10 most common relationship problems

Are you satisfied with the relationship that you are in? Or are you currently experiencing high levels of frustration, insecurity or unhappiness?


In all relationships, partners encounter different challenges and difficulties. After all, you are two separate people with different perspectives shaped by different upbringings and experiences.

Relationships pose a number of challenges and high levels of negotiation. Depending on the stage that your relationship is in, these challenges are likely to look different. Couples in the early stages of a romantic relationship face issues that differ from those of couples who have consolidated and matured their relationship. Frequently though, most couples struggle with regular themes and dynamics that pop up again and again.

Couple therapists usually talk about the one ‘regular dance’ that couples repeat endlessly if the underlying issues have not been addressed successfully early on. Most couples get stuck in their dance somewhere along the line. If you cannot get out of this stuckness, you may require some help to work out what keeps you repeating the same dissatisfactory behaviour and to understand where it is coming from.

What are the 10 most common relationship problems?

Below I highlight some of the most common challenges for couples that may be the cause or the effect of regular themes, creating distress in your relationships.

1. Lack of effort/distancing from each other

You had regular discussions about the issues that trouble you and your partner the most and you feel worn out by these discussions. Also, over the years your initial enthusiasm for your partner has given way to a more critical stance. Other demands, such as work or children, drain you of energy for each other. The result may be that you have become more distant from each other and are less aware of each other’s needs. You don't regularly make time for fun activities and there is an overall lack of more intimate communication.

2. Difficulties with managing conflict

You may have different emotional responses to conflict and therefore different conflict styles. Depending on how the conflict was handled when you grew up, you will have different associations with conflict – as more or less troublesome. In your present relationship, you struggle with finding a resolution to the issues that get you into conflict.

3. Emotional fusion

You are overinvolved with each other and struggle to maintain a sense of separate identity. You tend to think of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. This sense of enmeshment with each other may lead to an overreliance on the other and a lack of independence. Your enmeshment with each other may be experienced as comforting and encouraging in the early stages of the relationship but may be experienced as restricting and suffocating further down the line by one or both partners.

4. Stress

The demands of others such as children or colleagues at work or the daily task that need to be completed may become all-consuming and overwhelming. While you are struggling to survive the onslaught of demands you lack the capacity to emotionally or physically engage with your partner. The sole focus is on you managing your stressors. The lack of capacity for your partner in turn will create distance overall and in the long run will be experienced as neglect.

5. Overwhelmed by partner's demands

You may experience your partner as overly demanding and critical of you. They are constantly reminding you that you are not present enough, not doing enough, or that you are not paying enough attention. You experience your partner’s demands as nagging or as being too needy of you. You would ideally like to be just left alone.

6. Issues related to parenting

If you are first-time parents or parents of a newborn, you may find it difficult to adjust to the new reality of becoming parents and the associated parental chores. You may also have very different or contrary views on how to bring up your child and how to parent effectively.

7. Lack of sexual desire or physical contact

You may have very different ideas about the frequency or nature of your sexual and physical intimacy. There are usually different levels of desires with both partners. One of you may want more and the other less physical touch or sexual contact. You struggle to acknowledge and negotiate around these differences or you may find it difficult to find common ground.

8. Relationship with the wider family

You may not be satisfied with your partner’s parents or siblings. Or you may struggle to understand or accept your partner’s relationship with their family members. You might be concerned that your partner’s family has a less than positive influence and impact on you and your partner. Or you might simply dislike your partner’s parents/siblings. You may experience the family ties of your partner as too close or too distant. Conversely, you may find it disappointing that your partner does not seem to like or care much for your family.

9. Addiction problems

You or your partner struggles with addiction issues such as alcohol, drugs, gambling or porn addiction. In this scenario, both the dependency issues for the person with the addiction as well as the co-dependency issues for the partner of the addict will impact negatively the relationship.

10. Infidelity

You or your partner or both of you are having an affair. Unless you specifically agreed that having another lover is acceptable for you both, infidelity seriously shakes up a relationship. As it is considered a serious boundary violation, it is often difficult to repair the relationship. Infidelity can, and often, is survived by the couple but the aftermath requires time and careful attention to heal the rupture.

All of the above challenges require good faith in the relationship and a high level of communication skills, which involves both the capacity to listen as well as the capacity to address the issues presented. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, Greater London, N14 7BH
Written by Angela Dierks, MStud (Oxon), MA Integrative Counselling, MBACP (Acc)
London, Greater London, N14 7BH

I am a dedicated therapist and work with individual clients and couples. I offer supervision and CPD. I hold an MA integrative counselling (with distinction) and a Diploma in Couple Counselling and Psychotherapy and am BACP accredited. I co-host the popular, weekly podcast The Relationship Maze which is all about relationships and mental health.

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