As much as we may wish they were, relationships are not perfect. But have you ever had the feeling that maybe the relationship you're in isn't right for you? You like your partner enough, you may even love them, but for some reason something just feels off. In that case, should you tell your partner that you're having second thoughts about the relationship?
"Generally speaking, honesty is the foundation of good relationships," Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S, Senior Vice President of the National Clinical Development for Elements Behavioral Health tells Bustle. "If people are not honest with their partners about what they are thinking and feeling, especially in regard to the relationship, that is a recipe for disaster. So yes, it is wise to disclose about second thoughts, including why those thoughts are occurring. Otherwise, the underlying problems are never addressed, causing resentments to fester and grow larger. Most problems in a relationship can be overcome, but the partners have to communicate about what those problems are before they can be dealt with."
I've totally been there. I've jumped into relationships that moved a little too fast. When I finally took the time to pause, take a step back, and evaluate where I was, the doubts crept in. In instances where I did bring up the fact that I was having second thoughts, those never ended up working out in the end. I'm not saying having that conversation will be a precursor to a breakup. Everyone's situation is different. But if you are questioning whether or not you should tell your partner you're having second thoughts about the relationship, here are some things you should think about:
1You're Not Wrong For Having Second Thoughts
It's easy to feel guilt when you're questioning your relationship, especially if there's really nothing wrong. Maybe your partner has been great, but you've just been stressed from work. Maybe little things about your partner are just starting to bug you. Whatever is it, just know, you're not wrong for having those feelings of uncertainty.
"Contrary to popular romantic sitcoms where the world of happily ever after is sold to make you believe couples don’t have problems, research shows couples admittedly have second thoughts in a relationship whether it be dating or even marriage," Earl Lewis Ed.S, MA, LPC, NCC, a couples and family therapist tells Bustle. "It would seem that the idea of breaking up or ending things in your relationship is quite a normal thing in a person’s head, especially if things are becoming frustrating."
2Is It A Good Idea Or A Bad Idea To Bring It Up?
According to Lewis, determining whether or not it’s a good idea to talk to your partner about breaking up is subjective and depends on the stage of your relationship and circumstances. Here are some effective questions you should ask yourself before you talk to your partner:
- What’s happening inside and outside your relationship that's making you have these thoughts?
- How long have you had these thoughts? Was there a significant event that triggered them?
- How often do you have these though? (Everyday, Weekly, Monthly, etc.)
- What’s it like for you to be in this relationship daily? How do you feel daily?
- Would you be willing to risk losing your partner?
"While there many more questions you can ask yourself, these will at least get the thought process going from just leaving the relationship towards understanding your reasons to want to leave the relationship," Lewis says.
3Is It Worth It?
This seems to be the biggie here. Is bringing up the question worth losing your partner and your relationship over? "It's always worth it to bring matters like this up for discussion," Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and co-founder of Platinum Poire, tells Bustle. "Otherwise you'll be living with unspoken issues that cause resentment and could unnecessarily contribute to the breakdown of the relationship."
However, Sassoon also notes that you need to be prepared for what you're about to do. "If you aren't prepared to break up then you aren't prepared for the conversation," she says. "You don't know what the outcome will be."
4How To Approach It
"Telling your partner you're having second thoughts needs to be a carefully architected conversation, for this reason: It is not definitive, not concrete, and is wide open to interpretation," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show tells Bustle.
According to him, telling your partner you're having "second thoughts" is a "flawed statement." Instead, you need to be more specific. Are you having thoughts because there are problems in the relationship? Are you having thoughts that your feelings for your partner have changed? How have they changed?
"We often say we are having 'second thoughts' because it is much easier than being specific," he says. "For the person hearing it, they may interpret that as there is hope or there is no hope. Rather than telling your partner your are having second thoughts, think about what you want the outcome to be? Do you want out? If so—say it. Do you want changes? If so, tell them. Being clear and specific makes a relationship that could be saved possible, and one that is over, over."
Overall, experts agree that communicating your thoughts and feelings toward the relationship is important. If you're unhappy or if something's bothering you, it's really not going to make you feel better if you keep it inside. It's all about how you approach the subject and knowing what you want out of the conversation. If you're mindful of those things, you'll be prepared to face whatever comes next.