Overcoming The 3-Year Itch: How Counseling Can Help A 3-Year Relationship In Trouble

Updated January 18, 2023by ReGain Editorial Team

Relationships Are Complicated - Couples Therapy Can Help

Is Your 3-Year Relationship In Trouble?

Is the so-called three-year relationship a thing? Yes, and statistically speaking, it's a millennial phenomenon. The 3-year-itch (lessened from the usual seven-year itch) says that a couple will know within three years if they want to stay together for the long-term.

Many will not last beyond three years because they already see qualities in each other that they do not find compatible. Others will be stressed out and will no longer trust or care about their partner. They may not "hate each other" per se, but they may feel as if their struggling relationship isn't going anywhere and sooner or later, they will drift apart.

One thing everyone entering into a relationship has to acknowledge - that is each person is bound to be on his or her best behavior. It is only natural to want to show one's best side during the initial stages of getting to know one another. After a few months or a year, the true nature of the individuals will begin to show. At first, the partners may ignore or give excuses for certain behaviors, but after two or three years, each person in the relationship will be faced with deciding as to whether they can live with those behaviors or whether some behaviors are escalating and becoming hard to love and live with or perhaps even dangerous.

Why Are 3 Years Critical In A Relationship?

An article at EliteDaily.com says that by the time a three-year relationshiphits that milestone, both partners experience a drop in love and desire. Lust is gone, and romantic feelings are reduced. At this point, they realize that they either want to let go or rekindle the love they once had in the beginning.

This is not necessarily the "I hate you!" variety, where couples explode and argue. They come to an intellectual and emotional realization that they're not "in love anymore" and that the chemistry is no longer there. They may even reassure their partner that it's nothing personal…the relationship is just doomed.

Some psychologists believe the "itch" refers to an instinctive behavior in humans where parents stay together for the welfare of the infant child. After three years, and then again in seven years, both parents reevaluate their circumstances - all the more so if they don't have children as a distraction.

Why Does Love Grow Cold?

Usually, the reason why the 3 year itch occurs, at least logically speaking, is that couples lose the passion and begin to focus on personality differences, different outlooks and goals, and too many incompatible lifestyle quirks. They're simply not a good match, and because they no longer have the emotional fulfillment they once had in the relationship, they now take each other for granted.

The question is, are you taking each other for granted? If you broke up, would you eventually miss each other? Or would you be happier apart?

This is one reason why online counseling by groups like ReGain.us can help with troubled relationships. Professional counselors can help you, and your partner determines if your complicated relationship can be saved. Perhaps maybe there is still love left between you and your partner. Perhaps you can rekindle some of the love and emotion by trying some exercises and other activities together.

If you're in doubt about your relationship and feel that you and your partner are feeling the 3-year-relationship itch, you owe it to each other to make sure that what you feel is genuine. Perhaps, at this stage, you constantly experience boyfriend problems or you feel that there is incompatibility. Don't make an impulsive decision. Decide after you evaluate the relationship objectively. You may be surprised by what you learn at Regain.us!

Several relationship problems only get worse over time. Some of those problems can be addressed and eliminated with honest communication and a willingness to accommodate each other. Some of the issues need the help of an outsider - a counselor who is specifically trained to offer suggestions and advice to the couple can find a way to compromise and come to an agreement over issues they believe will destroy the relationship altogether.

At some point within the 3-years of being together, a couple will inevitably be confronted with problems that they may have difficulty overcoming if they don't talk to someone online. There comes a time when these problems can no longer be ignored.

Sexual Incompatibility: If there was compatibility at the beginning of the relationship, this is a problem that can be worked on with honest communication. However, if there never was a sexual connection, the problem is more difficult to solve, but not impossible if the couple still loves each other. Without counseling, the problem is destined to get worse and can even become hard to prevent relationship trouble.

No Common Interests: There is nothing wrong with having different interests and hobbies. If you and your partner are total opposites and have nothing at all in common, over time, the partners will eventually live separate lives and communicate less as time goes on. A problem only exists if one of the partners becomes frustrated and does not want to live that way. A counselor can help that partner come to grips with the situation, be motivated to change the living arrangements or counsel both parties to find a solution.

One Partner is Controlling: After a year of living together, it may become evident that one of the partners is increasingly more controlling. Even at the courting stage and certainly, during the first year of living together, there are signs to look for that indicate your partner is controlling, such as, wanting to know where you are and who you are with at all times. He might also be giving instructions on how to look, how to behave, what to wear, who you can talk to, who your friends are, what you can spend, who can visit your home and who is not welcome.

These behaviors will only get worse over time. A counselor can advise and give tips on getting a bad boyfriend to change (or a bad girlfriend), but both partners have to be willing to admit to the behaviors and be willing to change to save the relationship.

How you Spend Money: In today's society, it is common for both parties to be working and having their bank accounts. Living as a single person gives that person the right to spend their money any way they see fit. They have no one to answer to.

However, if a relationship is going to progress to living together, certain boundaries have to be established, and the payment of certain expenses have to be negotiated upfront. If this conversation and agreement are left for later in the relationship, arguments about control and spending will become a greater issue that may need a counselor to help the partners negotiate a compromise.

Past Histories: Couples need to know each other's history - maybe not all the details, but an honest account of past experiences. This has to be addressed at the courting stage. If left until three years into the relationship, arguments about ex-partners and former lifestyles can be blown out of proportion and lead to mistrust, jealousy, and anger. Once the history of each partner is known, it should be left in the past and not discussed every time there is an argument. If one or both partners refuse to do this, a counselor can help the couple find ways of dealing with the issues.

Showing Disrespect: Very often, disrespectful behavior is apparent right from the beginning of a relationship. If one partner calls the other names, embarrasses them in public, openly flirts with someone else in their presence, picks a fight for no reason, is abusive, or becomes intoxicated while dating you, it should come as no surprise when that person continues the behavior after the relationship is two or three years old. Some behavior should never be tolerated. If at all possible, both partners should seek the help and advice of a counselor. If only one of the couple decides to seek counseling, it is better than not seeking help at all.

Relationships Are Complicated - Couples Therapy Can Help

Lying and Cheating: A healthy relationship is built on trust. If one of the partners is caught lying and cheating, this can destroy the relationship. One of the things that are the most destructive behavior in a relationship is infidelity. Sometimes, they don’t even wait for 3 years — cheating can happen even in a 6 month relationship. Many times at the relationship can be salvaged with the help of a counselor if infidelity has happened only once. But if infidelity occurs many times throughout a relationship, it is a signal that one of the partners does not value their partner or the relationship. Not being willing to stop the lying and cheating is an obvious indication that one of the partners has no respect whatsoever for the other. In fact, the partner who is accepting this behavior is lacking self-respect as well. Lying and cheating is a habit that can be broken but only by a willingness to seek counseling.

 Keeping Secrets: Keeping secrets can lead to one or both partners losing trust in each other. Finding out these secrets after being together for years can damage the relationship to the point of needing counseling to heal the feelings of distrust.

The Importance of Reaching Out To A Counselor

If you or a loved one is struggling with self-punishment, seek out professional help as soon as possible. With the support of a mental health professional, you have a better chance of dealing with this debilitating issue before it causes serious problems. There are better ways to deal with negative emotions, feelings, and situations, and a mental health professional can help you find the tools that work best for you.

If you're looking for a counselor, try reaching out to ReGain. 

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