5 Things Your Partner Says That Mean It's Time for Counseling
These verbal signs indicate that there is trouble in the relationship.
Many people can feel blindsided by a breakup, but they often don't come without at least a few warning signs. In fact, most relationships don't end at the first fight or after just a single bad moment. Instead, they tend to break down slowly over time as the result of unresolved issues and built up resentment. So before things really go south, there is usually a chance to identify and correct problems, ideally with the help of a counselor. The key, according to the therapists and relationships expert we spoke to, is really listening to what your significant other is saying. Read on to find out the five things your partner says that mean it's time for counseling.
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"It feels like we're just friends instead of partners."
The early stages of a relationship tend to feel fun and effortless, but the honeymoon phase doesn't last forever. "After some time in a relationship, things can feel stale and mundane," says Jennifer Kelman, LCSW, a mental health expert and licensed psychotherapist on JustAnswer. "People get busy and it can be hard to keep the connection and romance alive, causing one to feel that things feel more like friendship rather than a romantic and intimate relationship."
But this is not always a sign of faded or lost love—instead, the routine of the relationship could just be making things feel stale. "Therapy can help if both people are willing to work to get things back on track. Counseling can help to reconnect the couple to each other and to their individual feelings," Kelman says. "But things may be a bit more complicated if the couple has waited too long before seeking help because if they have, it could be too late to rekindle the spark."
"We don't talk anymore."
Communication is important in any relationship. If your partner feels as if the line of conversation has broken down, it is a clear sign of trouble, according to Kelman. "Without healthy communication, there is no relationship," she warns. But this doesn't necessarily mean that there has to be total silence between you and your significant other for there to be a problem with your communication.
"It isn't enough to just talk about the day, each person must be able to express how they feel about things," Kelman explains. "Sometimes without the help of a therapist, couples can get locked into poor communication styles that don't allow for the expression of feelings."
"I don't feel heard or understood by you."
But don't assume that everything is fine just because you and your partner are talking about your emotions and having deeper discussions. If they say they "don't feel heard or understood by you" when you do talk, they may feel like what they're saying to you is going in one ear and out the other.
"This may indicate that the partner feels like their concerns and feelings are not being taken into account," says Kerry Lauders, a mental health officer at Startups Anonymous.
David Tzall, PsyD, a licensed psychologist based in New York City, says this could also indicate that your significant other "does not feel valued or respected" in your relationship.
Outside help could fix these issues by improving your communication. "Counseling can help by providing an objective and neutral space for a couple to explore and understand their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors," Tzall says. "A counselor can help facilitate open and honest communication, provide tools and strategies for resolving conflicts, and building a stronger, more fulfilling relationship."
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"Yes, I did that because you did…"
It is normal for couples to fight from time to time, but if you're not "effectively resolving conflicts," it might feel like "the relationship is becoming increasingly contentious," according to Lauders.
This could be because you have gotten stuck in an endless battle of blame. Lee Phillips, LCSW, a psychotherapist and certified couples therapist, tells Best Life that you should consider seeking counseling if your partner starts excusing things they've done by saying something along the lines of, "Yes, I did that because you did…"
"The reason why a partner may say this to you is because they do not want to take ownership for their own behavior," he explains. "There is the possibility they resent you if there were marital or relationship problems in the past that are unresolved. If you both seek counseling together, they can help reduce the conflict by providing a safe space to hear one another, validate, and empathize with what you are experiencing in your current relationship dynamic."
"I'm not happy in this relationship."
Your significant other might not always beat around the bush when it comes to the built-up issues in your relationship. Instead, they may choose to make how they feel very clear. If your partner directly tells you that they are unhappy with you or your relationship, this should put you on "high alert" right away, Nancy Landrum, MA, author, relationship coach, and creator of the Millionaire Marriage Club, tells Best Life.
"People rarely say something like this until they are at the end of their rope," Landrum warns. "Immediately find a counselor or relationship coach who can help you identify what is missing and what to do about it."