Relationships can really help you grow and learn — about both yourself and your partner. Being in a partnership with someone means that you'll probably have to learn to compromise, you'll disagree on things, and you'll deal with hard times together. When you're in the thick of an argument with your partner, it's important to remember that every relationship has its ups and downs, and that things between you two won't always be sunshine and roses. There are several things you'll notice if your relationship is struggling that are good to keep an eye out for, so that if you catch these issues in time, you and your partner can work through them and move forward.
"All couples go through peaks and valleys and bumps on the road," online dating expert Julie Spira tells Elite Daily. "The key to making it past the rocky times when your relationship is struggling is to make sure you communicate when something feels off."
As Spira says, it's normal to go through rough patches with your bae, but the important thing is to not let it get to you too much, and to be honest with your partner about the things that bother you. "When you're in a relationship, you know your partner so well, that you always know in your gut something is wrong. It’s not unusual for someone to have a bad day at work and feel grumpy, but if you feel over days or weeks that you’re not in sync and that your regular flow has been interrupted or diluted, it’s a sign your relationship is off track."
Here are a few more concrete signs that your relationship is struggling. Take notes!
It's completely normal for couples to not see each other every day, or to not sleep together every night if they don't live together. And even if you do live together, "Sleeping on the other side of the bed when someone is feeling stressed or is under the weather is natural." But if it becomes a pattern, take note. "Not curling up with your partner for weeks in a row is a sign there’s something wrong," Spira adds.
A fairly clear sign that things are off is that you don't take time to be together as much. "When your regular date nights are canceled and not being rescheduled, it’s a sign that your relationship isn’t a priority," Spira says. If you and your partner haven't been out alone together in months, Spira says your relationship might be struggling.
Furthermore, if you notice that your significant other doesn't want to spend as much time with you as they used to and would seemingly rather be doing something else, that's also something to take note of. "If your partner goes out at night repeatedly without asking you to join them, it’s a sign they’re pulling away," Spira says.
It's normal for couples to have a hard time adjusting to being out of the honeymoon phase. When you first start dating, everything is new and exciting, and you might feel like you can talk for hours on end. But eventually, you end up knowing just about all there is to know about each other, and you don't have as many discussions about childhood memories or favorite movies. "When conversations that used to flow end up with abrupt 'yes' or 'no' answers," Spira says that might not be a good sign.
It can be scary and unsettling to know that your relationship is struggling, but as Spira says, knowing the signs can also help you and your partner work through whatever it is that's making your relationship struggle. "Allow your partner to have the space to work through whatever issues are on their plate," she advises. "Perhaps they’re concerned about a work project, or maybe they are feeling too tired to have sex, and have an anxiety performance issue. A healthy relationship is one where you let your partner work through these issues without badgering them, or demanding to know what is wrong."
If time has passed and you still feel like your relationship isn't getting better, initiate a conversation. "If you want a serious, long-term relationship with this person, there really shouldn't be anything that is off the table so to speak," licensed marriage and family therapist Anita Chlipala previously told Elite Daily. "I don't mean saying whatever you want as harshly as you want. Not that. But I do mean that you should be able to approach your partner with any concerns and be listened to."
Chlipala suggested starting the conversation with something positive, like "I love spending time with you because we always have so much fun together." Then, don't be afraid to dive right into what's been bothering you, or the differences in your relationship that you've been seeing. "You can't go in thinking you don't want to upset your partner," Chlipala said. "Conflict is inevitable — and healthy — in a relationship."
She also suggested having this conversation more than once, so that your partner knows that you are willing to work on the situation, instead of just ending the relationship. "If they continually minimize or brush off your concerns, you may want to consider ending the relationship or going to counseling."
No one said that relationships were easy. In fact, conversations about issues — whether they be lack of sex, finances, or not spending enough time together — are regular players in some serious, long-term relationships. And that's totally normal! Long story short: There will be bumps in the road, but if you and your partner can work together to get through your issues, you'll be a stronger couple for it in the end.