April 1, 2023

Written by Amy Beecham
Relationship expert Deb Morgan explains how to spot when a relationship isn’t working – and the steps you need to take to save it.
Picture this: you’ve been with your partner solidly for six months. Things are going well – you have plenty in common, have met each other’s friends and enjoy the time you spend together. But something just feels off. Perhaps you can’t quite put your finger on it, or maybe the seeds of doubt have been growing in the back of your mind for a while, but you’re just not totally sure if you see a real, sustainable future together.
All relationships have their challenges, but when difficulty outweighs ease, fun and joy, it may be time to reconsider what you want, and whether your current partner is able to provide it. However, the first step is recognising when something is wrong.
While every partnership is different, there are some classic signs that the relationship isn’t likely to work out long term, according to relationship expert Deb Morgan.
Of course, you don’t have to be inseparable in order to be a successful couple. In fact, having your own identity and time apart is a green flag when it comes to a healthy relationship. But distance can and will take its toll on intimacy, and may lead you to question whether quality time together is a priority for both parties.
While everyone, in a relationship or otherwise, has a right to privacy, if you find yourself behaving secretively on a regular basis, it may indicate a lack of trust between you and your partner.
At the end of a girls’ night, do you find yourself wishing that you didn’t have to return home to your partner? If you do, try and interrogate why you might feel this way. What about your home environment is unappealing to you? What could you or your partner do to change the dynamic to make it a comfortable space for you both?
Similarly, if you’re not excited about the prospect of spending time with your loved one outside of the home, it’s likely a sign of disconnect and tension within the relationship. Once again: space is important, avoidance could be a red flag.
Every relationship experiences silly arguments, but these usually end up being laughed off after an apology. But if your partner seems like they’re picking fights for the sake of it, it’s likely they’re angry about something else but not communicating it in a healthy way.
Score-keeping and pettiness for the sake of it can be a slippery slope in relationships. If one half of the couple is purposefully irritating the other, it sets an unhealthy precedent for the rest of their behaviour. 
Intimacy – be it physical, sexual or emotional – is so important to maintaining a connection within a relationship. But if you and your partner are like ships in the night (and more importantly, don’t seem fazed by it), it might be an indication that your relationship isn’t functioning as it should. Yes, life sometimes gets in the way, but if you’re not bothered by the lack of closeness, it’s likely the distance is taking more of a toll than you might realise.
Even the most loved-up of pairings won’t agree on everything, from what colour to paint the living room or takeaway you order, to where you raise your children or move to later in life. If your partner says they want to do one thing and rather than compromise you insist on doing something else, you clearly have fundamentally different wants and values, which are near-impossible to navigate in the long-term.
For whatever reason, you’re clearly not totally happy to be in their company. Listen to your body and its cues. If you feel a genuine flood of reassurance when your partner leaves, it’s probably time to move on from the relationship.
Put simply: you should want to spend time with the person you’re in a relationship with. ‘Me time’ is absolutely essential, but if you’re regularly choosing it over time with your partner, the relationship is likely in trouble.
If the signs above have resonated with you, you could be thinking that the next step is to break up with your partner. And it very well might be. Not every relationship is built to last, and we all deserve to be fulfilled, happy and secure in our partnerships. But if you’re willing to put in the work, Morgan says that a failing relationship can be saved.
First of all, don’t panic. As Morgan explains, noticing that things might not be as they should is actually a good sign, as it shows that you’re actively and consciously aware that things could improve. So what should you do?
“Have a conversation with your partner to let them know that you’ve noticed things aren’t so good, that you’re spending less time together or bickering more,” Morgan says. “Often things get worse because neither party wants to raise it for fear of opening a can of worms.”
Equally, don’t just ignore problems thinking they’ll go away of their own accord. “They won’t, they’ll just get worse,” Morgan advises. “Instead, put that energy towards identifying what signs you can control or change and then taking some steps to change them.”
In order to steer your relationship back in the right direction, she suggests the following:
1. Be honest with where things are at. Have a conversation with your partner and work out how you can improve things together.
2. If work or life means that you’re genuinely having to spend more time apart, schedule times when you can get together – date days or date nights – and make sure they are in both your diaries and non-negotiable.
3. Share details of your life with your partner, let them know what you’ve been doing, what you’re excited about, what plans you’re making. Equally, make a concerted effort to take an interest in what your partner is doing. Ask them about it, find out why they find it so interesting or exciting.
4. Thank them for the small stuff they do – making a cup of tea when you least expect it, buying your favourite wine or chocolate. We all want to feel needed and appreciated – when we thank someone it makes them feel good by releasing endorphins and we also feel good for saying or doing a good deed.
5. If you don’t feel able to have conversations about what’s going on with your partner, seek support from someone you trust, a relationship coach or counsellor
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