Doubts In Relationship: Dealing With Uncertainties In Love

December 11, 2023
|
Categories: Couples
||
0 min read
Phinity Therapy Twitter AccountPhinity Therapy Facebook AccountPhinity Therapy Instagram AccountPhinity Therapy Youtube AccountPhinity Therapy Linkedin AccountPhinity Therapy TikTok AccountPhinity Therapy Reddit Account
Follow Us
Phinity Therapy Twitter AccountPhinity Therapy Facebook AccountPhinity Therapy Instagram AccountPhinity Therapy Youtube AccountPhinity Therapy Linkedin AccountPhinity Therapy TikTok AccountPhinity Therapy Reddit Account
Doubts in a Relationship

Introduction

Imagine you’re sitting across from your partner at the breakfast table and asking yourself: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?” Well, this might be more of a reality rather than an imagining because it is normal to have uncertainties and fears in life, so why should it be any different in relationships? If you haven’t already experienced doubts about relationships then you likely will. Or you could be having doubts about your relationship right now. This article will explore why it is normal to have doubts in relationship, as well as how these can doom a relationship. It will also offer a useful distinction between healthy doubts and actual red flags. We will also review the signs that indicate doubts and the most common ones, but also the reasons. The article ends with some useful ways to reduce relationship doubts. So if you want to know what to do before ending a relationship because of doubts, read on.

Is It Normal To Have Doubts In Relationships?

Alongside the question of: “Why am I having doubts about my relationship?”, you will likely have asked: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?” The answer is a resounding YES! Sometimes we partake in magical thinking, believing that if we’re having doubts, there must be something wrong and we should trust our instincts. Now, this is not necessarily untrue, sometimes doubt in situations is due to intuition or instinct which are there for a reason. But, there are times when we mistake doubts as signs, when in fact, we’re reacting emotionally rather than rationally. This is normal too, we’re emotional beings, all of us. But, we shouldn’t always act on our emotions. We should explore and understand them so we can learn what they’re trying to tell us. For example, doubts in a long-term relationship are quite normal. This does not mean one should be emotionally reactive and end the relationship. It would be more helpful to try to make sense of the doubt because otherwise there’s the risk of losing a perfectly good partner and relationship

When Relationship Doubts Become Relationship Doomed

Which brings me to the next part. You might ask: “Is it okay to have doubts in a relationship?” It is. But when we act on doubts about relationships rather than think things through, we end up cutting off our proverbial nose to spite our proverbial face. I had a client who during her midlife crisis (which she was unaware of at the time) thought her husband repulsive. It’s safe to say she was no longer attracted to him and having doubts about relationship. What did she do? She reacted – prematurely. She ended the long and supportive marriage to live her best life and guess what her husband did? After picking himself up and dusting himself off, he did the same and found happiness with someone new. My client ended up in therapy because after she moved through the crisis of her midlife, she realised she loved her ex-husband and desperately wanted him back – but he’d moved on. He was all loved up. So the all-important question of: “Why am I doubting my relationship?” should be asked and thoroughly explored, as otherwise, you could suffer a similarly regretful fate.

Difference Between Healthy Doubts And Red Flags

So as you can imagine, it’s very important to understand the differences between healthy doubts and actual red flags when doubts about relationships crop up because the consequences can be dire if uncertainty in relationships creates ‘dealbreakers’. We should try to understand the warning signs of misread red flags so we don’t let doubts about relationships turn into relationship suicide. But it’s not always easy to understand the difference between healthy doubts and red flags. For instance, if we take my client as an example, she viewed her sudden lack of physical interest in her partner as a red flag. This created deep feelings of uncertainty which she wrestled with, primarily alone. She wishes that she’d consulted with a relationship therapist so that she could have understood how the midlife crisis affected her. She would have realised that her internal conflict and questions of: “Why am I doubting my relationship?” is a common experience for many who experience the crisis, and therefore a healthy doubt when taken in context. This would have enabled self-understanding, tolerance, and patience. She could have learned that her doubts were normal, and she’d still be happily married now.

