8 Problems You May Encounter If Your Partner Isn't Participating In Your Relationship Equally

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When you love your partner deeply, it can be hard if you begin to question if your partner is dysfunctional in relationships. A few key relationship problems can help you determine if this of true of the person you're with, according to experts.

"A dysfunctional partner is someone who isn’t able to play their part in the relationship dynamic," Adina Mahalli, MCT, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant, tells Bustle. This might mean that they won't resolve relationship problems with you, may try to manipulate you, or they have their own issues — which manifest in the way that they treat you.

If you come to suspect that your partner is not equipped to handle relationships, make sure that you first of all remember to take care of yourself. Of course, you'll probably be concerned about addressing your issues with them. "But never forget to care for someone who will always be with you—yourself," Celia Schweyer, dating and relationship expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle. "Be vocal about your boundaries and assert your individuality."

You should also realize that, no matter how great your intentions are and how much you want to see your partner get to a healthier place, you aren't there to "fix" your partner. Depending on what their situation is, they might need to see a mental health professional so that they can work through some of their issues.

Here are some signs that your partner may be dysfunctional in relationships, according to experts.


They Repeatedly Cheat On You

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In all likelihood, if you discover that your partner has cheated on you, you'll probably want to end things with them. But if you've decided to move past the infidelity and give them a second chance, a dysfunctional partner may repeat this mistake instead of using this as a chance to make better choices. "After cheating, they will say sorry, do everything to make up to you, be faithful for a while, then cheat again," Schweyer says. But no matter how much you love them and want to keep them in your life, remember to set healthy boundaries for yourself. "Sometimes, enough is enough," she says. You deserve someone who is faithful and loyal to you, and if they can't be that, you might want to move on.


They Are Possessive Of You

It's one thing for your partner to want to help you stay safe, but it's an entirely different story for someone to treat you like they own you.

"Dysfunctional partners tend to be possessive," Schweyer says. "They rationalize they only have your best interests at heart; Somehow you find yourself abiding by their 'rules.'”

Maybe this means that your partner gets angry when you go out for drinks with friends or is upset when you wear clothes that they disapprove of. A healthy partner will recognize that you are your own person who can make good choices, and will respect that. And if your current partner can't do that, this can indicate emotional abuse and it may be time to find help in exiting the relationship.


You Feel Like You Have To Apologize For Everything

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"Owning your mistakes is indeed a good trait," Schweyer says. "However, you might want to remove those rose-tinted glasses when you also apologize for the things you didn't do."

Does your partner blame you for mistakes that really weren't your fault, or make you feel guilty about things they actually did wrong? If you are constantly apologizing for even the smallest situations, your partner might be dysfunctional, she says. While it's definitely healthy to apologize if you hurt your partner's feelings or do something you know you shouldn't have, if you feel pressured to ask for forgiveness for issues that shouldn't even be issues, that probably isn't a good sign.


You Constantly Let Things Slide

"When we love a person, we tend to look at their tiny positive side through a microscope instead of seeing the negative with our bare eyes," Schweyer says. It is probably totally OK to let your partner's habit of squeezing the toothpaste tube slide, or look the other way when they forget to buy milk at the grocery store. But if you feel like you're constantly letting them get away with bigger issues, they might not function well in a relationship. This gives them the chance to manipulate you, take advantage, and do whatever they like with your relationship because they know that you will eventually forgive them, Schweyer says. So if your partner consistently makes disparaging comments about your appearance or you catch them lying to you again and again, it may be time to move on from the relationship.


You're Worried About Angering Them

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When you love your partner, you don't want to hurt their feelings or make them upset. But there's a difference between not wanting to anger someone and being afraid to anger someone.

"If it comes to the point that you limit your actions because you are too afraid to wind up your partner, then that is a clear indication of your relationship not being as rosy as you’d like to think it is," Schweyer says.

Maybe you find yourself constantly worrying that choices you make will make them yell at you. This is not a healthy way to live. If you are consistently on high alert to not do or say things that might incite your partner's wrath, this may also be a potentially abusive situation and it's time to consider leaving safely.


You Don't Trust Them

"People who are in a dysfunctional relationship tend to have little trust in their partner," Schweyer says. "This makes a lot of room for suspicions."

It's not uncommon for couples to occasionally wonder if their partner is staying faithful, but if this is a big issue for you or if you don't trust them at all, that's probably not a great sign. "When couples don’t trust each other, it’s easy for them to think that their partners are cheating on them and are fooling around with someone else," she says. Try confronting your partner about your suspicions, but if your trust isn't eventually restored, you might want to consider breaking up.


You Can't Be Yourself

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In the beginning of a relationship, you might want to try to highlight some of your favorite qualities and downplay some of the things you don't love as much about yourself. But if you find yourself suppressing who you really are once the relationship is official, that might not be a good sign, especially if your partner is the one making you feel self-conscious about your quirks. If you are afraid enough of your partner that you stop being the person you are, this may not be a healthy situation, Schweyer says. For example, maybe you love to tell corny jokes, but it gets on your partner's nerves so much that you feel like you have to keep them to yourself. If they truly love you, they'll accept you, dad jokes and all.


There's A Power Imbalance

"If your partner grew up in a dysfunctional setting, chances are that they witnessed a thing or two about manipulation," Megan Cannon, LCSW, a therapist who specializes in relationship issues and owner of Back to Balance Counseling, LLC, tells Bustle. Of course, not everyone who grew up in a dysfunctional environment is dysfunctional themselves as an adult, but if your partner tries to gaslight you or manipulate your feelings, that's not healthy.

"Because it usually starts gradually, it can often be overlooked as just a minor disagreement," she says. "But over time, as the lust of the relationship begins to fade, the imbalance of power becomes much more prominent."

If you don't feel like you have an equal voice and say in the relationship, it might not be one that you want to stay in.

If some of these problems in your relationship ring true and you think your partner is dysfunctional, bring any issues you have with them to their attention to give them a chance to address them. But if they don't begin to treat you better, you might want to consider ending the relationship.

Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit

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