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Dating Relationships Change Over Time

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Don't Be Afraid To Leave Your Relationship If You Become Uncomfortable With It

Relationships develop over time as partners share experiences with one another. Partner's initial idealization of each other and mutual good behavior tends to give way to a more balanced and accurate view of each other as they learn each others strengths and weaknesses and come to understand whether each other is trustworthy and responsible. While no relationship is perfect, some relationships are revealed to be dangerous or unhealthy to remain in and others come to be seen as unworkable. Unworkable, dangerous or unhealthy relationships can generally be identified by paying attention to one's emotions which will become persistently upset with regard to the relationship. Certain behaviors or demands one might encounter are also excellent signs it is time to get out of a relationship:

Do not stay with someone who abuses you verbally, physically or sexually. Do not stay with someone who attempts to control you or puts you down. Do not stay with someone who requires that you compromise your values or strong commitments.

In general, do not continue to date someone whom you sense is not right for you, even if you very much want him/her to be right for you. If your mind says he or she is not good for you but your heart says that he or she is the 'one', then listen to your mind. Vice versa, if your mind says he or she is right, but your heart doesn't beat for him or her, listen to your heart. Both head and heart provide vital counsel as to what works for you and what doesn't. If either your heart or your head doesn't approve of your dating partner, then move on and work to find a new partner that both important parts of you desire.

Recognize That Your Relationship Will Change Over Time

Successful dating often gives way to the formation of long term relationships. Long term relationships may be born from dating relationships, but they tend to behave like different animals. At the risk of over-generalizing, dating relationships are more often urgent, intense and passionate whereas long term relationships are more often sedate, comfortable and familiar. Long term relationships come with a raft of responsibilities and mutual dependencies that dating relationships, which are more temporary and carefree, avoid. Not everyone expects that these sorts of transformations will occur, however, and not everyone is willing to accept them. Some people will opt to exit relationships that start to feel familiar, while others will deepen their attachments. You and your partner can avoid some of the pitfalls that relationships can fall into by learning to communicate well with each other, by educating yourselves about common ways relationships change over time, and common relationship problems that can occur, and by doing what you can to not take your relationship for granted.