Love can feel like the most amazing emotion in the world, except when it doesn’t. Most couples aren’t strangers to the occasional problems in their relationship, but sometimes it can be more than that. The same issues might come up repeatedly and never with a clear solution.
While such concerns may be nothing major, recurring challenges can build up over time and lead to long-term consequences for both individuals. Realization is the first step to healing; that can only happen when you are aware of the issues causing the friction sooner than later.
Infidelity, overbearing jealousy, substance or gambling addiction, controlling behavior, and more can be common and apparent problems in any relationship. But not all problems manifest openly, and not all can be resolved through simple communication.
If you are in a relationship and get the feeling that all is not well, it’s best to understand where it’s coming from. Becoming aware can help you in many ways. It can allow you to look for external help, or even reach out to a loved one for support.
1. Emotional Abuse
It can be hard to identify emotional abuse in any relationship, but especially so for romantic ones. It may not start out that way at all, but eventually, you may find yourself being emotionally manipulated and controlled by your partner.
Any form of bullying, whether it’s abusive language, manipulative passive-aggression, or coercement, can be considered emotional abuse. You might find your self-esteem faltering as a result, and it can impact all other relationships. Look for these signs in your partner’s behavior if you think emotional abuse may be happening:
- Expectations for you to always meet their needs, demands, and wishes
- They constantly dismiss or undermine you
- Don’t want to listen to your emotions, but accuse you of being selfish and ‘not good enough’
- Start arguments for no reason
- Insult or humiliate you in public and private
- They don’t treat you like an equal
- Isolate you from friends and family
Constantly feeling like you’re walking on eggshells can be a hard way to live, and if you feel like you’re doing that around your partner, it may be a red flag.
Emotional abuse can lead to complex forms of PTSD, which can take years to untangle. Hypnotherapy for PTSD and other issues can help you cope with the symptoms, and it can be the ideal solution if you have suffered from emotional abuse in a relationship. If you are unable to tell if it’s emotional abuse, try talking to your partner about couples therapy to explore the issue in a safe and supportive way.
2. Lack of Personal Space and Identity
Wanting to be a part of your partner’s life as much as possible is a given in a romantic relationship, especially in the beginning. It can seem exciting and enjoyable at first, but you will slowly lose your sense of identity. While compromise is needed in any relationship, it’s also important to know when it’s too much.
If you are looking to get your partner’s approval for everything you do, it can show that you’re not thinking from an ‘I’ perspective, but always from a ‘We’ perspective. You might begin to feel like your partner is acting superior to you because they share their social life with you as there’s no other choice.
Lack of identity and personal space in a relationship can look like this:
- There are no friends or people for you to spend time with outside of your relationship
- You’ve stopped thinking about your goals and passions
- You are constantly thinking about your partner’s needs, even when you should be thinking about your own
- You feel like your identity has fundamentally changed in a negative way
- You’ve let go of your boundaries, triggers, and standards in the relationship
- Your partner always expects you to say yes to any social plan because you don’t have anything else to do
3. Anger & Reactivity
Feeling anger is natural, just like it’s normal to be happy and sad. But how that anger is displayed and received by the other person is important. Your partner may have trouble understanding why their anger response is triggering for you, and why it is causing permanent cracks in your relationship.
The intensity and frequency of angry outbursts can determine how much it impacts you and your relationship. Misunderstanding and lack of communication can further increase the intensity of such outbursts. One person might be blamed for the situation escalating to such a point, but usually, both partners can play a role in how the situation turns out.
If you think that your partner’s anger responses are causing friction in your relationship, look for these signs:
- Not understanding how anger impacts the other person and their environment
- Constant criticism and negative remarks from your partner about you
- Screaming or verbal abuse happens frequently
- Apologies don’t lead to actual change
- Fast to judge any situation concerning you
When you feel like you’re giving in to avoid conflict, and that you are increasingly watching what you’re saying, it may be because you fear their anger. If these outbursts are normal in your relationship, they can also cause you to feel anxious and depressed.
4. Bad Communication
Most, if not all, minor relationship problems arise because of a lack of communication between partners. Couples who don’t consciously make the effort to communicate can begin to face intimacy and growth issues.
Lack of communication can also result in consistent misunderstandings. It may feel like your partner isn’t being fully open with you, or that they don’t want to hear about how you feel.
While poor communication may not manifest immediately, you might start to notice it when you’re feeling lonely, misunderstood, and begin feeling resentful towards your partner. But, with help and effort, relationships can grow and evolve when communication becomes great.
Signs of lousy communication you should watch out for are:
- Repeated criticism of partner
- Arguments about the same topics
- Becoming defensive or passive-aggressive with your partner
- Little to no attempt to communicate or meet with each other
5. Changing Needs
When you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you naturally grow into the relationship but also as an individual. While many partners enjoy and accept their partner’s changing needs and personality, it can definitely be a bumpy road.
Understanding your partner, and learning to accept and manage the differences between the two of you, are both critical for a flourishing and healthy relationship. Things can start to feel unsteady when these differences aren’t readily accepted, or there is a significant difference in core values. For example, you may like to save more than you spend, and the opposite can be true for your partner. It might not be a big deal immediately, but these habits can lead to recurring arguments and friction in the relationship.
From minor to major changes, each change can cause an impact on any relationship. Changing needs in a relationship is not a bad thing, depending on how partners react to these changes. If changing needs are causing you emotional or physical harm, it is likely time to reevaluate whether this relationship is what you want for yourself.
Problems can crop up in any relationship, and it ultimately depends on both people in the relationship to decide how to handle it. But sometimes, these problems can be unsolvable, and they can shake you to your very core. When you’re spending more time unhappy than happy in a relationship, it’s important to take a step back and observe where it is going wrong.
Whether you resolve these problems or exit the relationship, make a choice that will lead to your happiness. Reach out for external support with a trusted friend, helpline, or mental health counselor when you need it, and understand that it’s no one’s fault for a relationship turning out the way it does.