Everyone, in every relationship, until the end of time will inevitably have challenges with their partner from time to time. It’s common — and unavoidable — but how do you know if your relationship is broken? What constitutes a broken relationship in the first place? If you do have a broken relationship, what can you do to fix it, or is it too late?
If you’re struggling with relationship problems, or if you’ve found yourself wondering if your relationship can be saved, read on. We’ll cover the following here:
- Signs of a Broken Relationship
- Ways to Fix a Broken Relationship
- Can a Broken Relationship Work Again?
- When to Walk Away
- On the Mend With Couples Therapy
Signs of a Broken Relationship
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but if you constantly argue with your partner, it’s reasonable and natural to wonder if the connection is beyond repair.
Signs of a broken, unhealthy relationship might include:
- Lack of communication
- The relationship doesn’t take priority for one or both partners
- Physical or emotional withdrawal
- A feeling of resentment toward one partner
- Dishonesty and trust issues
- Purposely distancing yourself from affection or intimate connection
- Treating each other with disrespect
If you spot any of the signs above in your relationship, you might consider your relationship to be relatively fragile. However, that doesn’t mean it’s broken for good.
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“We encourage you to pause before making life-changing decisions if you’re not feeling 100% well and in the right state of mind. It’s an awful feeling to wonder if your relationship is broken, but know that you don’t have to be in this alone — working with a licensed therapist individually, with a couple’s counselor, or in family therapy can all be incredibly supportive during this challenging time.”
Ways to Fix a Broken Relationship
The following tips show you how to fix a broken relationship, but keep in mind: for any resolution or progress to be made, it’s essential that both parties be invested in the relationship.
“When I work with clients who are struggling to fix a broken relationship, I have sometimes seen an underlying trauma that was not previously processed and integrated, which is now being projected onto another person as a trauma response. By addressing these past traumatic experiences with a licensed therapist and seeing if they connect with the breakdown of a relationship, it can often help clarify the best next step for you.”
1. Start “dating” again
It’s easy for couples to become disconnected from one another when they don’t spend quality time together anymore. Make it a point to “date” your partner at least once a week. It can be as simple as sitting in the car talking and listening to music.
The goal isn’t necessarily to spend money, but to spend quality time together, even if it’s just a couple of hours every week. It might be helpful to agree on a specific time every week and put it on both of your calendars.
2. Make your relationship a priority
When a couple’s been together for a while, sometimes the honeymoon phase wears off and the relationship becomes more transaction-like. It’s easy to fall into business-like exchanges — bills, chores, home repairs, and childcare — and that can take quite a toll on a relationship.
When this happens, the relationship can take a back seat to day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. To combat this, check in with each other often and at unscheduled times. If something new or exciting happens, share your news with your partner first (don’t just call to nag about picking up the kids from school).
By making your relationship—and each other—a priority, you can still handle the mundane duties of the home, but also learn how to heal a broken relationship by reconnecting with one another, rebuilding trust and love that may have dwindled.
3. Let go of expectations
Many people in relationships have expectations about what their partner “should” be doing, whether it’s about chores, exercise, work, or communication. Unfortunately, your partner isn’t a mind reader, so if you have a need or request, asking them for help is critical.
While you may think that they “should” take the trash out without you asking, it’s important to learn how to communicate in a relationship that’s not meeting your expectations. For example, you might say, “Trash day is on Thursdays. Would you mind setting up a reminder on your phone to take it out weekly? That would help me out alot.”
Learning how to fix a broken relationship can be challenging, but letting go of expectations can be a great first step in curtailing those negative emotions you may be feeling.
4. Plan a weekly meeting
Every household has to deal with the monotonous duties of running a house. Chores, repairs, cleaning, finance, and childcare can all add up. Setting up a weekly meeting for you and your partner can be a good way to go over all those responsibilities, appointments, and chores for the upcoming week.
This meeting sets the expectations for both parties for the entire week. For example, you may want to confirm that your partner is taking the kids to school this week and you’ll be picking them up. You can simply ask, “Do you have it on your calendar that you’re dropping the kids at school this week? I will pick them up.”
Learning how to mend a broken relationship can be challenging, but having a weekly meeting can really help in the long run.
5. Say thank you
While it might feel a little weird initially, try to say thank you, even for the little things. We can all be found guilty of taking a partner for granted after being together for a while. Thanking them for big and small things is an excellent way to show appreciation. Especially if they’ve done something big, like leave work early to take the dog to the vet. It can go a long way to say something like “I know how busy you are at work, so I really appreciate you rearranging your schedule to help out.”
Knowing how to heal a broken relationship might feel impossible, but appreciating your partner is an effective way to turn a corner.
6. Try to hold hands and hug more
This suggestion may seem challenging, especially if your relationship is stressed. Affection may not happen immediately, but hopefully, with more quality time together, you can regain confidence in the relationship and passion for one another.
For example, if you’re sitting at home and watching a movie together, reach over and hold your partner’s hand. This simple gesture can really elevate your partner’s connection to you and the relationship. Knowing how to mend a broken relationship isn’t always easy, but small, kind acts can work wonders.
