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Listening to Your Gut (Internal Cues)

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

A new romantic relationship can be captivating. From learning the interest is mutual, exchanging contact information, and talking with one another, to dating, holding hands, and sharing a first kiss, we’re excited as the relationship grows.

As part of the relationship, we tend to think about the other person frequently. We may smile to ourselves when we think about something they said or we did together. We also generally look forward to seeing the other person with happy anticipation.

For many, the relationship will continue to grow and may become a serious relationship.

Yet it’s important not to dive in too fast. Take your time and learn about each other!

At the beginning of a relationship, both people tend to show the best parts of themselves. with time you'll likely learn more about each other’s values, how both of you handle stress, and the intricacies of balancing friendships and the interests you held before the relationship started.

As some relationships continue, something may start to feel…well, off. What’s “off” can be as simple as learning more about each other, your communication styles, different likes, and dislikes, or how you as a couple work things through.

But it can also indicate something more. If a relationship has felt good, but if weeks or months into the relationship, you’re wondering why it doesn’t feel so good anymore or you’re working so very hard to bring it back to the relationship you enjoyed in the beginning, it may a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

A relationship doesn’t have to be bad or abusive to be unhealthy. Many parts of the relationship may still be, or can, feel good. But if you’re experiencing any of the situations below, it’s important to consider why and determine if this is the right relationship for you.

  • Confused – At the beginning of the relationship, you were probably happy. But now it feels somewhat different than that. Something has changed, but you’re not sure what. You may not understand your feelings and feel confused.

  • Distracted – We can all be distracted at the beginning of a relationship, especially when it’s new and exciting: We spend time thinking about the other person and anticipating the next time we’ll get to see or talk with them. Or if you hit a bump in the relationship, this may also be distracting. While this can be normal, if you feel distracted more often, it’s helpful to consider why. Are you often thinking about the relationship, ruminating on a statement or conversation after being or talking with the other person?

  • Unhappy – You may feel unhappy but not understand why. The cause is unclear to you.

  • Second-guessing yourself – You begin frequently wondering if you said something clearly, or why the other person doesn’t seem to understand the point you are making. Or you may question if a belief you’ve held is valid. Self-reflection is healthy and helps us grow, but if you find yourself second-guessing or unsure of yourself, it can signal an unhealthy relationship.

  • Feeling guilty - If you find yourself reaching out to, or spending time with, the other person due to a sense of obligation or to keep a feeling of guilt at bay, it may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. In healthy relationships, we spend time together because we want to and because we care about the other person. We also know it’s completely okay to spend time apart while we continue supporting our outside friendships or engaging in favorite activities.

  • Trouble concentrating – It may be harder to focus on schoolwork, activities, a job, or other responsibilities.

  • Forgetful – You may forget to do things like a homework assignment, walking the dog, or a task at work.

  • Less productive – It may take longer or be harder to complete your schoolwork, chores, or job tasks. Grades or work performance may slide.

  • Stress – This may be feelings of tension in yourself or the relationship.

  • Irritable – You may be grouchy with yourself, your dating partner, friends, or family.

  • Less energy – You may not have the energy to do things you usually enjoy doing, or you often feel tired, even after a full night of sleep.

  • Anxious – This can be characterized by feeling worried, uneasy, or nervous. Anxiety also can arise from earnestly, intensely, or deeply hoping for a situation, event, or outcome.

  • Trouble sleeping – Are you tired but have trouble relaxing? Or when you lay down, do you toss and turn? You may feel restless or anxious at a time when you would usually be tired.

  • Crying for no reason – You may cry unexpectedly due to a specific situation or thought or cry for no apparent reason and not understand why.

  • Weight changes – Your weight has usually stayed about the same, but now you’re gaining or losing weight.

If you experience any of the conditions above, it’s important to determine why. Has something changed at school or work? With a friend or family member? In the relationship? It’s important to figure this out and then work to change it.

If you realize you are in an unhealthy relationship, it may be time for you to move on. To get yourself back into a healthy state, it’s important to invest time in self-care (in which you nurture yourself), supportive friendships, activities you enjoy, and, possibly, help from a counselor.

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