Knowing Your Relationship Is Going Downhill Is Exhausting & Disheartening

It’s well known that successful relationships take work and doing that work can be utterly exhausting. However, it’s even worse when there’s work to be done in your relationship and your partner refuses to even admit there are issues.

  1. The first step to fixing problems is acknowledging that they exist. Pretending that there aren’t any problems might be more comfortable in the short term, but most problems don’t magically fix themselves. Like most things in life, when it comes to relationships, denial and procrastination aren’t a great long-term strategy.
  2. It can be tough to admit that there’s trouble in your relationship, but it’s not a sign of failure. Sometimes people are afraid of embracing conflict because they feel that it means that they’re saying that there’s something wrong with their relationship. However, the truth is that the occasional problem is normal in a relationship. What differentiates healthy partnerships from ones that aren’t so healthy is how well those problems are dealt with when they inevitably occur. Spoiler: Ignoring problems altogether is not dealing with them well.
  3. The ability to address conflict is a difficult but necessary relationship skill.  A person whose instinct is to sweep conflict under the rug isn’t doing you, or your relationship, any favors. Eventually you’re going to run into a fairly important issue that you desperately need to address. It’s just how life works. When that happens, you want to be ready. Just like you wouldn’t attempt to climb Mount Everest without training first on less treacherous hikes, it’s better to have the practice dealing with smaller issues as a couple before tackling larger ones.
  4. Just because someone else is over it doesn’t mean that you are. It’s all fine and good that they don’t care anymore about that fight that kept you up until three in the morning, but your feelings matter, too.  Maybe you’d kind of like to address what got you there in the first place. That way, you might have a chance at making sure it doesn’t happen again or see if you can make it happen a little less often.
  5. Having the same fights over and over again is exhausting. Literally. Being on a constant emotional rollercoaster isn’t good for anybody’s health. Not to mention that fighting all night and then having to crawl into work the next day on three hours of sleep is the worst. Especially when you’re doing it at least once a week.
  6. Saying “drop it” and changing the subject may make them feel better but it doesn’t get rid of the problem. Sometimes things get too heated, and you might need to take a step back. Maybe you need to take a break from a fight in order to collect yourself and calm down. That’s fine, but it’s no good if you’re unwilling to visit the problem later and are unilaterally declaring an end to discussing the issue altogether. “Drop it for now” is understandable. “Drop it forever” is pretty rude.
  7. When you’re dismissed by someone enough times, it becomes its own problem. Not only does the underlying problem go unsolved, but the constant dismissals can make you feel like your partner isn’t listening to you and doesn’t care about what you have to say. You can start to feel disrespected, as though they feel like you and your feelings are the real problem.  Left unchecked, this pattern of behavior can easily breed resentment, on both sides. There’s nothing that’s more toxic to relationships than resentment.
  8. Problems are easier to tackle one at a time. This is not the only new problem your’e ever going to have. It might not be fun to work on them as they come up, but it sure beats waiting until you have 35 problems. At that point, not only is it way more work to deal with a huge backlog of things you’ve been avoiding, but you’re also trying to do it when you’re on the verge of breaking up. It’s basically the worst of both worlds.
  9. You start to feel absolutely crazy. I had a relationship where I saw the issues that caused us to eventually break up months in advance. I told my boyfriend at the time, who told me I was just imagining things. Time and time again, I’d see the same pattern unfolding, and he’d wave it away, telling me I was just being dramatic. When I finally confided in friends about the issues, they also told me I was probably making something out of nothing because we seemed to people outside of our relationship to be so happy. I knew I wasn’t happy, so I started to really doubt myself and wonder if I was crazy.
Page Turner is a freelance writer and the author of "Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory." A giant unabashed psych nerd, Page has also worked as a psychological researcher and an organizational behavior consultant.