When your partner is also your best friend

It goes without saying, you don’t have to be “best friends” to have a great relationship (some people even gag at that idea). But while others might think of you as insular or clingy, you know better.

1. You started out as friends. 

Great things take time. Baked potatoes, fully mature redwood trees, and friendships that turn into relationships. First dates feel different than first hangouts. You really get to know each other’s personality when you’re not as worried about trying to impress the other person.

2. He makes you laugh all the time and you make him crack up. 

It’s not just about how he makes you feel, or how great the sex is, or how well you work together. When you hang out, you wind up cracking each other up so much you can’t breathe. Some of your favorite memories are the two of you doing the dumbest stuff and laughing about it nonstop.

3. He always wants you around. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a “guys’ night” or a five-hour road trip; he wants to hang out with you. And it feels natural too. When he’s out with friends, you never get the vibe of “oh, he brought his girlfriend along.” You’re his friend, so you’re everyone else’s friend. Basically, all his guys just sees you as “that one friend he also has sex with”… which is a compliment, really.

4. You always know what he’s thinking. 

It’s not quite like you can read each other’s minds, but you’re so comfortable with each other that it really feels like that sometimes.

5. He’s seen you through your worst moments. 

He’s gotten you through some of your darkest moments, however you define them. Even when other friends drop off or stop calling, he’s there for you, and you’re always there for him.

6. You can spend a day just hanging out. 

It’s not that you both love being couch sloths all day, but you could be and still have a good time. You don’t need to be making Instagrammable moments constantly to feel like you’re having a good time. All you really need is each other.

7. Other couples hate you just a little. 

They might not say it to your face, but you can tell they’re insanely jealous of the chemistry you share. You can tell. Basically, you make other couples look boring and they can’t stand it.

8 You don’t feel like you need time apart from each other. 

You know how to prioritize “you” time when there’s something you want to get done just for yourself, but everything you do just feels somehow better when you’re with them.

9. He trusts you deeply. 

Not just in the basic ways, like trusting you not to cheat on him when you go out. That barely even counts; that’s just assuming you’re not going to be a garbage person. He also trusts you with things he’s never told anyone, like his embarrassing secrets.

10. It still feels like you just started dating. 

You still have this energy that’s stuck around even though you’ve been dating for years. That “honeymoon phase” never really ended for you.

***

From: Cosmopolitan by Frank Kobola

Signs your ‘person’ is a commitment-phobe

You know a commitment-phobe when you see one on TV, or you wouldn’t have groaned every time Blair and Chuck got back together again. But in your own life, spotting that commitment-phobe in between all the “I’m not sure when I’ll be free tonight’s” is a tougher challenge. Here, Dr. Berit Brogaard, Professor and Director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research at the University of Miami, explains how to spot avoidant attachment in the wild:

1. You don’t feel “matched” in your texts. 

In your messages, you’ll actually go deep into details about how your day was, providing plenty of opportunities for the other person to ask you, well, anything. But a commitment-phobe, according to Brogaard, will have “a tendency not to continue a text message thread, by replying briefly or submissively with ‘K,’ ‘Sounds like fun,’ ‘Wow,’ ‘IDK’ and so on.” So before you let them off the hook for bad texting, consider the fact that they could be emotionally unavailable.

2. Even after a great date, you won’t hear from them anytime soon. 

Brogaard warns that commitment-phobes tend to not initiate contact first and will go through long periods of radio silence after dates—meaning YOU always have to do all the romantic legwork.

3. They’re irritatingly vague about their schedule. 

Here are some key phrases that Brogaard says raise commitment-phobia alarm bells:

  • “I’m really busy at work right now. But let’s get together in a few weeks when things slow down a bit.”
  • “Sorry I haven’t been in touch for so long. Things have been crazy around here. What have you been up to?”
  • “Sorry, didn’t see your text ’til now. How are you?”

Ok, we’ve all sent the “omg so sorry, just saw this!” text after a four-hour Netflix binge. There’s a huge difference, though, when someone does this all the time, to the point where your main interaction with them is rainchecking.

4. They only plan dates around what’s convenient for them. 

Since their schedule is just ~too busy~, their ideas of dates include inviting you to a bar where, oh wow, *their* team is currently playing and it’s suuuuuch a tight game! Who cares that you don’t know the full rules of basketball and don’t really care? Not this guy, who only tells you when he’s free three hours in advance!

