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Why Your Relationship May Be Stuck in Neutral

Steven Losardo, MFT

Are you currently in a relationship that seemed promising initially but recently has become not so fun or satisfying anymore? Are you beating yourself up about it, or are you starting to secretly wonder if maybe this new, tougher phase is not entirely your fault? And are you feeling afraid to face some of your own deepest fears about the future of the relationship? 

The very fact that you are reading this article suggests that this topic could be ringing a bell. Don’t worry; you aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last person to struggle with a relationship that isn’t working as it should. All relationships have problems or imbalances at some time or other, and whether the relationship survives and moves forward positively often depends on the suitability of the partners for each other (Scott, 2020). And that ultimately requires trust and supportiveness between the partners (Bonior, 2018).

If you don’t think you can trust your partner, or often feel they do not support you emotionally, it’s challenging to move forward together. In that case, you can try to work on those issues as a couple, but sometimes you just have to move on (Cherry, 2020). And promise yourself that next time, you will look early on for key signs indicating that the other person is truly good for you.

Here are 7 key signs of a healthy, enduring relationship that has trust and emotional support (Adapted from Cloud, 2006; Cherry, 2020):

  1. When talking with your partner, you feel heard, understood, and connected.
  2. You sense that your partner is genuinely motivated for your well-being.
  3. Your partner regularly demonstrates responsibility, compassion, and care for others.
  4. In dealing with you and with others, your partner is neither controlling nor impulsive, but is honest and patient.
  5. Your partner has the inner strength to say “no” to you when that is the right decision.
  6. Your partner has the confidence and integrity to tell you what they do not like.
  7. Your partner’s good treatment of you and others shows consistency over time.

Be aware of your partner’s relationship approach

While the 7 factors listed above are essential in building a positive, growing relationship, you need to keep in mind some of the basic differences between you and your partner. For example, in his book The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the Love Lab About What Women Really Want, longtime relationship expert John Gottman (2016) delineates striking contrasts between how most men and women approach relationships. He also points out that in the vast majority of male-female intimate relationships, the ultimate success and longevity of the relationship depends largely on the male. Much of the book sets out ways that men can meet women where they are, emotionally and physically, for the mutual benefit of both.

Getting out of neutral

If your relationship is going nowhere or worse, you can first try to address the communication and trust issues that may be dividing you (Scott, 2020; Ohlin, 2020). But if that fails, recognize that the problems are too big for both of you, and move on. You will still have learned some invaluable skills in building a healthy, dynamic, and enduring relationship in the future.References

Bonior, B. (2018). 7 Ways to build trust in a relationship. Retrieved from relationship on August 12, 2021

Cherry, K. (2020). How to know if you are in a healthy relationship. Retrieved from

on June 30 2021. 

Gottman, J., Gottman, J. S., Abrams, D., & Abrams, R. C. (2016). The Man’s Guide to Women:

Scientifically proven secrets from the” love Lab” about what women really want. Rodale.

Ohlin, B. (2020). 7 Ways to improve communication in relationships.  Retrieved from on August 12, 2021. 

Scott, E. (2020). How to improve your relationships with effective communication skills.

Retrieved from

communication-tips-3144967 on August 12, 2021.

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