5 signs that your relationship might need a little TLC

5 signs that your relationship might need a little TLC

Relationships can be hard work. It’s vanishingly rare that anyone can stroll into a romantic partnership and not have to put some effort in, just about the only feasible scenario might be if you’re so laid back you’re horizontal and you literally don’t mind whichever way things go. Highly, highly unlikely. We all know that at the beginning it’s all hearts and flowers and gooey-eyed, adoring looks and hand holding at every opportunity. But it isn’t long before real life kicks in and then you really get to see how compatible – or otherwise – you both are. Relationships don’t settle into a steady pattern for a few months. And no matter how happy you both are, every relationship has its trickier twists and turns and it takes two partners to make things a smooth ride. But it’s important to remember just because you might have more problems of late, it doesn’t mean that things are over and you have to walk away, it’s perfectly normal to have to put a little bit more effort in and with just a little bit of time you can get things going on an even keel again. But obviously stepping in to make that happen depends on whether you can recognise that this is what you need to do. So, to that end we’ve put together seven signs that shows your relationship might need a little TLC…..or a defibrillator.

  • 1.You’ve stopped spending quality time together. These days especially, lots of people are working in shift jobs and it’s all too easy to slip into a pattern where you’re little more than ships that pass in the night. It’s damaging for relationships because we as humans need to feel a deep bond with our partner which is going to be difficult if you don’t feature in each other’s day to day lives. If this is a pattern that you recognise, then take proactive steps. See if you can change shifts or swap with someone and ask your partner to do the same. Try and schedule your days off at the same time. Earmark a day per week when you can carve out some quality time for each other.
  • 2.You’re too tired to do anything. Life can be stressful and packed full of things that demand your ongoing attention, especially because of the pandemic that we’re currently going through. Family needs might have upped your daily quota of things that need to be done, you might be home schooling the kids, struggling to manage the complex pieces of life and by the time that the evening rolls around all you’re fit for is an early night so you can get up and tackle the next day feeling refreshed. This is a healthy thing of course, but in and among your day and evening try and set aside a time when you know that you can focus on your partner without collapsing into sleep on the sofa.
  • 3.You’ve stopped having sex. This is an all too common complaint from those in long term relationships. At the beginning you’re leaping into bed every two seconds, but before you know it sex is a once a month thing, or even longer apart. It’s an easy trap to fall into and often there’s no blame either side, it’s just ones of those things. This is usually an easy fix though – pick a mutually agreeable time and put in a little extra effort, build up to sex if that’s what feels right. Take the time to make sure that you feel good about yourself which will be an immediate confidence boost, hair and make-up for example, new perfume, sexy underwear, etc. And then maybe start with a gentle massage first with some nice oils and see where it takes you. Or skip that stage and go straight to the main event if that suits you better!
  • 4.You’re bickering all the time. Bickering is different from arguing, it’s usually low level annoyances with or about your partner but not major issues that are causing deep problems either side. Like whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, or peel the vegetables for supper. If you’re finding yourself sniping with your partner over the little things then take a step back and take a long, hard look at whether these are things that are really worth your time disagreeing about. If you both do this then it can immediately relax the atmosphere and if there are any true underlying issues then they can be addressed calmly and properly.
  • 5.Communication has slowed right down. In order to maintain that deep bond with our partner we need to feel that we are an important part of their everyday life, that we are a priority for them. Becoming distant from your significant other is a sure fire way to get those dangerous cracks in the relationship. It’s easy for the communication to go, by the way, it happens a lot. If this is you then recognise what’s happening and make an effort to include your partner more in your decisions and day to day life.

If you’re reading this and thinking – oh yes, that sounds familiar, then don’t panic. Most relationship problems can be overcome with some simple steps, and if things are more complex than that, then baby steps are the way forward. Don’t write off something good just because things are not as easy as they once were. 

Stuart Brown
Doctor of Sexual Health at the NHS Royal London Hospital & Relationship Expert. Columnist at An advocate of safe sex. Avid Arsenal fan.

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