Just how much is acceptable in a relationship?
Of course, the answer to how much is acceptable differs from one person to the next. What one person considers ‘normal’, another might find completely obnoxious! Sometimes, it can be hard to work out what you you consider acceptable, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship where it’s often easier to comply with your partner rather than have yet another argument. We can all become worn down by negative aspects in our own homes and put up with things that we’d once have found abhorrent.
When you have a long shared history and have invested years of your life in another person, it’s often easy to overlook or even excuse their behaviour. Maybe you’re afraid of starting again on your own, telling your family or having to find new friends. However, there are certain behaviours that are pretty much always unacceptable and if you’ve talked them through with your partner before and things haven’t changed, it’s probable that they’re not going to.
Here are some that you shouldn’t have to put up with:
Inconsistency – if you find you’re being smothered in affection one day and almost ignored the next, that’s very unpredictable. Most relationships require some sort of stability and if you never know where you are from one day to the next, if can cause mental turmoil. Some people are moodier than others but if they say they want commitment one day and then turn that on its head the next, it’s hard to feel secure with them and, ultimately, it’s unacceptable.
Being treated like a servant – it’s normal to help one another out and even have separate roles if that’s what suits both of you, but when one person leaves a lot of mess around for the other one to constantly pick up and clean, there’s a big element of being taken for granted. It’s not acceptable for one person in the relationship to be taking on the majority of the chores, responsibilities and perhaps bills unless their partner is ill and unable to contribute. If this is happening to you, don’t feel that you have to put up with it!
Cheating – if you’ve agreed to have an ‘open relationship’, fair enough but if you agreed to be monogamous and then your partner cheats, you have to decide whether to work through it or separate. Just know that you’re under no obligation to put up with cheating (which includes sexting), even if it was a one-off incident. If you decide to give things another go, then that’s a decision for both of you to make, but basically, cheating isn’t acceptable.
Lying – so most of us tell the occasional lie, not just to our partners but to other people as well. It’s when it becomes the norm and you find that your partner often lies to other people (their best friend or their family), then it’s a cause for concern. People who habitually lie usually tell other people what they want to hear, often to get what they want. If your partner lies to other people, he/she probably lies to you as well.
Ultimatums – it’s normal to have discussions where your ideas don’t match up but it’s not normal to deliver some sort of ultimatum such as “if we don’t have a baby in another year, it’s over” or “if we don’t move back to my home town, I’m finished”. It’s never going to be helpful to put down deadlines and the other person rarely responds positively. No-one likes to be threatened with ultimatums – they threaten love and affection in relationships.
Controlling behaviour – if you’ve noticed that your partner tries to control you or put you down (in fact, make you feel bad in any way), that’s emotional abuse/controlling behaviour. If they blame you for all their problems or frequently threaten to leave you, that can feel as if you’re losing all control in your life, which often leads to low self-esteem.
Refusal to talk – it’s key to most relationships to be able to communicate, even if the subject is a difficult one. If you find that your partner refuses to talk about anything that they consider to be a tough subject, they’re disregarding your feelings, especially if the subject is bothering you. Healthy relationships need healthy discussions.
Unsupportive – you’re supposed to be in a team which means supporting each other’s ambitions and dreams. You’re invested in one another’s success if you share your lives and if your partner often puts you down, whether you’re alone or with other people, you don’t have to accept it. Most of us need someone who will back us up when the chips are down.
They’re often angry – most people get annoyed sometimes but irrational anger is something else. If you’re often waiting for them to erupt, you’ll be on constant edge, feeling as if you have to tiptoe around your partner, even if they’re angry with other people rather than you. If they’re not prepared to get help for their anger, maybe you need to rethink your future with them.
If, after reading the above, you still think it’s worthwhile putting up with some or all of the above, then I hope it works out well for you. However, if it encourages to think about what you’re prepared to put up with and you decide that ‘enough is enough’, you could try some counselling to talk through your feelings, before making a final decision about the future.