5. They’re chronically late, chronically flakey, or a lovely combo of both. 

Because they don’t want to view dating as “serious”, they don’t stress over or prioritize getting there on time and don’t really care if them canceling screws up their chances with you.

6. They’re pretty impulsive, but only when it comes to you. 

“They may be very conscientious and hardworking at work or in school but then be impulsive when it comes to going out or getting together,” says Brogaard. Everything comes before the person they’re dating.

7. They constantly reiterate how casual everything is. 

Another key phrase Brogaard says to be wary of is “Not sure I’m ready for a relationship right now. Give me some time.” You’ll make your desire for monogamy clear, and rather than breaking things off to spare any hurt feelings, they’ll string you along with promises of a “maybe-one-day” relationship.

8. They’re “not great” with PDA. 

“It’s difficult for commitment-phobes to show signs of affection, especially in public,” says Brogaard. “They will tend not to say ‘I love you’ back, or they will only say it after drinking or the like. Some can only put it in writing but not say it (or vice versa).”

9. They usually don’t have true, close friends. 

While “they may still be part of a big circle of people who meet up” according to Brogaard, they don’t have friends they’ve stuck with for a long time and have a deeper relationship with.

10. They won’t actually admit fault in their past relationships. 

“They might blame the other person or simply say ‘we weren’t a good match’ or ‘we were just really bad for each other’,” says Brogaard. They have yet to experience any crucial post-breakup epiphanies about their own patterned dating flaws.

11. Or they won’t even call a past relationship a relationship. 

That girl he saw exclusively for six months was completely casual, and he has no idea why she freaked out and deleted their whole Eurotrip album when he sent her a breakup text.

12. They had lots of short relationships or pretty shallow long-term ones. 

“If they had long relationships, they were usually not very committed,” says Brogaard. “Even when they were committed on the surface (for instance, engaged or married), you might discover that the two of them led very separate lives.”

13. They’ll keep saying they want to “take things slow” as an excuse. 

Of course, cautiously easing into a new relationship is a perfectly normal (and emotionally healthy!) thing to do. But you have to wonder if your relationship is moving anywhere at all. “People who are taking it slow will tend to move forward,” says Brogaard. “Commitment-phobes will tend to provide obstacles to any relationship progress.”

14. They always need more space than you’re giving them. 

Even the honeymoon period of seeing each other a lot scares them. For commitment-phobes trying to work on their dating issues, Brogaard recommends dating someone who “is very busy in their own life”, so that space is never an issue.

15. They complain about the pressure to be in a monogamous relationship a lot. 

Obviously, societal norms can be annoying, but if they talk negatively about marital expectations more often than any of the upsides of a strong partnership, it kind of shows that they deep down think monogamy never really works out.

16. You can tell that something about relationships clearly freaks them out, but they can’t articulate it. 

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, after all. Brogaard suggests possible questions to ask a commitment-phobe about their fears of relationships: “Is it that they impose on your need for alone time? Is it that you have intimacy issues? Is it that you set unrealistically high standards for potential partners? Once you realize what it is, you can work on that particular issue (for instance, make sure that your partner is willing to give you plenty of alone time, if that is what you are craving).”

Commitment-phobia is definitely curable if a person wants to work on it and explore why they think that ALL relationships will end up being disappointing. But that dude sending you another “haha :)” before ghosting for two days is probably not on that path right now.

***

From Cosmopolitan by Julia Pugachevsky

 

I Didn’t Deserve The Pain You Put Me Through

Screw you for being too much of a coward to admit you had feelings for me. For worrying about how much I could hurt you in the future if you actually let yourself feel, so you decided to treat me like nothing instead. So you decided to push me away instead of pulling me closer. 

Screw you for letting your past get in the way of our future. For hating me for things that your ex did. For assuming I would hurt you in the same way that she did, even though I’m nothing like her. Even though I’ve proven to you that I’m someone different, someone worth your while. 

Screw you for getting scared off whenever I tried to get closer to you. For making me feel like I did something wrong, just by loving you. For convincing me that I was the problem, not you, never you. 

