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Signs Your Rocky Relationship Deserves a Second Chance

Despite the constant roadblocks keeping your relationship from progressing, here are signs your rocky relationship deserves a second chance.

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]

When Relationships Get Rocky

At the outset of any romantic journey, most couples understand that the path ahead won’t always be smooth-sailing. Relationships inherently come with their share of challenges and disagreements. However, when these challenges escalate beyond the occasional argument or misunderstanding, a relationship may enter what’s often termed as a ‘rocky’ phase.

In this critical stage, couples may find themselves grappling with persistent conflicts, emotional detachment, or a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction. Recognizing the signs of such a tumultuous phase is essential, not only for the health of the relationship but also for the individual well-being of the partners involved. A relationship is typically considered rocky when issues are not transient but rather persistent and deeply rooted, often bringing about a significant strain on emotional intimacy and mutual understanding.

From a psychological perspective, several theories can shed light on why relationships hit rough patches. Attachment theory, for example, suggests that the attachment styles of individuals *secure, anxious, or avoidant* greatly influence how they relate to romantic partnerships. Discrepancies in these styles can lead to a rocky phase, especially if not acknowledged and addressed.

Conflict theory also plays a crucial role in understanding rocky relationships. This theory delves into how power dynamics and conflicting interests within a relationship can lead to ongoing disputes.

The manner in which couples manage conflicts – whether through negotiation, compromise, or ongoing confrontation – can be a key indicator of a relationship’s health and longevity.

Common issues that signify a rocky relationship often include lack of communication, trust issues, unmet emotional needs, or differing life goals and values.

It’s during these times that couples might question if their relationship is worth the effort to rebuild, or if it’s time to part ways. Understanding these signs and analyzing their severity is vital in determining if your rocky relationship deserves a second chance.

Signs Your Relationship is Rocky

How can you actually tell that your relationship has hit a rough patch? Sometimes, the signs are subtle, other times they’re more obvious.

Either way, recognizing them is crucial in deciding whether your relationship is just going through a temporary struggle or if it’s genuinely rocky and needs serious attention. Here are ten major signs to look out for:

1. Constant Conflict

If you find that you and your partner are arguing more often than not, it’s a clear sign things are rocky. These aren’t just little disagreements over trivial matters, but rather frequent, intense arguments that leave both of you feeling drained and upset. [Read: How to resolve conflict: The best ways to cut out the drama]

2. Communication Breakdown

When conversations turn into silent treatments or are laced with sarcasm and contempt, your relationship is signaling distress. Good communication is the lifeline of any healthy relationship, and its absence is a major red flag.

3. Lack of Intimacy

Intimacy isn’t just about physical closeness, it’s also about emotional connection. If you feel like you’re more like roommates than romantic partners, it’s a sign that your relationship could be in trouble.

4. Trust Issues

Trust is fundamental. If there’s a persistent suspicion or lack of trust between you two, whether due to past incidents or unexplained behaviors, it significantly undermines the relationship’s foundation.

5. You Feel Drained, Not Energized

Relationships should add to your life, not deplete it. If being with your partner consistently leaves you feeling emotionally drained or stressed, it’s a sign that things aren’t on the right track.

6. Different Life Goals

If your future plans have diverged significantly, and there’s a reluctance to find common ground or compromise, it’s a strong indicator of a rocky relationship. Alignment in life goals is crucial for long-term compatibility.

7. Avoidance and Withdrawal

When one or both partners prefer spending time apart and avoid dealing with relationship issues, it’s a sign of emotional disengagement and a rocky relationship phase. [Read: Silent treatment abuse: How it’s used and 40 signs & ways to respond to it]

8. Negativity Bias

If you or your partner primarily focus on the negatives and hardly recognize or appreciate the positives in each other, it can create a toxic environment, driving the relationship further into rocky territory.

9. Feeling Underappreciated

In a healthy relationship, partners regularly express appreciation for each other. It’s often the little acknowledgments – a thank you here, a compliment there – that make each person feel valued.

When this appreciation is missing, it can lead to feelings of being taken for granted, creating resentment. However, if there’s no change after expressing your feelings, it might be a sign to reevaluate the relationship’s dynamics.

10. Lack of Support

In a healthy relationship, partners support each other’s dreams and goals. If you’re finding a lack of encouragement or outright dismissal of your aspirations, it’s a clear signal that your relationship is facing some serious challenges.

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. You both take responsibility

It’s one thing to recognize problems, but it’s another to own up to your part in them. If both of you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and mistakes, it’s a positive sign of maturity and commitment to making things work.

