Relationship Reality Check: 5 Harsh Truths About Being in a Relationship post image

Relationship Reality Check: 5 Harsh Truths About Being in a Relationship

When you’re single, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything will be perfect when you find the right guy. I’ll admit that I was once guilty of this line of thinking. It can seem like a relationship is that one missing piece and once you have it, you will finally have it all. Then maybe you meet a guy, you click, you start dating, and all seems to be running smoothly until certain unpleasant realities of being in a relationship start to creep in, either slowly and by degrees or quickly and all at once.

Relationships take work; there is no way around that. You can be totally perfect for one another, you can love each other like crazy, you can be wildly attracted to one another, you can even be soul mates, and you will still have to work at it. When you’re in a relationship, it isn’t just about you anymore. Your choices, your actions, your behavior, your tone of voice, your mood, and so forth all affect someone else (and vice versa). A relationship is a partnership, and having a partner is amazing in many ways, but it also means there is someone else in the picture who matters. And like you, he also comes with a fair amount of baggage, issues, unresolved pain from the past, etc.

When a relationship starts to get real, it can be confusing and overwhelming. You may wonder if you’ve made a mistake, if maybe this isn’t the right relationship. You may feel wronged because this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.  All relationships will hit points where you struggle, and actually, the struggles are a good thing. When handled right, they can make you even stronger as a couple. But when dealt with improperly, they can cause irreparable harm (to both you and the relationship).

Here are five not-so-fun facts you must face about being in a relationship:

1.   You will fight.

relationship worth the fight

Fighting with the person you love is profoundly painful, but it’s inevitable and sometimes it’s necessary. It can also be a brutal reality check. In the beginning of a relationship I think almost everyone has moments where they think: “Wow, this person is amazing. They get me and I love them so much, what could we ever fight about? Maybe other couples fight, but that will never be us.” And you might really believe it; you might wonder what you could ever possibly fight about. But in time, this idealism gets shattered and you are forced to face this unpleasant reality of being in a relationship.

It’s important to realize that even the most compatible couple will sometimes disagree, and these disagreements can escalate into arguments and full-fledged fights.

Your goal shouldn’t be to never fight; it should be to fight better. Learn to fight in a way that brings about resolution rather than dissolution. A fight doesn’t have to include yelling and screaming and slamming doors and hurling insults and trying to make the other person feel as bad as he made you feel. It is very difficult to come to a place of resolution when emotions are running hot, so one of the best tips to fight better is to stop discussing an issue until both of you have had the chance to reset your systems back to neutral. Whenever a conflict emerges, it is also helpful to remind yourself, and each other, that you are both on the same team and that you should try to work with each other instead of against each other.

2. Being sorry is better than being right.

when you hold a grudge
This point picks up where I left off in the first reality check. You and he are on the same team and you’re fighting for the same cause, the cause being to have a healthy, happy, loving, mutually-fulfilling relationship. When you make yourself the victim and him the victimizer, you aren’t on the same team, you are opponents locked in a battle to prove you’re right and the other person is wrong. This puts the other person on the defensive, and he may launch a counterattack that only confirms for you that he is completely at fault, and from there it spirals into an ugly place.

Maybe you are right and maybe you do want to “win” the argument, but if you end up tearing each other down to do it, then you both lose.

Sometimes, you just need to suck it up and say, “I’m sorry we fought” or “I’m sorry you were hurt.” Maybe you think he is being irrational and you don’t think he’s justified in feeling the way he’s feeling, and maybe you’re right, but it doesn’t matter who’s right. What should matter more is the fact that the person you love is hurt, and you can be sorry for hurting him even if you don’t fully understand where he is coming from.

If he did something that hurt you, try to express that to him in a way that doesn’t make him feel attacked. This is totally achievable when you’re coming from a place of genuinely wanting the relationship to work and wanting to connect and share your perspective with him so the relationship will improve, and not from a place of trying to be the victor.

Sometimes he’ll do something that hurts you, and you’ll think he was completely in the wrong, while he’ll think you’re in the wrong for being upset. I’m not referring to clear-cut wrongdoing like cheating, but something along the lines of you had a bad day and wanted to spend time alone with him, but he already had plans and didn’t want to cancel. You may feel he should prioritize you and cancel those plans, but he doesn’t like to be the kind of person who flakes when he says he’s going to do something. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong, and in reality, both people are usually a little of both. Trying to prove your case will get you nowhere.

