😪🤯🙁 This article was co-authored by Christy Irvine, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Madeleine Criglow. Dr. Christy Irvine is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the owner of her private practice out of Portland, Oregon. With over 10 years of experience, she specializes in individual and couples therapy using various techniques including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal-Process Therapy, and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Dr. Irvine holds a B.A. in Psychology from Whitman College and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The University of Connecticut.
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😪🤯🙁 You've probably heard that relationships take work, but what does that actually mean? Since all relationships go through their ups and downs, you might be wondering what's normal in a healthy relationship and what might be an indicator of bigger issues. If you're unsure, we're here to help. Read on to learn about why even healthy relationships take work sometimes, along with signs that your relationship is requiring too much work from you.
Section 1 of 2:Do all relationships take work?
- 1Yes, all relationships take some work. Relationships require emotional intimacy, vulnerability, communication, and compromise, which are all a little difficult for everyone sometimes. In a healthy relationship, both partners contribute equally and make an honest effort to trust, respect, and support each other. Though there might be some mistakes along the way, a healthy relationship will ultimately leave both partners feeling happy and fulfilled.XResearch source
- Emotional intimacy and vulnerability can be a struggle since both require each partner to confront their true feelings and past experiences.
- Communication and compromise encourage both partners to confront their flaws, work through conflict, and practice forgiveness. This requires a lot of emotional maturity and can be tough for everyone sometimes.
- 2Long-term relationships may take a little more work.During the honeymoon phase, you and your partner were probably excited to be by each other's side 100% of the time. As you get to know each other, you may start to notice your differences and even run into conflict. Though challenging at first, getting past the infatuation phase and working through things can help the two of you get to know each other on a deeper level.XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
- Over time, it's very common for long-term couples to fall into a routine, and it may take more work to keep the relationship fresh. To keep the spark alive, try showing gratitude for your partner and trying new things together.
- If you've been dating a long time, it's normal for you and your partner to change as the relationship progresses. To make things work, try supporting your partner and taking an interest in their new hobbies, interests, and goals.
- 3A relationship shouldn't only feel like work, though. Romantic relationships can be challenging, but they're ultimately supposed to make you feel supported, happy, and fulfilled. If your relationship leaves you feeling drained, unhappy, or insecure, the relationship may be requiring too much work.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Section 2 of 2:Signs Your Relationship Is Too Hard
- 1You're making more of an effort than your partner. All relationships have their ups and downs, but it's important that both partners contribute equally to making things work. If you're always the one to initiate plans, communicate about your relationship, and address conflicts, your relationship might be requiring an unequal amount of effort from you.XResearch source
- Figure out what you want and need out of your relationship so you can communicate that to your partner.
- Try expressing how you feel to your partner. Say something like, "I really care about you, but it makes me feel a little hurt that I'm the only one that plans our dates. It'd mean a lot to me if things were a little more equal in our relationship."
- If your partner doesn't respond empathetically or make an effort to change, this may not be a healthy relationship for you. As hard as it may be, there are people out there who will be able to give you the effort you're looking for!
- 2You're sacrificing your needs to make things work. Being an accommodating and caring partner doesn't require putting aside your own needs. If you find yourself downplaying or hiding what you want to make your partner happy, that may be a sign your relationship is too much work.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Perhaps your partner doesn't like setting dates for plans, but you do. You might say, "My schedule is a little busy this week. Do you think we could pick a date for when we're going to the movies this week?"
- If your partner responds negatively to a reasonable request like this, that's a sign that the two of you aren't super compatible.
- 3You don't feel comfortable being yourself. Do you hide aspects of your personality because you're afraid of what your partner will think? This may be a sign that you and your partner are working too hard to make an incompatible match work. It's important that your partner makes you feel comfortable sharing who you really are.XResearch source Otherwise, the two of you can't share a genuine, vulnerable connection.
- Try pushing yourself to be open about your interests, hobbies, and past experiences with your partner. You may find that your partner loves these things about you.
- If being true to yourself creates more distance between you and your partner, you may not be in the right relationship.
- 4You're waiting for your partner to change. A healthy relationship can motivate people to be the best version of themselves, but that's different than completely changing who they are. If you frequently ask your partner to make serious changes in their behavior and lifestyle, the relationship may not be a healthy match for you.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Try to accept your partner for who they are and where they're at right now. If you aren't happy with the person they are currently, that's a sign that you may not be compatible.
- Even if your partner is making unhealthy choices, it's ultimately up to them to change in their own time. Repeatedly reminding them or asking them to change is not only a lot of work, but it can also be very painful for both of you.
- 5You're consistently unhappy or anxious. Though relationships may take work, they're ultimately supposed to make you feel good about yourself. If you frequently feel sad about the way your partner treats you or worried that they aren't being honest with you, it may be time to reflect on if this is the right relationship for you. There are people out there who will treat you the way that you want to be treated.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- You might be confused about whether your relationship is making you unhappy or something else in your life. If you're able, seek out a counselor or therapist to help you explore your feelings and reflect on what may be upsetting you.
- 6You've stopped communicating about your issues. Perhaps you and your partner both know things aren't quite working, but you've stopped trying to fix things. Though it might be tough to have difficult conversations, it's important to keep talking through your disagreements to keep your relationship healthy and fulfilling.XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
- Wait until you and your partner are alone, then bring up how you feel. Use I-statements that emphasize how you're feeling without attacking your partner. Then, ask them for their point of view and see if you can find a compromise.
- If your partner is unwilling to communicate or compromise with you, it may be a sign that the relationship is not mutually fulfilling.
- 7You have different values. It's okay to have differences with your partner, but it can make your relationship much harder if you don't see eye to eye on the big stuff.XResearch source If you and your partner have widely different life goals and lifestyles, you may not be compatible in a long-term relationship.
- For example, it's no big deal if you and your partner share different music tastes or hobbies. You may run into trouble if you don't see eye to eye on big things like marriage, children, and where you would like to live long-term.
- If you're not sure where you and your partner stand, have an honest conversation with each other about your values, life aspirations, and goals for the relationship.
- 8Your partner is emotionally or physically abusing you. If your partner frequently insults you, lies to you, or uses physical violence to intimidate or hurt you, you may be in an abusive relationship. Though you may love and care about your partner, it's essential to understand that you can't change someone who treats you like this. For the sake of your safety and emotional well-being, consider walking away from this relationship and getting out safely.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- QuestionHow do I stop my partner from taking advantage of me?Christy Irvine, PhDDr. Christy Irvine is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the owner of her private practice out of Portland, Oregon. With over 10 years of experience, she specializes in individual and couples therapy using various techniques including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal-Process Therapy, and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Dr. Irvine holds a B.A. in Psychology from Whitman College and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The University of Connecticut.
Licensed Clinical PsychologistLicensed Clinical PsychologistExpert AnswerSet some boundaries with your partner. Tell them that you won't do anything you don't want to do, and don't be afraid to say "no." If they don't respect your boundaries, they may not be a good match for you.