10 reasons it’s normal to have second thoughts about a relationship (and when to be alarmed)

You’ve been with your partner for a while. But lately, doubts have started to creep in.

Should you listen to them? Is this a red flag? Not necessarily. It’s actually quite normal to have second thoughts about a relationship.

Here are 10 reasons why — and signs that you should start to be worried.

1) You feel attracted to someone else

So you’re out with your friends, and you find yourself talking to a total bombshell. You can’t help but feel an attraction — and then you start to panic. Is this a bad sign for your relationship?

Hold on a minute.

Just because you’re dating someone, it doesn’t mean everyone else on the planet suddenly becomes unattractive. There will always be plenty of attractive people around you, and noticing that doesn’t mean you’re a bad partner — or that there’s something wrong with your relationship.

As long as you don’t act on that attraction or lead the person on, there’s nothing to worry about.

2) You’re not always satisfied in bed

Steamy movies and romantic novels have conditioned us to believe that true love means the sex is completely amazing — always. So if there are nights when you two just aren’t in sync, you may start to have second thoughts about your relationship.

But think about this.

Always-perfect sex would mean you and your partner not only have to be 100% sexually compatible (which is virtually impossible), it also means your partner is not allowed to have even one bad day.

And those are wildly unrealistic and unfair expectations to place on any human.

In any couple, there will be some differences in preferences for frequency, positions, and other specifics. There will also be times when one of you has lots of energy but the other just isn’t in the mood.

So while this can lead to some disappointments, it’s completely normal.

And the good news is, you can totally work on giving each other more pleasure. Just have an open conversation about what you like, and teach each other!

3) The feelings don’t feel as strong as at the beginning

When you start to date, everything about your partner feels amazing. Every joke is funny, every smile makes your stomach do flips, and every touch feels electric.

Then one day you realize you don’t have these intense feelings anymore. Has the love disappeared? Is it time to call it quits?

At some point, we all have these second thoughts. But as Ty Tashiro explains in The Science of Happily Ever After, *every* relationship has a natural decline in both liking and lust over time.

In fact, Tashiro points out that if the infatuation you feel in the early relationship phase were to last, the amount of hormones in your body would become so toxic that it would literally kill you.

Bottom line? Having less intense feelings over time is not just completely normal, it is even necessary for survival.

How to make him fall in love with you again

Ladies — as we’ve just seen, you can’t expect your entire relationship to feel like its beginning.

But you also don’t want the spark to die out completely. Isn’t there a way to break the status quo and reawaken his passion for you?

Actually, there totally is.

You see, for guys, it’s all about triggering their inner hero.

I learned about this from the hero instinct. Coined by relationship expert James Bauer, this fascinating concept is about what really drives men in relationships, which is ingrained in their DNA.

And it’s something most women don’t know anything about.

Once triggered, these drivers make men into the heroes of their own lives. They feel better, love harder, and commit stronger when they find someone who knows how to trigger it.

Now, you may be wondering why it’s called “the hero instinct”? Do guys really need to feel like superheroes to commit to a woman?

Not at all. Forget about Marvel. You won’t need to play the damsel in distress or buy your man a cape.

The easiest thing to do is to check out James Bauer’s excellent free video here. He shares some easy tips to get you started, such as sending him a 12 word text that will trigger his hero instinct right away.

Because that’s the beauty of the hero instinct.

It’s only a matter of knowing the right things to say to make him realize that he wants you and only you.

Click here to watch the free video.

4) You don’t really get along with their family

In any relationship, there comes that fateful day: meeting their family.

Best case scenario, it’s a little awkward. Worst case scenario, you don’t get along. At all.

While this may feel very upsetting, it may be comforting to know you’re not alone. (There’s a reason there are so many jokes about mothers-in-law!)

At the end of the day, you are dating your partner, not their family. If the discord is manageable and everyone treats each other with respect, you can still have a fulfilling relationship.

But of course, you can also work on getting along with everyone — and there are many great reasons for doing so.

Research shows that positive feelings with your in-laws leads to a stronger bond with your partner in the long run. And if you plan to have children, having a good relationship with your in-laws is the strongest predictor of your child’s relationship with them too.

So how do you go about it?

If there is a specific conflict, working to resolve it is a good place to start.

But if that’s not possible, or there’s nothing specific to work on, you can use various strategies to improve your relationships in general. Find out what they are in this detailed, science-backed guide.

