There’s no doubt that living with your significant other can bring all kinds of facets of your relationship to light. And I’m not just talking about their quirky habit of accidentally leaving the water running, or their tendency to lose socks in the laundry. Cohabitating can also cause more serious issues to surface — issues that may suggest you need to cool things off for a bit. In fact, there are certain signs that you need to move away from your partner, either because they indicate that your relationship has become unhealthy, or because they suggest that you moved too fast.
“The sooner you recognize these signs, the better,” says Dr. Gary Brown, dating and relationship therapist in Los Angeles.
By recognizing these red flags, you’ll not only potentially save yourself from some emotional damage, but you could also save your relationship before these problems cause irreparable harm to your bond. While living with your significant other can be a wonderful way to progress your relationship, it’s important that you’re not forging ahead with this game-changing phase too hastily.
If you’ve been having doubts about your current living situation with bae, keep a lookout for these signs that it may be time to pack your bags.
You dread going home.
No one should feel anxious, uneasy, or bummed in any way when they have to go home. So if you find yourself stalling at the end of your work day or aimlessly running errands because you’re avoiding heading back to your apartment, it’s time to ask yourself why. If it’s because your environment at home has triggered fear or other similar negative feelings, then it’s probably time to get out, according to Dr. Brown.
There’s an important distinction to make here. If you dread going home because you suspect your partner left a sink full of dishes again, that’s something you should bring up to your SO to hash out. Hopefully, when they realize how much their habits have been bothering you, they’ll do something to change them. On the other hand, if you dread going home because their behavior has made you feel unsafe in any way — physically, mentally, or emotionally — or is somehow having any sort of negative impact on your mental health, then you’re in a toxic relationship. That means it’s best to move out as soon as possible.
You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
Do you feel as if you have to be extra careful at home? Perhaps you feel as if you can’t really confront your partner with any criticism and expect a calm, rational reaction, or maybe your partner’s mood changes are unpredictable overall. Dr. Brown says if you find yourself constantly walking on eggshells, you may very likely be in an unhealthy living situation — as well as a toxic relationship.
It’s next to impossible to feel safe in an environment where you never know when the next blow up might happen. So if your partner has made you feel like you have to tiptoe around their feelings, then you should consider that this isn’t a sustainable way to live long-term. Even if your SO agrees to dig into whatever is impacting their emotional stability or causing their volatility with a therapist, you may still decide to take some space and move out while they work on those issues in order to protect yourself emotionally.
They refuse to get help for problems that are damaging your relationship.
The truth is, most of us have at least one thing we’re personally working on that we know would benefit our relationships, whether it’s trust issues, communication shortcomings, or conflict resolution strategies. The important thing is that we put the effort in — not only for ourselves but for the sake of our partners as well. So pay attention if your significant other doesn’t appear to be doing the work to try and improve on those areas that are negatively impacting your bond.
“If they refuse to get help, even when confronted with the obvious truth that things are seriously going badly, that’s a red flag,” says Dr. Brown.
Always give your boo the benefit of the doubt by bringing any issues that are taking a toll on your relationship to their attention. However, if they seem like they’re in denial about them or are uninterested in trying to make a positive change, then it might be time to consider moving out until they’re willing to put some effort in.
You’ve realized your long-term goals are not at all aligned.
When you moved in together, you thought you were both on the same page about the future. Lately, however, it’s become increasingly clear that you both have very different ideas about where your lives — and this relationship — are headed. According to Dr. Brown, if you start to realize that your goals are not the same (for example, you want kids and your partner has no interest), then living together might not be the best idea. After all, if your lives are headed in different directions, then it’s important to face that fact sooner rather than later.
That said, having some differences in terms of how you envision the future doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to call it quits on your relationship. Just because bae is eager to buy a house and you’re perfectly content renting for the next few years, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t find a compromise somehow. But if you get the nagging feeling that you won’t be able to reach a middle ground — in other words, your differences are insurmountable — then moving out is one way to get some space so you can gain clarity in terms of how to proceed in this relationship.
So, do any of these signs sound familiar? Only you know whether your current living situation needs to change — and very often, it comes down to relying on your gut instinct to tell you what’s right. However, if you feel like your emotional or mental health has suffered at all while living with your significant other, that’s a solid indicator that something needs to change — which may mean getting out of your current living situation (and potentially your relationship as well, depending).
“The longer you stay in this kind of situation, the more you risk emotional damage to yourself, and the longer it is going to take to recover,” explains Dr. Brown.
If you’re still uncertain about whether it’s time to move out, Dr. Brown recommends talking to trusted family and friends who are familiar with your relationship.
“Having the input of others can help can help us gain some perspective that we might not have on our own,” he adds. “If you still don’t have clarity, consider talking to a therapist who specializes in relationship issues. Understanding what the key issues are can help you with the uncertainty you are feeling.”
Certainly, some issues are worth talking out with your partner before making any hasty decisions about moving. A friend, family member, or therapist may be able to help you decide whether you can overcome your relationship problems with some open conversations or whether you need to gain some distance by moving out and away from your partner. Remember: everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home — and recognizing that you don’t is the first step you can take toward a healthier, happier life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
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