When it comes to romance, there are a lot of misconceptions and questions about how you should be feeling. If you’re in a serious, long-term relationship, chances are that you’re going to experience a variety of emotions... and not all of them will be swoon-worthy. Those who say relationships are filled with moments of bliss and euphoria aren't wrong — they're just forgetting that relationships encompass a lot more than the highlight reel. So, if you find yourself wondering, why do I feel uneasy in my relationship?, the answer is really simple: most people do at some point.
A healthy relationship should feel comfortable, full of mutual love and respect, but it can take time to get there. Most likely, you will encounter your fair share of awkward and uneasy moments as a couple throughout the beginning stages of your relationship. “Relationships are awkward in the beginning because your brain is on high alert. Its job is to determine if this is someone you want to risk falling in love with,” Dawn Maslar, a biologist who specializes in love, explained to Bustle. This awkward nervousness will fade as you grow closer and pass relationship milestones (like the first “I love you” and meeting each other’s families). “Once you fall in love, parts of your brain deactivate and the awkwardness goes away, but in the beginning it can feel downright painful.”
The good news? These cringey moments actually help your relationship grow. "Awkward moments make you stronger because they help you learn about each other and your relationship," Laura F. Dabney, MD, psychiatrist and relationship therapist, told Bustle. So not only is it normal to feel awkward in a relationship, it can be beneficial. "One tip to reap benefits from awkward moments is to talk about them. Do not brush those moments aside or try to minimize the awkwardness. If you do not talk about what made the moment awkward, you do not learn from it!" Communication is always key.
At the end of the day, no relationship — platonic or romantic — is without its negative feelings. So questions like, “How should you feel in a relationship?” often miss the point. There will be times of awkwardness, unease, and nervousness. It’s inevitable. But they don’t negate all of the amazing feelings that come with a relationship: love, care, trust, desire, safety, happiness. If handled the right way, each of these feelings can make your relationship stronger than ever — even the tough ones. Don’t take my word for it — Nicole Richardson, a therapist who specializes in relationships, is here with plenty of insight.
1. You May Feel Nervous.
A healthy relationship doesn’t mean you will always feel relaxed and completely at peace. Especially in the early stages of getting to know each other, it’s normal to have some nerves around your SO whether it’s jitters or butterflies.
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,” Richardson explains. “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.” Try to view these nerves in a positive light.
If you find yourself still feeling apprehensive, talk to your partner about it. Openly discussing your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, will help you get to know each other better — and will most likely alleviate some of those anxious thoughts.
2. You Might Not Be Ecstatic 24/7.
No relationship is 100% happy 100% of the time — that’s an unrealistic expectation. Sorrow and pain are a part of life, and they will be a part of any relationship you have. “It is not possible to be happy all the time,” Richardson tells Elite Daily. You may be upset about your partner missing a big relationship milestone, or sad that you both forgot date night.
“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,” Richardson adds. But if you’re excited about your relationship most of the time, then no matter what is hitting you in the feels, the best course of action is to work through it together. Facing challenges as a team will only make your bond tighter.
3. You May Feel Vulnerable.
A relationship requires vulnerability, and, according to Richardson, that kind of openness can sometimes be momentarily uncomfortable. That discomfort should be quickly replaced with relief as your partner accepts you for who you are, including the pieces you might have thought were less than desirable.
Letting yourself feel exposed at times isn’t necessarily 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, and that vulnerability should feel empowering rather than scary. As you see each other’s private quirks and hear each other’s personal stories, you build the foundation for a deeply meaningful relationship.
But Richardson warns, “If you feel uncomfortable — as in unsafe — listen to that and remove yourself from the situation.” (Scroll to the end for help if you or a loved one may be facing domestic violence.)
4. You May Feel Frustrated.
Honest relationships come with occasional fights. “Happy couples have conflict,” Richardson says. As long as your disagreements are productive and you both are focused on resolving the issue, there is nothing wrong with butting heads sometimes.
Plus, according to Richardson, the alternative — never fighting — does not bode well for a fulfilling relationship. “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.”
5. You May Feel Overwhelmed By What The Future Holds.
Relationships are a constant process of growing together. Just because you’ve defined the relationship or even hit milestones like moving in together, getting engaged, or walking down the aisle, that doesn’t mean your connection will suddenly become simple and straightforward. The two of you are constantly evolving, and when you’re both committed to each other, you’ll hopefully grow in the same direction.
“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 will be some of the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.
6. You May Crave Alone Time.
Being in a happy relationship does not necessarily mean you want to spend every minute of every day with your SO. Everyone needs a break once in a while, and craving alone time — especially in a committed partnership — is completely normal and healthy. So if you find yourself wanting some solo time away from your partner, don’t worry that it’s the beginning of the end, and don’t feel guilty for asking for it.
“It is a wonderful thing to have time to yourself and really check in with how you are thinking and feeling,” Richardson explains. No matter what your relationship status is, you won’t regret prioritizing your relationship with yourself.
7. You May Feel Anxious Or Stressed.
In a new relationship, it’s easy to feel anxious. Not knowing where you stand with someone can be nerve-racking. And, in general, “new things are stressful,” says Richardson. It’s not just the start of your relationship either — these feelings might temporarily resurface during any big relationship milestones.
Be kind to yourself as you navigate these emotions. “Try not to judge your feelings,” Richardson says. “They will probably pass.” But if they don’t, open up to your partner about your state of mind. You might be pleasantly surprised about how they help you feel more at ease.
8. You May Feel Jealous.
Feeling protective of your partner and your relationship is normal, especially in the early stages of dating when you’re still building trust. In small doses, jealousy is an indication that you care about your partner and how they spend their time. But, when this ventures into deeper insecurities, it’s time to refocus your energy. Pent-up jealousy does no favors for your wellbeing or the strength of your relationship.
“If you are feeling jealous, work on reminding yourself that you do not need validation from someone else to be worthy,” Richardson explains. Then, try to figure out why you’re feeling this way and communicate it to your partner. This could lead to more open dialogue between the two of you, which puts you on the fast track to feeling more comfortable in your relationship.
Feeling occasionally awkward or uneasy in a relationship might not sound like a fairytale romance. But actually, these more challenging emotions can bring you two even closer together. Fairytales aren’t real, after all, but the connection between you and your partner can be.
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.
Additional reporting by Tina Kolokathis.
Dawn Maslar, love and dating expert
Laura F. Dabney, MD, psychiatrist and relationship therapist
Nicole Richardson, relationship therapist
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