We ask an expert to troubleshoot some common relationship warning signs.
Like cars, long-term relationships need a little health check now and then. Dating coach Annie Lavin recommends regularly taking stock of where you’re both at, instead of letting your concerns slide.
“Agree a time to sit down together and take responsibility for carrying out your own relationship review and see the kind of goals you might like to set and the adjustments you may need to agree,” she says.
Yesterday, we talked about what to do if you’re constantly arguing, or having less sex – and today, we break down two more common relationship warning signs.
They’re never the first to say I love you or lavish you with affection and you feel like you’re always the one who’s putting in more effort. Do you deserve better or is this just the natural push and pull of a relationship?
It could be the case that they express their love differently to you. And it’s easy sometimes to see all the effort you’re putting in, while ignoring all the nice things your other half is doing. Maybe they aren’t very liberal with the ‘I love yous’ or with showing affection, but are they the first person to help you out with a problem or plan things for you to do together? Do they show their love in other ways?
Take a real objective look at your relationship and you might just find that you aren’t necessarily giving more than you get, your partner is just ‘giving’ in a different way to what you expect. Rectifying this could be as simple as recognising the ways in which your partner is showing he cares, or pulling him aside to tell him what he needs to do to make you feel loved (to figure that out, consider looking to the love languages).
Sometimes though, one person in a relationship can be lazier about showing love than the other. “Give and take in a relationship needs to be reciprocal otherwise one person can begin to feel resentful or taken for granted,” Annie explains.
“If you are someone who considers themselves a ‘people pleaser’ be mindful of how much you give as you may reach relationship burnout. A foundational part of my work with single and coupled clients is in getting to know themselves – the more you understand yourself, the more you will understand the relationship dynamics that play out in your life. is self-knowledge also offers you some language to discuss the issues in your relationship as you begin to see things more clearly.”
Experts suggest that relationships are rarely split 50-50; more often than not, one partner does give a little more than they get but if you’re the one who’s doing a little more than your fair share, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily kick your partner to the curb. The important question to ask is: is your partner there for you when you need them to be?
No relationship should require your attention 24/7 but if your partner is putting in the effort when it’s important, that’s what’s crucial. Finding happiness may simply be about managing your expectations and giving to yourself what you feel you aren’t getting from your other half.
The first flush of love is so exciting and it doesn’t take much for your relationship to feel fun; even just lying in bed together with an array of snacks and a docu-series can feel like floating on cloud nine. But as time goes on, you’re noticing that your relationship no longer gives you the thrill that it once did. Is it normal to feel like this over the course of a long-term relationship and, crucially, can you fix it?
“In the first phase of love you may have been hanging on your partner’s every word. But several years in things may be very different,” Annie points out. The first step, she says, is to ask yourself are you feeling bored of your partner or with your partner. “There is
a marked distinction between the two,” she explains.
“If you feel you are bored with your partner, do something new together that you have never done before and see how you feel, become curious about your partner rather than thinking you know exactly how they will behave. If you are feeling bored of your partner you may need to discover if your partner feels similarly. In these cases, enlisting the support of a relationship coach or counsellor can be helpful to discover the root cause of your boredom.”
There’s lots you can do together to bring back that thrill. Have you stopped having regular date nights? Bring them back and have fun planning them. That means, no, you can’t go to the same restaurant that you always go to.
Sometimes relationships can feel boring because you think you can predict your partner’s every move. You know this person inside out so that heady ‘anything could happen’ buzz that you feel at the beginning of a relationship can easily fizzle. Do something different. Get out of your shared comfort zone and try something that might bring out a side to your other half that you haven’t seen before.
Don’t forget your life outside of your partner too. If you’re spending every waking moment together, it’s little wonder you’re bored. It sounds counter-productive, but if you want your time with your other half to feel more exciting, try spending time apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that, and bonus point, maintaining a healthy, well-rounded life outside of your partner will mean you also have stack loads more to talk about when you’re together too.
Long-term relationships don’t have to stagnate, with a little effort to keep things fresh and avoid complacency, it can be just as thrilling as when you first met.