Most Common Relationship Doubts

Unfamiliar With Being In A Relationship

Some people who haven’t had much experience of being in romantic relationships won’t have a baseline to navigate relationship problems. For example, they may wonder: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?” because they simply don’t have anything to compare to. They may act impulsively when they don’t receive a reply from their beau and block them or react with hostility when they (finally) get a response. But, after going down that rodeo a few times, which they undoubtedly will if they react to doubts about relationships rather than asking: “Why am I having doubts about my relationship?”, they will ideally learn to understand how relationships generally work, what the ‘acceptable norms’ might be, and how to set and respect both their own and their partner’s boundaries. This should mean that when they experience doubts about relationships, rather than acting on these and sabotaging their relationships, they will take a step back and say to themselves: “I have doubts about my relationship and I must understand why”.

You Want To Fix Them

If you’re constantly wondering: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?” and you’re trying to change things about your partner, then you might have things upside down and the wrong way around. Of course, you’re going to have doubts about relationships if you’re always trying to fix or change your partner in some way. Why is this? Because people usually don’t want to be fixed. They often will resist your attempts because as the adage goes: “If it ain’t broke….” and I assure you, most people don’t think they’re broke, so they won’t want you coming along with your fancy schmancy tool box, trying to tinker with their nether regions, that is., internal workings! So, if you instead think about accepting your partner as they are, warts (in your view) and all, you might notice a liberation in this. You can relax and just see if the relationship works for you as is. If it doesn’t then that’s your prerogative – just be sure you’ve sounded it out with someone before you end things…

Past Relationship Trauma

As simple animals, we want to increase pleasure and avoid pain. This is what Freud said, and it’s been proven time and again. So when you’ve been hurt in a relationship, you’re going to do your darndest to avoid that again. Having doubts about relationships is normal during the best of times, but it’s even more rational when we’ve been hurt. Take those who’ve been cheated on and were left devastated. They will have endured an emotional wound, or a ‘trauma‘ because of that experience. This can create a deep sensitivity toward it happening again. This means a trigger is created and attached to the sensitivity. So when their partner is out of contact for periods, or out late into the night. They will not ask themselves: “Why am I having doubts about my relationship?”, they will instead react to their fears and this can take a toll on mental and physical health, and the relationship.

You’re Insecure

Relationship issues often arise when someone becomes uncertain in a relationship and this is more likely when one is uncertain in themselves. If you felt unloved, overlooked, ignored, misunderstood, excluded, or lonely as a child, you likely will have developed low self-esteem. This can also happen later in life, as in the previous example of being cheated on. Having doubts about relationship will therefore begin to creep in. But it’s not the relationship that is necessarily at fault. It’s what is being projected onto your partner and the relationship that is the problem. This is not your fault because it’s to do with what you internalised in situations that were less than kind. But it is your “stuff”, your insecurities and these must be identified and worked through to help you separate your stuff and actual relationship problems, allowing you to curtail doubts about relationships and partners.

Doubt Partner’s Honesty

If you’re often thinking the thought: “I have doubts about my relationship“, and it’s about honesty and trust, then this can be quite troubling. If you consider that for us to feel secure in relationships, we have to feel safe, then you will soon realise that we need honesty so that we can trust. If however, you doubt your partner’s veracity, then you’re unlikely to feel secure in your relationship. But, the question then becomes, are you projecting your general lack of trust on an honest partner or do you have warranted cause for your feelings of mistrust? If you’re having doubts about relationships often, and this is a common reason, it may be worth looking into this a bit more to understand if this is more about you or the people you tend to associate with. Both are good reasons to warrant some self-exploration. 

Don’t Trust Completely

Indeed, having doubts about relationship can occur because of trust issues. This links to issues of fidelity of course, but it can also have to do with one’s personality. This means that even if you were never cheated on, you might find yourself pondering: “Why am I doubting my relationship?” This is because you may have experienced much uncertainty and instability in your life. Psychologist Erik Erikson talked about the conflict of trust vs. mistrust during our earliest development. If we are unable to trust that our caregivers are there for us, and will keep us alive, we can develop a deeply held core trait; mistrust. This is how our personalities can be shaped to affect our future relationships. So, if you often find yourself thinking: “I have doubts about my relationship”, in pretty much all of your relationships, even if you’ve nothing specific to attribute this doubt to, you may be a mistrusting personality, but the good news is, you can learn to trust.