7. Ditch the routine and have fun together
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine when you’ve been in a relationship for a while. While routines can be good, it’s probably time to change things up if you find that you’re starting to neglect one another unintentionally.
Do you sit next to each other on the couch every night after dinner, watching TV until someone falls asleep? You might want to ditch that routine. Instead, consider turning off the TV a few nights a week. Play a fun game, take a walk, or listen to music together. Interacting during a game or a walk offers much more quality time than watching TV might.
8. See a therapist
Of course, seeing a therapist is another effective solution for fixing a hurting relationship. Sometimes individual therapy is a good solution, but either in-person or online couples counseling may be more valuable if both parties agree.
Can a Broken Relationship Work Again?
Couples therapy is a time for both parties in the relationship to express their views and thoughts under the direction of a certified mental health expert. While some partners may be hesitant to attend therapy, if both of you agree and are willing to put in the work for your relationship’s success, relationship counseling therapy can be really valuable.
There’s a lot of research on the effectiveness of couples counseling, especially emotion-focused therapy (EFT). The findings of a recent study show that EFT as a treatment offers both short-term and long-term improvement in relationships. Over 75% of couples in EFT reported that their relationship was better as a result. This outcome was a stark change from 1980, when standard treatment had a success rate of 50%.
Don’t be discouraged if your relationship feels like it’s on the rocks. Therapy can be very beneficial, especially when both parties are willing to participate in treatment.
When to Walk Away
If you’re wondering if your relationship is worth fixing, the following can help you determine the right path. If any of this applies to you, it might be time to prioritize your mental health and walk away from the relationship. No relationship issue or conflict is worth fighting through if, ultimately, your mental health suffers more than the relationship.
“‘Feelings are not facts’ is one of the learnings in psychology theory dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Meaning, that sometimes, we mistake our strong feelings about something as the truth, so taking the time to regulate our emotions and tolerate distress in a healthy way can clarify what actions we need to take. Working with a therapist can help guide you to find the healthy regulation skills needed to get through difficult times and make difficult decisions. You deserve a wonderful life, and there are people out there who want to help, so always know you can reach out for support.”
1. Sexual, verbal, or physical abuse is part of the relationship
If you face any abuse in your relationship, it’s time to walk away. Abuse can impact your self-worth, confidence, and sense of identity. Not to mention, nothing is more important than your safety. Though often easier said than done, leaving an abusive relationship will be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
2. There is a refusal to take accountability (for either party in the relationship)
If your partner doesn’t accept responsibility in your relationship, it’s probably time to move on. Responsibility is integral to a successful relationship. When one person in a relationship is unwilling to share this commitment, there may be no place else to go.
3. There is a lack of trust
When there’s no trust in a relationship, there’s no foundation for a true partnership. Furthermore, a lack of trust can breed jealousy and insecurity in relationships, which is not a component of a successful relationship.
4. There is no respect for the other person
A solid relationship can exist if you value and care for each other. However, if you feel you’re not getting respect from your partner, and you’ve addressed your feelings, but they aren’t changing or validating how you feel, you may need to rethink the relationship. If your partner’s feelings seem to constantly be the only thing that matters to them, and not yours, that’s a sign of a troubled, one-sided relationship that probably isn’t worth your time or effort.
5. The relationship is toxic
A toxic relationship includes jealousy, dishonesty, resentment, and competition. This toxicity can take a toll on your emotional well-being and physical health. If you’re in a relationship with a toxic partner, it’s time to rethink your priorities.
6. You and your partner are incompatible
When core values, aspirations, and beliefs differ significantly, it can make it impossible to coexist in a healthy relationship. If you’ve fallen out of love and realized this is a reality, you probably need to let go.
7. You don’t feel comfortable
When you don’t feel comfortable being yourself around your partner, you need to take a hard look at what value you’re getting from the relationship. If the answer is not much, you might need to consider making some drastic changes.
On the Mend with Couple’s Therapy
Hopefully, all of this helpful relationship advice has helped you determine whether or not you should attempt to fix yours. Whether you plan on improving it or end up walking away, therapy can be a helpful tool.
Individual therapy can help you find the strength to move on and move forward without your partner. Couples therapy, on the other hand, when it comes to how to stop fighting in a relationship can help those in damaged relationships who are hoping to get back on track.
If you need help finding a therapist, you might consider online therapy from a provider like Talkspace. We’re an online therapy platform that makes getting therapy from mental health experts easy and convenient. Our therapists specialize in couples therapy and relationship mending.
Whichever path you choose, an important thing to do is to make sure that you’re prioritizing your own mental and physical health. After all, if you’re not the best version of yourself, putting forth the effort for a successful relationship is nearly impossible.
1. Beasley C, Ager R. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: A Systematic Review of Its Effectiveness over the past 19 Years. J Evid Based Soc Work. 2019;16(2):144-159. doi:10.1080/23761407.2018.1563013. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30605013/. Accessed July 16, 2022.
2. About Marriage and Family Therapists. Aamft.org. https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx. Accessed July 16, 2022.