If Your Relationship Is Strong, Experts Say These 17 Moments Likely Won't Happen

Updated:
Clueless

If you have an uncomfortable moment in your relationship, you might start questioning how strong you and your partner really are as a couple. While it's common to experience ups and downs, ongoing problems — including tension, a sense that things aren't fair or balanced, etc. — can point to underlying problems. And experts say you'll want to address them, before they get worse.

"Discomfort in a relationship can be a sign that your relationship isn't strong, or that something in your relationship is missing between you and your partner," Rori Sassoon, a relationship expert and author of The Art of the Date, tells Bustle. So if things have been feeling a bit off, find time to chat about any areas of concern.

To start, focus on where the discomfort seems to be coming from, Sassoon says, as that'll be the area where you and your partner will want to make a few changes, and communicate more clearly. Let them know you'd appreciate a moment of honesty, she says, and then discuss ways to improve your connection.

There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. You'll argue with your partner, and have moments where you don't see eye-to-eye. But the problems listed below shouldn't be happening on a daily basis. If they are, experts say it may be time reevaluate where you stand, and find ways to improve your communication — and your connection.

1. Your Partner Doesn't Side With You

CW / The OC

While it's obviously fine to disagree and have your own opinions in a relationship, it can feel uncomfortable if your partner has a habit of immediately siding against you, or not backing you up.

Even worse, "hearing your partner come to the defense of someone in an adversarial position against you can lead to feeling isolated, disrespected, and undervalued," Alonna Donovan Makinson, MA, LPCC-S, a couples counselor, tells Bustle.

If it's a one time thing, that's fine. But you should still listen to your discomfort, as "this may be an indicator that your partner isn’t prioritizing you in the relationship," Donovan Makinson says.

The next time it happens, let them know how you feel. "A caring partner will try to empathize with your feelings," she says, "seek to understand their role in contributing to your discomfort, and work towards repair."

2. They Call You Names

Even if it happens during a heated argument, it's pretty much never OK to exchange nasty words with a partner. So if they ever call you a name, or say something rude about your character, take note.

"How each of you handles anger and conflict is an indicator of whether [the relationship] will last," Lesli Doares, MS, LMFT, a couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle. "Name calling and other forms of contempt are highly disrespectful to both you and the relationship. They are also a sign of immaturity."

You can try to talk about it, and learn how to argue in a less toxic way. As Doares says, "The way to overcome it is to learn effective communication skills and use them." But if this habit continues, it may time to speak with loved ones or possibly a professional about leaving the relationship.

3. They Don't Include You In Their Plans

If you and your partner have a strong connection, chances are you'll be spending a lot of time together, including going to get-togethers... together. Your partner should invite you along to events with family, friends, and coworkers, Doares says, and you should do the same.

Of course, it's always OK to spend time apart, and have your own friends. But it shouldn't become a running theme. As Doares says, if it's something you can attend, your partner should extend an invitation.

"Not being given that option is an indicator of how your partner views the relationship," she says. "Talking about how to handle events that only one of you has a connection to is important. There may be a deeper reason, such as wanting to protect you, but having decisions made for you is also problematic."

4. You Can't Speak Your Mind

If you're ever too uncomfortable to speak your mind about something, take it as a sign that your relationship could use a little work. "A healthy relationship provides the safety necessary to feel comfortable with disclosing vulnerable information to a partner," Donovan Makinson says.

If that's not the case, you can make a few changes. "Let your partner know up front when you want to disclose something that makes you feel uncomfortable," she says. "That way, it'll allow them the opportunity to respond with care, which increases safety in the interaction and makes it easier for you to revisit difficult topics in the future."

5. They Make Decisions For You

Being part of a couple means making decisions together, which is why it should never feel as if your partner is calling all the shots, or as if you're being swept along with everything they want to do.

"Again, this is a sign of how your partner views the relationship," Doares says. "It’s an indication of how the two of you are separate, not a couple. It’s also disrespectful."

6. They Dismiss What You Say

Having your viewpoint, experience, or feelings dismissed is another uncomfortable moment that can happen in relationships that are faltering, as well as one you shouldn't ignore.

"This often happens because your lives and focuses aren’t identical," Doares says. It might even mean your partner doesn't respect you, or see you as a couple — all things that point to a weakened relationship.

"Managing differences is a huge component of healthy relationships," Doares says. "Learning how to do this effectively is the way forward." But unless you're both committed to making it work, the problem will only keep coming back.

7. They Make Negative Comments About Your Family

While it's OK to vent on occasion, it's a clear sign of a problem if your partner makes negative comments about your family, Sassoon says. Rudeness not a mindset that'll be good for your relationship in the long-term.

In some cases, it can also be a sign they aren't planning on staying in the relationship very long, and thus aren't watching what they say. Or that they have a problem they aren't talking about.

