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7 tell-tale signs that your relationship is in crisis

By Trevor E Smith Posted: November 5, 2010

Relationships are like preparing a sunny-side-up egg. You have to pay attention or you run the risk of not getting what you wanted. But, with care and attention you enjoy the fruit of your labour.

So, what if you have been giving your relationship care and attention? Are you assured that it will turn out the way you intended?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, relationships are not controlled by one person. Consequently, one party can have a negative impact on the shared happiness that you desire.

Here are 7 definitive indicators that will give an early warning if your relationship is heading into crisis. Be on constant alert, taking care to watch out for these tell-tale signs that trouble is brewing in your relationship.

1. Awkward silences
One of the earliest indications of a cooling off in a relationship is that the partners have little to talk about that is of mutual interest. In warm healthy relationships, there is much to talk about. Think back to the initial connection. You could go on and on and be shocked at how much time has passed.

Now, however, the conversations are like a throw-back to the days of the telegram where you paid for each word that was sent.

When the dialogue dries up a part of the relationship is drying up with it.

2. Nitpicking
One step up from economizing on words exchanged is the increasing tendency towards nitpicking.

Your attention should be drawn to the fact that recently everything and anything evokes a muted, negative response. More statements and actions seem to be misunderstood than earlier. More time is being spent explaining away some issue that really should have been overlooked. You are often left to wonder, “Why are we having this discussion?”

Slowly, you are drifting into “Games People Play” territory. There are triggers that come into play that set off adopted roles that are repeated time and time again.

You see your cue coming up, you know the script, you detest your role, yet on cue you deliver your lines. If you think you are bored by these adult games, your partner is thinking the same and the relationship is on a slippery slope.

3. No touch zone
As we move up the scale, we focus on the extent of physical contact – intimate or otherwise.

When the passion is high, couples somehow find themselves touching each other. Don’t think intimate, physical contact. This may be just a placing of a hand on a shoulder or an arm. It comes from a subconscious feeling that a touch re-affirms and validates the emotional connection. The emotional link is confirmed on the physical plane. [By the way, this is clue for persons in the early dating stage that things are lighting up.]

So, if physical contact is the confirmation of a emotional connection, what is the message that you can take from the absence of touch?

Oh, come on, by the time it gets to the withdrawal of sexual relations, you will already know, right?

4. Independent living
At one time you were almost inseparable. You went everywhere together and you were “an item.”

And now?

Well, what has your social calendar been like in the recent past? One step further up the escalator is a situation in which you are virtual strangers occupying the same space. On the outside, it appears that there is a couple living in your residence. However, in reality there are two largely unconnected individuals in the home.

At this stage, the writing is all over your walls. [Hopefully, not your Facebook wall!]

The time is far gone for serious corrective action!

5. Abuse
The discussion here is not about physical abuse as that point you should no longer be thinking that you have a “relationship”.

The signs that we are looking for here are increasing frequency and intensity of emotional abuse.

One noticeable manifestation is hostility in the tone and language used in communication. Are you making supportive statements or are your comments designed to embarrass or hurt the feelings of each other?

Please note that individuals have different natural styles of communicating. Be careful not to confuse differences in style with hostility. Look for changes in behavior when looking out for tell-tale signs of impending trouble with your relationship.

Persistent emotional abuse suggests a lack of respect. Without respect the relationship will flounder.

6. Infidelity
Suspicions will abound about whether infidelity is at play when one or the other party senses that things are not as they used to be.

Be careful not to throw another issue in the mix without good cause. If you have concerns then your best bet is to have a frank discussion about the matter with your partner.

If confirmed infidelity is taking place, it is not all over, but you have a challenge. This is a pretty loud wake up call.

7. Separation
When talks of separation, taking a break, “cooling off with my parents” enter the picture, take the clue – your relationship is in crisis!

So there is your foolproof 7-step guide to getting early warnings that your relationship is heading towards a crisis. The great plus in all this is that relationships can be repaired. That is where the analogy with preparing the egg breaks down. If you messed up getting the sunny side up you will not recover from that.

With relationships, strong decisive action taken in a timely manner can lead to restoration and years of continued happiness.

The key is to look out for the early warning signs listed above and move quickly to take corrective action. Ignoring them or being bogged down by fear or hurt is a bad idea.

Too many salvageable relationships fall apart because one party or the other was inattentive or failed to act decisively to restore the relationship.

In the final analysis, don’t mope – there is hope!


About the Author
Trevor ES Smith is an author and people skills and performance enhancement specialist with the Success with People Academy. He is a hands-on practitioner in the areas of Inter-personal relations, Marketing, Sales, HR and Management processes.

He presents unique perspectives on inter-personal relationships, leadership, team building, customer service, technology and time mastery.



Trevor ES Smith is an author and people skills and performance enhancement specialist with the Success with People Academy. He is a hands-on practitioner in the areas of Inter-personal relations, Marketing, Sales, HR and Management processes.

He presents unique perspectives on inter-personal relationships, leadership, team building, customer service, technology and time mastery.

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