As ‘Love Island’ draws to its summer climax, perhaps you’ve been analysing your love life and relationship. This post explores what characterises strong relationships and how to spot the signs your relationship has stagnated and left you in situationship.
Good relationships come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and it’s fair to say that no relationship is great all the time. The coming together of two different personality types creates infinite possibilities for a positive union. Some relationships are fiery and characterised by energy and emotion, (#LoveIsland) others are more placid, peaceful affairs where two people rub along contentedly together.
New Vs established relationships
New relationships are often scrutinised both by the people in them, and friends and family around (or even millions of viewers). More established relationships, however, are often not subjected to healthy scrutiny even by their participants. Whilst the adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, might appeal to some, paying scant attention to your relationship is the quickest way to find yourself waking up to discover you’re now in a situationship not a relationship.
Active relationships Vs passive situations
A relationship means being connected. I would argue it also means being in an actively engaged state with another person. A healthy relationship in not a passive state that washes over you. One of the most common explanations for separating I hear in my work with divorcing couples is that they have grown apart. No big event, no affair, no shouting or screaming - just simply they have nothing in common and have nothing much to do with each other apart from transactional interactions concerned with running a shared household.
It can take many months or even years for a transactional relationship to breakdown to the point of splitting up. But often there’s been a period of silent hurt, resentment or the feeling of marking time. Eventually there’s a realisation that if you took away the situation you are in, i.e. living together, there would be nothing left… and suddenly you feel really lonely.
5 characteristics of positive relationships
All positive, strong relationships share certain qualities, whatever the temperament of the relationship. Whilst not an exhaustive list here are a few key characteristics of positive relationships.
- Skilled, open & honest communication – you are committed to talking about the health of the relationship and will work on these skills to ensure the relationship can flourish
- Attraction, interest & desire – you actively want to be in this relationship and find your partner attractive. You respect them for who they are and are not on a mission to change them
- Space to be an individual & personal growth– there’s room in the relationship to be together and be apart and the balance is right for both of you. Your relationship provides you with a platform to grow emotionally
- Honesty & trust – you do what you say you will do, when you say you’ll do it, and you are honest and can admit when you are wrong and apologise
- Flexibility - you can compromise and put your partners need before your own and this is reciprocated so there is a balance in the relationship rather than one person being looked after.
If you don’t recognise these attributes in your relationship, then maybe it’s time for some relationship TLC. You can also use the checklist below to spot the signs of a situationship.
10 Signs you’re in a situationship
- You and your partner have stopped communicating, preferring instead to just let things go for an easy life.
- You have a comfortable relationship rather like a brother and sister or flat sharers, characterised by cool politeness and transactional (here and now) conversations
- You prefer to spend time apart with other friends and have no shared interests or passions only interacting on transactional living arrangements.
- You don’t make firm commitments to each other, preferring instead to leave things fluid and open-ended.
- You have no shared goals for the future.
- You don’t argue, so there’s never a need to apologise.
- Your number one priority is you - you both need to look after your own needs.
- You increasingly communicate by text and email an engage in activities that allow you to be together to talk.
- You have your own devise on which you watch your content on your own, with your headphones on.
- You can’t remember the last time you thought about your relationship or spoke about it with your partner.
If you’re worried things might be on a serious slide, then my blog ‘Is it over; Should I leave’ has a useful exercise to help you evaluate your relationship’s long-term potential.