Even long, healthy relationships come with their share of pain and doubt. Sometimes it's important to ask yourself how much is too much. If the man you're with seems to be causing you more pain than joy, it's time to do some serious thinking about whether it's time to end the relationship or whether the pain you're feeling is part of a healthy, developing process of intimacy.
It's normal for some pain and hurt feelings between partners to be a part of any relationship, but it's important to know when a partner's behavior crosses the line into abuse. Abuse, whether physical or emotional, is about power and control and will only become harsher and more limiting as time goes on. If you live in fear of your partner, the relationship is probably abusive. Walking away from an abusive situation is not always easy. Don't be afraid to get the help you need from friends, family and women's advocacy organizations. Professionals can assist you with this process and help you understand your situation better, even if you're not feeling sure.
Even if you feel confident that your relationship is not actually abusive, pain and frustration in romance can come in many forms. When you're trying to figure out how much is too much, it's important to look at yourself as well as your partner's behavior. Learning to weather the ups and downs in relationships requires that you be able to remember the good times during the bad times and remember the bad times during the good ones. Remind yourself that what you're feeling right now may not be the whole story so that you can accurately assess the relationship as a whole. Bear in mind that if your relationship is full of extremes of good and bad feelings and that's hard for you, you may simply need a relationship that operates in a more even, less unpredictable way.
What Can Change, What Can't
Sometimes bad times are just that, and if you stick around, you'll get through them into better times. If you've been with your partner for a long time and things have mostly been good, look at stress factors in your life and his. If he and/or you are not at your best right now due to difficult times, weigh that against who you are in better times and who you'll be when you've come through this adversity.
If you're not sure whether he's having an overall positive or negative effect on your life, take a look at your overall happiness since your relationship began. Look for increases in anxiety or anger or major changes to your behavior. Ask yourself if you like the person you've become as a result of being with him. It's possible that the challenges of your relationship, though difficult to weather, are making you stronger and happier in the long run. If so, this is likely a sign that the frustration you're experiencing is still part of a healthy journey. However, if you feel that you've become less happy, more stressed or feel like you don't like who you are and how you feel in general, this could be a sign that the relationship on a whole has a more negative effect on your life.
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