You’ve been with your significant other for some time now, perhaps you’ve met their friends and family, have moved in together, and would consider your relationship rather serious. Even though you feel in love, you may be having doubts about your relationship, questioning whether this is the right person for you. You may be asking yourself, is it normal to have doubts in a relationship? Could I be happier? Is this what I really want? Is my partner ‘the one’? With this in mind, it is essential to remember that almost every couple has doubts at some point during the course of their relationship. However, before allowing these doubts to take over, consider that obsessing over relationship doubts can actually damage the dynamic between you and your partner. In this case, it is important to understand why these doubts may arise, signs that they may be present, the negative effects of doubts, and some coping strategies on how to tackle these doubts with your partner. In this blog post, we’re going to be doing just that!
Understanding Doubts in Relationships
It is important to remember that doubt is a completely normal response to change. Whether we are changing jobs, moving houses, or committing to a relationship, doubt is an inherently human response to uncertainty. This kind of doubt can be understood as a stress response, which is our brain’s way of considering the new challenges that we may be faced with in the future. For example, you may worry about whether you’ll get along with your partner’s friends, if they manage money in the same way we do, etc .
Fear of Commitment
Feelings of relationship doubt can also be understood as a fear of intimacy. If steps towards an increasingly committed relationship cause you to panic, you might want to consider looking into what scares you about allowing someone in. For example, sharing your personal thoughts, ideas and dreams, and expressing vulnerability and deep emotions with your partner. Or perhaps allowing them to meet your closest friends and family. If scenarios such as these cause you to panic or withdraw, this might indicate that you have an anxious or avoidant attachment style, especially in romantic relationships . Attachment styles are usually formed during childhood and set the tone for adult relationships. Anxiously attached individuals struggle with trust and feeling secure, whereas avoidantly attached people usually struggle to form and maintain close connections.
Doubts in your relationship can also be a form of self-sabotage. If you do in fact have a fear of intimacy or a fear of commitment, doubts can be seen as a subconscious way of sabotaging the relationship or pushing your partner away. In this way, you protect yourself from that closeness or commitment that you fear .
Doubts in your current relationship can also be a repercussion of past experiences. For example, you may have dated people in the past who were unfaithful or emotionally unavailable. Because of this, you may have created a belief that future relationships will progress similarly, assuming certain things in your current relationship based on past experiences. In this way, your doubts are likely a projection of your own insecurities, and not necessarily based on your partner or relationship .
Lack of communication
More often than not, doubts can arise as a result of ineffective communication. Consider looking at it this way; can I express my doubts and have a conversation about them? Do I fear being vulnerable? Can we navigate this kind of conflict in a healthy way? You can address these questions with yourself, your partner, or with the help of a couples counsellor or therapist.
The Impact of Doubts on Your Relationship
Having doubts about your relationship can have detrimental effects on you, your partner and your connection. It can lead to increased arguments, mistrust and feelings of anxiety. Although some doubt is normal, chronic doubt can impact your ability to maintain healthy relationships, damage existing trust, and potentially lead to a breakup .
If your doubts are rooted in self-doubt, low self-confidence or self-esteem, this can also have a significant impact on the trajectory of your relationship. Self-doubt can create a need for constant validation or reassurance from your partner, making them feel responsible for your emotions. This can create a dynamic that overshadows the positive aspects of your relationship and can turn a healthy relationship into one rooted in insecurity and instability. If you notice that you have persistent self-doubt, consider tackling it as soon as possible, as it can result in feelings of anxiety, and depression and have lasting effects on your interpersonal connections and health .
Recognizing When Doubts Are Unhealthy
While some doubts in your relationship are normal, others can be harmful and indicate that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
- You feel attracted to someone else. For example, you’re out with your friends and find yourself talking to someone you find attractive. A few hours later you begin to panic, thinking that this new attraction means you should leave your partner. It is important to note that after being in a relationship (especially one that is long-term) you will likely find someone else attractive at some point, it’s natural! However, what matters here is that you keep this line of communication open with your partner, and share with them if your attraction to others leads to action .
- You are not always sexually satisfied. Perhaps your partner is not fulfilling your sexual needs and desires. And although this can be seen as a dealbreaker, it often comes down to effective communication. Psychotherapist Michael Batshaw notes that sex is actually a type of communication, which often parallels the other aspects of the relationship. In this way, if you are openly and honestly communicating in the bedroom, any compatibility issues can be addressed and worked on .
- You don’t get along with their family. A certain level of doubt about whether you will fit in with your partner’s family is entirely normal in all relationships. If your partner is willing to work on the bond with you, setting boundaries and respecting your feelings, you should be able to create a healthy dynamic between yourself and your partner’s family.
- Continuous deception, dishonesty or betrayal. If you begin to notice that your partner has unhealthy trust issues, manifesting as jealousy, psychological abuse or emotional threats, this is a sign your doubts may be valid. In addition, if your partner is repeatedly deceptive, dishonest or unfaithful, consider this a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship. In the case that your partner is struggling with addiction, a mood disorder or other psychological issues, consider relationship or couples counselling.
- You fear for your safety. If you experience any feelings of fear regarding the safety of your mental, physical or emotional help, consider it a sign to end the relationship. In these cases, you should share your concerns with a trusted friend or family member, and get professional help if you’re unable to cope.
Talking About & Working Through Your Doubts
- Understand what you want. More often than not, doubts in a relationship are usually rooted in yourself. For that reason, it is important to take the time to understand your wants and needs in the relationship. You can do this by journaling, talking to a friend, meditating or consulting a therapist .
- Acknowledge whether your doubt is part of a larger pattern. Consider whether doubt has been a part of all/most of your relationships. In order to understand your doubts, you need to identify why it is a recurring theme in your relationships. Perhaps it is tied to self-doubt or a fear of commitment. Regardless of the cause, it is important to identify it, so that you might realise it is not a product of your relationship and begin to let it go and/or work on it.
- Have an open, honest conversation with your partner. If you notice that the doubt in your relationship is not part of a recurring pattern and is in fact specific to the dynamics of your relationship, the first step is to talk about it. Having an open conversation with your partner about your thoughts and feelings can allow you to clarify your doubts, and hopefully find a sense of common ground with them. Once you have had this conversation, you can then decide what to do moving forward – whether that is ending the relationship, taking a break or working on your issues together.
- Seek outside help. Talking about your doubts with a third party that you trust can be a great way to gain perspective on your relationship. When both introspection and conversations with your partner fail to help you overcome your doubts, talking to a close friend or therapist can be helpful.
Moving Forward After Doubts
Whether you decide to stay in or leave your relationship, it is important to know how to move forward. If you notice that the doubts about your relationship are impacting your day-to-day functioning in a significant way or have become incredibly distressing, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. There are several different therapies available when dealing with relationship issues.
At Therapy Central we offer, relationship therapy and couples counselling, as well as more individualised therapy such as stress counselling, anxiety therapy and low self-esteem This treatment is available in London and everywhere else online. We use evidence-based interventions such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other approaches to help you manage your problems and reduce your feelings of doubt.
In seeking professional help, you’ll be able to talk about your experience with professionals who are equipped to provide you with the help you need and support you in regaining control over your life and your relationship.
Consider contacting one of our qualified therapists today.
You can contact us and request a free 15 min consultation to see whether our help will suit your needs.