It’s normal for the parties in a relationship to compete for the upper hand every now and then, but it can point to an unbalanced and unhealthy arrangement if that becomes the status quo. Here are some signs that you and your partner are stuck in a power struggle.
Communication has broken down.
Being able to talk about whatever is going on in an honest, open, and tactful manner is what makes a happy relationship. If you or your partner are more worried about airing your view than listening and trying to understand the other person, then there’s a power struggle at play. You both end up feeling misunderstood in every conversation or you resort to passive-aggressive tactics instead of airing your grievances the mature way.
You’re in a relentless competition.
Your partner should be your teammate, not your opponent. You should be working together and not constantly trying to outdo each other, especially when it comes to petty things like running errands or doing chores. Sure, being with someone that challenges you is great, but in the right doses, and it should flow from a place of love and support. If battle lines are drawn in almost every activity you both engage in, there’s a huge problem.
You’re both trying to avoid showing how much you care.
This can be okay when you’re at the beginning of a relationship and you’re trying to avoid moving too fast or opening yourself up to hurt. But when you’ve been going steady for a while and you’re both still competing to see who cares less in the relationship, then the power structure is unbalanced.
You are each other’s biggest critics.
One of the classic signs of a power struggle is trying to put the other person down while presenting yourself as superior. If you and your partner find yourselves criticizing each other often or having to defend yourself to the other person, something is wrong. Whether intentional or not, it’s not normal to want to hurt someone you care about, even if it’s only with words.
You regularly talk about being single.
Maybe you tend to talk about the days when you were single and much happier, or your partner often fantasizes about how different life would be if you weren’t together. It could even be hinting about being tired of the relationship or threatening to end things without explicitly asking for a breakup.
You’d rather fight than compromise.
Arguments are commonplace in relationships; it’s the frequency and how you handle them that matters. If you both have issues with compromising, that could point to a power struggle. You should be able to agree to disagree on certain points and settle for small wins for the sake of your relationship. You can’t always have your way and it’s important that you recognize that and find ways around it.
You hardly ever see eye to eye to anything.
It’s frustrating when you’re having an argument and you can tell that your points just aren’t getting across. You might even feel like raising your voice or destroying things to amplify your feelings, but that rarely ever solves the problem. If you and your partner disagree on almost everything and just refuse to see each other’s point of view, it’s a sign that you’re engaging in a power struggle.
All is fair in love and emotional warfare.
Are you and your partner the kind of people that hold grudges and look for ways to retaliate instead of talking things out and trying to resolve them as soon as possible? Do you flirt with other people to make each other jealous? Do you play games with each other’s emotions? That’s what a power struggle looks like.
You mock each other’s profession.
My partner works in tech while I’m creative, so at the beginning of our relationship, there was a competition about whose job was more important. We’d try to make each other feel bad and inferior. It wasn’t until we recognized that we were both feeling a little insecure and trying to compensate for it that the power struggle ended.
You’re reluctant to do nice things for each other.
When you start measuring who does worth or how much affection the other person deserves, your relationship is close to falling apart. You don’t want to look weak or vulnerable so you shy away from doing special things for your partner. It could be withholding sex, emotional intimacy, or refusing to be excited when you’re around them.
The spark has gone out.
If you have to act like you care most of the time because the passion simply isn’t there anymore, that could also be a sign of a power struggle. You’re practically done with the relationship, but neither of you want to be person who calls it quits.
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