21 Questions That Can Help You Find Clarity In Your Relationship

BTW: It’s normal to feel unsure.

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If you're unsure about your relationship, these 20 questions can help you find clarity.
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It’s only natural to occasionally feel unsure about your relationship. It’s bound to happen in the early days of dating when you’re still deciding if you’re right for one another. But it can also happen months or years down the line. Even when you think you’re settled, it’s still possible to wake up one day and ask yourself, “Am I truly happy?”

While this question can come as a shock, it isn’t one you’ll want to ignore. In fact, “you should use the doubts and/or negative feelings you’re having as a signpost indicating the need to take a pause and reflect,” says Kate Engler, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, echoes this. "If you are feeling uncertainty about a relationship, it’s important that you address the reasons for those feelings," he tells Bustle. "Usually, it’s your gut telling you that there are unresolved problems."

By taking a closer look, you may uncover the reasons why you don’t feel totally sure about your relationship. You might realize that you and your partner need to learn how to communicate, find better ways to compromise, or offer each other more support in order to feel better as a duo. Once you have an honest heart-to-heart and make a few changes, the doubt will hopefully start to fall away.

That said, you might realize that you feel unsure about your relationship because there are deep, unfixable problems, a lack of compatibility, or other toxic traits that you don’t want to live with anymore. And that’s OK. To determine the future of your relationship, take a step back and ask yourself a few of the questions below. Experts say they might just help you gain more clarity about the future of your relationship.


“How often do I feel this way?”

If you currently feel unsure about your relationship, start by asking yourself how often doubt creeps into your head, Engler says. Is it a fleeting thought on a random Tuesday afternoon? Or a moment of doubt following a big argument? Or do you lie awake night after night wondering if your partner is the right person for you?

Since no relationship is absolutely perfect, you can expect to have a doubt or two on occasion — especially during tough times. But if you’re constantly weighing pros and cons, Engler says it likely means you aren’t fully comfortable and that you may be happier moving on.


“Have I noticed a pattern?”

To go one step deeper, ask yourself if there’s a pattern attached to these feelings of doubt. Do you only want to throw in the towel on the days when you’re overwhelmed at work? If so, it may mean that outside stressors are having an impact on your relationship, but that the relationship itself isn’t necessarily the problem.

To test it out, find ways to practice empathy around each other on tough days and see if it helps you ride out life’s tough moments together. If you still feel like you want to bail even after accounting for outside stressors, then you may have your answer.


“Are we working on relationship problems together?”


It’s only natural to feel unsure in a relationship if you’re the only one putting in any effort to hang out, address problems, or make amends after arguments. So consider the balance and whether or not you’re OK with it.

“If you have brought up issues to your partner and they have ignored, dismissed, gaslighted, or shut them down over and over again, this is an indicator that they aren’t interested in owning their part [of the relationship],” Engler says. “Many, many issues can be resolved when everyone participates. When this isn't what's happening, the long-term prognosis for the relationship isn't very promising.”


“Is this relationship exactly like all my past relationships?”

If you notice that you’ve been repeating old relationship patterns with your new partner, Engler notes that you may be best to explore your past before you make any firm decisions about the present. This is especially true if your partner and relationship seem really “good on paper” — meaning you’re both loving, supportive, committed, etc.

If something still seems off, it may help to get an outside perspective, whether it’s from a friend, your mom, or a therapist. Talk about your doubts while including an honest take on your partner. “You may still end it,” Engler says, but you also might realize you just needed to work on healing old hurts in order to be fully happy.


"Do I feel safe and cared for?”

"This question is meant to identify any dealbreakers or unacceptable behavior," says Lesli Doares, a couples consultant and coach.

Be honest with yourself about things that go wrong, poor treatment, tension, or anything else that puts you on edge — even if it doesn’t happen every day. "Any behavior that gives you qualms needs to be acknowledged and addressed," she tells Bustle. "It won’t magically get better."

Bring these issues to your partner’s attention and talk about what needs to change in order for you to feel secure. If they’re willing to change, the relationship may be salvageable. And once some changes are made, you may feel a lot more secure.


“Are we both willing to compromise?”

Being in a relationship means you need to find ways to compromise as a couple on things both big and small. If your partner is willing to meet you halfway, cool. But if you’ve talked about an ongoing issue, and your partner dismisses them or shows no signs of changes, Doares says that’s a sign you need to go your separate ways.

The right relationship won’t include ultimatums or guilt and neither of you will feel like you have to change who you are or go against your morals in order to make it work. If you don’t want to meet in the middle, or there’s an entire laundry list of compromises that need to be made, it often means you aren’t a good match.


“Does my partner have my back no matter what?”

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Psychotherapist Meredith Prescott, LCSW suggests asking yourself this question whenever you feel unsure. “You want to be able to identify if the person can support you in the way you need to be supported,” she tells Bustle.

Take a second to think if your SO has your back when times are tough, if they support your goals, and if they’re attuned to your emotional well-being. If so, you’ve likely have a good thing going and can breathe a sigh of relief.


"Is my relationship negatively impacting my self-esteem?”

You can also ask yourself a few questions about your overall self-esteem as it relates to your partner and your relationship. "Answering this question will help you recognize the impact of your relationship on your self-worth and self-esteem," says relationship coach Melissa M. Snow.

Do you feel good about yourself in their presence? Do you feel better after hanging out? If you answered yes, Snow says you may decide the relationship is worth hanging onto.


