Relationship anxiety is a REAL thing. Whether or not people admit it, 34% say their relationship stress is the leading cause of their mental health concerns. So as this Valentine’s Day approaches, here are a few tips to let you know if your relationship is with the right one.
Don’t Play Games
At least not the kind that leave you up worrying all night. The healthiest relationships include clear communication where there aren’t mixed messages, ghosting, and intermittent hot and cold seasons. These games may seem sexy at first and keep you on the edge of your seat, but they’ll ultimately leave you dizzy and distressed in the worst way.
If you are constantly fretting about whether or not the person is going to leave you and if they “really” like you, it’s likely not your best match. Why? Because you’re so often worrying about how the other person feels that you have little time to question if you actually like the person.
Create More Positive Experiences
Every relationship goes through low points and that’s not necessarily cause for concern. However, we need to have ideally three positive experiences with our partner for our negative one. You and your partner want to be intentional about creating these positive experiences together so that you’re not getting pulled down into a negative spiral.
If you find that you or your partner are ruminating, holding grudges, and unwilling to come back together after a disagreement or conflict, that’s something to start challenging. It’s not so much about the fight (which can actually be healthy), it’s more about each of your openness to repair the relationship afterward.
Having Doubts May Not Always Be a Problem
The better question to ask yourself is if this is a particular problem that you can deal with now…and the next 20 years. Every relationship is going to have its issues—you just need to determine if these issues are absolute deal-breakers or if they’re livable discomforts you can work through.
There’s no need to shame yourself if this particular problem set is something that you especially struggle with. For example, some people are especially triggered if their partner has a drinking problem because of family history while others are able to sit with it a little more. This doesn’t make you an unloving partner—it just means you’re aware of what your boundaries are and when too much is too much.
Agree on the Things That You Can’t Compromise On
Where I see couples in my practice really get into a bind is when they cannot agree on a non-negotiable, such as whether to have a baby, get married, or move to a particular location. You can’t go halfsies on these things and therefore it’s so important to be clear on what you want for your life when it comes to the big life decisions, rather than playing it coy.
Be honest with yourself and each other and take people for their word when they say what they want for their lives. They could change your mind, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself to try convince them otherwise.
So give yourself grace this Valentine’s Day if you’re looking for love or wondering if you’ve found the one. No relationship is perfect and if you’re waiting for a flawless relationship, they’ll be many more boxes of chocolate eaten solo. Embrace the mess and lean into the imperfections—that’s what finding and being with your “one” is all about.
Dr. Lauren Cook is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, company consultant, author and speaker. With a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Lauren frequently appears in the media to provide commentary while also working with companies as well as individual adults, couples, families, and teens to help reduce anxiety and improve personal and professional outcomes. For more on Dr. Lauren, visit drlaurencook.com.