7 Small But Toxic Arguments That Are A Sign You’re Forcing Things To Work In Your Relationship
It's fine to have a few disagreements with your partner, as long as you're willing to overcome them together. But if it feels like you're having the same arguments time and time again — without ever making any progress — it may be a sign you're forcing things to work.
If the same issues keep arising, you might give it time, make some compromises, try new ways to communicate, or even attend couples counseling. But it's important to be honest with yourselves, and make sure you aren't staying in the relationship for unhealthy reasons.
"So many people would prefer to force a long-failed relationship to work rather than face the painful reality of breaking up and being single again," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "In addition, many couples fall victim to the 'sunk cost fallacy.' Since they’ve already invested so much time and energy in the relationship, they can’t muster the emotional energy to abandon it."
It's possible to save a relationship that's gone stale or become stagnated. But if you've simply lost interest — and neither of you want to put in the effort it'll take to spark things up again — go ahead and admit it. After all, as Bennett says, "if you see no future, it’s better to cut loose now and move on than to stick around wasting precious time and energy in a relationship you know is going to ultimately fail."
With that in mind, here are a few arguments that experts say may be a sign you're forcing your relationship to work.
1. How Much You Both Contribute To The Relationship
When there's underlying resentment in a relationship — due to neither partner wanting to be in it — small problems are way more likely to get blown out of proportion. That's why you might notice that you and your partner bicker over every little thing, such as how to divvy up chores.
"Whether it’s fighting about chores or who spends more money, getting competitive is not healthy," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. It's a sign you're unwilling to compromise or work together, which isn't sustainable.
With some effort, it is possible to work through issues like these, and come out the other side with a healthy plan for the future. But if you can't stop picking on each other and getting mad over little things, be open to the fact there may be a deeper reason why.
2. How Often You Should "Check In"
It's perfectly healthy to check in with your partner, especially if they're running late or you haven't heard from them in a minute. But if a relationship is being forced, these types of texts are more likely to come from a toxic place. And that's not a great sign.
"When one or both partners keeps 'checking in' to see how the other is doing, to ask what’s wrong, to make sure everything is OK, it could be a sign you're forcing things," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "While this may start off as a caring gesture, over time it quickly becomes a sign that there is a lack of confidence and trust in the relationship. It’s a small irritant but one that signals the relationship is not on stable grounds."
3. How To Compromise Over Little Things
If you decided to work through a few differences in order to be together, that's a great thing. "Relationships are all about compromise," Dr. Klapow says. "But if every other discussion is about how you can each compromise then there are some compatibility issues in the relationship. Having to compromise frequently in the form of formal discussion means compatibility [may not be] where it needs to be in the relationship."
4. Frequent Misunderstandings
It's OK to misunderstand each other from time to time — especially if you have different ways of communicating. And as long as you both know that and try to be cool with each other, it isn't likely to negatively impact your relationship.
That said, ongoing misunderstandings may be a sign of an underlying problem. "If this is happening ... repeatedly, even if it is over minor things, it means that communication is not working well," Dr. Klapow says. "Couples should be able to communicate in a way that more times than not they do understand what each other means when then say it."
It's something that can be improved with effort. But sometimes, couples just don't communicate well, and they shouldn't try to force themselves to.
5. Arguments About Your Sex Life
If you have different sex drives, you may need to communicate your needs, and keep doing so until you both see eye-to-eye. If you're forcing things, however, there's a good chance you aren't willing to talk — and have a tense sex life as a result.
When that happens, "one partner might try to avoid sex constantly while the other one resents not [having] it," Bennett says. If you can't be understanding with each other here, and open about these things, the relationship likely isn't going to last long-term.
6. Disagreements About The Future
If you're in a healthy relationship, you'll likely talk with your partner about the future and what it might look like. The conversation might not be easy — how to share financial responsibilities, for one thing, is never fun to talk about — but these discussions will happen. And they'll happen without too much pushback or argument.
If you're forcing things to work, however, any talk about the future won't likely go well. "If you’re constantly fighting about commitment levels and future goals ... you and your partner could ultimately be incompatible," Bennett says. "This is a common argument among couples who have fundamentally different goals."
Ongoing arguments like these might mean you need to get on the same page, and bend a little for each other. But if you just can't find any common ground, and every time the future comes up it results in a disagreement, it may be a good idea to rethink the relationship.
7. How Much Time To Spend Together
You certainly don't have to be glued to each other's sides. (In fact, that would be a pretty unhealthy thing to do.) But you should want to spend time together, as well as a healthy amount of time spent apart.
So take note if this is a constant source of tension in your relationship, as it may be a sign you're not on the same page with your significant other. As Bennett says, "If your partner constantly wants to spend time apart and you get upset or jealous, then it might reveal a deeper divide about what you each want from the relationship."
Of course, couples argue over these things all the time, so don't assume the worst if you recognize any of these issues above. A relationship is always salvageable if it's otherwise healthy, and both partners are willing to work together to fix issues. If you both don't care, though, and have no intention of fixing things, there's a good chance you're simply forcing the relationship to work.