11. You’re both open to change

If you and your partner are open to adapting and changing for the betterment of your relationship, that’s a solid foundation to build on. This could mean anything from working on personal flaws to adjusting how you communicate with each other. [Read: How to change for your partner without compromising or losing YOU]

12. Your arguments lead to solutions

Let’s be real, arguments are stressful and can be really draining. But, if they lead to productive solutions or meaningful compromises, it shows a healthy problem-solving dynamic in your relationship. It’s not about the argument itself, but about how you both handle it and what comes out of it.

If you’re both able to sit down afterwards, discuss what went wrong, and then work together to find a solution, that’s a good sign. This kind of approach not only resolves the immediate issue but also strengthens your relationship by improving communication and understanding.

So, while arguments might be tough in the moment, if they consistently result in positive changes or mutual understanding, it’s a sign that your relationship has a strong, problem-solving foundation.

13. There is still support during tough times

Regardless of whether things are smooth in your relationship at the moment, when one of you is going through a tough time, and the other steps up to provide support, it speaks volumes. It’s about putting aside any minor grievances or issues and being there for each other in moments of real need.

This kind of support during personal crises or shared challenges is a cornerstone of a strong relationship. It shows that, even if you’re dealing with your own struggles, the well-being and support of your partner are priorities.

If you find that both of you are able to rally and be each other’s rock during hard times, it’s a strong indicator of resilience and deep emotional connection, essential qualities for a lasting relationship. [Read: Long-term relationship: What it means & 30 secrets to have a love that lasts]

14. You grow and learn as a couple

If both of you can say that you’ve grown as individuals and as a couple through your experiences together, that’s a big plus. A relationship that fosters personal growth and mutual learning often has a deeper, more lasting bond.

15. 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: Clear signs of true love in a relationship]

When to Let Go

Of course, it’s also important to know when to wave the white flag. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a relationship doesn’t work out. It’s crucial to recognize when holding on does more harm than good. Here are ten signs that it might be time to let go of your rocky relationship:

1. Persistent unhappiness

If you’re constantly feeling unhappy, drained, or depressed in your relationship, it’s a significant sign. A partnership should bring joy and support, not continuous sorrow or a feeling of emptiness.

2. Lost of respect

Respect is a non-negotiable in any healthy relationship. If you’ve lost respect for each other, or feel disrespected consistently, it’s a clear indication that the relationship’s foundation is eroding. [Read: How to show respect in a relationship and love each other better]

3. Abusive behavior

Any form of abuse – whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological – is a glaring red flag. This is a situation where staying not only harms you but could potentially be dangerous. [Read: Am I in an abusive relationship? 66 early signs, effects & ways to get out]

4. You’ve grown apart

Sometimes, you just grow in different directions. If your goals, values, and interests have diverged so significantly that you no longer feel connected, it might be time to part ways.

5. Lack of trust

If trust has been broken, say through lies or infidelity, it hits the relationship hard. Rebuilding this trust is a long road, and it requires a lot of effort and sincerity.

But here’s the thing – if the trust issues keep coming up and you find yourself unable to let go of past incidents or are always suspicious, it’s draining. It means you’re constantly on edge, second-guessing your partner’s actions and intentions. This kind of environment is unhealthy for both partners. It’s stressful, emotionally taxing, and can lead to a lot of unhappiness.

6. Repeated infidelity

If infidelity occurs and it’s not a one-time mistake but a repeated pattern, it’s a sign of deeper issues. It often points to a lack of respect and commitment, pillars that are essential in a relationship. [Read: 47 reasons why people cheat & steps to recover & heal from the infidelity]

7. You’re only staying for comfort or fear

If you find that your main reason for staying is fear of being alone, financial reasons, or just comfort, rather than love and mutual growth, it’s a sign that the relationship is not fulfilling its core purpose.

8. Efforts are one-sided

In a healthy relationship, efforts should be mutual. If you find that you’re the only one making an effort to make things work, it can be emotionally exhausting and unsustainable.

9. You’ve tried everything

If you’ve genuinely tried everything – counseling, communication, time apart – and things haven’t improved, it’s a strong indication that the relationship may have run its course.

10. You imagine a happier life without your partner

When you’re in a relationship, ideally it should enhance your life, not detract from it. You should be with someone who adds joy, support, and positivity to your everyday experiences. If imagining a life without your partner consistently brings you a sense of relief or happiness, it’s a strong indicator that the relationship isn’t serving you in the way it should.

If you find yourself consistently daydreaming about a happier life sans your partner, it might be time to evaluate the reasons behind these feelings. Are there unaddressed issues? Is the relationship draining your energy rather than enriching your existence? [Read: Relieved after breaking up? 20 happy reasons why it’s a very good sign]

Use These Signs and Decide From There

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 your relationship deserves a second chance and decide from there.

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Jennifer Mendez
Jennifer is a writer, director, consultant and author, with a passion for all things literary. While she works on a variety of projects at a time, her one true ...
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