does start to say, think, or do things that you don’t like? What if you’ve both started taking each other—and the relationship—for granted?
Here are 5 signs that a relationship needs a tune-up:
- It feels totally one-sided. One of you is always making the first move and making the effort to keep the relationship alive.
- You sense you’ve grown past it. This is particularly true of relationships you may have taken from childhood or adolescence into adulthood, but may also apply to the transformation you experience through personal growth.
- You feel bad. Spending time with this person leaves you feeling drained, negative, or just plain unhappy. You feel the relationship is doing you more harm than good.
- You feel tempted to relapse or isolate. Whether it’s a so-called “binge buddy,” or just anyone who reinforces behaviors you’re trying to let go of, this can be a slippery slope.
- Something is off. This relationship just doesn’t feel right – it’s a nagging sense that you can’t put your finger on.
If any of these apply to you, don’t worry, you can turn this around! You can change this relationship. As always, we can only change ourselves and not the other person, although some people will change in response to your changes.
The first thing you can change is your thinking about the relationship. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like, try to find the “pearl,” or the positive side. What’s special about this situation, this relationship, or this person? How can you see them through compassionate eyes instead of judging them?
You can also change your actions in this relationship. Sure, it’s easier to send a text message or an email. But if that’s what you usually do, imagine the impact of a phone call or a hand-written card! What little step can you take, what olive branch can you extend, what gesture can you make?
Lastly, you can change your words in this relationship. Notice how much time you spend talking about problems, difficulties, complaints, or fears to this person. How would it impact the relationship if even 10% of the time you made a conscious effort to express words of gratitude, appreciation, or kindness?
Sometimes relationships need more than change—you might actually want to take a vacation from a relationship and get some space to reflect on things, either on your own, with a trusted friend, or with a therapist or therapy group.