We all tend to look at the good aspects in our relationship. In fact, most people believe their own relationship is much better than average.
But logically, this cannot possibly be true for everyone. For a large portion of those people, their relationship is not as healthy as they think.
This is because people often consider things that are not so significant, while overlooking the crucial foundational aspects of relationship health.
The point of this article is not to scare you, or to bring your relationship down — but as someone whose relationship had a lot of hidden problems under the surface, I know it’s very useful to do a mental appraisal of your relationship and see if it’s really as healthy as you think.
If it is, then at least you’ve got confirmation — and if not, you’ll know what you need to work on, and set your relationship back on the right track just like I did.
So without further ado, let’s jump in and look at the 7 signs.
1) You/They don’t express appreciation
Showing gratitude is something most people do a lot during the rose-colored glasses phase, but slowly forget when they’ve been together for a while.
But that’s like slowly giving a plant less and less water. Appreciation is like that for any positive relationship — when you stop giving appreciation, the relationship stops growing.
I can attest to this first-hand. My partner would get up before me, prepare a glass of lemon water for me every morning and leave it by my bedside.
I used to love this gesture, but of course over time I got used to it. Eventually I stopped saying thank you, because it became a routine and felt like no big deal.
But among other things, this made my partner start feeling unappreciated and undervalued.
I only found this out when we started couples therapy together. And our therapist explained to me the importance of continuing to do the same things throughout our relationship as we did for each other at the beginning.
Now, I always make a point of noticing everything my partner does for my well being and telling him I’m grateful. This encourages him to keep going as he knows his efforts are noticed, and makes sure we never take each other for granted.
2) You/They avoid difficult conversations
If you and your partner don’t have difficult conversations, you might feel it’s because things are going so smoothly that there is no need.
However, in any relationship, there are always serious topics to be discussed — whether it’s a difference of opinion (as there are bound to be some!) or your plans for the future.
So if you never speak about such things, it’s likely because you’re avoiding them, either because you fear conflict or you don’t know how to talk about them — and that’s not a good sign.
My partner and I, for example, didn’t know how to discuss a recurring conflict we were having — so we didn’t.
And this led to a lot of resentment and frustration, as the issue continued to fester beneath the surface.
Later, we decided to actively work on our communication skills, and how to approach disagreements with clarity and compassion. That’s when we were able to start addressing issues when they arose, rather than letting them build up and create tension.
It might cause momentary discomfort, but it’s the only way for your relationship to be healthy and long-lasting.
3) You/They consistently put other priorities first
Of course, it’s normal for work, family, and other commitments to sometimes take precedence in our lives. But if you or your partner consistently put other priorities first, it can create a feeling of being undervalued in the relationship.
I must admit, in my own relationship it was me who did this. I’m very ambitious with tons of ideas for my professional development, so I often put my job before my relationship.
I’d spend lots of evenings working late rather than having quality couple time, and not truly be present during conversations because my mind was still mulling over a work-related problem.
My partner was very understanding, but in hindsight, I definitely see how I was making him feel unimportant — which was of course never my intention.
It took me almost burning out to create a change, but at some point, I decided to create a better work-life balance and put my relationship above my job for a change. After all, it’s my partner, not my job, who will be by my side no matter what!
Of course, there are times when other things need to take precedence, but overall, you need to make sure you’re each other’s priority.
4) Your intimacy has dwindled
How often are you and your partner intimate?
This is a very blunt question, but it’s one that’s so important for you to consider if you care about your relationship’s health.
It’s natural for intimacy to decrease over time, at least compared to the rose-colored glasses phase when you can’t keep your hands off each other.
Most couples I spoke to agree that they spend less time in bed together than at the start.
However, there is such a thing as the spark fading a little too much.
This is highly individual for each couple. I know couples that prefer to be intimate just a few times per month — and they’re perfectly content together.
But it’s been like this practically since the start. If you or your partner are someone who like to be more active, then a nonexistent sex life can be real cause for concern.
However, the good news is, reigniting the spark can be a ton of fun!
Take time to try on new things, whether it’s a sexy new outfit, having a glass of wine first, or even something like a new toy or position.
You’re never too old to try new things — maybe it’s time to try living out your secret fantasies.
5) You compare each other to other people
This sign is particularly easy to fall into because the world around us practically sets us up for it.
From social media to advertisements and the competitive nature of the modern era, it’s practically impossible to not start comparing.
However, don’t let this go unnoticed, as it can lead to someone in the relationship feeling not enough.
In my case, it was my partner who did this. He wasn’t even aware of it, but whenever he mentioned a skill or quality of mine, he brought up a friend, family member, or even an ex and made a subtle comparison of me to them.
As you can imagine, this started bothering me quite a lot. Even when I was “number one” in the comparison, could I not be appreciated just for me, and not in relation to someone else?
As we worked on our communication skills, I shared this frustration with him. He eventually realized he was doing this as a way to avoid dealing with his own insecurities, projecting them onto me.
He put in a lot of effort to change this habit and makes a point of appreciating me for who I am.
6) You/They ignore your boundaries
It would probably be obvious to you if your partner ignores some important boundaries, such as being disrespectful towards you, or doing things physically that you’re not comfortable with.
However, boundaries can also be much more subtle — and easier to ignore or neglect.
They could be little things like your partner not moving your work things, or not calling during work hours.
For me and my partner, I wanted to have a quiet and undisturbed time when I was working. But we lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and he would often think of a funny story he wanted to share and completely forget I was on my laptop to work rather than fiddle around on Google.
I had shared with him several times that I wanted to work, so I felt very frustrated that he couldn’t seem to respect that.
It’s important to consider every request that’s made in the relationship because that’s how you show real understanding and respect towards each other.
If a boundary is breached repeatedly, maybe your partner doesn’t understand how important it is to you. Try having a calm but serious conversation about it, and help the two of you get on the same page.
7) You/They neglect personal growth
Investing in personal growth might sound like something “extra”, and not necessary to a relationship. It’s nice to have, but you can do without it, right?
Well, think again. Because a relationship is about two people coming together. As time goes by, each of your experiences shape and change you — and if you want to keep a healthy relationship long term, you need to invest in growing together.
As I mentioned above, my partner and I decided to invest in couples therapy.
But in addition to that, we each invested in ourselves individually. I started taking professional development courses for writing, and my partner took up two new hobbies.
Even if your relationship is healthy to begin with, this habit could boost it higher than ever before, and it’s definitely worth trying for everyone.
Building the healthiest relationship
Now you know 7 signs your relationship is not as healthy as you think.
Do you recognize any of them in your own relationship? I hope not — but in a way, if yes, that’s actually a good thing.
Because nobody’s relationship is perfect. We all have things we can work on. And as I mentioned at the beginning, being aware of issues is the first step to solving them.