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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.