One almost inescapable truth of being in a romantic relationship is that doubt will raise its ugly heads at some point.
No matter how hard you try to ignore it, that nagging voice will be in your head, whispering discord when all you want is blissful harmony.
Even giving headspace to your doubts while you’re drifting off to sleep, in the shower, or driving to work feels like a betrayal of your loved one.
And yet, think about them you must. If you don’t, they’ll slowly consume you and your hard-won happiness.
Maybe you have a niggling concern that your partner doesn’t return your love in equal measure.
Maybe you wonder if your relationship is strong enough for the reality of long-term commitment.
Maybe you have an inkling that your partner is not as trustworthy as you’d thought.
When it comes to relationship doubts, the trick is to distinguish between simple misgivings that stem from misconceptions and misunderstandings, and genuine concerns that should point you in the direction of the exit.
As you come down off the lustful high and realize you’re falling in love, the questions typically start to intrude.
Are they too good to be true? Could I do better? Why aren’t they more ambitious? Will they be a good father/mother? Do I really want this commitment right now? And so on… and on… and on…
These nagging misgivings can be scary when they first emerge, especially when you thought things had been going so well.
Why does the mental self-interrogation start now?
Well, because now is the time to remind yourself that you are two very different, separate humans; time to evaluate whether you really are the perfect forever partners.
And the only way to establish that is by a thorough cross-examination. So your psyche really is doing you a favor, helping you through the maze of variables toward (hopefully) the right conclusion.
The Good News About Doubts
Unsettling though these thoughts and feelings are, they are also indicators that your relationship is shifting to another level, where you can honestly assess your differences (and your compatibilities).
Working through these doubts is part of the process of deepening and strengthening the connection with your new partner.
So try to put a positive spin on your doubts. Take comfort from existential psychologist, Rollo May, who suggests that:
The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it’s not without doubt but in spite of doubt.
Psychologically speaking, doubting the one we love is our instinctive way of handling the shift in the status quo as one becomes two. The nagging inner voice is actually there to help, not hinder.
5 Reasons Why Relationship Doubts Arise
Since it would be a shame to sacrifice our ultimate happiness with a potential life partner on the altar of doubt, let’s take a look at the reasons why those persistent questions arise.
1. You are resistant to change.
We’re all familiar with the barrage of internal questions brought about by significant changes – the prospect of a new job or moving to a new area, for example.
Similarly, when a relationship graduates from the excitement of the getting-to-know-you and falling-in-love stages to the possibility of moving in together or even getting married, it’s no surprise that the clamor of uncertainty should begin.
It’s worth remembering that the human psyche has barely evolved from that of our cave-dwelling ancestors. For them, any change spelt potential danger, so it’s small wonder that we’re still fearful of the consequences of change.
2. You are reacting to stress.
Another deep-set psychological cause of doubt is a response to stress.
Misgivings commonly arise in the face of new challenges and, let’s face it, there are few bigger challenges in life than an evolving and deepening romance.
Our inner voice will pose a hundred questions: “Is s/he The One?” “Do we really click 100% in bed?” “Do I really have to put up with his/her annoying friends?” And so the interrogation goes on.
3. You are responding to your own fears.
Fear of commitment can fan the flames of doubt in a relationship. In this case, it’s not concerns about the values held by your partner or anything they have done; it’s all about your own attitude toward the commitment that’s growing day by day.
Doubts about your readiness for a lifetime partnership can’t be ignored. Talking them through with your partner may do the trick – you may even discover that they share your fears, leading to an honest discussion about your future together.
If you feel that the problem really is one-sided, self-help books or some time spent with a relationship counselor may help you understand and process your concerns.
4. You are self-sabotaging.
Odd as it may seem, the fear of commitment outlined above may allow your subconscious to manufacture and then focus on doubts that may or may not have any real foundation.
The ultimate effect of this would be to drive a wedge between you and your loved one. Relationship over, no commitment necessary – result!
Except, of course, that commitment-phobes are probably not the most fulfilled and contented beings. Is that really how you see your future?
If these self-sabotaging doubts can be recognized for what they are, you can work through the underlying reasons as a partnership. The honesty and openness will only serve to deepen and strengthen your ultimate relationship.
5. You are responding to past experiences.
It’s unlikely to occur to us when doubts arise about our current relationship that they have actually been triggered by past unhappy experiences.
We may make assumptions based on the hurtful behavior of a former partner, who may have cheated or have been unable or unwilling to commit, leading to uncertainty in the here and now.
