That being said, it can and usually does have its fair share of positives—even beyond all the post-fight fun. So listen up, ladies, because here's everything to know about a karmic relationship, including the tell-tale signs you're stuck on its windy, rollercoaster track.
So, what exactly is a karmic relationship?
While the word karma might bring to mind ideas of good juju, that's not exactly the vibe going on here. Rather, in spiritual terms, a karmic relationship is one that "feels laden with challenges" and oftentimes is quite painful, says Natalia Benson, a women's empowerment coach and astrologer. "[But that's] simply because there are major lessons to be learned from the experience...It's all for the sake of growth, evolution, and emotional maturity."
The whole "light at the end of the tunnel" idea is nice, but unfortunately, it's not a quick journey. The only thing that helps, according to Benson? Time.
"Once you are out of the relationship and some time has passed to allow for healing, you can start to see the situation with a bit more objectivity," she says. "And if you’re willing, see where this situation was teaching you something about yourself that you didn’t know before—things that can help you attract healthier and more rewarding relationships in the future."
But this doesn't mean you need to endure rough relationships over and over again in order to ultimately reap and see the benefits. Instead, looking for the right signs can help. Here are 13 of them to keep an eye out for, so you can GTFO and digest those lessons sooner than later:
1. You notice red flags from the very beginning.
Have you ever been out with someone and things just feel off, or they say something that immediately makes your stomach drop or chest tighten? But you just ignore it? Yeah, about that...
"Our instincts and intuition are strong and typically reveal to us through hunches or emotions that something isn't completely aligned here," Benson says. So it's likely that these sensations are actually hinting at a karmic relationship—and you might want to listen up before moving forward.
2. You spend a lot of time justifying their behaviour.
Say your bae doesn't really respect your friends or your alone time. Clearly, that's no bueno. But that's easier for an outsider to realize. When you're in the throes of a karmic relationship, you tend to make reasons for any less-than-positive behaviour from your partner.
3. There's a problem with selfishness.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. If you or your partner is having trouble putting your or someone else's needs ahead of their own on appropriate occasions, then it might be time to book it.
4. You're constantly fighting and can't come to a resolution.
Sure, even the best of couples have their fair share of fights. But for a karmic duo, these fights can feel never-ending and tend to stem from the smallest situations, per Benson.
5. You're constantly on the defence.
This sorta goes hand-in-hand with fighting, but if you often find that you're defending yourself—even if that means gently and calmly trying to explain your feelings—that's pretty indicative of a potentially toxic relationship.
In the end, the right person will be someone who just gets you—not someone who always makes you feel uneasy.
6. You can't help but snoop.
Sneaking around on your partner's email or phone because something feels off? Tracking their every move on Instagram? C'mon girl, you know better.
7. You never feel completely at home or settled into the relationship.
And the whole thing feels rather unpredictable with super-high highs and super-low lows—again, just like a rollercoaster. "If you feel the need to debrief with your friends every five seconds about what is going on in your relationship, it may be karmic in nature," Rhodes says.
8. You're not sure if you're in an abusive situation.
Abuse isn't always the easiest thing to spot (especially when it's something you don't want to admit), but "there is nothing to learn or gain by staying in a situation that is hurting your emotional, physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing," says Benson. If you have even an inkling that you're being abused emotionally or verbally (or g-d forbid, physically), please, please get out of the relationship and, at the very least, seek professional counseling or a support group to help you heal.
This is not a sign of the type of karmic relationship that you should even consider working through. "There is nothing noble in calling an abuser your teacher," adds Benson. Honor yourself and your worth—you deserve so much better.
9. You never feel like you can be completely and totally yourself.
Friendly reminder: Nobody’s perfect. So you should not feel pressured to be a hundred percent all day, every day with anyone—not to mention the person you’re in a relationship with. Unfortunately, however, if you’re in a karmic dynamic, this is often “the key and most important ingredient that is missing,” Benson says. If you feel like you need to be someone you're not to receive the love and affection from your partner, that's a major red flag.
10. You just feel like crap being with them.
Your mood or energy are strongly affected and not (key word!) for the better. Rather, a karmic relationship can feel like you're spending a whole lot of time with an "energy vampire," says Jennifer B. Rhodes, PsyD, a licensed psychologist, relationship expert, and author of the forthcoming book, Toxic Insecurity. So if you're feeling even more exhausted or it takes your mood many days to bounce back, it might mean you're in a karmic relationship and the eventual lesson is to take better care of yourself.
11. And you feel like crap being without them.
If you feel like all these ups and downs are consuming your brain, that’s because they probably are. And so, you’re still left worrying about and weighed down by your relationship even when apart.
12. You and/or your partner tend to have addictive behaviours.
In order for a relationship to really, truly work, both parties have to be emotionally available, but that’s not always possible when someone has an addiction, Rhodes explains. Therefore, karmic relationships are more likely to have at least one person with an addiction to, say, gambling, sex, or substances.
13. They bring out the worst in you.
Suddenly become a drama queen or tenser than ever? Sure, work could really be that stressful, but it could also very much be your relationship. “If you find yourself tapping into fight-or-flight tendencies—jealousy, anger, rage, yelling, tons of crying, heavy drinking, etc.—and you’re not usually like this on your own or in other relationships, these are things to be aware of,” Benson explains.
Be sure to check in with yourself to see if your relationship is to blame. It very likely is.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.