MORE: How to Have a Healthy Relationship

3.  Resentment will crop up.

Resentment is by far the number-one relationship killer. Resentment is what causes couples to fall out of love, to stop desiring one another, to fight constantly over everything. As a relationship progresses, the amount of minor hurts will accumulate. That time he blew off date night to hang out with his friends … that time he forgot about important plans … that time he said something hurtful … that time you had a fight and he didn’t say sorry…

Whether your relationship survives and blossoms or deteriorates and implodes comes down to what you do with all those hurts. In a relationship, you will get hurt sometimes, even if you’re with the sweetest, most loving man in the world. He usually won’t mean it; he may not even realize something he said or did was insensitive or hurtful. Maybe you say something about it, maybe you don’t. Sometimes you can get over something on your own (especially if it was something innocent that you overreacted about because of your own insecurity), sometimes an apology is necessary, and sometimes a serious “relationship talk” is needed.

If you don’t deal with your hurts properly, they will build up within you and morph into resentment. Once the seeds of resentment have been planted, every minor thing he does will feed them and cause them to grow, even the things that you know objectively aren’t that big of a deal. The more resentment grows, the more it will poison the relationship.

You may silently punish him as retribution, which will cause him to feel resentful towards you, which will cause you to feel more resentment towards him. This is how the vicious ugly cycle begins, and things get very complicated very fast.

Sometimes you will be extremely hurt. Even if he apologized in the most sincere, loving way, you won’t be able to fully forgive and definitely won’t forget. You may appreciate the apology, you may accept it, but in your mind you may be thinking, “I still can’t believe he would say something like that! How could he?!” So it’s still there, it’s still with you, and the next time an issue comes up, you’ll use it as ammo against him.

When you’ve been hurt you are faced with a choice: hold onto it and stay hurt, or just let it go. Maybe a part of you believes he doesn’t deserve your full forgiveness, maybe you don’t think he deserves to get your full love and affection, maybe you’re still hurt. That will happen sometimes, but you need to realize that holding onto these bad feelings doesn’t help you or your relationship. They keep you stuck in a negative place instead of moving forward, and if you can’t move past a conflict then you will forever be in it, and who wants that? Even if he doesn’t “deserve” to be fully forgiven, make the choice to just let it go and realize that working on improving things in the future is much better that staying angry over what happened in the past.

Again, I should mention that certain things are unforgivable and I’m not talking about those things. I’m not talking about cheating or violence or something purposefully done out of malice. I’m talking about the small little hurts that rack up over time. They are the shades of grey, not the black and whites.

4.  It will be challenging at times.

couples meant to be

Relationships take work, there is no way around it. A relationship is like a plant; it needs proper, consistent care or it will wither and die. And sometimes it will be really tough. There will be times when you can’t seem to communicate, times when you feel disconnected and angry, times when you start to question everything. These times will become few and far between if you put in the right amount of work. This includes releasing resentments from arguments past, letting go of the need to always be right, and realizing that certain issues won’t ever be resolved and you’re beating a dead horse by trying.

A relationship is a partnership; it’s two people coming together to share a life together. However, these two people once had very separate, individual lives. They have different likes and preferences. They have different ways of dealing with things. They have different needs, different perspectives, and different values. Sometimes two people will be very compatible and will have the same views on where to live, what to spend money on, etc. For other couples, it will take a little more effort to bridge the gap. The challenging aspects of a relationship subside when both people learn the importance of compromising and learning to see the world through their partner’s eyes. You won’t ever be able to inhabit his perspective, but you can try to understand it and validate it, and this is what builds a cohesive unit, when both people face challenges together instead of from opposite sides of the ring.

5. Sometimes, you’re the problem.

This just might be the hardest reality check of all. Nobody wants to be the problem. It’s much easier to blame someone else than admit you have issues to deal with, because dealing with issues is unpleasant and requires hard work. It is too easy to blame someone for making you feel a certain way but the reality is that oftentimes, you already felt that way.  If you blame your boyfriend for “making you” feel insecure, you probably already feel insecure and then interpreted something innocent he said or did as being critical.

We all have a certain degree of baggage, and most of our issues will rise to the surface in a relationship because love touches the deepest, most rarely accessed parts of our beings. Sometimes this can be beautiful and euphoric and other times it can be very painful because it brings up feelings and issues that we would rather not deal with. And then rather than dealing with them, we blame our guy for making us feel that way.

I’m not saying he’s never at fault; sometimes he might be insensitive or hurtful (hopefully unintentionally). The point I’m making is that it’s important to try to identify where the issue is really coming from. Is it him or is it you? Is he really not making you feel secure in the relationship or do you have some deep-seated intimacy issues to deal with? Does he really not make you feel loved, or do you not love yourself, and as a result are unable to let any love in from the outside?

