(NaturalNews) Counseling offices are filled with people trying to heal from a sudden breakup, a long-term relationship that ended with no chance to prepare. As a mental health counselor in practice for ten years, I witnessed the phenomenon many times. A new client shows up in tears, confused as to why he or she has been suddenly abandoned. It is a trauma that can take months and years to heal, not to mention the other aspects of life that get turned upside down.
Then it happened to me.
It hit me like a ton of bricks, the news, at the age of 37, that forever altered the course of my life. In the end, it made perfect sense and turned out to be a blessing. However, if I had been paying more attention, I could have made the process much smoother. My marriage would have ended just the same (probably much sooner, too) as the problems were indeed insurmountable, but the trauma might have been greatly reduced had I noticed the warning signs that we were headed for trouble.
Many marriages and long-term relationships on the blind path to destruction are salvageable, however. It's a shame that they end without warning. This happens so often that therapists and attorneys have given it a name, SDS or sudden divorce syndrome. Interestingly, according to the Department of Justice, 75% of divorces are filed by women. One in four men report being blindsided by the news. These two statistics offer a telltale sign as to which of the sexes needs to pay more attention!
In cases of sudden breakups, I've never seen a case where the warning signs weren't there for months or years prior to the dreadful day. Here are six of the most common signs that your relationship may end, according to my personal and professional experience.
1. You don't feel nourished.
When I've asked clients if they were emotionally nourished in the relationship that suddenly ended, the answer has been a nearly universal "no." People can live for periods of time without emotional connection and a reasonable degree of joy, but most people won't do it for a lifetime.
We all need to feel positive emotions regularly and much of the happiness we need comes by way of relationships. If you are not feeling emotionally nourished by your relationship, your partner isn't either and this can't go on without risking the relationship.
2. You never disagree.
We all have different perspectives and universal agreement is not only impossible, but unhealthy as well. Where would new ideas and opinions come from if you always agreed with the one already presented? Creativity would die. Problem solving would fly out the window.
People have differing opinions and this is a good thing. If you are not sharing and appreciating how your perspectives differ, even if it means occasional tension, then you are keeping your differences to yourself and they will fester, causing resentment and passive-aggressive tendencies that put the relationship in peril.
3. You are quick to defend or criticize.
Over the long-term, you and your partner need to feel like you are being listened to and respected. If you can't accept your partner's feedback or constructive criticism without getting defensive or blaming, then the relationship will not grow and develop. Since no one can relate to another person over time without experiencing some disagreement or area for improvement, your relationship's potential will be cut short if you can't listen to feedback with an open mind.
4. Your sex life is challenged.
Infrequent sex, lack of sexual fulfillment or compatibility, lack of sexual skill or interest, or interest in someone else are not good signs that your relationship is on track. Fulfillment of your sexual needs is a requirement programmed into your genes. Without it, any romantic relationship among otherwise healthy and capable adults falls short of being complete. Incomplete relationships tend to end.
5. You keep things to yourself.
If you or your partner tends to withhold your thoughts and feelings, the chances of being shocked by a sudden breakup increase dramatically. You can't solve problems because they are never on the table or out in the open where they can be solved. You also won't know each other's true intentions.
6. You fantasize about a life without your partner.
Consistent fantasies of moving on with your life are a telltale sign that you are unhappy. Natural curiosity can cause even the most happy and loyal couples to wonder what life would be like in a totally different arrangement, but regular fantasies about life without your partner are serious signs that there are problems that need to be addressed.
What do you do if your relationship shows one or more of these signs? Confront them. Be mature and honest with your partner about your concerns and desires. If you can't do this, then seek help from a competent relationship counselor. You can present the following concern: Our relationship is showing some warning signs that it might end one day and we don't want that. We'd like to address these issues with your help. Any good therapist would be inspired by your insight and eager to dive in.
Most of all, believe that a sudden breakup can happen to you (yes, you) if you don't address the issues that prevent the relationship from fulfilling its potential for happiness.
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