One of the biggest signs you don't know what you want in a relationship comes from the way you view your dynamic as a whole. Are you and your partner both moving toward a future — however murky — that you have identified? Or is this a relationship where you are simply passing the time together? There's nothing wrong with being in a relationship that works just for now. However, long-term resentment is easily born when you haven't taken steps to figure out what it is you like about this person, and why it is worth keeping them in your life.
You owe it to yourself and to your partner to be intentional about your decisions. It's not worth staying in a relationship just for comfort's sake or because you are afraid of being single. If you don't know what you want in your relationship, then it might be because you don't want a relationship at all right now or that your partner cannot give you what would actually make you happy.
If any of these signs resonate with you, then you probably don't know what you want in your relationship and you need to figure it out:
1. You Focus On Your Dissatisfaction
When you don't know what you want in your relationship, you focus on what you're not getting. Your hope is that your partner will just intuitively know what would make you happy. When they fall through, though, you feel anger or disappointment because it wasn't what you wanted. But did you ever articulate to the person you are seeing what it is, exactly, you do want?
You might see everything that is wrong in your relationship, but not be able to offer suggestions for how to improve it. Because you are so focused on what isn't working, you fail to see the potential pots of gold that might actually lead you to what you want. This is because you probably don't know what you want in the first place.
Taking some time away from the relationship to get your dreams in order isn't a bad idea. Neither is writing out exactly what your dream relationship looks like. Once you know what you are looking for in a partner, then either you and your current boo or a new one can begin to manifest that vision.
2. You Don't See How Things Could Work Out
When you don't know what you want out of a relationship, you might settle for something that works in the short term but doesn't have much potential for growth. A relationship with someone in an open marriage, for example, might not be completely fulfilling to you but provides you with enough care, attention, and sex to get by. To use a less extreme example, you might stay in a relationship with someone who is deeply noncommittal, not because you're happy in it, but because you can't envision what commitment would even look like.
If you think about it, you probably do know what you want out of your ideal relationship (and that might include just being in a relationship with yourself). The point is that you don't know what you want out of this relationship because what it is offering you probably doesn't align with your deepest dreams and desires. And while sex and some semblance of intimacy are undeniably amazing, you have to ask yourself how long you want to keep putting off seizing what you truly want. And you won't be able to seize what you want until you take the time to really figure out what that is exactly.
3. You Have A Hard Time Planning What To Do Together
When you don't know what you want out of a relationship, you probably don't know how to spend time with your partner, either. The two of you might have fallen into a routine (movie, sex, sleep). Drinking might also play a central role — or too much of a role — in your relationship. It's easy to cover up ambiguities with alcohol.
You probably feel bored in your routine, but you don't know how to break out of it. If your relationship is primarily built around sex, then you might have a hard time envisioning hanging out with your partner outside of the bedroom. You feel added pressure, because it seems like other couples you know enjoy planning dates and engaging in a diverse range of activities together. When you don't know what you want, then you don't know what to do either.
4. You Take What You Can Get
Probably the most harmful thing about being in a relationship where you don't know what you want is that it makes you passive. You don't feel fulfilled in the relationship and are not able to articulate what would make it better. Because you don't know, you find yourself going along with whatever your partner wants to do.
In addition to being dissatisfied, taking what you can get in a relationship is harmful because it creates imbalance in the power dynamic. Your partner probably doesn't want to always be in the driver's seat of the relationship. They likely feel uncomfortable continually setting the terms of what is happening. A lack of agency is bound to create resentment, and you might feel prone to placing that resentment upon your partner, when you also have played a role in establishing the unequal dynamic in the first place.
Staying in a relationship for the sake of staying in a relationship is never going to be a healthy solution. If you care about yourself and your partner, then now might be the time to transition into a period where you are seeking out what you want out of love, and then going for it.
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