The first step in having a healthy relationship is always to work on being your best self. This means being honest with yourself, looking at who you are and who you want to be, and dealing with anything that is getting in the way of that. Your partner can help you get there, but he can’t do it for you. Only you control your emotional well-being.

Relationships can be tough at times, but when you’re with the right partner, that work is so worth it. A healthy, loving relationship can enhance your life enormously and help you become your absolute best self. The path there isn’t always smooth, but it is unquestionably worth it.


Do you have any relationship reality checks to share? Tell us in comments!







Written by Sabrina Alexis

I’m Sabrina Alexis, the co-founder, and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing relatable, insightful articles that help people understand relationship dynamics and how to get the love they want. I have a degree in psychology and have spent the last 10 years interviewing countless men and reading and studying as much as I can to better understand human psychology and how men operate. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram.

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De Elle

I could use advice about “resentment”. For about four months, I have been seeing a guy that I am compatible with in many ways but drinking to excess is not one of them. About three weeks ago, whilst we were out at a wedding he had had too much to drink. He almost wrecked the van we were driving. I asked for the car keys as I had not had more than one glass of wine throughout the six hour night. He passed out almost immediately once I started driving home. The next day I thanked sweetly him for giving me the keys so that I could drive home. Granted, I did this with the intention of giving him positive reinforcement.
This past weekend, once again, he had had too much to drink as I had predicted as he would. Only this time, I asked him for his car keys before we went into the concert. He said no. After the concert, he refused to allow me to drive his car even though I explained how anxious I was. Foolishly, I got into the car with him. Our night ended on a sour note not just because I was fearful but also because he flatly refused to acknowledge and respect my fearful and anxious request. We never got into a heated argument but it was late the next affternoon before we addressed the situation regarding his driving while drunk and the refusal to honor my request to drive. We heard each other’s sides which resulted in his calmly suggesting that if I need to be in control in these situations, I should start our dates by driving us in my own car. This seems reasonable.
Things have been cool, not ice cold but there has been a chilly distance between us since.
We are scheduled to take a very expensive and romantic trip together in about two weeks. I am paying my own airfare although I have not purchased my ticket yet. Although we have a lot in common and his drinking does not interfere with his day to day life, his drinking is a red flag enough that I am not certain that we are compatible long term. I am worried about eventually resenting his drinking to excess often. That beig stated, am I being foolish for going on what most would consider to be a holiday for a committed couple?
Thank you to anyone and everyone who is willing to offer advice.

Reply June 19, 2018, 8:11 pm


i have read almost all your articles. but so far i think this is the best because it relate to me so deeply. i wonder how u really read a guy’s mind as of now i found it the most difficult. but now i can predict what my bf is actually thinking. got so much to learn from you both that i actually wonder would i be able understand a girl better than a guy. thank u so much. :)

Reply April 3, 2017, 2:53 pm


This is a great article. I am now dating a flight attendant and in February we will hit our year anniversary. I’m learning that everything will not be perfect. Of course when we first started dating we were in our honeymoon stage and certain things wouldn’t bother me due to not being emotionally attached, but of course things do change. We are planning to move together in March as our next step in our relationship. He is a great guy, handsome, financially stable, family oriented, a leader, and goal driven which are all things I want in a lifelong partner. However, there has been times when he may talk down to me and not even realize it because I don’t manage money as well as him or I may come off as a liability do my “carelessness.” He may belittle my experiences because his experiences may have been more grand. The thing I like about our relationship which is different from my past one, we write down and talk about how we feel and what we can both do to insure we are happy. I have met his whole family and he has only met my mom so far. He wants to meet more of my family so we will be traveling back east in the beginning of next year. I think he is a loving guy but he is naturally friendly/flirty at times and don’t realize it. He used to always tell me every time someone flirted with him and it started to bother me. I was not sure of his intentions so I asked to stop which he has. This makes me nervous because my ex bf whom I was with for 3 years cheated on me. I found out after we broke up so these feelings still pop up in my head and I tend always look at his Facebook since we are mutual friends. I am trying something different after a talk with my roommate to not try and always check to see what he is doing but trust and my insecure feelings may lessen. He texts me through out the day when he is traveling for work. I think we will be good. If you have any direct feedback for me please feel free to share. :)

Reply December 14, 2016, 8:49 pm


This is such a realistic advise. Thank for it. But since you said its not for thise who have a cheating or any violent relationship struggle, can I ask for your advice about cheating?