Screw you for calling me when you were drunk, when you had downed too many beers to think straight, instead of just being honest with yourself while sober. Screw you for only admitting you cared about me when you were six beers deep.

Screw you for lying about little things when you should have told the truth, because you wanted to keep a safe distance from me. Because you were worried about what would happen if you actually let me see the real, raw you. 

Screw you for hurting me ‘before I could hurt you.’ For thinking that our relationship was some sort of competition and refusing to be the loser. For bracing yourself for destruction instead of realizing that we could have actually had something great. 

Screw you for never giving us a chance. Because I’ve been hurt before, too. I could have blamed you for things my ex did. I could have let my fear chase me away from you.

But I didn’t. Because I was willing to take a risk to be with you. Because I genuinly cared about you. Apparently more than you cared about me.

I hate you for what you put me through. I hate you for making me fall and then leaving me to drop.

I didn’t deserve all of the pain you put me through. I didn’t deserve to be led on for months and then hear that you weren’t looking for a real relationship. I didn’t deserve to be strung along until you decided that you couldn’t handle me anymore.

But for some reason, none of the horrible things you’ve done have changed my feelings for you.

I still like you. I still want you.

So screw you for being so attractive, so intelligent, so much fun to flirt with. Screw you for making me want you, even long after you left. Screw you for being the one person I can’t stop thinking about.

Screw you for getting over me. Because I’m still not over you.

****

From: Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan

15 Signs You’re In an Unhappy — or Loveless — Marriage

 

Making the decision to leave a marriage is scary: There’s often a deep fear of being alone, not to mention the possibility of an unknown future. So many stick with mediocrity, settling for low-level pain and dissatisfaction instead.

But that’s not your best bet: “Staying in a seriously unhappy marriage can have long-term effects on our mental and emotional health,” says Carrie Cole, a couples therapist and Master Certified Gottman Therapist by the Gottman Institute. Research shows that people in bad marriages usually have low self-esteem, struggle with anxiety and depression, and have a higher rate of illness than those who don’t. People feel sad and grieve when they decide to let go — but people who divorce do recover emotionally, and Cole says most find new relationships. In fact, “one statistic reported that 85 percent of those who divorce remarry within five years,” she says.

If any these signs hit home for you, it’s time to take a hard look at whether this is a marriage you want to stay in.

1. YOU AREN’T HAVING SEX ANYMORE

One warning sign would be that your relationship is totally sexless, says sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D. — or if you’re having sex less than 10 times a year. After all, she says, it’s intimacy that separates a romantic relationship from all other sorts of relationships you might have. “When that’s going out the window, it’s a really big red flag.” Jane Greer, relationship therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, says that a lack of visible physical affection — like kissing or hugging — is also indicative of a real problem.

2. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO EACH OTHER

When something comes up in life, whether that’s a work event or any accomplishment and your partner isn’t the first person you’re sharing it with — or one of the firsts, Fleming says that it may be that “you prefer to get your needs mets outside the relationship.” To that end, Greer points out that not having any meaningful conversations aside from “rudimentary conversations about chores and things that need to get done” is a warning sign that your relationship is not in a good place.

3. YOU’RE WITH EACH OTHER…BUT NOT REALLY WITH EACH OTHER

“You can be in the same room, one of you on the computer, one of you [watching TV],” Fleming says, but “if you find that you’re never actively engaging together — you’re together, alone, doing your own thing — that’s an indication there’s disconnection, or a lack of connection.”

4. YOU’RE ACTIVELY IGNORING YOUR GUT

Our instincts can often tell us first when a relationship just isn’t working — but we don’t always trust that voice, says couples therapist Susan Pease Gadoua, co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels“We often ignore our gut instincts because that voice is very quiet and calm, unlike the internal voice in our heads that thrives on high drama.” We’re trained to trust logic in many areas of life, so when a niggling feeling (“Am I really still in love with this person?”) presents itself, it’s hard to pay attention to it because there aren’t any hard facts or rational reasoning. Drill down on that initial instinct and ask yourself more specific questions. If you find your responses are things like, “I don’t feel safe to express myself, I don’t feel respected and haven’t felt happy in a long time,” that’s a sign that things have gone awry — and you shouldn’t ignore it. “The truth doesn’t go away simply because we don’t want it to be there; that voice stays in the background and weighs on you,” says Gadoua. “Getting quiet within is key to being able to hear instincts. And like a muscle, the more you trust your gut, the easier it becomes to decipher that voice — which comes from your heart — from the voice in your head.”

