8 Signs Your Relationship Is Holding You Back
When it comes to relationships, we like to think of our partners as the guac to our burrito bowl. While we don't really need them, they complement us and help us be the most delicious version of ourselves.
Unfortunately, Chipotle analogies aside, your S.O.'s attitude, insecurities, or values could be keeping you from putting your best self forward.
"This happens often in relationships where some red flags are there in the beginning, but the person really doesn’t want to see it," says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., a relationship counselor in California. "And even if they do see it, they’re so invested in the relationship that they put up with it," she says
We asked the experts for signs your partner might be holding you back—and how you should deal.
1. He doesn't give a damn about your goals. Next to your family and friends, you should feel most comfortable sharing your aspirations with your partner. Regardless of how attainable those dreams are, he or she should be your cheerleader, not someone who makes you doubt yourself, says Michael. "If you find they’re not taking you seriously, then take the steps toward making that goal become a reality," she says. "They can come along for the ride or exit stage left."
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2. Your partner always points out your flaws. If your S.O. is constantly critical of you, this is a giant red flag, says Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapis. "Instead of letting their criticism shut you down, let your partner know that you’d love to hear what you’re doing well, instead of what you’re still working on."
3. He’s resentful of your accomplishments. Some guys just can’t deal with your success, says Rhoberta Shaler, Ph.D., a relationship consultant and educator. As a result, they may become dismissive of your feats in order to get a leg up in the relationship. That might leave you questioning if you’re willing to ditch your guy for the corner office. (If he can't be proud of what you've done, you might want to bail, boss lady.)
4. Your partner asks you to give up what’s important to you. This could be a wide variety of things—from the relationships you have with your friends and family to your early-morning exercise habit. "You need the social and emotional stimulation of friends and doing things outside the realm of your relationship to be happy," says Claudia Six, Ph.D., relationship coach and author. "On one level it can feel comforting to have your relationship be your everything, but people need breathing room for a relationship to flourish." Same goes with your passions outside of your relationship. You have to take care of your mind and body to be happy in your relationship, says Six. If your partner needs a reminder, let him know how important your friends, family, and routines are to you. He should get the picture.
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5. You have trouble enjoying other areas of your life. When your relationship is interfering with your health and happiness, then Houston, you’ve got a serious problem. If your work performance has gone down the tubes or you haven't hit up your favorite workout class in months because of your S.O., you need to start voicing your concerns, says Grant H. Brenner, M.D., a Manhattan-based psychiatrist who specializes in progressive psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral therapies. "But both people have to be on-board with the idea of you doing more outside the relationship." If he's not down with you having your own time, this is a sign of a seriously unhealthy relationship, he says. Leave that guy behind and focus on learning better self-care. Staying in a situation like this can lead to depression and anxiety, says Brenner.
6. You’re constantly fighting about old issues. If your relationship is starting to resemble an episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey, it's time to hit the pause button. "The goal in any relationship—especially romantic ones—is to move forward as individuals and as a union," says Six. "So when you’re constantly bringing issues from your past into your present, it holds you back from progressing as a couple and as people." If this sounds like you, seek couple’s therapy. A certified therapist is your best bet at bridging the communication gap between you.
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7. Your ideals don’t align. When your deep-down values, like money, family, kids, or travel, are at odds with his, you may unintentionally lose sight of your dreams. To figure out whether you're on the same page, list out your top five values and have your partner do the same. "If you don’t share at least three of them, you’re going to have a problem because you don’t have the same approach to life," says Shaler.
8. He's jealous. If your partner is accusing you of being unfaithful all the time or gets annoyed when you hang out with other people, this is a sign of emotional abuse, which can quickly escalate to physical abuse, says therapist Ava Cadell, Ph.D. Let your partner know the truth about who is important in your life—whether it’s your family, friends or, perhaps, your profession. "Tell him that if he cannot handle it, the relationship is not going to work."