While some couples know right away that their relationship is meant to be, others have to go through a few ups and downs as they figure it all out. And there's nothing wrong with that. If you feel
unsure about your relationship, it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. Or even that your relationship is unhealthy. But the feeling may be one you should listen to, all the same.
"If you are feeling uncertainty about a relationship, it’s important that you address the reasons for those feelings," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "Usually, it’s your gut telling you that there are unresolved problems."
It might be that you and your partner aren't seeing eye-to-eye on certain issues, and need to figure out
how to better communicate. Or it might mean you don't share all of the same goals, and need to find a way to compromise.
If you can talk it out and fix these problems, that's great. But you might also find that not everything can be resolved, or even that you're simply not happy. To determine the
future of your relationship, take a step back and ask yourself a few of the questions below, which experts say may help you gain more clarity .
"What Does A Happy Relationship Look Like To Me?"
To start, ask yourself
what your ideal relationship might look like, including which values you'd like your partner to have, how you want to feel on a daily basis, and so on.
"Asking yourself this question will force you to think about the traits you want in a relationship and see how yours measures up," Bennett says. If it's far from hitting the mark, and shows no signs of improving, you may have your answer.
"This question is meant to identify any dealbreakers or unacceptable behavior," couples consultant and
coach Lesli Doares, tells Bustle. "Many of us 'overlook' poor treatment because it doesn’t happen all the time."
And yet, if
you feel neglected all the time, it may be time to think about whether you're with the right person. "Any behavior that gives [you] qualms needs to be acknowledged and addressed," Doares says. "It won’t magically get better."
"Where Do I See Myself In A Year?"
Imagine where you'd like to be a year from now. How do you want your life to look? "Asking this question allows you to
focus on your own needs and goals," 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."
"Is My Partner Willing To Compromise?"
Part of being in a relationship means talking about things that aren't working, and finding ways to
compromise as a couple — with the goal of making sure you're both happy.
But if you've talked about what's wrong, and your partner dismisses the situation or shows no signs of change, Doares says it may not bode well for the future.
"Am I Willing To Change?"
Of course, you'll also want to take your own flexibility into account. "If you aren’t willing to make room for your partner and their needs, the relationship will not be a good one," Doares says. And in that case, it may be best to move on.
"Can I Accept Our Differences?"
In order to have a healthy relationship, you'll want to
accept each other as you are, without holding a grudge or expecting miraculous changes to occur. (Your introverted partner won't become an extrovert overnight, for example.)
But be honest with yourself, Doares says. If the relationship has a flaw that can't be overlooked, you might not be able to feel truly happy.
"Is It Impacting My Self-Esteem?"
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,"
relationship coach Melissa M. Snow tells Bustle. "And then you can decide if that is something you want to continue."
"Is This Relationship Holding Me Back?"
In a healthy relationship, both partners will feel like they are still individuals who are capable of growing and changing, not only because there's room to do so, but because they both offer each other support.
"The right person will
support your growth and your goals and want to do everything they can to help you succeed," Snow says. "If they don't, they likely don't have your best interests in mind."
"Why Have I Stayed This Long?"
Whether you've been in the relationship for a month, a year, or ten years, go ahead and ask yourself why you've stuck it out this long. "Is it because you are
scared to be alone? Afraid to get out of your comfort zone? Get clear on what love is and what it isn't," Snow says.
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 Want The Same Things?"
If you're on the fence, it might be because a few major questions have yet to be answered, such as whether or not
you want kids, if you plan to get married, and so on.
"Too often people ignore these questions and think love will figure them out," Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of
Live for Yourself Consulting, tells Bustle. But in reality, you'll have to talk about these things, and figure out if you're heading in the same direction.
"Do We Have A Similar Approach To Life?"
You don't have to be with someone whose habits perfectly match up with your own, but you do want to see eye-to-eye when it comes to the big stuff, such as
how you handle money, make decisions, and socialize.
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."
While you can't expect your relationship to be sunny and rosy 100 percent of the time, the overall vibe should be one that
makes you feel good.
"Seems obvious, but most people get caught up in the day-to-day of life and forget to think about themselves,"
RMT Certified Coach Ann Ball, tells Bustle. "Are you finding joy in your life? Does your partner contribute to your joy? Can you rekindle the flame?"
"Do I Like How We Communicate?"
"If your needs are not met now and there are not any conversations happening about them, then it will be difficult to suddenly make those changes in the future," licensed clinical psychologist
Dr. Molly Giorgio, tells Bustle.
So take note if your partner doesn't listen, can't communicate, or refuses to share their feelings. If that's the case, it may be best to go your separate ways.
"Do I Want To Be Here?"
Look around at your current life and decide if it matches up with the vision you had for yourself, because as Ball says, "sometimes relationships take us on a path we never expected." Sometimes, these twists and turns can be exciting, and may end up taking you somewhere better than your original plan.
But if it seems like being with your relationship has caused you to veer far off course — and your partner isn't willing or able to help you get back on track — it may not be right for you.
"Am I Excited To See My Partner?"
Many flaws can be overlooked if your relationship is one that is healthy and happy overall, which is why it can help to ask yourself if you're still
excited about your partner.
"Does the thought of your partner bring a smile to your face? If the answer is yes, fantastic! You have some prioritizing to do, but you're headed in a good direction," Ball says. "If the answer is no, there's still a shot
you can make it work, but you'll want to find a [...] counselor to help guide you through."
There are many ways to improve a relationship if it doesn't feel right, or patch up a situation that has a few flaws. But if you get the sense that your
relationship isn't right for you, ask yourself a few questions like these. They may help provide the clarity you need to figure out what you'd like to do.