5. YOU’RE PREOCCUPIED WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND PROBLEMS

Many women stay in relationships longer than they should because they tend to put the needs of others before their own. And since women often naturally take on the role of caretakers, they can lose parts of their own identity — and a sense of their own needs — in the process. “In order to face her relationship unhappiness, a woman needs to stop distracting herself by putting other people’s needs ahead of her own,” says Gadoua. “Doing this can be a way of avoiding her own painful truth.” So if you find yourself getting unnecessarily involved in a fight between your mother and sister, or you’re always rushing around trying to make other people’s lives easier, it might be time to take a hard look at your own relationship.

6. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU KEEPS GROWING — AND YOU’RE WAITING TO GET HELP

One way to distinguish between a run-of-the-mill marital rut (where you’ve, say, fallen into boring routines and don’t have much sex anymore) and a loveless marriage is to ask yourself how long the situation has been this way, and whether it’s been steadily worsening. “Most couples go through rough times, but if the difficulties last more than two years, with no sign of relief, I’d recommend seeking professional help,” says Gadoua. And sooner is always better to avoid passing the point of no return. “It would be ideal if we could tune into our longings and needs well before we get to the point that the love we once had is dead,” says Cole, who notes that the average couple waits six years from the time they recognize relationship problems until the time they try therapy. By then, it’s often too late — the problems in the marriage can corrode it to the point where it may be unsalvageable. So play it safe and consider scheduling a therapy session if you’re struggling.

7. YOU FANTASIZE ABOUT A LIFE WITHOUT YOUR SPOUSE

If you often imagine a happy (happy is the key word here) future without your partner, that’s a major sign that things aren’t right. This is a part of the emotional detachment process, during which you may try to convince yourself that you don’t care anymore so that the eventual separation feels less painful, says relationship therapist Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., author of Kiss Your Fights Goodbye“Detaching psychologically by fantasizing about having an affair or making plans for the future that don’t include your partner can all be signs that you’ve fallen out of love,” says Turndorf. “It’s as if the mind has pulled its own plug so our hearts won’t suffer as much when the relationship ends.” If you notice this mental pattern, take it a step further to see if the fantasy holds weight. Gadoua suggests checking out real apartment listings online, and paying attention to how you feel. “It’ll give you another layer of reality, which can then help you know what the right next step is,” she says. As you click through, check in with your emotions. If excitement or relief is your prominent emotion (rather than fear or apprehension), it may be a sign to acknowledge that there are serious problems in your marriage. “But before actually taking steps to leave, see if there are things you can — or want — to do to work on the relationship,” says Gadoua. That way, if you ultimately decide to leave, “you can do so with some peace of mind,” she says. “It’s never easy to end a relationship, but having lingering regret that you could have done more can make the decision harder.”

8. YOU’VE STOPPED FIGHTING

If you’ve given up fighting, but feel further away than ever, it’s a sign that you’ve reached a crossroads. “If there’s a fight and the couple doesn’t talk about what happened, or becomes gridlocked in their position and refuses to listen to their partner’s perspective, that’s not good,” says Cole. However, you might still be able to turn it around. “Unresolved conflict can fool us into thinking that our love is lost, when it’s actually only buried beneath the ashes of smoldering resentment and anger,” says Turndorf. In other words, the love could still be there, but you just can’t access it. To get back in touch with those feelings, turn toward your partner emotionally —which creates closeness and connection—rather than ignoring them or responding negatively, which creates distance and disengagement. “Fights can lead to greater intimacy if the couple processes the fight and repairs the relationship,” says Cole. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ve got it in you to turn toward your husband and give it one last go, or whether you’ve maxed out your ability to keep fighting for your relationship.