Can’t Be Honest With Them

Some people are unfortunate enough to be in relationships in which they cannot be honest with their partner. This can be for all kinds of reasons, for example, your partner has certain expectations and for you to meet them, you cannot be yourself – this would of course create doubts about the relationship for you. Or, it could be because you have a problem being vulnerable with people and so you aren’t feeling understood. Some people cannot be honest because they have a pathological need to lie, this creates doubt in the one being lied to because they cannot trust their partner. Some people are generally honest but cannot be about their doubts because of fears of hurting their partner or risking the relationship but this too can cause them to fear the relationship will end.

Is There More Than Just Sex

Some people might focus too much on the sexual side of the relationship, this means that when things are not working for them in the bedroom department, doubts can creep in. There is nothing wrong with wanting a satisfying sex life, this is part of a healthy relationship, but if it is the major part of the relationship, there is not much left to ground the relationship. So if this resonates for you and you find yourself asking: “Why am I doubting my relationship?”, you may have to reflect on the quality (s) of the relationship. Does it satisfy you in other ways, or is it just physical? If it’s the latter, is it worth building up in other ways? How much do you know your partner? How much do you care? How much do they know or care about you? These things may be worth consideration when feeling doubt in a relationship.

Not Being Satisfied In Bed

If however, you have a great relationship overall, but the sex has become a bit stale or non-existent so you’re feeling unsatisfied with the physical part of the relationship, then you have every right to change this since, as mentioned, sex is an important aspect of any healthy romantic relationship. Indeed, it’s how we connect and bond – they don’t call it lovemaking for no reason. But if your narrative goes something like this: “I have doubts about my relationship because the sex isn’t great and I’m a terrible person for thinking this way”. STOP! This kind of thinking shuts you down and you are entitled to a satisfying sex life. If you allow yourself to confront your fears, you’ll learn there are things you can do to try to help the situation. A relationship coach or marriage therapist might be just the person you need to help you both feel safe and able to share your fears and concerns about this sensitive area of your relational life.

Lack Of Attraction

Since we can agree that sex is important, we have to conclude that a relationship requires some level of attraction and chemistry for it to work. So if you’re having doubts about relationship because you don’t fancy your partner then don’t feel bad; this too is naturally going to leave you wondering if it can work. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you should end it right away. Sometimes we can lose the attraction we once felt for our partner but this is likely due to other factors in the relationship or changes in us. Remember the client I mentioned earlier? Case in point. Indeed, your inability to find them attractive might be to do with something you’re going through, or something that’s changed in your partner (not necessarily on a physical level). So it’s important to figure out why you’re feeling doubt in a relationship due to a lack of attraction, rather than react to it. Remember, attraction is important in a relationship, but it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for choosing a mate. As Judge Judith Sheindlin wisely put it; “Beauty fades, dumb is forever” 

Feel Attracted To Someone Else

Having doubts about relationships is often caused or exacerbated by any kind of third-party involvement. This is especially true if you’re developing feelings for someone else, whether this is simply lustful attraction or more. Of course for some people, it is normal to notice other people and find them attractive, but this is where it stops, and is fine for many couples. But, in some cases, a more serious attraction develops and can make someone lose sight of their actual partner. They become distracted and distant. It’s worth considering the reasons why this might be happening, rather than simply being carried away by the enjoyment of the attraction. By doing this, doubts about relationships can be minimised or you can learn that your attraction is simply a distraction from some deeper doubts about the relationship. One thing to be aware of in either case is that indulging in the person of interest (whether that be mentally or physically) will only add to your confusion and doubt.

