Relationship Issues That Signal It Just Isn't Going To Work

While some relationship issues are obvious like lying, cheating, and problematic behavior, just to name a few, not all problems have glaring neon signs that produce a warning. Some issues are sort of right under the surface of a relationship, which can make them difficult to see clearly or, even worse, make them easy to turn a blind eye to for far too long. Then you can reach a point where breaking up becomes a task that you're not sure how to handle or you may start to wonder if it even makes sense to end it after all this time together. 

"Remind yourself that it's OK to leave a relationship that isn't working for you," psychotherapist Rebecca Hendrix, L.M.F.T. told Glamour. "It's a self-honoring choice that you're making because you don't see a future together. And if it's not a good fit for you, then it's not a good fit for them, even though they may not be aware of it as much as you are."

Although no relationship is perfect because people aren't perfect, some issues actually can't stand the test of time. And that's okay! Not every relationship you find yourself in is going to work out in the long run. What matters is being able to see the signals that are telling you to move on, as opposed to ignoring them in the hopes that they'll pass. Some things don't pass, and even relationship challenges that are faced can't always be conquered. So do yourself a favor and stop overlooking the reality of what your relationship is and isn't. 

You're not arguing

Couples argue. In fact, couples need to argue. It's a component of a healthy relationship. Granted, arguing all the time isn't great, but when you argue to get your point across and get frustrations out in a productive way that results in a resolution, that keeps the relationship thriving.

"One of the most important things we've seen in our research is that people benefit most from being direct," professor of psychology at Florida State University Jim McNulty told CNN. "Beating around the bush, implying things, insinuating things, being sarcastic doesn't work ... When people avoid 'fighting,' they avoid talking. I'm constantly telling my partner, 'If something's bothering you. I'd rather know it than not know it so that I can maybe do something about it.' If I don't know, I can't do anything."

But when the arguing stops, that can be indicative that something isn't right in the relationship. Arguing means you give a darn about the partnership and you're willing to literally fight for it. If you or your partner no longer have it in you to argue, then there's a good chance you're not just out of steam, but you don't care about trying to keep the relationship going. It's hard to muster the energy to argue with someone when you feel like there's nothing at stake or anything to lose.

Affection and intimacy have dwindled

Although sex in a relationship isn't necessary, it does promote intimacy and emotional connection — two things that are important in a healthy relationship. According to a 2014 study published in The Journal of Sex Research, sexual satisfaction is linked to relationship satisfaction. So if you eliminate the sexual part of your partnership either because you're no longer interested in it or when you do engage, it just doesn't feel the same, then that may suggest your relationship isn't working.

While it's worth noting that a 2021 study published in Psychology Bulletin found that relationship satisfaction comes and goes over time, with it decreasing between the ages of 20 and 40, before increasing again until 65 — but this isn't the case for everyone. Sometimes this type of satisfaction goes and never comes back, especially when it's linked to the sexual aspect of a relationship. It is possible to no longer be attracted to your partner and you might not want to be intimate with them. But if that's the case and you're hanging around waiting for that attraction to come back, you might be waiting a long time. 

Your needs aren't being met

When you enter into a relationship, you bring yourself in your entirety. You bring your past, your present, and what you hope for yourself, as well as your hope for the partnership to the equation. You also bring your emotional needs, as does your partner. One of the elements of a healthy relationship is not only having your needs met by your partner, but you meeting their needs as well. It comes with the territory of being in relationship. But if these needs aren't met, then there's an issue — especially if the reason behind this is steeped in apathy.

"When your needs remain unaddressed or unmet, it is natural for the hurt that ensues to transition into resentment, irritation, annoyance, or anger," relationship psychologist Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S told Mind Body Green. "Anger is Mama Nature's way of ensuring we don't let people disrespect or take advantage of us ... When someone's needs are not being adequately tended to, most people may put up a stink initially. But if their emotional needs remain unmet, it is only natural they would begin to retreat their investment in that person."

It's difficult to meet — or even want to meet — someone's needs when you've started to mentally check out of the relationship. As Balestrieri points out, it's hard to want to continue to invest in someone and something when people feel unfulfilled. Relationships are an investment of time, effort, energy, and compromise. When you remove that, it's safe to assume it's not working out.

You don't make time for each other

As much as it's essential that each partner have alone time, because two people can't flourish together if they can't flourish on their own, there is such a thing as too much time apart. It's one thing if the time apart is because of work obligations, a long-distance relationship, or similar things that can make being together tricky. But if the reason for not being together is because you're no longer making time for each other, then that's a whole other can of worms.

It's also not just about the time together, but how you spend it. You may think watching Netflix together on the couch counts, but it really doesn't. According to a 1995 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the amount of time a couple spends together doesn't have much bearing on relationship satisfaction. What does have an impact on relationship satisfaction is how that time is spent together. In not creating quality time to spend with each other, you lose even more connectedness and the space between you and your partner grows.

You don't talk about the future

If you've been with someone long enough, there should be a discussion about the future — that is if you hope to have one together. But if the long-term is never brought up or it was brought up in the early days and it's no longer something that's discussed, then what exactly are you doing? People, for the most part, get into relationships so they can evolve and grow with someone else.

"If you have been together for at least ... a year and a half and have not talked about future plans for progressing the relationship, that's not a good sign," life coach Kali Rogers told Bustle. "If your partner is not discussing future endeavors with you, chances are they aren't completely invested for the long haul."

While it's normal to have days where you can't see yourself with your partner, if those days are more often than not, that's your signal that you're wasting your time and their time. If there's no desire for a future together, then there's no point in hanging onto the relationship. It's better to cut your losses and say adieu.