Is my relationship normal? These are common problems couples face


Every couple fights. And while sometimes those disagreements evolve into larger, relationship-ending conflicts, some smaller, common issues can actually provide an opportunity for the couple to deepen their connection.

Secrecy and shame often prevent couples from discussing their problems with others. Social media makes this worse by saturating our screens and newsfeeds with images of perfect couples who are sexy and in love. These narratives can pressures us to present in the same way. But, no relationship is perfect.

Every couple has their ups and downs as well as moments where they experience change and need to adjust. These circumstances can test the relationship. It’s easy to feel discouraged when our relationships are not living up to our unrealistic expectations. One thing we can do to fix that is to normalize some common relationship experiences. 

Your relationship is still ‘normal’ if you experience… 

The need to be alone. No matter how much you love your partner, it’s normal to want some time apart. It can be healthy to carve out time to spend with yourself, which can enhance the relationship you have with your significant other. Tensions can arise if there is a discrepancy between the amount of alone time each person needs. Individuals who don’t need as much space may perceive their partner’s need to be a form of rejection. Of course, if your partner never wants to spend time with you, that may be an indication of a more serious problem.

A dry spell. There are many reasons why a couple may be experiencing a dry spell, such as lowered libido due to stress or medical issues, conflict in schedule or temporary lack of emotional connection. It’s not always easy to keep our sex lives interesting, but it’s something a couple can work on together.  

Is it a deal breaker? Most common relationship-ending conflicts.

Lack of quality time. It’s common for people who live together to neglect quality time. Simply being in close proximity is not the same things as being deliberate about how you spend time, and it does not guarantee a sense of connection.

Having needs met outside the relationship. Individuals can begin to feel insecure if they notice that their partner is having needs met outside the relationship. But expecting yourself to fulfill all of their needs (and vice versa) – lover, best friend, therapist, spiritual guide, business consultant, etc. – is unrealistic.

Wishing your partner would change. You probably want to change at least one thing about your partner. Maybe they chew too loudly or have different taste in music. This desire doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad partner. It’s normal not to love everything about your significant other. This desire only becomes damaging when we try to change them.

Struggling with stress. Even the most in sync couple may not handle stress the same way. It’s natural for people to have their unique way of responding to problems. Understanding how your partner handles stress and being aware of how you handle stress is key.

More: Can your relationship truly recover from cheating?

Making mistakes. Humans make mistakes. Saying or doing something we regret is unavoidable and apologizing for it should be normal. By resisting the urge to shame each other for unintentional mistakes, both individuals can learn and grow.

Adjusting or adding boundaries. It’s common to adjust boundaries or add ones in a relationship. Your boundaries should reflect the growth of the relationship and who each person is as an individual. It doesn’t mean something is wrong if you add an extra boundary. It just indicates that you have a new need or a new way of articulating an old one.

Navigating relationships takes awareness, effort and teamwork. It’s OK if your relationship is not perfect. You are not alone.  

Are you in a one-sided relationship? Here’s how to tell.

No, long-distance relationships are not impossible: How to make it work.

Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at

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