Not everyone wants their relationship to end in marriage, but if you feel you are in love limbo, read the signs
Ending a dead-end relationship is a smart move, couple counsellors will tell you, except, not everyone is as prudent. It’s not uncommon, say psychiatrists, to come across individuals who develop suicidal tendencies when they realise their expectations from a love are moons away from that of their partner. Dating someone and not knowing if there is a “future,” seems to be a fact most modern lovers are grappling with. The ‘I’ll-take-it-as-it-comes lot’ are happy being in limbo. It’s those looking for direction who would do good making a note of signs that indicate your relationship is going nowhere.
NO REFERENCE TO FUTURE
Discussing the future needn’t freak partners out. It indicates a mutual interest in wanting to take things forward, and doing things together, assuming you haven’t known each other for just a month. The attraction may be strong; there might even be respect and affection involved, but to see someone in the guise of a life partner takes something more. “Being attracted and wanting to develop a committed relationship are two different things. It’s possible that one of the partners may have no desire to focus on ‘one person’,” says New York-based relationship expert Susan Winter. It’s about the bigger picture, explains Mumbai-based couple counsellor Shrreya Podaar, who holds a Masters in marriage and family therapy. “It lets you know if your partner sees you in their bigger picture of life, leaving you with a sense of belonging and assurance.” In the absence of ‘planning’, Winter says, “It’s not about you… it’s about him/her. And this is not a reflection of your worth. It’s reflective of someone who’s still sampling the buffet table of life, and hasn’t made up his/her mind.” Psychiatrist Dr Dayal Mirchandani raises a valid red flag. “Making future plans depends on the age of the couple. At 21, it’s difficult to expect someone to make up their mind. In your thirties, it’s a valid concern,” he says.
ONLY SEX OR NO SEX
Sex and passion’s role in a successful relationship can hardly be denied. But it’s about finding the balance. You don’t just want to be “booty call” for your partner, Winter warns. In the utter absence of intimacy (although you may argue that the equation is high on affection, protectiveness and respect) on the other hand, you are no better off than mere friends. “For a healthy, long-term relationship, the mind must feel as stimulated as the body,” says clinical psychologist Saloni Sawnani.
YOU BOTH ACT BOHEMIAN
If one or both of you act like you are single when in public, it’s a sign. If you are not ‘allowed’ to let the world know you are dating, it’s a decision that must be questioned. “If someone is reluctant to show his/ her affection in public, it’s not a bad idea to reassess your feelings and ask why you are with him/her,” advises Winter. This should not be confused with giving the partner space and having an independent social life off and on. It’s a problem if it’s the norm rather than the exception. Then, where is the ‘us’ in the relationship? Dr Mirchandani says, usually, for the first six months after hooking up, couples are at their best behaviour. “Once you’ve given it time, interacting with your partner’s friends and family helps you get to know your lover better.”
YOU DON’T MAKE THE TIME
Not having enough time is an excuse. No professional priority can be big enough to repeatedly spring up as a hurdle in spending time together. “It’s tough to take stock, review a relationship honestly,” says Sawnani. Work pressure, then becomes the perfect foil. “Often, couples who don’t want to confront their feelings or find out what’s amiss, hide behind excuses,” she says. Winter suggests you ask why you are willing to repeatedly make time for someone who’s not making time for you. “When a man chooses to be in a partnership with a woman, he is aware of her value, and will make the effort. And so must women.
YOU ARE STRANGERS TO THE FAMILY
This may happen only in due course, but in serious relationships (unless there is an inter-caste Bollywoodesque angle involved), your partner would eventually like you to meet his siblings and parents. “Loving relationships tend to be inclusive,” observes Winter. If you notice that your lover has no intention or inclination to introduce you to his family, or isn’t curious about getting to know the people who matter to you, there might be a problem. “In India, romantic relationships tend to seek social sanction,” says Sawnani. “When your partner doesn’t introduce you to the family after you’ve been together for long, s/he may have commitment issues.”
YOU HAVEN’T TRAVELLED TOGETHER
Travelling is not just about spending alone time, it also points to shared interests, and having the will to plan ahead. It indicates that you are comfortable being together for long periods, giving you a fairly accurate indication of how you stand on intimacy and compatibility. “It tells if you can talk to each other for hours, and be comfortable with silences between each other,” says Sawnani.
By Aruna Rathod