The Sins of a Relationship

You are in a relationship which you think you want to exit, or have serious doubts about, or, you have broken up with your partner and you consider possibly moving back in with him/her.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you do anything:

First, do you see yourself with this person in 5 years time?

If yes, what is it exactly that makes you want to be with this person?

Or, what is it that makes you want to leave this person, or has led to the break up?

Are those issues recoverable?

If your answers include any of these issues below, do not consider a reconciliation unless, your (ex) mate gets some serious counseling and mends their ways. Here are the main sins of a relationship:

Trying to change you

I refer here to extreme make overs, when your clothes, your habits, your demeanor, job, etc, are no longer acceptable to your partner.
You came as a package, and this is who was so enticing to him/her in the first place.

Unless your behavior was adapted to the other person and not your own in the first place, and you are now reverting to old ways of which your partner was unaware, then your partner has no place trying to change you, past a minimal amount of behaviors which may be uncomfortable to him/her. In this case, take the time to discuss it, and either agree to disagree about it, or simply compromise, or change.  In any case, any request to change should amount to a suggestion, a gentle criticism, but never be conveyed as a demand, an ultimatum, or though use of coercive devices such as silent treatment, blame, or acting differently without notification and discussion between the partners before-hand.

Lack of trust and/or respect (though both go hand in hand)

Whatever happens in private with your partner remains between you two. You may call on trusted friends or family members to help if you find that a matter cannot be resolved with your partner without guidance or you need talk over a memory or a feeling. This implies that you have first given the skinny to your partner, and discussed or tried solving the matter with him/her as the situation requires.  It also means that whatever advice or support you get from other parties, you will still refer back to your partner.

On the other hand, releasing juicy tit bits of information  to a wider circle of acquaintances, whether or not you have separated or argued, after the event, is one of the deepest form of betrayal of trust, and a lack of respect for both yourself and your partner.  It is damaging. Ideally, talk / experience the situation with  your partner first; attempt to resolve or accept; if this is not working, confide in trusted ones; and no matter what, go no further, whether the relationship is alive or not.

If your partner is personality disordered and/or  some of those ‘secrets’ involve abuse, then disregard the guidance above and TALK about it to whomever can help you. Do not, in such circumstances, keep it a secret. Do so with measure and all things considered, because, there will be a backlash.

Cheating (serial infidelity)

Interestingly, infidelity is recoverable from, when there is willingness to forgive and start afresh on both sides. However, if infidelity persists despite a first promise to not repeat it and mutual agreements on boundaries, seriously consider getting out, unless you believe you can live with it and are prepared to turn a blind eye. Once the infidelity has been acknowledged, once a solution or course of action is mutually decided, e.g., another try, never, ever bring this matter back in future disagreements… Ever! Ensure that once you make a decision to forgive and move on, make sure that there is no unfinished business with your decision. Forgive, move on, and do not recall the matter at a later time in what constitutes below the belt hits from your partner’s perspective.


The golden rule in a relationship is honesty. No white lies. No lies. The truth as you experience it. Delivered as gently as possible, with respect. But, never lie. Once something is hidden, it piles up and grows out of control. If asked something, respond as truthfully as you can. Do not delay. If you ask something to your partner, expect the same. It amounts to mutual respect. If you feel a dissonance, clarify and challenge, gently. But do not rest on partial answers, or lies. It is your right to state to a person that you feel they are not telling you the truth, whether they have something to hide or want to protect your feelings. Bottom line: here’s the very person on whom you can rest, rely and whom you cherish. Honesty is required.


This comes in many forms and is implied to be physical. Not so. Neglect and refusal to spend time with you is abuse. Ignoring you is abuse. Silent treatment is abuse. Not allowing you to express yourself is abuse. Blaming you is abuse. Direct criticism is abuse. Off sided jokes is abuse. Raging at you is abuse. Refusal to show tenderness or withdrawing sex is abuse.

There is a huge amount of literature available on line about what constitute emotional, psychological and mental abuse. It does not have to be overt, nor obvious to be called ‘abuse’.  If you suspect your partner to be abusive,  tell him/her or write it if you don’t feel safe to speak, and be specific, one issue at a time. Don’t let it spiral out of control, since abuse is documented to increase with time.  If your partner doesn’t acknowledge at least, or at best make an effort to change, do not tolerate it.  Talk about it to persons who can support you. The issue of abuse is far too often kept silent by the ones who experience it.

Sustained resentment

This is accompanied with pain and unhappiness, when it takes all your energy which you can no longer use to fight for and sustain the relationship. It is time to consider a break or time to go.

Unmet Needs

When you have mentioned your needs, which are reasonable, but your partner refuses to respond to them, and disregard them, it is akin to abuse. Don’t let it happen, we’re all reasonable, but we’re not Mother Theresa. Once you run out of patience, after having tried talking through the issue, go.

The sadness is greater than the happiness in your relationship

If you feel this, it is time to go.

Relationships are meant to be joyful at best, calm or sustained at last. They can be stressful and flat at times. They may have periods of ‘non-love’, boredom, questioning, and bring experiences of cat and dog fights and arguments and also anger, even jealousy, even infidelity. That’s real life.

But they do not include any of the following:  sustained mental anguish, fear, pain, hurt, resentment, betrayal, lack of trust, disrespect, loss of self esteem, insecurity, and/or dishonesty.

Author: Pascale Aline

Psychotherapist & Performance Coach, I specialize working with tools for self enhancement, growth, productivity and healing (Biofeedback, EMDR, Mindfulness training)

One thought on “The Sins of a Relationship”

  1. Thanks for the great article. Honesty is key. In my case though, I learnt that I need to cool down sometimes before communicating how I feel. I just finished reading Men are From Mars Women are from Venus and that an eye-opener! The Love letter technique described in the book is something that I have been using myself. When you take your time to write out your feelings you can really clarify what is going on for yourself and it helps to cool down as well. I usually take a couple of days to write a letter like this and it is amazing how feelings change every day – feelings are very volatile. But as you keep writing and edditing , you really can get to the most important core feelings that you have about the situation – the essence of what you want, who you are and how you feel about your relationship.


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