5) You’re worried you’re settling

At some point, you might start to wonder if you’re with your partner because they’re the right person for you — or simply because you’ve never had anyone better. It might even be your very first relationship, and all you’ve ever known.

It’s normal to wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else. Especially if you’re on the verge of getting more serious:

As psychotherapist Michale Batshaw points out, virtually every couple has doubts about their significant other at some point in the relationship.

So ask yourself, can you pinpoint any particular issues or reason for unhappiness in your relationship?

If not, your second thoughts are probably just the result of normal nervousness that everyone goes through.

6) Everyone else seems to have a better relationship

Every billboard and Instagram post seems to show perfect couples. It’s almost inevitable to look at our own relationship, and start to have second thoughts. “Why doesn’t my relationship look like that? Maybe there is something I’m missing?”

But it’s important to realize one thing.

What you’re seeing are these couples’ highlights — or even downright faked moments. They are little snippets of their whole story. But since it’s all we see, it’s easy for our imagination to assume their entire relationship looks like that.

On the other hand, you spend 24 hours a day in your own relationship. If you look closely, you’ll probably realize you have those highlights too — but they’re interspersed in a sea of mundane, “real life” moments and therefore less top-of-mind.

If you spend a full day with those seemingly perfect couples, their relationship will likely start to look very much like your own.

7) It feels like we’re stuck in a rut

Human beings are creatures of habit. It’s a completely natural tendency that’s coded in our minds as a survival mechanism.

Unfortunately, this can have the side effect of boredom. Every date starts to feel the same, and the relationship may start to feel stale.

If you’re having second thoughts about your relationship because of this, don’t worry. There’s a very simple way out — start trying new things!

It’s been proven that trying new and exciting activities together improves the quality of relationships.

Relationship expert James Bauer also strongly encourages this as one of his tips for relationship happiness.

Get out of the rut and reawaken his passion

Ladies, are you struggling to break out of the same old patterns? Worried he’s starting to become bored — and slip away?

I’ve been there too — and I know just the thing to help.

It all boils down to the unique concept I mentioned earlier: triggering his hero instinct.

When a man feels respected, useful, and needed, he’s more likely to overcome his insecurities and become committed to only you.

And the best part is, triggering his hero instinct can be as simple as knowing the right thing to say over a text.

You can learn exactly what to do by watching this simple and genuine video by James Bauer.

8) You have disagreements

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No relationship is perfect — and they will all have disagreements sooner or later.

But there are fights, and then there are fights. I mean the ones that leave you disheartened, sad, and second guessing your whole relationship.

Not every couple fights the same way — it all depends on the two people’s temperament and their dynamic together. So don’t try to compare your relationship to others.

Instead, consider how your relationship feels after the fight.

  • Is the reason for your arguments something you can work on?
  • Does it change your feelings or trust towards each other?
  • Have you reached a resolution? If not, can you agree to not fight about this in the future?

Even if your answers to these questions aren’t ideal, that doesn’t necessarily mean the end for you two. You might just need to work on healthy conflict resolution. Here are 3 excellent resources that might help.

9) You don’t have many things in common

Every happy couple out there seems to tell you the same thing: your partner must be your best friend. Many dating sites are built entirely around this premise, matching people up based on shared interests and activities.

But actual research on relationships seems to say something else.

Having things in common can indeed help make a relationship work — but only when it serves as a foundation for positive interactions.

The Gottman Institute explains:

“The important thing is not what you do together; it’s how you interact while doing it. Any activity can drive a wedge between two partners if they’re negative toward each other. It doesn’t matter whether two people both enjoy kayaking if, when they head out on the lake, one says, ‘That’s not how you do a J-stroke, you idiot!’”

Clinical Psychologist Sue Johnson seconds this. She explains that 35 years of research have shown the real key to lasting love is emotional responsiveness. This means sending a cue and having the other person respond to it to show you they’re there for you.

So in reality, you can have a great lasting relationship and have even significant differences in many areas:

  • Hobbies and interests (music, books, food, etc.)
  • Extroversion vs introversion
  • Friends
  • Sex drive
  • Professional goals

In fact, this may even improve your relationship. Having differences allows you to:

  • Introduce each other to new activities and try new things
  • Spend some time apart
  • Have more to talk about
  • Each maintain a sense of “self” in your relationship

10) You’re comfortable spending time apart

If you feel very comfortable spending time apart, it’s natural to wonder if that’s where you’re supposed to be.

But this is actually a sign of a healthy relationship.