“Is my relationship holding me back?”

A good, worthwhile relationship will see you where you are right now, and also create room for growth and change. In other words, you won’t feel like you have to change for your partner, but you’ll also be able to change, if you want to.

"The right person will support your growth and your goals and they’ll want to do everything they can to help you succeed," Snow tells Bustle. "If they don't, they likely don't have your best interests in mind."


"Can I accept our differences?”

All of that said, being in a relationship also mean accepting quirks, eccentricities — and a whole lot of differences. “Considering what is changeable, what is not changeable, what we can tolerate, and what we cannot tolerate, are all important questions to ask when considering whether someone is a good match,” Shannon Gunnip, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle.

When it comes to things a person can’t change — like personality traits or quirks — you have to ask yourself, “Can I love them as they are?” or “Will I feel resentful about this forever?” In the best case scenario you’ll be able to laugh about each other’s quirks and love each other in spite of your “flaws.” If that isn’t possible more doubt — and eventual resentment — will build.


“Do all our biggest goals align?”


If you're on the fence, it might be because a few major questions have yet to be answered, like whether or not you want kids, if you plan to get married, if you’ll ever get to move cross-country, and so on.

"Too often people ignore these questions and think love will figure them out," says life coach Dr. Benjamin Ritter. But the reality is you need to talk about these things early and often. If you haven’t agreed on the big life stuff yet, it only makes sense that you’ll feel unsure.


“Am I excited to see my partner?”

While you can’t expect to be elated to see each other 24/7, there should be a general sense of happiness whenever you meet for a date night or catch up at the end of a long day. So ask yourself: "Does the thought of your partner bring a smile to your face? If the answer is yes, fantastic,” say.s relationship coach Ann Ball.

If the answer is no, Ball notes that there's still a shot you can make it work, but it may be necessary to have some long heart-to-hearts about what’s getting in the way. She also recommends finding a counselor to help guide you through, especially if you can’t quite put your finger on what’s off.


“What does a happy relationship look like to me?”

Ask yourself what your ideal relationship looks like, including which values you'd like your partner to have, how you want to feel on a daily basis, what you want the future to look like, etc. And then see how close you are in this current relationship.

"Asking yourself this question will force you to think about the traits you want in a relationship and see how yours measures up," says Bennett. If they’re far from hitting the mark, and it shows no signs of improving, that’ll definitely explain why you wake up in the morning feel unsure.


"Where do I see myself in a year?”

It may also help to imagine where you'd like to be a year from now. What would your ideal life look like? What goals are you on your way to accomplishing? "Asking this question allows you to focus on your own needs," Bennett says. "If you ask this question and don’t see your partner playing a major role in your life a year down the line, then the relationship probably isn’t worth keeping."


"Am I willing to change?”


Of course, you'll also want to take your own flexibility into account, as well as the issues and hangups that you may bring to the table. "If you aren’t willing to make room for your partner and their needs, the relationship will not be a good one," Doares says. Remember, relationships are a two-way street, so it helps to reflect on where you may be falling short, as well.


“Why have I stayed this long?”

Whether you've been in the relationship for a month, a year, or 10 years, Snow recommends asking yourself why you've stuck it out this long.

Is it because you’re scared to be alone? Are you afraid to step outside your comfort zone? Or are you actually quite happy and comfy? If the relationship feels fulfilling and worth it, that's great. But if you're only staying out of habit, you may want to start looking for better reasons.


“Do we have a similar approach to life?”

The vibe of your relationship might be thrown off if you have completely different approaches to life, says Dr. Ritter. Consider your sense of humor, how you like to spend the weekend, and even how you socialize. If you’re total opposites, it may help explain why you don’t feel quite right.


“Are we on the same page with money?”

According to Dr. Ritter, questions may arise when your approach to life may is off in bigger ways, as well. Consider how you make decisions or how you handle money. As Dr. Ritter says, "These areas of your life can cause large amounts of conflict if there are not similarities or ways to communicate and manage differences."


"Am I happy?”

Again, you can't expect your relationship to be sunny and rosy 100 percent of the time. But you have every right to want a positive vibe and a relationship that makes you feel good more often than not. “Seems obvious, but many people get caught up in the day-to-day of life and forget to think about themselves," Ball says. Consider if this relationship actually makes you happy, or if you’re just going through the motions.


"Do I like how we communicate?”


The health of a relationship always comes back to communication, says licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Molly Giorgio. So if you aren’t sure if it’s working, start there. Consider if your needs are being met and if not, if there are any conversations happening about them, she tells Bustle. If there’s a disconnect in how you listen to each other and communicate, it’ll be difficult to make changes in the future.


“Do I like who I am around my partner?”

If you’re still unsure, consider if you like who you are — or who you’ve become — since getting into this relationship. If you’re a big fan of your attitude, the way you look at life, and how you feel when around your partner, then you can rest assured things are good.

If you’re angry all the time confused, or if you have to change yourself in unfair or uncomfortable ways just to get by, then take that as a sign to move on.


Kate Engler, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist

Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert

Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach

Shannon Gunnip, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor

Melissa M. Snow, relationship coach

Meredith Prescott, LCSW, psychotherapist

Dr. Benjamin Ritter,, life coach

Ann Ball, relationship coach

Dr. Molly Giorgio, licensed clinical psychologist

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