9. YOU HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THE BIG RELATIONSHIP DESTROYERS

According to Cole, there are four behaviors that are super-destructive to relationships. If one or more is present in your relationship, you could be on the fast track to loveless-ness (if you’re not there already). Every time you criticize your partner — by attacking, blaming, and putting the fault on them by flinging negative statements like “You’re always running late,” or “You never do anything right” — you corrode your connection. By being defensive and refusing to accept responsibility, or attacking in response to feedback from your partner, you chip away at the trust and goodwill in your marriage. If you have an attitude of contempt, and call your partner names or make stinging, sarcastic remarks, you imply that you’re superior and your partner is defective. And every time you stonewall one another, or emotionally shut down instead of openly addressing the issues, you create more distance and dishonesty, rather than openness, communication, and love. If any (or all) of these sounds familiar, schedule couples’ therapy to discuss why you do these things — and how you can fix them.

10. YOU DON’T FEEL HEARD (AND YOU MIGHT NOT BE LISTENING)

When you sit down to talk with your spouse about what’s working and what isn’t, do you hear crickets? Or feel like nothing changes, no matter how vocal you are about your feelings? That’s a problem, says Turndorf. “The most powerful tool we have for resolving our conflicts is listening and understanding one another,” she says. “When we invite our partners to share what we’ve done to let them down, and when we truly listen and understand their feelings, decades of hurt and anger can easily fade away.” So make a point of listening for the underlying emotions and messages in your partner’s words — everyday issues, like yelling about whose turn it is to take out the trash, could be stemming from something deeper. “In most situations where couples go from being best friends to loveless opponents, I uncover a pattern of poor communication, dashed expectations and unhealed resentments,” says Gadoua. “They think the fight really is about taking the garbage out, when in fact it’s more likely about one or both feeling unappreciated, overwhelmed or unacknowledged.” And once you finally hear what they’re trying to tell you (or vice versa) you can get to the bottom of the real issue.

11. YOU’RE ON THE VERGE OF HAVING AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR

If you’re not happy with your husband, you might be falling into an emotional affair, making another male the priority in your life. And thanks to today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to get caught up. “Technology has allowed people who might never risk having any kind of affair to flirt online,” says Dr. Wendy M. O’Connor, a licensed marriage, family therapist, relationship coach, and author of Love Addiction: How to Overcome Toxic Relationships & Find Love. “This creates a situation of ‘temptation,’ and not everything that takes place online stays online. People are bolder when hiding behind a screen, and often click on send without thinking first.” If your relationship is already on the rocks, giving yourself to someone else — even if that’s only virtually — will only make things worse.

12. YOU’RE GOING TO YOUR FRIENDS INSTEAD OF YOUR PARTNER

When people have exciting news to share or even just need someone to talk to, they typically speed dial the person closest to them. If that used to be your spouse but is now someone else — whether that’s a girlfriend or another man — it’s a clear sign you’re not in the happy marriage you used to be. “Research shows that in healthy marriages, couples celebrate each other’s successes. If you’re turning to [someone else] first in good times and bad, then you’re replacing your husband emotionally and avoiding addressing what isn’t working with him,” says Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, director of My Dating and Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. Try putting your husband into your #1 spot again. If you’re not getting the support you need — or you don’t even want it in the first place — it might be time to sit down and have a serious discussion about your relationship.

13. YOU DON’T LIKE SPENDING QUALITY TIME TOGETHER

After getting home from a long day of work, do you and your spouse immediately go your separate ways? And when you’re at parties, do you tend to drift apart and do your own thing? If you’d rather be alone than with your husband, it probably doesn’t seem like there’s much of a point in being in a relationship in the first place. Getting a little time apart is one thing, but the trouble really starts when you’d rather be apart.

14. DATE NIGHTS ARE A THING OF THE PAST

Can’t remember your last date night? If you’re not planning any important or special events together on top of not spending time together in general, that’s not good news for your relationship, says Greer. Make an effort to get a couple outings on the schedule — maybe a movie night or a dinner at your favorite spot — and see if you can rekindle the flame. Marriages take work, and putting in the effort on things that bond you as a couple is part of that.

15. YOU’RE NOT EACH OTHER’S PRIORITY ANYMORE

When you say your “I dos,” you’re making each other your top priority above anything and anyone else. When you lose that essential part of your marriage, you can lose the person that once meant the world to you. If you’re not making your husband a priority in your life anymore — or if he’s not making you his — it’s going to be really hard to stay a solid unit. Try going back to prioritizing your time together, each other’s feelings, and each other’s goals to get back into a healthy place before it’s too late.

***

From RedBook Mag