Sex & Relationships

9 Signs You’re Trying Too Hard To Make A Relationship Work

Sometimes you need to be willing to walk away.

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All relationships require effort and energy. You'll need to talk through problems, compromise, and encourage each other to grow. But it should never feel as if you're fighting an uphill battle, or as if you're changing who you are in order to get along. These are all signs you're trying too hard to make a relationship work, Jim Seibold, PhD, LMFT, a couples therapist, tells Bustle. And when that's the case, you may ultimately decide it's no longer worth it.

"Instead of trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole," Seibold says, it's often better to end a relationship and move on. The idea of letting go can be painful, and it's often tempting to double down and hold onto a relationship for dear life. "However, the longer a bad relationship goes on the more pain you will experience," he says.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying to resolve your problems, first. If it feels like there are ongoing issues, talk with your partner and share your concerns. You may be able to make a few changes and begin seeing eye-to-eye. Couples therapy can also be a big help, since it teaches you how to approach problems in a different, and more effective, way.

That said, if you've tried everything and still experience the issues listed below, it's a sure sign you're forcing your relationship to work.


You're The Only One Putting In An Effort

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A relationship is at its best when both partners are putting in the same amount of effort — you both come up with fun plans, you both want to work on problems, and you're both invested in the future. These are all signs of a fair and balanced relationship, Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC, a relationship therapist, tells Bustle. One where both of you want the same thing.

If your relationship isn't working out, the balance will always feel off. You'll start to realize you're the only one who takes initiative, and it'll leave you feeling tired, frustrated, and alone. What's worse, your partner will either not notice, or not care to change once you point it out.

Of course, you may be tempted to hold onto them anyway, Cole says, especially if you feel like you've invested a lot of time. But keep in mind you deserve someone who puts in an equal amount of effort. In the right relationship, it will no longer seem like you're the only one who cares.


You're Overly-Accommodating

If it seems like your relationship is on the rocks, you might begin over-compensating by doing whatever you can to show up for your partner. As Cole says, this might include dropping plans you made with friends, and going to see your partner instead of the moment they call.

In other words, you'll become overly-accommodating by agreeing to do whatever your partner wants, and rarely speaking up for your own needs. This often stems from a fear that, if you happen to say or do the "wrong" thing or somehow come across as disappointing, your partner will no longer be interested.

Catch yourself right there, and recognize that this isn't a necessary part of a relationship, but a side effect of one that isn't working out. If you are constantly making your partner a priority, but don't get the same in return, the relationship is likely not right for you.


You Constantly Have To Justify The Relationship

Technically, you don't have to justify your relationship to anyone. It's between you and your partner, and whether or not it's "working" isn't for anyone else to decide.

You should, however, consider the opinions of friends and family, especially if they can't seem to understand why you're together. "They might have concerns about how you are being treated," Cole says, or they might notice that your partner isn't around as much. And having that outside perspective can be really helpful when it comes to evaluating the strength of a relationship.

The same is true if you're constantly making excuses for your partner's bad behavior. If this is an ongoing situation, be honest with yourself. Chances are, you know you wouldn't have to do that if you were with the right person.


You Constantly Fear A Break-Up

When a relationship is meant to be, it won't feel like a breakup is constantly looming on the horizon. So take it as a sign if you can't shake the feeling of impending doom, or if you start changing how you act around your partner in order to prevent something bad from happening.

Nobody wants to go through a breakup. But the brief pain that occurs at the end of a relationship is nothing compared to losing yourself in one that isn't right. According to Cole, you shouldn't have to walk on eggshells around your partner, or feel as if they'll leave you if you say or do one wrong thing.

Instead, try bringing your fullest, most real self to the relationship by sharing what's on your mind, speaking up about problems, and letting your personality shine. It's exhausting to live in fear, so work on being OK with letting go. And if that results in a breakup, so be it.


You Always Feel Anxious Or Depressed

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Similarly, feeling constant anxiety, sadness, or despair about the relationship is a sign that the dynamic between you and your partner isn’t working. It's possible you don't feel loved or supported, or you suspect something is going on behind your back. Whatever the case may be, bad feelings are a sign the relationship is, well, bad.

"If you’re avoiding your partner, shutting down, or finding yourself constantly fighting, it may be time to seek counseling," Shira Myrow MA, LMFT, a psychotherapist and co-cirruculm director or Evenflow, tells Bustle. Start there, and see if the relationship improves as you share what's on your mind.

You might come out on the other side of therapy with a better understanding of how to operate in a relationship — and way less anxiety and depression. But if you give therapy a try and still feel sad, go ahead and move on.


You Have A List Of Grievances That Never Get Resolved

You can't expect to see eye-to-eye on every little thing. But you and your partner should work on developing a go-to way of moving past problems so that the issues don't pile up. As Myrow says, "There needs to be a modicum of problem-solving in couples, otherwise, tension and resentment can grow."

Not every argument in a relationship is going to go your way, but if the same issues come up over and over again, and you can't stop thinking about them, then it might be time to be honest with yourself about where the relationship is heading.


You Consistently Put Your Needs Behind Your Partner's

It is important to be aware of your partner's needs, but remember you also have needs of our own, Seibold says. For example, you should feel free to see your friends, partake in hobbies, and carve out alone time for yourself. Doing so ensures that you maintain a sense of individuality in a relationship, and that contributes to a healthier connection

The thing is, this becomes harder to do when a relationship isn't working out, and when all of your energy goes towards fixing and forcing a connection. When you're worried about making your partner happy, or saving the relationship, you lose all sense of self. So if your entire day is spent bending over backward, it may be in your best interest to move on.


You Stop Talking About Problems

It's common to try to make a relationship work by sweeping problems under the rug, and pretending everything's a-OK. This is so much easier than addressing tough issues, admitting you aren't entirely happy, and potentially rocking the boat.

It's so easy to go on like this for years, never addressing the parts of the relationship that aren't healthy or fair. But, as Seibold says, it's important to take the risk and have these difficult conversations, since that's the only way you'll ever find solutions.

If you feel you can no longer be assertive or communicate freely with your partner, it's a sign that the relationship is headed south.


You're Constantly Hoping Your Partner Will Change

It's one thing to encourage each other to grow and improve, but that doesn't mean you should expect your partner to have a complete personality overhaul, or magically move past a giant obstacle in their life.

A relationship is all about acceptance, so you should go into it loving your partner for who they are. If you can't fathom being happy until they change, your expectations are never going to match up to reality, and you'll end up nagging them 24/7.

"If you are spending too much time trying to change your partner, it is not the relationship for you," Seibold says. "You will only feel more frustrated as the relationship goes on." Your partner will also catch on that they are letting you down, and that's just not fair.

There's no one sign that indicates a relationship is over, but if you're noticing any of these red flags, it might be time to stop exhausting yourself by forcing something to work that just isn't meant to be, and give yourself permission to move on.


Jim Seibold, PhD LMFT, couples therapist

Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC, relationship therapist

Shira Myrow MA, LMFT, psychotherapist and co-cirruculm director or Evenflow

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