Not The Same As The Beginning

Whenever clients ask me: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?” I take into account how long they have been together and the impact this can have on the relationship and therefore, doubts. Relationships are like anything else, they’re in process. They have a beginning, middle, and end. There’s the early ‘honeymoon phase’ and this is when you’re feeling excited a lot of the time! There’s a different energy, you miss them and think of them often, you might have insecurities and that keeps you on edge, butterflies are fluttering – all of it. But this is in great part because it’s new. The novelty is precisely why it’s exciting. You’re not feeling safe and secure, at this stage.  You’re not satiated, you’ve whet your appetite and want more. Ironically, at this point, you want certainty, you want to know they’re yours and if you’re lucky enough to move into stability, you’ll appreciate it – for a time. The problem arises when people become bored of it and it’s important this isn’t confused with being bored of them. You just want that spice back, that novel, fun time! But remember, it cannot be the same as before because it’s not new. Instead of focusing on what you’ve lost (novelty), appreciate what you have (stability) and inject some fun!

Not Sure About The Future

Uncertainty about the future can set in and create doubts about relationships. This can be for a whole host of reasons. For example, you and your partner may have some very fundamental differences that cause doubts about the relationship because you don’t think you’re compatible. Some examples include differences in values, or where you want to live, families issues, or even having children. All of these can become dealbreakers for one of you and create insecurities about your future together. These are very real and valid concerns because they mean that someone will have to compromise their needs for the two of you to stay together. But can this be done without regret and resentment later down the line? A worthwhile consideration. The future might also cause doubts if one is experiencing the midlife crisis, which is thought to occur between ages 35-65 and can cause sudden doubts in relationships.

I’m Worried I’m Settling

Having doubts about relationship can happen if you’re worried you’re settling. This may be because you want to sew your wild oats or because you’re not satisfied with your partner in some way that feels important to you. For example, because they’re not the type you would usually go for, they don’t have the right kind of job, or you’re with them because you’re scared of being alone, or think you won’t find anyone better. Whether it’s about them or you, or both, relationship doubts are very common when someone feels they are settling for someone who isn’t right for them. Now everyone is entitled to choose who they want to settle down with, but don’t be so hasty to throw in the towel! Sometimes people think the grass is greener when in fact it’s more like yellow hay. So if this is the reason you think you’re settling and you make a drastic decision, you may experience a rude awakening after the dust settles.

Your Friends Don’t Like Them

If you’re asking yourself: “Why am I doubting my relationship?”, then you might want to think about whether those around you support it. For example, your friends might be feeding you their opinions about your partner and this could be influencing your feelings about them. It is worth questioning why your friends might have doubts about your relationship by asking them directly. If they give valid reasons, such as “They don’t treat you well and always prioritise their friends over you“, then they may be influencing your doubts because deep down you agree with them. If however, they denigrate your partner at every opportunity because of something that has nothing to do with you, for example, your friend’s values (not yours) don’t align with your partner’s, or they’re secretly jealous and/or want more of your time, or because they had a disagreement with your partner about something and formed a very binary opinion of them – then it might be worth letting your friends know that you don’t want to get involved.

Their Friends Don’t Like You

So this one can of course go both ways. If your partner’s friends don’t like you it can also cause doubts in relationships because their friend’s doubts can influence your partner, and therefore the relationship, causing you to feel insecure. Especially if, for example, your partner is trying to juggle time with you and them but making you feel less prioritised. Even if your partner’s friends don’t interfere, they may still cause you to have doubts. This is especially true if you believe that they dislike you due to differences in values and personalities, causing you to form an opinion about the kinds of characters your partner associates with. This can also make you question why your partner would want to associate with people you cannot respect in some way because of what you perceive as character flaws that could be a bad influence on your partner, and therefore, bad for the relationship.

You Don’t Like Them

This one might sound strange but there are many people in relationships with people they don’t like very much. So when a client asks me: “Is it normal to have doubts in a relationship?”, I’m certainly going to say yes if they’ve spent a good chunk of the therapy explaining all the things they don’t like about their partner! Indeed, some clients will even call their partners narcissists. I’m not saying that they’re wrong, they could be right, but even if they aren’t, the fact that they perceive their partner in this way would surely create grounds for negative feelings to develop toward their partner. So if you believe that the reason you’re feeling doubts about the relationship relates to a dislike of your partner, it’s worth looking into that, otherwise it will likely keep growing and your doubts will likely increase. You may of course compartmentalise them, but this isn’t a healthy way to live.