It’s only natural to have doubts about the depth of your partner’s feelings when your ability to trust has been impaired and you still bear the scars.
But don’t let these past hurts be a stumbling block between you and your ultimate happiness.
Let your loving partner support you as you discover that your tender heart is safe in their hands. Once again, talking your concerns through with a therapist may help set you back on track.
6 Relationship Doubts That Should Raise A Red Flag
Having established that relationship worries are a natural part of a developing union, let’s take a look at some more serious issues that are not likely to be smoothed away as you and your beloved tread a blissful path toward eternal happiness.
If your concerns start with doubt and deepen into something more worrisome, then the writing is on the wall: maybe this isn’t the partner of your dreams after all.
Do your doubts actually stem from concerns about your partner’s behavior toward you or their general attitude, perhaps? Or are there fundamental differences which don’t sit well with you?
Here are some of the deeper concerns that may indeed prove to be deal breakers in your relationship…
1. You have different core values.
It’s our core beliefs which dictate the way we negotiate our way through life. So it’s important that these deeply held values are compatible in any permanent romantic partnership.
If one partner places high value on material possessions, for example, while the other is content with a simpler way of life, there is a clear disconnect.
To move beyond a potential roadblock, you need to assess its importance and determine whether you can be satisfied with such a mismatch and how it may impact your other significant relationships.
The result of this evaluation will tell you if it’s a manageable difference or an insurmountable obstacle in your relationship.
2. You question their loyalty.
If you find yourself questioning your partner’s fidelity once you’ve agreed that your relationship is exclusive, then it makes sense to go with your gut instinct.
Turning a blind eye is only likely to end up with you being hurt. Take a close look at why you feel this way and what has raised your suspicions. Is there really cause for concern?
If you still feel that something is awry, a trusted friend or relative may help you work through your concerns.
Ultimately, though, you’ll need to address your worries with your partner.
Taking a direct but non-accusatory approach is best. A good indicator that your suspicions are correct would be an angry response or an attempt to turn the accusation back on you to try to distract you from the truth.
Since trust is essential in a long term relationship, any doubts about loyalty should not be ignored.
3. You doubt your own loyalty.
We’re all weak and fallible humans, so having the odd fantasy about a different partner, especially an unattainable one like a celebrity icon, is absolutely allowable and normal.
It would be a cause for concern, though, if you can’t stop your thoughts turning to being intimate with someone else when you should be focusing on your partner.
If that’s the case, the time may not be right for you to be in an exclusive, monogamous relationship, or at least not with the person you’re with right now.
Take time to analyze your true emotions if you feel this way. Being open about such a potentially incendiary topic with your partner may not be easy.
Maybe talking your concerns through with a close confidant or a therapist will help you come to terms with the cause of your mental infidelity and allow you to leave your damaging fantasies behind.
4. You feel diminished.
Making you feel small, inadequate, or worthless is not okay. A partner who constantly chips away at your confidence with snarky comments indicates that your relationship is more toxic than tender.
These digs may be subtle but persistent, and are often delivered with an indulgent, patronizing smile that belies their damaging effect. Over time, bit by bit, your sense of self-worth is whittled away.
There is a chance that your partner doesn’t realize the impact of this behavior, so it’s worth calling them out on it and pointing out the way it makes you feel.
But if this falls on deaf ears, you should consider seeking help from a trusted other or from a counselor as such behavior amounts to emotional abuse.
Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself from further harm may be to exit the relationship.
5. You feel humiliated.
If your partner has a habit of being socially inappropriate more often than not, to the point that you’re squirming with embarrassment, then you really need to tackle this.
It may be that the inappropriate things they say or do are so distasteful that your friends start avoiding contact with you both.
But your significant other may genuinely not realize the effect of their ill-judged words or actions, so pointing these out will give them a chance to mend their ways.
If the squirming is still a regular occurrence, however, this might be an indicator that this person just isn’t the right fit for you.
6. Your future goals are not compatible.
Since you’re heading toward a lifetime partnership, it’s vital that the goals you have planned for your future are a good match for those of your partner.
If you have doubts that your ultimate goals are in alignment, this isn’t something to be ignored.
Don’t just brush it under the rug, make excuses, or compromise just to keep your relationship on track.
Ultimately, good communication is the key to a fulfilling relationship, so talk your concerns through and find out if your future goals are really that far apart.
If the mismatch is too great, then ending the relationship is preferable to spending the rest of your life in a state of compromise and ultimate disappointment.
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