How To Manage A Complicated Relationship

Updated November 11, 2022 by ReGain Editorial Team
“No relationship can be entirely easy and even though you might not see it, everyone’s relationship has challenges. Try to encourage yourself with that while also allowing your partner in on the challenges you recognize in the relationship.” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

A great relationship can turn complicated when things become unclear between partners. A partner may be under the impression that things are fine when they are not because both partners are not on the same page. A complicated relationship results when a partner isn’t sure what they want or wants to part ways. A partner may have trouble communicating their feelings because they don’t want to hurt the other. Understanding a complicated relationship includes learning potential problems contributing to the issue.

More Than Just A Social Media Status

The popular social media platform Facebook lets users define their relationship status as “complicated.” Some people may not understand its significance or see it as a trendy way to show off their relationship status. Unfortunately, a complicated relationship isn’t a position you want to be in. It makes things difficult for both partners. A relationship with this status may experience more conflict, disagreements, accusations, or falling out of love. Perhaps, a partner is constantly experiencing boyfriend problems or perhaps there are many obstacles in the relationship that contributes to its complication.

A complicated relationship leaves a partner feeling alone and questioning the future of the relationship. Such relationships leave a partner feeling emotional pain and heartbreak. You may have thought things were fine but wonder what happened to your love life and left feeling confused. Things in the relationship, from communication to engaging with one another, have changed. You are stunned, wondering how to fix it. Take a step back and think about what you can do to address the complications.

Why Relationships Get Complicated

Complicated Relationships Can Be Difficult To Deal With

It is easy to understand why a relationship gets complicated. A person may feel different about their partner as the relationship progresses. A partner may fall out of love or in love with another person outside of the relationship. A partner may experience changes in behavior patterns that send mixed signals about their relationship. Maybe a partner feels like they are being used by the person they are with, or there has been tension between both partners because of a disagreement.

A complication may occur because a partner isn’t committed to the relationship. You may be under the impression they are not committed because their actions are different from their words. Maybe your expectations of them changed. Sometimes complication occurs when something is bothering a partner, but they are not sure what it is. You may feel love for them, but they are not expressing it back to you in the same way. Understanding the complication is crucial to determining how to deal with it.

11 Ways to Manage A Complicated Relationship

Not all complicated relationships come to an end. The relationship may not be where you want it to be, but it is possible to work things out and be as happy as you were before. It’s all about assessing your options and understanding your situation. Relationships often have issues here and there that need work. Here are suggested ways to consider when working things out.

  1. Identify What Is Bothering You. The reason why your relationship is complicated may depend on what you identify as potential issues. Maybe there is more than one thing bothering you. Write them down. Some may be associated with your behavior or attitude. Own up to it and be responsible. Being clear on what is bothering you increases the chances of finding the best solution to resolve it.
  2. Determine If You Are Contributing To The Complication. You might refer to the first point about details that bother you about the relationship. Think about situations that occurred lately between you and your partner that raised flags about your relationship. Are you giving them your full attention when they talk about their feelings? Are you doing your best to be supportive of them? Have you been focused on your problems or insecurities more lately? Sometimes focusing more on yourself creates deception. You feel hurt because of something someone else did in your past.
  3. Is Codependency An Issue? Is one person relying on the actions or attention of another regularly? Codependency occurs when the relationship is imbalanced. One person may be unhappy, or too much time is spent together. It may lead to arguments, jealousy, or controlling behavior. Sometimes codependency happens without realizing it. It happens slowly over time.
  4. Discuss It With Your Partner. An important factor in repairing a complicated relationship is to talk about it with your partner. Partners need to know where the relationship stands. When you feel strongly about the current status of your relationship, don’t put off the talk. You need to know how your partner feels. They need to know how you feel. You both need to assess your relationship, including acknowledging and dealing with problems contributing to the complication.

  5. Talk About It In Therapy. Work with a relationship counselor to understand differences in the relationship. Talking about it with an expert is a great way to work on yourself. You gain empowerment that helps make informed decisions that benefit the relationship. Discussing your feelings with a professional shows your courage to face your feelings. It speaks volumes about the relationship you want to have. If you learn that they don’t want a relationship anymore, you can still benefit from therapy by learning from your feelings and how to heal your pain.
  6. Acknowledge What You Want. Don’t be afraid to say what you want from your partner. It is important to express why you’re not happy, especially when you have deep feelings for them and want things to work out. Usually, what you want from your partner is what you need. It should be reasonable, and they should see it as something valuable to you.
  7. Be Honest If You Are The Problem. Take a step back and look at the relationship. Have your actions contributed to its current state? Some may not realize they are the reason why the relationship is complicated. Look at the relationship like an outsider. Do you need to make adjustments to your life or way of thinking? You can talk about it with someone you trust or seek therapy for further self-exploration. It may be worth it to achieve a successful relationship.
  8. Have A Support System. Sometimes talking about your relationship with people that care can help organize your thoughts. People who are familiar with your relationship may have a similar experience with your concerns. Some may hide their relationship problems from people they know to avoid embarrassment. Friends can offer an opinion on what you can do to make things better. You’ll also gain more courage to talk about your feelings with your partner.
  9. Show That You Still Care About Them. Sometimes couples forget this element when they get caught up in conflict. When things are complicated, they may not show their love or adoration for each other. Doing so shows you still love each other, and you both want a healthy relationship.

    Complicated Relationships Can Be Difficult To Deal With
  10. Remember Why You’re Together. Things can get so complicated to where you forget how your love for each other started. Recall the qualities you like about them. Why did you want to be in a relationship with them? You may get an idea of how to fix the relationship based on your emotions.
  11. Remove Obstacles Or Make Changes Contributing To The Complication. A relationship may be complicated if partners are unable to make time for each other. Spending time with each other is important for a healthy relationship. Try working out a schedule that lets both partners devote time to each other. Consider other potential barriers contributing to problems in the relationship and possible solutions.

Complicated relationships happen, but you don’t have to continue being unhappy. Some feel they can handle so much before realizing they need a break. Spending time apart may be an option when you need alone time to think things through. You may miss them, but it helps clear your mind. You can focus on what you want, how you feel, and what action is necessary to move forward.

Should You Leave?

People make the mistake of staying in a complicated relationship, thinking things will eventually work out. People viewing a relationship from the outside admit they would end it because the effort wouldn’t be worth it. Sometimes it may not be worth the trouble to stay if things between partners reach a critical point. When you care about someone, you’re willing to do what is necessary, within reason, to save the relationship. Unfortunately, when fighting so hard to keep it, you may not realize the person doesn’t deserve you or your love. Think about the situation and how you would feel if things ended. How would the result make you feel, and would you be okay with it? If you are not happy in the relationship, ending it may be something to consider.

Complicated relationships are challenging, but there are ways to navigate through the emotional ups and downs to find relationship success. Managing a complicated relationship starts with confronting it. Sometimes, while confrontation is important, it can be difficult to do. A licensed couples counselor can help you navigate the situation and bring you and your relationship, should you choose to stay, to a better place.

Counselor Reviews

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”

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