You’re Unhappy With Your Partner

This one seems similar to the previous one, but there’s a subtle distinction between not liking someone and being unhappy with them. A client once asked me: “Why am I having doubts about my relationship?” and wanted to use therapy to understand what was causing him to question whether he should remain in his marriage. This is the right thing to do before you make any decisions that will affect your life in a major way, especially if you’re unsure. Through the process of exploration, this client was able to express all the things that made him unhappy with his partner. These were things he normally suppressed. But over time, he noticed that he was becoming unhappier because he felt increasingly disconnected from his partner and it was going on for a long while. He noticed that they functioned ‘fine‘ in this way, but slowly this way of relating began to take its toll on him because he realised that he felt “empty” because his needs weren’t being met. Yes, she was happy to go on living in this way, but there was a huge cost to his emotional wellbeing.

Questioning The Love

Continuing from this client who bravely came to therapy and stated: “I have doubts about my relationship“, he began questioning his partner’s love for him. Through our interrogations, in which I attempted to play devil’s advocate rather than simply agree with all he said (in my attempts to be of true help and support), he came to realise that his partner did love him, but not enough to meet his emotional needs. That is., there was love there, from her, but it was not good enough for him because it was not the kind of love he wanted or needed, and he came to accept this. This understanding made him realise that he could not love her in the way he had up until then, in a way that was so supportive towards her, and yet so detrimental to himself. He realised that if she was okay to receive this kind of love from him, he was not okay to give it.

Fights Make You Insecure

If you’re noticing that you and your partner are fighting a lot, it’s very natural to start to have doubts about relationships. When there are a lot of ruptures but not very many repairs, and each rupture adds onto the last, you and your partner can start to feel like you’ve been in a warzone. This is not going to make either of you feel very good about the relationship so it’s no wonder that one or both of you will wonder if you can even get along. This is because constant arguments can create distance and disconnect between you, or strong feelings of anger, hurt, and resentment. These can make you start having doubts about relationship and wonder if you should stay together. You may be the one with doubts or the one who is desperately wanting to make it work but worried that your partner is having doubts because of the fights. In these kinds of situations, it might be worth stepping back from your fears and examining what causes the fights and how you might try to change things. If you can’t do this alone, couples therapy might a good idea.

Signs Of Doubts In A Relationship

There are many things to notice that might indicate when one is experiencing doubt in relationships, these include. 

  • Relationship sabotage: This is when people do things that will harm the relationship. They may do this knowingly (for example, cheat because they know they won’t be forgiven), or unknowingly (by re-enacting a self-sabotaging unconscious pattern).
  • Overcompensating: Some people will try to make their relationship appear perfect to everyone, and in the process, they lie to themselves. This might be their way of hiding the unwelcome truth, that there is something wrong.
  • Causing arguments/conflict: Doubts about relationships can be seen in those who will seemingly create discord where there need be none. They try to provoke a reaction and escalate issues because they’re trying to steer the relationship toward ruin.
  • Badmouthing your partner: If you’re frequently telling anyone who’ll listen about your partner and their issues, or your dissatisfaction in the relationship, you’re in a mire of doubt.
  • Distancing yourself: Some people will stay in a relationship they have doubts about but behave in ways that show their disconnect with their partner and relationship.
  • Low mood or anxiety: Some people will start to feel one or both of these because of their sadness and fears about the relationship and life. If you notice this in yourself or someone else, it may be about relationship doubts.
  • Destructive behaviour: This may include vices like alcohol or other drugs, a behavioural addiction like shopping, or anything that shows a need for escape from an unhappy relationship and therefore, life.
  • Avoidance/withdrawal: You may avoid people who notice your doubts about your relationship because they remind you of them when all you want to do is avoid them.
  • Lying to yourself/others: This links to the previous one. Some people convince themselves and others, that they’re happy when they’re not. This allows them to avoid confronting their doubts by avoiding their truth.

