Rocky relationships can feel draining, where you’re always waiting until the next time something terrible happens. It can feel like everyone around you is in a better relationship while you’re still dealing with pettiness, mistrust, and/or communication problems.
But maybe not all is lost: a rocky relationship is simply the type of relationship that needs work, a lot of work, before it can be the best it can possibly be. All those other happy, healthy relationships that you may know went through several rocky stages before getting to a more stable point. Yours doesn’t have to fail, but both you and your partner have to be willing to put in effort, time, and patience. [Read: 12 things happy couples do that makes them so enviable]
How to know if you should stay in your relationship
Think of the following characteristics as building blocks that you can use as starting points for something better. If you have all ten, or even just most of these, then it would be unwise to give up on your relationship just yet.
#1 You both talk about your problems, even if you lack healthy communication techniques. You may end up arguing and getting impatient, but you both still try to talk about your concerns and point of view. This shows that you both care enough to try, even while knowing you could use better ways of communicating. It means you value the relationship, and are therefore willing to reach a better point, one in which you’ll talk patiently and effectively.
Despite how grim things seem now, you have a foundation to build from. Now you both just need to find ways of calming down and getting your message across without getting into a fight. [Read: 23 do’s and don’ts of relationship arguments]
#2 Despite your problems, you have fun together and share many funny, happy, and healthy memories. It’s tough to let something go when there’s plenty of good times, even if there are many darker ones. If you both agree you have chemistry and a great dynamic, regardless of the drama, then maybe there’s a chance here.
The trick lies in finding ways to cut down on the bad times, and build up the good, which you can do if you both sit down and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
#3 Neither one of you feels a strong desire to call it quits. No one really enjoys a breakup, even if they deny it and act happy, but there are times when people genuinely want to break things off because they’re unhappy. Wanting to call it quits and being willing to endure the mourning process means you’ve already moved on from the relationship.
If neither one of you feels this way at all, but you both genuinely want to solve things, then there’s a building block to work with. Now all you need to do is come to terms with the problems and come up with possible solutions *no matter how small*, so you can remain in the relationship and not ever feel the need to run for the hills. [Read: 10 ways to get through a rough patch in a relationship]
#4 The love is there, and you really don’t have eyes for anyone else. It’s safe to say that if there isn’t love on either side of the relationship, you should break up. There’s no point anymore, and you’re clearly interested in seeing other people. But if the love is there, and it’s so strong you can’t even fathom the idea of being with anyone else, then you owe it to yourselves and each other to try.
Love isn’t easy to come by. The world is filled with people who are lonely or in relationships out of comfort. If you have something real, it’d be a shame to throw it all away over issues that you could work through together.
#5 Neither one of you is in denial, and you’re both aware of your relationship problems. It sounds ridiculous, really, but this is a pretty big deal. If one or both of you is in denial, you’ll downplay problems, neglect things you need to solve, and even let issues fester and mutate into something far worse than it ever was. Like a disease, it will spread into everything you do together, sucking the joy out of sex, lounging time, date nights, and eventually, your lives.
If you both do not have this issue and are more than aware of the problems without sugar coating them, then you have a healthy perspective of what’s going on, and you can take realistic steps to fix it. [Read: 12 things happy couples talk about and feel closer every day]
#6 You’ve always said sorry and gone the extra mile to make things up to each other after an argument. Saying sorry is hard for everyone, whatever the situation. You have to put pride aside, own up to your mistakes, and ask someone else for forgiveness.
The act is a vulnerable one, but if you and your partner do it and find ways to make things better after an argument *crazy sex, special date, special food or event, doing some more of those small things that speak more than words, etc.*, then you deserve to give your relationship a second chance. [Read: 17 sweet ways to genuinely say you’re sorry]
#7 You can confidently say that you are better together, stronger and far more focused on priorities. Think back to when you were single, however long ago it was: what weren’t you doing that you started doing while in your relationship? Maybe you were in school, barely passing your classes, and now you’re done with college, after graduating Summa Cum Laude. Or perhaps you were partying too much, making poor choices, but you now focus on your responsibilities and have a better head on your shoulders.
Now think of your partner. How has their situation changed for the better? Whatever you do while in a relationship tends to be a reflection of your partner. Healthy relationships are composed of people who inspire and motivate each other to do better. If this is you, don’t throw your relationship away. [Read: Pillow talk and how it can make both of you better people]
#8 The issues you have do not include other people, unfaithfulness, vengeance, or abuse. Some people can get past cheating, but most do not for a reason: it means your relationship lacks something, or your partner does, and you chose to go off the beaten path to find it because it meant more to you than the relationship. To each their own, and some really do move on and lead happy relationships thereafter.
However, if your relationship is rocky, you’re already in a vulnerable state. Anything related to infidelity, abuse, or even vengeance *i.e. always wanting to get back at your partner, no matter how small the issue* will end your relationship. This is a blessing in disguise because although you’re in distress, you’ve also rid yourself of an unhealthy situation. Now, if this does not apply to you in the slightest, then you shouldn’t be contemplating ending things for good.
#9 Your partner isn’t just your partner, they’re your best friend. You both kiss, hug, have sex, and make plans for dates and even the future. You hang out with family and friends but love your alone time together. Despite your problems, this remains true.
But is your partner also your best friend? If you both poke fun at each other, share some of the same hobbies, actively take on projects together, drink together, hang out and do nothing together, or go on adventures together, then you’re best friends.
If you have a partner that is your best friend, don’t throw that away. It’s not every day that you meet someone you don’t feel the need to impress constantly, someone who won’t judge you if you just rolled out of bed and look like road kill, someone who knows embarrassing things about you and would never betray that trust by telling people.
#10 At the end of the day, you share the same goals for the future. If you’ve established you’d love to have a future together, and grow old together, then it’s a serious long-term, committed relationship. If you both talk about what you’d like that future to be like, and agree on most of it, then you’re golden. For instance, maybe you both want to live in a small place and focus on an open floor-plan, or retire in Europe. Maybe you both want kids, or refuse to have kids.
Whatever the case, if you both smile when talking about the future and share the same vision, or at least a similar one, you shouldn’t throw it all away. Instead, you should fight together, for the good of your relationship, to make that vision come true.
Rocky relationships have a stigma of being the kind of relationship to avoid at all costs, but in reality, they’re just cases in which two people need to find ways to highlight their strengths and make them mesh well with each other’s. It’s not impossible, and if done well, your genuine desire to make your relationship last can lead to a very strong, rewarding relationship.
[Read: 12 clear signs of true love in a relationship]
There’s a huge difference between an unhealthy relationship and a rocky one that just needs a few tweaks. Take a long hard look at what’s keeping your relationship afloat, and use the signs above to decide if your relationship deserves a second chance.
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