How To Tell If You And Your Partner Are On A Slippery Slope

How To Tell If You And Your Partner Are On A Slippery Slope, || Here are six signs your relationship may be in trouble.

Pointing Fingers

Have you noticed a substantial increase in the amount of blame or criticism in the past month or year? Maybe you’re quicker to point out each other’s faults, or you keep getting into circular arguments where nobody wins, and each of you feels attacked. If you feel as though you can’t do anything right in your partner’s eyes, criticism and blame are obscuring your intimacy.

When you and your partner first got together, you were both focused on what you both appreciated about each other. This attitude and expression of appreciation fueled your good feelings and caused love to grow. Blame and criticism are a sign that appreciation has left the relationship, and that negative feelings are overriding positive ones.

Lack of Sharing

Do you find yourself withholding significant truths from your partner and only discussing them with other people–like friends, family, your therapist, and even people you know casually?

Partners who are dangerously disconnected start sharing themselves more with people outside the relationship. A lack of trust and safety are at the root of this problem–you feel like your partner doesn’t “get” you, and that it’s not safe to be vulnerable around them.

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Ill Feelings

Have you been feeling increased contempt or disgust for your partner? It might seem obvious that if you’re having such negative feelings, your relationship must be in deep trouble. But the truth is that it’s actually normal to experience occasional unloving feelings–even in the most loving relationship. This happens because all of us come into relationships with underlying fears that cause us to pull away from intimacy.

That’s why we look for a sign of escalating ill feelings to determine whether a relationship is in real trouble. An increase in unloving feelings toward your partner–either increased intensity or increased frequency–is a sign that you’re in an entanglement, not a real relationship.

Less Laughter

How much fun are you having with your partner? Relationships are supposed to be fun, so if you’re not enjoying laughter and good times together, you’d better pay attention. Lack of fun and play indicate that you and your partner have stopped connecting openly, and that you don’t feel free to be your best self within the relationship.

Uncomfortable Silence

Do you have less of a desire to communicate daily with your partner?

There’s something to be said for feeling so at peace with your partner that you can read side by side and not have to utter a word. This is comfortable silence, and it indicates closeness, not distance.
Sulking and silent withdrawal make for a heavy silence, and it’s bad news for your future. Happy partners want to share their inner world, and they revel in creating opportunities to connect with each other. When you find yourself feeling very alone even when your partner is lying next to you, or you withhold communicating for fear of creating conflict, then you’ve slipped into dangerous territory.

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Expressions of Control and Criticism

There’s only so much that you can bottle up about your inner state. No matter how much you try to cover up your discontent, it will eventually leak out–often in public.

This can be as subtle as reaching over to your partner and picking something off of them. Such a seemingly innocent gesture is actually a sign of disrespect, because you’re essentially trying to adjust or improve your partner. Friends and colleagues will often notice this kind of “emotional leakage” before a couple.

For instance, we were at an event and there was a couple who caught our eye. Whenever the husband would start talking, his wife would reach over and flick something off his shoulder. In essence, this was a passive-aggressive form of criticism. She couldn’t control her nervousness and unease around her husband, or her need to highlight his “flaws” even though she wasn’t speaking them out loud.
There’s a big difference between this dynamic and saying to your partner, “Hey, you have some broccoli between your teeth,” or “You have something on your shirt, would you like me to brush it off?”

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How To Tell If You And Your Partner Are On A Slippery Slope
How To Tell If You And Your Partner Are On A Slippery Slope

The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself

Left unchecked, these warning signs will spell relationship chaos and the end of love. But no matter how bad you might feel about your relationship right now, your answer to this one question can determine whether you and your partner are able to turn things around: Am I willing to wake up and look at what’s going on?

If there is willingness, you can find a path toward each other again.
When even only one partner is committed to rolling up their sleeves, getting curious about why they’re in a funk, and trying new solutions to old problems, miracles can happen. We’ve seen thousands of them.

These warning signs are just that–signs. Without taking action and changing course, you’ll walk right into danger. Your relationship problems will boil over until all the love has evaporated between you and your partner. And when that happens, it’s very difficult to turn things around.


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