7 Hard Conversations You Should Only Have Once In Your Relationship, According To Experts
Open communication in a relationship is critical. Still, that doesn't mean that every conversation is worth investing energy into in the long run. Certain red flag conversations in a relationship may be OK to have once, but shouldn't be brought up again for a healthy relationship. Communication in a relationship sometimes is about figuring out how to deal with issues swiftly.
Sometimes, if the issue isn't resolved, you may end up talking about it more than once. And if this is the case, learning healthy communication methods can help. Psychologists do note, however, that not all issues should continue to come up, and can suggest greater problems in the relationship.
"Most conversations that shouldn't be repeated are ones that show serious relationship boundary violations," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "I believe that if these violations happen, then discussions related to them should be limited simply because otherwise one or both partners are showing a pattern of toxic behaviors." If these conversations come up more than once, it may be because boundaries continue to be crossed, or because one partner is not properly listening to the other. While many of these issues still may be solvable with hard work and potentially couples therapy, they likely won't help your relationship if they become a long-term theme.
Here are seven hard conversations you should only really have to have once in your relationship, according to experts.
1. Talking About Having Hidden Something From Your Partner
If one of you has hid something significant from another, this is likely an issue you should only have to overcome once.
"It's one thing to withhold little things, but if you or your partner are discussing a major incident where something major was hidden, like income, a significant past event, or a major detail (like someone's real age or background), this is a discussion that should only happen once," Bennett says. If hiding major things becomes a recurring problem, Bennett suggests leaving the relationship rather than discussing it further.
2. Discussing What Constitutes Cheating
Being on the same page in a relationship is vital. It makes sense to discuss what constitutes cheating, and even micro-cheating, once in a relationship. If it happens again and again, you may have a more serious issue.
"If you keep having a discussion of what constitutes cheating, I would be concerned," Bennett says. "Once you establish what each partner considers to be cheating (including emotional cheating), the only reason to keep having this conversation would be if one or both partners keep crossing the established boundaries." Therefore, if you notice the conversation coming up more than once, it may be time to either seek professional help or consider ending the relationship.
3. Talking About One Partner Always Being On Their Phone Instead Of Paying Attention
Now, online communication styles may be as important as in-person communication styles in relationships. If one partner tends to be on social media constantly and the other doesn't, that may become an issue.
"When it gets to a place where your partner is always on their phone and screen time has increased, that’s surely a red flag," Brittany Freeman Jean-Louis, LPC, therapist and CEO of a A Freemans Place Counseling, LLC, tells Bustle. "We have to pay attention to our partners. If our partners don’t feel like they are getting attention it can cause lots of tension in the relationship." Therefore, if a partner has brought up that they feel neglected in this way once, then it's probably a bad sign if it happens twice.
4. Not Being Able To Get Over A Past Relationship
While different past relationships leave different marks on people, it's still important to find a balance as to how they affect your current relationship.
"Having a conversation about an unresolved past relationship more than once can drive a huge wedge in the relationship," licensed professional counselor and relationship coach, Adamaris Mendoza-Carlyle, LPC, MA, tells Bustle. "If one of the partners feels uncomfortable or has worries about how the other handles an ex or an old close friendship [they] can start to feel disrespected and even jealous." While this can be mitigated by healthy communication, it's important to note how important it is to respect your partner's boundaries.
5. Talking About Needing More Affection
If you've already had one conversation where a partner feels that they're not being showed enough affection, then it's important to solve this issue sooner rather than later.
"Every person shows love and affection very differently and it’s important to learn this about your partner," Jean-Louis says. So if it becomes an issue once, just figuring out how you and your partner like to show and feel affection can help prevent this conversation from coming up again in the future.
6. Wondering Whether Your Partner Is Making Time For You
It's natural for a couple to be out of sync from time to time. But if you've had a serious conversation about not spending enough time together once, then it's important to deal with the issue swiftly so that it doesn't become a chronic problem.
"If you find yourself saying [you need to spend more time together] more than once in more than one conversation perhaps your partner is not making you a priority," Jean-Louis says. If you and your partner have different perspectives on how much time you should spend together, then seeking professional help may be a good decision.
7. Talking About Not Trusting One Another
Trust issues can come along for all sorts of reasons, some of which may have nothing to do with your relationship, but if you and your partner have trouble dealing with them even once they're out in the open, that may be a bigger problem.
"It's a huge red flag when a couple has to talk about issues with trust in the relationship," Mendoza-Carlyle says. "This might be brought on when one of the partners discovers a betrayal or maybe just catches [their partner] in a lie. Trust is foundational for a relationship to succeed and when it's lost the relationship is in grave danger." If you aren't ready to let go of your relationship, going to counseling may help the two of you recover.
Relationship rules are often more of a suggestion; and it's important not to think that certain conversations mean a kiss of death if they come up twice. What is vital to understand, however, is how important it is to respect your partner's boundaries, and to try to listen and compromise when issues arise between the two of you. Relationships aren't always easy, so it's important to put in a little work to keep things going in the long-run.