Are you walking on eggshells in your relationship? | Private Therapy Clinic
Thursday, 15 Dec 2016

Are you walking on Eggshells in your relationship?

By Dr Becky Spelman

Walking on eggshells – dealing with emotional hardship within a relationship

Intimate relationships with the ones we love are all about compromise. In a partnership, it is normal and appropriate for people to check with their significant others before making decisions that are going to affect the couple. For instance, one might say, “Honey, is it OK with you if I go out with the girls on Wednesday after work?” or, “Do you mind if I come home late a few evenings next week? I just need to finish up an important project at work.” Ideally, questions like this are not really about asking for permission; they are a courtesy to our partner, and a reminder to us both that we are in this relationship together. Before making plans, it is important to check in and ensure that your decision is not going to have a negative impact on them, and to be sure that you haven’t already committed to doing something together. Sometimes plans need to be reworked so that the life of the couple or the family runs smoothly. That is just a normal part of living with someone.

However, if one party to a relationship feels that they actually have to ask their partner for permission before they do anything, or that any decision they take is liable to lead to a blazing row or to feel bad, there is a big problem in the relationship. People often use the term “walking on eggshells” to describe the feeling of having to tiptoe around their partner, trying to ask things the “right” way, and feeling a sense of panic on a regular basis, in case they flare up and get angry in response to a simple question. Quite simply, this is not what a healthy relationship looks like. In the worst cases, what should be simple courtesies or invitations to dialogue can even escalate to intimate partner violence.

If you are in a relationship in which you do not feel listened to or respected, or indeed if you know that you too often react with anger to what should be part of the normal dialogue of any close relationship, it is time to do something about it. Assuming that physical or emotional abuse are not part of the relationship (in which case drastic action needs to be urgently taken), couples counselling will help you both to look at the ways in which you communicate, and unhelpful behavioural patterns that you have adopted with respect to one another. A good therapist will be able to show you how these patterns have been disrupting your life, and give you take-home exercises that you can use to establish more useful ways of communicating and compromising with one another.

Who can I speak to further about the issues in this article?

For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • By Dr Becky Spelman
  • Relationships

Check out other related articles

  • 20 Feb 2015

    How to have a healthy relationship with your partner

    In order to have a healthy relationship, both partners must be committed - not only to each other but committed to making the relationship successful. Every relationship has its highs and lows, but the key point is to keep communication at a level that produces honesty, trust and happiness. As relat.....

  • 01 Mar 2016

    How His Relationship With His Mum Could Spell The End Of Yours - Huffington Post

    This week I have been asked by three different friends about their boyfriends' relationship with their respective mothers. What was interesting was that each had a different issue about it, with each providing a different impact upon their relationships. .....

  • 28 Jul 2017

    Are you stuck in a co-dependent triangle?

    Let me know if this sounds familiar: you’ve been in a relationship, friendly or romantic, and someone else comes into the mix. Maybe they’re your partner’s colleague, or maybe a friend’s roommate. Whatever the reason, since you all started hanging out together, the three of you take on some .....