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Depression can feel like you’re under a perpetual dark cloud. It also causes uncharacteristically negative thoughts about yourself, others, and your future. If you are feeling powerless, experiencing dark moods or noticing unusually negative thoughts, it might be time to check out the patterns of communication in your relationship.
Here are 10 relationship warning signs to note. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to combat each of these dangers—they’re not necessarily the kiss of death for a relationship. They do, however, warn you to take adequate safety measures. (Also, be aware that women and men are equally likely to experience depression in relationships.)
1. You feel dominated.
Depression can emerge when you feel smaller and less powerful than the person you’re interacting with. Not all power differences create depression, though. For instance, while a parent has most of the power in a healthy parent-child relationship, as long as the parent uses this power to nurture, all will be well. Similarly, employers have more power than employees. In love relationships between two adults, however, shared power is healthier.
2. You feel criticized.
Criticism like “You shouldn’t have bought that new sweater” is a put-down. Constructive feedback is a not problem, but criticism is. Feedback lets you know in a gentle way that something you have been doing is problematic, and it usually starts with an “I” statement: “I felt uncomfortable when I saw your new sweater because I’m worried about whether we’re going to have enough money to cover our bills this month.” By contrast, critical words and a judgmental tone of voice make criticism problematic.
3. Your partner tells you what to do.
Bossy attitudes are demoralizing. Even a benign order like “Go get the paper for me, honey” is likely to trigger either irritation or depression in the receiver. No one likes being told what to do. It’s better to ask. Requests allow for yes or no as an answer.
4. Your partner tries to control you.
Dictating what to do with your time, finances, friendship choices, or your family is likely to invite feelings of depression. Remember: depression can be a disorder of power. When your partner takes away your power to make personal decisions (or at least to contribute jointly to decisions) depression can be imminent.
5. Your partner is “always right.”
It’s fine for your loved one to be right, as long as they don’t require being right all the time. If your partner’s being right means that there’s no ability to admit mistakes, that’s a problem.
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