Romantic relationships can be complicated. We strive to find the Noah to our Allies or the Portia to our Ellens in hopes that we can one day live happily ever after. But in an era where technology gives us a front-row seat into every person’s life, it can be easy to not only second-guess yourself, but the relationship you’re currently in.
However, whether you’ve been in a relationship for five months or 10 years, we want to stress that it’s completely normal to second-guess your relationship every now and then. As you grow, there are going to be times when you and your partner might want different things, and it’s important to communicate about those growths to find out if both of you are on the same page. But if you find yourself going down a rabbit hole of doubts, what-ifs, or simply find yourself checking out from your relationship that goes beyond just having an “off” or bad day, then you may want to check-in with yourself to see if this relationship is serving you before you call it quits.
To help, we connected with a couple of relationship experts to see what kinds of questions you should ask yourself if you’ve been second-guessing your partnership. While this might be a tough conversation to have with yourself, it’s important to ask these questions to make sure you’re not staying in an unhappy relationship.
1. “How do I feel when I’m with my partner?”
While it would be nearly impossible to feel happy with your partner every single day of your life, you don’t want your relationship to feel like you’re pulling teeth just to make it work. Choosing to be with someone means you’re choosing how you feel about yourself while you’re in this relationship. Ignoring these possible negative emotions you could be feeling could cause trouble later down the road. “This [question] helps clue you into your own mental state and how it may be contributing to your relationship with your partner,” said psychotherapist & LGBT+ Affirmative Counselor Kristen Martinez.
2. “How do I feel about myself when I’m away from my partner?”
“If you feel consistently worse about yourself after you’ve been around this person, this is probably a sign that there is an issue within the relationship that needs to be addressed,” Martinez said. At the end of the day, your partner should never make you doubt yourself, make you feel self-conscious, or have you questioning your worth. While it’s normal to get into arguments or have off days every now and then, you should feel supported and loved long after you hang out with them.
3. “Does my partner make me want to be a better person?”
If you find yourself questioning the way your partner handles certain situations or find that they’re sabotaging you into doing things that don’t sit right with you, then you may want to re-evaluate the relationship. “Good relationships give us the support and nurturing we need to help us do and be better. Does this structure exist in your relationship, or is it missing?” Martinez said.
4. “Am I living my values when I am with my partner?”
Having a strong set of values is key in maintaining a healthy relationship, and when you and your S.O.’s values or fundamental beliefs no longer match up, it can begin to cause a rift in the relationship. Asking yourself this question gives you the room to evaluate if something needs to be addressed with your partner while simultaneously checking in with yourself to make sure you’re not losing yourself in the relationship. “When we are not living in accordance with our own values, we can feel conflicted, frustrated, disappointed, or otherwise disgruntled. If being with a partner doesn’t allow us to live true to our own values, this may be something that needs to be adjusted,” Martinez said.
5. “Do I trust my partner?”
“Never underestimate how much trust plays into relationships. If you have doubts about trust, this is an issue,” Martinez said. This is probably one, if not THE most important question you can ask yourself about your relationship. Having trust in your partner and your relationship allows other things in your relationship to grow. Without it, there’s no way for you to move past the trauma you feel, which makes it completely natural to lose faith in your partner when you don’t feel like they’re being truly vulnerable and honest with their wants, needs, and emotions with you.
6. “Are my partner and I at different time frames in our lives?”
Taking a moment to understand where you and your partner are heading is essential to making sure there’s no resentment brewing between both of you. While most relationships can overcome and handle transitions, it’s important to check in and make sure that no one is making unspoken sacrifices — this will only cause issues later down the line. “Be honest with yourself. For example, does your partner want children and do they want them at the same time as you? Although you and your partner may want the same things, you may want them at very different times,” said relationship expert Mara Opperman.
7. “Do I keep arguing with my partner over the same topics repeatedly?”
While you never want to completely change the person you’re with, you do want to be in a relationship that values understanding, compassion, and empathy to the other person’s needs and wants. It can be hard for the relationship to grow and for couples to feel heard when the same fights keep on occurring over and over again. “Having the same fights over and over can be a sign of trouble, especially if there is never a resolution. If you have exhausted all your resources, like therapy, communication, trying to change behavior, and yet you still find yourself arguing regardless, it may be time to walk away,” Opperman said.
8. “Is something missing in our relationship or is it lacking something?”
“[I]t’s essential to dig deep and understand why that feeling is there. Once you know what it is, you can determine what needs to change, how to change it and/or if you can live without it,” Opperman said. Even if your relationship may not be perfect, it doesn’t mean that it’s a wrong fit; however, it’s important to contemplate if you do feel like something is off. Bringing these issues to the surface will allow you to pinpoint what’s a deal breaker and what isn’t.
9. “Do I have feelings of loneliness even when we’re together?”
“It’s good to know that you are not alone in feeling alone in your relationship. Many people feel this way at one time or another. However, it would help if you determined the root of your loneliness. If it’s because you and your partner lost your emotional connection or feel that you’re drifting apart, this is something you need to discuss with your partner and either work on or call it quits,” Opperman said.
Loneliness is a word not normally associated with being in a relationship, but it’s a driving force for couples breaking up. If someone in a relationship doesn’t feel part of a team or forced out of important decisions or simply finds themselves alone more times than they would like to admit, it’s easy for that person to feel lonely.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just demand your partner to be with you 24/7; however, it’s important to discuss what loneliness and healthy time apart means for each person in the relationship. If your partner needs alone time to recharge, that’s great! But if you or they are constantly finding reasons to be away from the relationship, then it might be time to figure out why.