When Should I Seek Professional Help Online For My Relationship Struggles?

Updated June 18, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
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A healthy relationship can transform your life for the better. But like many worthwhile pursuits, relationships also require plenty of time and energy, and they aren’t always easy. 

While some partners manage to navigate their relationship struggles by working together, some challenges call for an outside perspective and professional guidance.  

If you’re facing a significant obstacle in your relationship and unsure how to proceed next, it might be time to seek professional help online. We’ll discuss five common relationship struggles that may benefit from a therapeutic perspective, and the value of reaching out to an online therapist for guidance. 

Feel like you can't overcome your relationship struggles?

When to seek professional help for your relationship

The decision to seek professional help for a relationship is yours to make. No one understands the ins and outs of your connection better than you and your partner.

Ultimately, if you feel like you need more knowledge, emotional support, or communication skills to work beyond a specific issue, it may be time to seek therapy for yourself and potentially as a couple. 

Five common relationship struggles 

The following five relationship struggles are common, but they’re also surmountable with time, patience, and guidance from a board-certified therapist.

1. Communication problems

To develop intimacy and trust, romantic partners must learn how to communicate their emotional, social, and physical needs. In most healthy relationships, regular communication in all these areas is essential. By talking openly with your partner and listening to their perspectives, you can better understand each other’s needs and experiences and feel more connected in your relationship.

While healthy communication is crucial, it’s not always easy. If you seek professional help for a communication issue with your partner, a therapist may help you develop some of the following skills:

  • Accepting responsibility for your feelings and needs, using “I” statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’, and ‘I feel’
  • Talking more openly with your partner about any concerns in your relationship and how they affect you
  • Actively listening to your partner
  • Verbalizing appreciation for your partner
  • Being more aware of your tone of voice 
  • Taking more time to think about what you want to say

These are just a few behaviors that you may work on during therapy to improve communication with your partner. While open communication takes effort from everyone in a relationship, these essential skills can be learnt with time and support from a licensed therapist. 

2. Sexual issues

For many couples, sexual intimacy is another important part of a healthy relationship. Your relationship may be loving and affectionate, but you may find it difficult to initiate sex with your partner for a number of reasons. 

Intimacy issues in your sex life can stem from a range of sources, including: 

  • Past sexual traumas
  • Negative body image
  • Anxiety around sexual performance
  • Other mental health conditions
  • A lack of time and energy

Sometimes, these issues are exacerbated by stigmas around sexual education, which can turn sex into a sensitive subject for many individuals and couples. Stigmas can be deeply rooted and take time to dismantle, but self-education and therapy can help couples have more transparent conversations about their sexual needs. 

In these conversations, talking about touch may be especially important. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research on human sexuality suggests that touch is the key to sexual pleasure, especially for couples seeking to reclaim their sexual intimacy

Importantly, sex doesn’t just include intercourse. A sex therapist or online couples therapist can encourage you to explore different forms of consensual touch with your partner and discover new sources of pleasure. 

3. Trust issues

Psychologists often describe trust as the foundation of secure, intimate, and satisfying relationships. In romantic relationships, some psychologists break down the concept of trust into three components:

  • Viewing your partner as reliable and predictable
  • Believing that your partner is dependable and concerned about your needs 
  • Feeling confident in the strength of the relationship

From the beginning of their relationship, couples start building a bedrock of trust. Trust issues may arise if one partner is caught in a lie, hides information about their past, or conceals other parts of their life in the present. 

Collectively, these events can create distrust and anxiety in a relationship; but fortunately, there are several strategies to build or restore trust. A therapist may work with couples on the following goals to overcome trust issues:

  • Understanding each partner’s attachment style. Using the framework of attachment style, couples can better understand the link between trust and jealousy in their relationships. 
  • Addressing jealousy. When individuals perceive a threat to their romantic relationship, jealousy is a common response. To combat jealousy, couples may need to address past hurts and communicate openly about other difficult events and feelings. 
  • Embracing vulnerability. Vulnerability takes many forms, but generally means expressing sides of yourself that may be less confident or certain. While sharing these sides is sometimes scary, these vulnerable moments can build trust and intimacy between partners. 

4. Infidelity

For many couples, infidelity represents the greatest breach of trust and intimacy. While repairing a relationship after infidelity is challenging, some couples can move beyond the event and strengthen their connection.

Infidelity is one of the most common struggles that marriage and family therapists help their clients navigate. Based on results from U.S. national surveys, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that 15% of women and 25% of men have experienced intercourse outside of their long-term relationship. When emotional and sexual intimacy without intercourse is included in the definition of infidelity, these statistics increase by 20%.

To heal after infidelity, some couples seek counseling to determine their path forward. As both a partner and individual, you may work on your communication skills, patience, and understanding of forgiveness, depending on your situation and the recommendations of your therapist. 

Every couple has the right to heal from cheating at their own pace, and a therapist can offer empathy and validation along the way. 

5. Anger management issues

Anger is a powerful emotion that can take many forms. In a relationship, one or both partners may be prone to verbal outbursts or even physical expressions of anger, which can be dangerous for everyone involved.

Although anger is a universal human emotion, abusive expressions of anger are never acceptable, regardless of the nature of the relationship or issue at hand. If you’re experiencing abuse in your relationship, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) is available to offer support and resources. 

Uncontrolled anger can inflict lasting damage to a relationship and even your physical health. But fortunately, there are several strategies to understand and manage your anger, including: 

  • Practicing deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and body
  • Using cognitive restructuring to replace unhelpful, angry thoughts with more reasonable ones
  • Visualizing a relaxing experience or memory
  • Prioritizing physical activity to decompression and burn off tension
  • Recognizing and avoiding your triggers (if possible), and verbalizing them to your partner

While you can implement many of these strategies on your own, a therapist can provide structure and accountability as you work on your anger management skills.

Feel like you can't overcome your relationship struggles?

Strengthen your relationship with online therapy

If you’re unsure how to progress beyond your relationship struggles, an online therapist can help you find clarity and take your connection to the next level.

While some partners prefer in-person therapy, more couples are using online counseling to get the help they need. Using an online platform like Regain, you can connect with a licensed therapist within a few days of signing up. Regain therapists are licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional therapists (LPC or LPCC), and all Regain professionals have at least three years of experience. The service is affordable and accessible to couples from various backgrounds, especially those with busy or unpredictable schedules.

A growing body of research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy, including a 2022 study of couples therapy delivered through videoconferencing. Based on data from 60 couples, the researchers noted significant improvements in couples’ relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time, with no significant differences between the face-to-face and videoconferencing therapy groups. They concluded that the behavioral couples therapy program via videoconferencing is a viable alternative to face-to-face options, especially for couples who live in remote areas without access to traditional therapy.

Takeaway

In any relationship, challenges are inevitable. While you may be able to navigate some of these bumps on your own, other issues may call for the insight and expertise of a licensed mental health professional. 

With a therapist’s guidance, many couples overcome their relationship struggles, deepen their bond, and sustain a meaningful connection for years to come.  

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