Ways To Deal With Doubts In A Relationship

Keep Journaling

Journalling is a very helpful way to help us introspect and reflect on our thoughts and feelings. When I recommend it to clients I ask them not to simply write their thoughts and feelings in an automated, check-list, going-through-the-motions kind of way, but to write them in a present way and interrogate them as well. This means for example, not simply writing: “I have doubts about my relationship” but also asking: “Why am I doubting my relationship?” and then exploring the reasons, all on paper, in a thoughtful deliberate, purposeful way. This is also a great way to help one rationalise and come out of emotional states that may feel overwhelming at first.

Don’t Talk About Your Doubts To The Wrong People

So if you have friends or family who have a bias against your partner or are jealous, or in some cases do not have your best interests at heart, then telling them: “I have doubts about my relationship” is like adding a massive side of mega-doubts to your initial doubts. Then there are those friends who may have good intentions toward us, but perhaps don’t have the best judgment, or they just agree with whatever we say – all unhelpful. Too often we talk to our close others about all sorts of things, when some of our friends are better with some things than they are with others – so it might be worth considering who we think will be of help with the specific issue.

Focus On What’s Good In A Relationship

It’s so easy to focus on the negatives and even create some while we’re at it. When we do this we can lose sight of the good, and this further enhances the perceived bad. In cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) this is known as minimising and maximising, a thinking style that entails disregarding the positive or what contradicts one’s negative bias or narrative and honing in on the things we don’t like. For example, you may form the narrative that your partner is selfish because they took you to a restaurant that wasn’t your first choice. You do this because you maximise that it wasn’t your choice, but lose sight of their kind intention to take you out for a meal.

Ending A Relationship Because Of Doubts

So if you’re experiencing doubts about relationships it’s clear that you should take some time before making a decision that may be regretted later. It’s important to interrogate your doubts. By doing this you can understand them better and also learn if they are founded or not. And, even if they’re warranted, you can ask yourself if they can be resolved without it meaning the relationship has to end. This is assuming you want to make a decision rationally, rather than reactively. At least this way, you will be less likely to regret your decision, because you know it will have been thought through. So you can journal, talk to the right people, a therapist, but don’t forget, maybe your partner too!

Conclusion

So having doubts about relationship is normal, and can happen for all kinds of reasons, making it common as well. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. It might instead mean that you have some things to think about. It’s helpful to think this through rather than avoid your concerns as this only makes them grow. It may seem like a daunting task to talk to your partner about your doubts but it’s very important to do this sooner rather than later. This can avoid a lot of hurt in the long run, especially if you’re having serious doubts. It may also mean that you start something like couples counselling before the doubts move into more dangerous territory. Remember, doubts are normal and there are all kinds of reasons for doubts, sometimes to do with them, and sometimes you. So if doubts endure, talk about them so you can understand why.

Table Of Contents
Introduction
Is It Normal To Have Doubts In Relationships?
When Relationship Doubts Become Relationship Doomed
Difference Between Healthy Doubts And Red Flags
Most Common Relationship Doubts
Signs Of Doubts In A Relationship
Ways To Deal With Doubts In A Relationship
Ending A Relationship Because Of Doubts
Conclusion
Trending Blogs
Trending Videos
Locations
Book Your Free Consultation

Today
Share
Share TwitterShare FacebookShare LinkedinShare WhatsAppShare
Rehanna-Kauser-2
About The Author
Rehanna Kauser, Psychologist
Rehanna has studied Psychology and Counselling Psychology at four UK universities. She enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families, and also loves learning, and writing. Having always been fascinated with the human mind and behaviour, her interests marry well with her naturally caring disposition, and affinity toward helping people.
Share
Share TwitterShare FacebookShare LinkedinShare WhatsAppShare
Previous
Mental Health And Christmas: How To Cope
Next
Paedophilic Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (POCD) II
Book Your Free Consultation

Today