3 Reasons Relationships Are So Hard

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, click here for a map of shelters in Arkansas or call the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

One of the biggest hurdles in relationships is managing expectations. Many of us have idealized notions of what our loved ones should be like and how relationships should work on a day-to-day basis. These expectations can be shaped by culture, media, and our social environment, all of which may present an unrealistic picture. When reality doesn’t match our expectations, disappointment and frustration can set in for everyone involved.

For example, a lot of romantic relationships fizzle out after the initial high of the “honeymoon period” fades. However, if we can remind ourselves that this could be a normal part of the progression of the relationship, we may be able to avoid rejecting an otherwise-great partner just because they don’t pick up their dirty socks. Similarly, parents often assume that children should just “listen and do as they’re told,” unaware that there could be many valid reasons for a child to do otherwise, as well as ways to shape their behavior for the better.

It’s essential to recognize that no relationship is perfect and that everyone has their own strengths and blind spots. On the other hand, our expectations may also be too low, causing us to seek out people who treat us the way we expect to be treated (poorly), rather than with the respect we deserve, and allow dysfunction and suffering to continue longer than they need to. Adjusting expectations to more realistic standards, such as by seeking counseling, can help in building more resilient and satisfying relationships.

2. Attachment Wounds

Attachment wounds stem from past experiences, often from childhood, that affect how human beings form and maintain relationships. These wounds may have been caused by abusive or inconsistent caregivers, trauma, or past relationship betrayals. They can lead to issues like fear of abandonment, clinginess, difficulty trusting and getting close to others, or an excessive need for control or independence that interferes with intimacy.

Attachment wounds can also cause us to unconsciously seek out partners who remind us of our caregivers rather than partners who might be better for us. These wounds tend to be triggered in romantic relationships and caregiver-child relationships, causing heightened emotional reactions, conflict, and misunderstandings that we repeat over and over. Addressing attachment wounds by increasing self-awareness and learning new skills in therapy can help us heal and create healthier, more secure relationships.

3. Poor Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. However, many of us struggle with effectively expressing our feelings, needs, and concerns. This could manifest as avoiding uncomfortable conversations, misinterpreting others’ words and intentions, or resorting to aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, conflict, resentment, and a breakdown of trust.

Improving communication skills takes work. It may involve practicing active listening, learning to label and express feelings appropriately, compromising, giving and receiving feedback gracefully, or maintaining healthy boundaries. Effective communication balances respect for self and respect for others. Getting our point across and truly understanding others can feel challenging and overwhelming, but therapy can help.

Please reach out to me at 501-291-0051 if you would like individual counseling for mental health, relationships, dating, or parenting; I am not seeing couples at this time.


Our goal is to tackle tough mental health issues head on and to be the go-to resource for people that are struggling with depression, anxiety, and more.

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