Lockdown has taken its toll on all of us, and many relationships are feeling the strain. But don’t rush into a break up straight away – ask yourself these questions first
As we’ve all been stuck in the house with each other for over three months, it’s totally natural to feel like you want to rip your partner’s hair out right now. Relationships under lockdown have gone through stressors unlike any other and you’re not alone if you’re considering ending your relationship. Thousands across the world have cited Covid as a key factor in breaking up, and you may be feeling that way too right now.
Before you rush into ending it, make sure you consider all the factors. These 14 questions are a good place to start
Have they ever made me feel unsafe?
This is the question you need to ask yourself before anything else. So many problems in a relationship can be fixed with time and love, but if your partner has ever physically harmed you, emotionally abused you, threatened you, or made you feel unsafe, that is unacceptable. If your gut is telling you that your relationship is not safe, then seek help and find a way to get yourself out.
What are the issues that I’m upset about right now?
Writing down a list of the issues that are bothering you can help to shed some light on why you’re feeling upset, and give you clarity around your relationship. When everything stays bottled up, your feelings and the facts of the situation can become muddled. Try to look at it from a third-party perspective, and you’ll feel a little calmer in examining what’s going wrong.
Seperate the issues into big and small sections. Small issues are everyday irritations, like if your partner doesn’t hang towels up after a shower, or if their voice annoys you. Bigger issues revolve around the cornerstones of a relationship, like trust and respect. If you feel like your relationship is lacking in these areas, that’s a big issue.
Are the little irritations deal-breakers, or could I learn to live with them?
Look at the small issues on your list. While you’ve been isolating together, it’s natural that these irritants could have grown to become daily stressors for you. You haven’t been able to distract from them by having some alone time, so they may appear as bigger issues than they actually are.
If you were to continue the relationship, would your partner’s bad breath or lack of cooking skills be a deal-breaker? Be honest here – sometimes they are, even if it seems petty to an outsider. If you couldn’t live with these minor issues, then your relationship doesn’t stand a chance with bigger ones.
What are some of my qualities that might be irritating to them? Are they on the same level?
As much as it can be tempting to blame the entire situation on your partner, try and be completely honest with yourself. Nobody is perfect, and you definitely have some qualities that annoy your partner. What are they? And are they interchangeable with your partner’s flaws? If they are able to move past your flaws, maybe you can move past theirs.
If they’re big issues, what would I need from them to solve them?
In a perfect world, what would have to happen for these issues to be fixed? Would it require small changes, or a complete personality transplant in your partner? Be realistic – is what you want from them more than they can be expected to give you? Are your personalities incompatible on a base level?
As I’ve said, lots of issues can be solved, but only if you are prepared to meet your partner halfway. If you’re seeking something completely different than they can give, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
Have I talked to them about how I’m feeling?
Probably the most obvious and yet the most important question on this list. Have you actually communicated how you’re feeling to your partner? One of the most important things you can learn in any relationship is that people are not mind readers. As upset as you may be, another person may not know why you are feeling that way, or that you are even upset at all.
You can’t expect things to improve if you don’t voice your feelings, or give your partner a chance to voice theirs. Be honest.
What is their communication style? Do our styles work together?
Remember that not everyone communicates their emotions in the same way you do. Some people are very comfortable discussing their feelings; some shy away from that. Some people are good at confronting their own flaws – some deflect.
Pay attention to how your partner communicates. Is it through words or actions? How do they handle difficult subjects? And most importantly, even if you communicate differently, are you both able to get to a solution together despite that?
What is their mental state right now?
Covid-19 has been a traumatic time for all of us, and the effects of it are still coming to the surface. Remember the hardships that your partner has had to go through, and how this has been a time unlike any other in their lives. Is it possible that the issues you’re experiencing are down to that? When things return to normal, do you think the issues will automatically improve?
What is my own mental state like at the moment?
Similarly, look at how the Covid crisis has affected your mental state. Are you more irritable, more anxious? Could that be contributing to the issues you’re both having?
Do I think I could make it through another lockdown with them?
Going through a lockdown together is one of the most stressful things a relationship can go through, and you probably don’t ever want to consider going through another one. But going through a stressful time together is a good indicator of the health of a relationship. Marriage vows discuss all of this for a reason – if you’re serious about each other, you should be able to get through anything. If it came down to it, do you think you could survive another one?
Would time apart from each other help the issues?
Time with friends, family, and to yourself is crucial, and we have all been deprived of that over the last few months. Are your relationship problems simply an issue of being on top of each other too much? If things were back to normal, and you could both lead your own seperate lives as well as with each other, would things significantly improve?
What would I miss most about them if we were to break up?
Think about the qualities in your partner that you love the most. What are the things that made you fall in love with them, that made you stay with them until now?
This isn’t a question to upset or confuse you, but when it comes to considering a break-up, many of us tend to focus purely on the negative, because of how frustrated we are. But there are good qualities in your partner, and it’s important to remember them too.
Am I with them out of habit, or out of love?
This is a question that is especially relevant during these times. Under lockdown, you may have settled into a routine that is comfortable – but is comfort the same as love? Are you staying with your partner because you really love them, or because it’s easier than starting again with someone new? This is a very difficult issue to confront, but deep down, you know the answer.
Can I see myself with them in 5/10/20 years?
As stressful as Covid has been, if you plan to stay with this person for the long haul, it’ll be the least of your worries as a couple. Can you imagine yourself making it through all the possible things that could happen to you both? Can you imagine still loving them and their company after it all?
Read more: 5 signs your relationship has run its course, according to experts
Read more: The rise of the curtain-twitchers: Has COVID-19 turned us into a nation of tattle-tales?
Read more: Is a sleep divorce the key to a happy relationship? A relationship counsellor’s take on the ‘living apart together’ trend
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