Mental health therapist Emily Griffin says:

“Taking time away from your partner and having aspects of your own life that you participate in solo is great for a healthy relationship. Having hobbies and social gatherings without our partner lets us gain self-worth outside of our relationship, which is healthy for everyone involved.”

Besides that, it is also tangible proof that you have a good level of trust and respect for each other.

When to be alarmed — when second thoughts are deal breakers

As we’ve seen above, there are plenty of situations where it’s healthy and normal to question things during a relationship.

But others are signs that something is terribly wrong. Being able to tell these apart is key to determining whether you should stay with a person.

Let’s have a look at what they are.

1) There is repeated dishonesty, deception, or betrayal

Everyone makes mistakes, so we’re not saying you should call it quits over the first faux pas.

But you also shouldn’t tolerate everything in the name of forgiveness or second chances.

It probably a good idea to end things if your partner:

  • Threatens you
  • Controls you
  • Lies to you
  • Makes you feel unsafe
  • Doesn’t respect your boundaries
  • Criticizes you continuously

Basically anything that makes you lose trust in your partner is a huge warning sign. Without trust, there’s no way to move forward in the relationship.

2) The negative outweighs the positive

There is no such thing as 100% happiness in any area of life. Even if you are with the partner of your dreams, there will inevitably be days when they tick you off.

But ultimately, the positive must still greatly outweigh the negative.

The Gottman Institute even has it down to pure numbers. Based on their research, the ratio of positive to negative interactions between you and your partner must be 20:1 in order for your relationship to be lastingly happy.

3) You’re becoming someone you don’t like

We all change, shift, and adapt during our relationships.

The best relationships help us become the best version of ourselves. But others drag us down instead. If  you find yourself changing in a way that you don’t like because of your partner (or for your partner), it may be time to walk away.

You always have to stay true to yourself and who you are. Not doing so is hurting not just you, but also your partner — they would be dating someone who doesn’t really exist, and you can’t build a healthy relationship if you’re not happy with yourself.

Big warning signs include:

  • Not feeling like yourself around your partner
  • Not feeling free to say what’s on your mind
  • Having to compromise on your values
  • Constantly making sacrifices that make you unhappy

4) They’re not willing to work on your issues

A big differentiator between second thoughts that are normal and those that should cause you worry are your partner’s reaction when you share them.

It’s understandable for them to feel upset if you present a problem or point out something you don’t like. But ultimately, do they look for ways to try to fix things, or do they try to convince you it’s all in your head or sweep the issue under the carpet?

A big warning sign is if you have repeated arguments on the same issues. This means the same issues are coming up over and over again with no progress.

5) Your core values and beliefs don’t match up

As I explained above, it’s okay to have different interests, habits, and even opinions in a relationship.

But core values are another thing. If you and your partner’s fundamental beliefs don’t match up, it will probably cause significant friction in the relationship. If not, one of you will probably feel conflicted, frustrated, or disappointed.

Important things to share in common are:

  • Worldviews
  • Morals
  • Core values

These are the things that keep you heading in the same direction in life, rather than having an exhausting tug of war.

6) You don’t get excited to be with them anymore

After spending years together, the rose-colored glasses fall off and the butterflies fade.

But you should still conserve a certain level of excitement to spend time together. You look forward to seeing each other, and you enjoy spending quality time together.

Warning signs include:

  • You’re not excited at all to see them
  • You constantly priorities other people and activities over your partner
  • You feel lonely even while with them

7) Your doubts are persistent

There are many reasons it’s normal to have second thoughts about a relationship. From panic before the first date to pre-wedding jitters, every couple goes through these every so often.

But as psychotherapist Nicholas Hardy points out, “Too much questioning could allude to deeper problems in the relationship.”

Consider if your doubts are fleeting or if they are permanent residents in your mind. You’ll need to trust your gut and dig to the root of your doubts.

Get the relationship of your dreams

By now you should have a good idea of when it’s normal to have second thoughts about a relationship.

But what can you do to resolve them — and get the relationship you’ve always dreamed of?

Well, I mentioned the unique concept of the hero instinct earlier. It’s revolutionized the way I understand how men work in relationships.

You see, when you trigger a man’s hero instinct, all those emotional walls come down. He feels better in himself and he’ll naturally begin to associate those good feelings with you.

And it’s all down to knowing how to trigger these innate drivers that motivate men to love, commit, and protect.

So if you’re ready to take your relationship to that level, be sure to check out James Bauer’s incredible advice.

Click here to watch his excellent free video.

Picture of Silvia Adamyova

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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