Are you in a volatile relationship? 5 signs to look for

First, you may think volatile relationship means you’re always fighting. No! Many couples in volatile relationships are what I call 90-10 couples™.

90% of the time, things are good or even great! You’re happy in your relationship. You communicate well, enjoy spending time together and generally feel positive about your relationship. But that 10% looms in the background like the dreaded Voldemort, that which should not be named.

What are the signs of volatility?

  1. The smallest slight, without warning, triggers a big argument. I call these rabbit hole arguments. They seemingly come out of nowhere, but they get emotionally explosive quickly.
  2. When the relationship demon shows up, one or both of you may say things you don’t mean, but they are hard to take back.
  3. You experience days or even weeks of minimal communication or not talking at all. You avoid each other, not knowing how to find your way back to the person you know and love. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
  4. You feel isolated, lonely, and disconnected. The person you love feels unfamiliar, distant, and a stranger
  5. You think the worst and fall into hopelessness about ever working it out. You may use the word divorce even if you don’t really mean it. You just don’t know what else to say, but the pain of hearing it out loud lingers.

The good news is that the 90% can win. If you are willing to examine the triggers, practice new strategies, and experiment with new behavior, you can go from volatile to versatile and actually use the passionate energy in a constructive way.

Relationships can and do get better if you are both willing to commit to putting aside the need to blame and doing the hard work to protect your connection from the volatile rabbit hole.

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Tracy Ross, LCSW is an NYC-based counselor with a nationwide practice, who has helped couples and families for over 20 years to redesign their relationships and move them from volatility to versatility: from a state of breakdown to a new relationship in which all can thrive.


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