Relationships are all about feelings. One morning, you're up; by night, you're down… but by “down,” I don't mean in the dumps. You may just be having feelings in your relationship that aren’t what you’d expect out of a new partnership, like anxiety or vulnerability.
But all hope is not lost. Those who say relationships are filled with only moments of bliss and euphoria aren't wrong; they're just forgetting that relationships encompass a lot more than just those two feelings.
Good relationships come with negative feelings as much as they include positive ones. The only difference is that the negative feelings you’ll experience from time to time aren't negative in the way you've traditionally been thought to think about them. When you’re in a relationship, you feel the highs and lows in completely new ways, and this can be a sign that you and your partner are on the cusp of, or in need of, necessary change in order to bring your relationship back to a good place.
If you don’t feel these ways in your relationship and/or never have, that’s great. But if you have, rest assured these feelings can be completely normal. On the other hand, if you feel like your partner is toxic, puts you down, gaslights you, or verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abuses you, you should leave this person. If you do feel this way, or worry that your partner may be treating you this way, you should get help by confiding in a trusted friend or family member, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or call the police.
These negative feelings aren't talked about often because, without context, they probably sound a little off-putting. But sometimes, the strongest relationships are the ones where you haven’t always felt glitter and butterflies 24/7. Why, you ask? Because, if handled the right way, these feelings lead to growth both personally and in your relationship with your significant other. If you don’t believe me, take it from relationship therapist Nicole Richardson.
1. You may feel nervous.
Whether it's jitters or butterflies, a healthy relationship [doesn’t always leave you feeling relaxed, especially when dating someone for the first time or being in the early stages of your relationship. Richardson says, “We have all been hurt [or] embarrassed by someone we liked, and it means that the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation, we get anxious. That’s normal.” She adds, “Just as something new can make you anxious, remember that it can be exciting … you are allowing yourself to be brave and try something new.” If you find yourself feeling nervous, talk to your partner about it. Communication is key.
2. You might not be happy all the time.
Sorrow and pain are a part of life, which means they will likely also be a part of any relationship you have. You may be sad about your partner missing a big relationship milestone, or sad that you couldn’t make it to a big event where your SO was being honored. “It is not possible to be happy all the time,” says Richardson. “It is healthy to check in and ask yourself if you are enjoying what you’re doing and how you are spending your time and energy.” Again, if you’re not spending your energy wisely, talk to your partner about it and work to make those necessary changes.
3. You may feel apprehensive.
Richardson says that being vulnerable with someone can sometimes be uncomfortable. However, that uncomfortable moment should be quickly replaced with relief as you watch your partner accept you for who you are, including all those things you thought you could never show anyone. But, “if you feel uncomfortable as in unsafe, listen to that and remove yourself from the situation,” Richardson warns.
4. You may feel like you don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Honest relationships come with honest fights. Arguments are inevitable in dating. “Happy couples have conflict,” Richardson says. “Being on the same page about everything would be massively boring. Find someone who encourages you and challenges you, and [someone] whom you can give that to as well.” If you do find yourself disagreeing with your SO, remember that there is a healthy way to argue. Make sure you and your partner both have a chance to communicate how you are feeling and keep the focus on resolving the issue.
5. You may feel like your relationship needs work.
Sure, it’s great to think that once you define the relationship, life with your partner will be so easy. But that’s rarely ever the case — and that’s OK. “Relationships are hard work,” Richardson says. “When you find someone, that is when the work truly begins. The magic is finding a way to live the life you love and fold the new person into it.” Rest assured it’s probably some of the best work you’ll ever do.
6. You may crave time alone.
Everyone needs a break once in a while, and feeling this way — especially in a committed partnership — is completely normal. If you find yourself wanting some time away from your SO, don’t worry that it’s the beginning of the end, and don’t feel guilty for asking for your own time. Richardson says, “It is a wonderful thing to have time to yourself and really check in with how you are thinking and feeling.”
7. You may feel stressed at first.
In a new relationship, it’s very easy to feel anxious. You may be wondering what exactly the relationship is, or you may be trying to figure out whether or not your partner is taking you and your love seriously. “New things are stressful,” says Richardson. As you do things for the first time, like meeting each other’s families and friends, it’s completely understandable to get that concernable pit in your stomach. “Try not to judge your feelings,” Richardson says. “They will probably pass.” But if it doesn’t, open up to your partner about it. Work together to learn from it and move forward.
8. You may feel jealous.
As your start dating someone new, you may find yourself feeling protective of your partner and your relationship, which might spark feelings of jealousy when it comes to your partner spending time with others. If you feel this way, try to figure out why that is and communicate it to your partner. “If you are feeling jealous, work on reminding yourself that you do not need validation from someone else to be worthy,” Richardson says.
9. You may feel like you’re growing.
A relationship isn't about being right — it’s about realizing you can be wrong and being OK with that. It's about learning, growing, and understanding the fact that you don't know everything and that your partner won’t, either. It's about everything you each have to teach and learn from each other. But the two of you can explore the world together, letting the lessons and experiences bring you even closer. “You will learn until the day you die. [So] get out the paper and pen,” Richardson says.
10. You may feel vulnerable.
You make feel like you’re exposed and raw in a new relationship. You’re giving your partner your heart and hoping they don’t drop it. But don’t see it as a bad thing. “Being vulnerable is a sign of strength,” Richardson says. “Not everyone deserves our vulnerability, but that is a big part of the learning process.” With time, you should be feeling more and more secure in your love for this person.
With all of these feelings, it’s important to note that while they sound like they have no place in a relationship, they’re very often present. It’s how you overcome and sometimes, learn to live with, these feelings — using clear communication with your partner — that will lead you to real, true love.
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 thehotline.org.
This post was originally published on April 27, 2015. It was updated on Aug. 26, 2019. Additional reporting by Tina Kolokathis.
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