If Your Relationship Is Strong, Experts Say These 7 Moments Likely Won't Happen
If you've ever experienced an uncomfortable moment in your relationship, it probably left you wondering if it's as strong as you think. But there's definitely a difference between everyday awkward moments that make you feel weird for a minute, and signs you aren't connecting as a couple. And it's really only the latter ones you may want to think twice about.
"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, relationship expert and author of The Art of the Date, tells Bustle. And this is especially true if it keeps happening, or occurs in a variety of situations.
"Take a look at where the discomfort is coming from," Sassoon says. "When there is discomfort, this is a sign that you need to make a change and communicate [...] Let your partner know that you appreciate honesty and want to talk it out to improve the relationship."
From there, you may be able to fill in the gaps that are leading to discomfort, such as a lack of honesty, lack of communication, mismatched expectations, and so on. "Create an atmosphere where you and your partner feel safe to communicate about whatever is happening between the two of you or with themselves," Sassoon says. "You can create trust by reassuring each other [...] Let them know you are there for them and the relationship."
Hopefully, you'll be able to rebuild a foundation for your relationship, and create a greater sense of understanding and comfort. And that might be just what you need to do, experts say, especially if anything listed below sounds familiar.
1. Your Partner Doesn't Side With You
While it's obviously fine to disagree and have your own opinions, it can definitely 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 under-valued," 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. "Let your partner know how the situation made you feel. A caring partner will try to empathize with your feelings, seek to understand their role in contributing to your discomfort, and work towards repair."
2. They Call You Names
Even if it happens right at the height of an argument, it's pretty much never OK to exchange nasty words with each other. So if your partner ever calls you a name, or says 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 Invite You
"Once you are a recognizable couple, you should only be excluded from social events for a legitimate reason," Doares says. Your partner should invite you along to events with family, friends, and coworkers, and you should do the same.
Of course, it's always OK to spend days 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 Fee Like You Can't Speak Up
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 work on it. "Let your partner know up front when you want to disclose something that makes you feel uncomfortable," she says. That way, it allows 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."
You can, however, try to work on this issue, and see if it improves. "Having a talk about where you each see the seriousness of the relationship is often uncomfortable," she says, "but pretending is worse."
6. They Dismiss Something You Said
Having your viewpoint, experience, or feelings dismissed is another uncomfortable moment that can happen, 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
If your partner makes negative comments about your family, this should trigger an alarm in your head, Sassoon says. It's OK to vent about issues and talk about problems, but it's not helpful to make judgments.
This could be a sign your partner doesn't respect you or your family, and that's not a mindset that'll be good for your relationship in the long-term. It could also mean they aren't planning on staying in the relationship, and thus aren't watching what they say. Or that they have a problem they aren't talking about.
Again, discomfort can serve as a red flag that you need to communicate more and figure out what's off in your relationship in order to create a stronger connection, so let these types of comments serve as a jumping off point for a conversation. Hopefully, that'll help you two get back on track.