8. They Hold Grudges Forever

It's always OK to express your feelings. But it's also important to keep in mind that getting upset is different from holding a grudge. "This blocks communication and conflict resolution," Michael Ceely, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. So, if your partner is having trouble letting things go — and especially if they cling onto the small stuff, he says — your relationship may be in trouble.

9. They Aren't Willing To Compromise

If it seems like you and your partner are never able to reach a compromise or meet each other halfway when it comes to solving a problem, that's a big red flag. Feeling the need to be right can lead to frequent arguments, Ceely says. And it's a sign you aren't viewing yourselves as a team. While you don't have to agree on every little thing, learning how to compromise can make for a stronger relationship.

10. They Withhold Apologies

Sex & The City / HBO

In a healthy, strong, and respectful relationship, both partners are eager to apologize to each other after a disagreement. "You don't walk on eggshells but are apt to be more cognizant of a bad mood you might be projecting, or slight moments of potential insensitivity," Michele M. Paiva, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "In an unhealthy relationship, partners usually have to come to some conflict place in order to get an apology or even awareness of an issue."

11. They're Constantly On Their Phone

While this may not seem like a big deal, if you and your partner are constantly staring at your phone instead of looking up and being present, it may be a sign of underlying issues.

"Cellphones can be a direct insult and sign of being emotionally checked out or passive-aggressive," Paiva says. Of course, it's OK to check your texts or chill out while scrolling through Instagram, but if the habit occurs so often that you're starting to feel disconnected as a couple, talk about it ASAP.

12. They Don't Hear You

There's a difference between hearing someone and actually listening to what they say. If your relationship is strong, you'll get the sense that your partner is actually digesting what you're telling them, Paiva says, instead of your words going "in one ear and out the other."

13. They Get Jealous Easily

Everyone experiences jealousy from time to time. But if the envy in your relationship is wavering on the unhealthy side of the spectrum, it may rear its ugly head sooner rather than later. If you two aren't standing on solid ground, so to speak, "there can be jealousy over almost anything or anyone," Paiva says. "It also can turn into playing detective to 'catch' them."

The moment you notice this problem, address it. Jealousy, and the anger and distrust that stems from it, will only drive your relationship further into the ground, the longer it goes on. Push back against it by building up your trust, creating boundaries, and talking about how you feel.

14. They Don't Treat You Equally

Not only is it a red flag if your partner views you as "less than" in the relationship, but it's also a red flag if they're constantly acting like you're better than them, too.

"This is different from 'spoiling' you or treating you kindly," Sara Stanizai, LMFT, a licensed marriage, and family therapist and owner of Prospect Therapy, tells Bustle. "It is based on an unequal balance of power."

Have a discussion, either way, about equality and respect. "Anything they do above and beyond (celebrating a birthday or giving you the window seat) is because they want to," Stanizai says, "not because they feel they need to."

15. They Compare Themselves To You

In a strong relationship, both partners will encourage each other to find success and be happy when it happens. So, take note if your partner responds with jealousy or anger whenever you get good news, or when things seem to be going your way.

"This can look like being passive-aggressive when you share your wins," Stanizai says. "It can look like jealousy that you are getting attention from others."

The root of this is insecurity, she says. It can mean your SO is viewing you as an adversary instead of a partner, and as a result, don't have your best interests at heart.

16. They Overreact

Pay attention to any unease in your relationship, including the sense you can't tell your partner things, without them massively overreacting.

When that's the case, you may fear or avoid bringing up routine topics that are on your mind due to your partner’s reactivity, Dr. Dana C. Avey, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, or worry that it will create a conflict that will end things.

This is also often a sign of a toxic relationship, one where a partner's bad moods control the whole atmosphere and make it difficult to have healthy, honest conversations.

17. Problems Keep Arising

In unhealthy relationships, couples are typically unable to effectively resolve conflict and examine the real issue at hand, Dr. Daryl Johnson, a psychologist and couples therapist, tells Bustle. That said, the problem is rarely what you end up arguing about. If you're arguing about the dishes, Johnson says, the real issue might be much deeper, like an inability to work as a team, or share responsibility.

Let problems like these serve as a jumping-off point for a conversation. While not all issues can be resolved — and when that's the case, it is OK to walk away — you can work to build a healthier stronger relationship, by acknowledging what feels wrong, and making a mutual effort to fix it.

Experts:

Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and author of The Art of the Date

Alonna Donovan Makinson, MA, LPCC-S, couples counselor

Lesli Doares, MS, LMFT, couples consultant and coach

Michael Ceely, LMFT, licensed psychotherapist

Sara Stanizai, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Prospect Therapy

Dr. Dana C. Avey, licensed marriage and family therapist

Dr. Daryl Johnson, psychologist and couples therapist

This article was originally published on