Ive been dating this guy for 9months now.. He is 54, divorced and has a daughter living in the Uk and we, are living in some other continent. I am 28. He was introduced by a good friend of mine when I move to this city since he is living here. Everything went well for us for the past months. He is taking care of me very well, in any aspects, material and emotoinal. He’s been very understanding despite our age gap. Until I discovered that he is still in touch with his ex, I already discussed about it to him that Im not okay with it though this ex of him is living in another country. I let it go because it wont make sense of having a fight when his ex is not even in the same country with us. Then after few weeks, one sayI was doing my chores, I stumble upon his passport and out of curiousity, I take a look at his stamps. I found an entry/exit stamp in the same country where his ex is living, during the month that he told me that he is going to uk to see his family. It lasted 4 days as far as I remember. I never doubted that. When i looked back to our conversation during that exact date, well he was travelling and sent me a messafe that his email suddenly stopped working.
Now I realized, maybe she wasnt an ex, maybe they are a long distance lovers. I confronted him about it. He cant make up his mind and trying to change the topic. I am decided to stay away. Is that the proper thing to do?? I will appreciate any of your advice guys. Thank you.

Reply October 1, 2015, 11:06 am


Bte the EX that O am talking about is not his ex-wife. She’s his last gf before me.

Reply October 1, 2015, 11:21 am

Jeanine schuur

Hey sabrina,

I loved this article and gave me a lot of inspiration. Right now my ‘boyfriend’ is on vacation with his familiy right After we had a fight that boiled to breaking point and he decided he wanted to give up on us and use these days on holiday to think over things. But he also said that he wouldn’t get my hopes to high that he will give us a try.

The fight had build its way up through smaller arguments, frustrations and bad communication and I’m fully aware of that now. Had a closely look at myself and what I have done wrong to not make the best way out of this relationship. He is coming back in a few days and I asked him before he left, he lay the whole night beside me and comforted me, if I should be here when he got back and he answered me that it was up to me. I would like to be there with a paper piece with all the things we have fighted about so that we can sort things out and grow stronger of this moment. Cause now he doesn’t have the guts to try one more time.

Right now , I don’t know what to do. Should I contact him? Is his family given him negative advice that doesn’t help his sett of mind? Is there any hope left or is it just a lost case scenario…?
Always learned that you have to fight too get trough things, but right now I’m just a confused heartbroken woman that wishes some answers.

Reply July 28, 2015, 4:30 am


Hi Sabrina thank you so much for sharing. You’re a great relationship counselor. I appreciate being able to receive advice on topics which I have so many questions about. Congratulations on your engagement. I’m an AA woman turning 50 this year and have never been married. I’m disturbed at that and often worry that I may not get married. I’ve been in a relationship for a year that came as a total surprise. I met a man that I was extremely attracted to who had a lot of other women who felt the same way as me. In the beginning I didn’t want to be with him because I knew it would be challenging. I watched his interaction with other women after he approached me at a bar. He is a social butterfly and aggressive. He approached me again upon leaving and I ended up giving him my number. Once he called we began to see each other almost daily. He was living with a woman and helping his ex wife raise his children. At one point things got bad in his other relationship and he wanted to leave. I really enjoyed his company and asked if he wanted to stay with me for a minute. He said yes and its been a year. We have also since moved out of state for a job that i took a month ago. He had a low paying job and couldnt afford to help me with any bills but he was able to provide groceries. He is 45 and seems to have an issue with deciding what he wants to do with himself in terms of having a career which can support me, himself and his family. I am the breadwinner and have been supporting us and his family. I had posted photos of us on Facebook and have been attacked verbally on social media about being a sugar mama and him being everyone’s man. He has been with me almost everyday but his attention is on social media and the many women friends who seem to think he is the man. He has been called an opportunist by the previous woman he was with and at one point we had to block each other on Facebook because of jealousy and snooping on each others profiles. I love this man because we enjoy life together. He makes me laugh but he also makes me cry with verbal abuse. He is a realist and sometimes says things in don’t like. I call him the messenger of truth because he is passionate about life and helping people and when he tells me things I know it comes from his heart. I know he loves me too but he complains about my energy being depressing. He says he feels trapped and I feel he can leave whenever he gets ready since so many other women want him. He thinks I try to buy him because I do spend money on him but that is when I spend money on me. He has mentioned marrying me several times but his finances are no comparison to what I’m used to. We have both left our families to be here together and he often says he’s gonna leave me and not come back. We spoke of trying to establish a life and career in the state we are in now. I have a job and a extensive resume and I’m skilled so I keep a job. He wants to go to school to learn a new trade which will mean I would still be supporting us for another year. I’m exhausted and it shows. I know it’s not about the money and he says I spend too much and need to save so we can get a house. He has very little money and I’m used to living a particular lifestyle. He is good with saving and encourages me to do the same. After weighing the pros and con’s I feel things will be much better if the finances were there. I want him by my side but we both have a lot of baggage and he needs to increase his income. My own insecurities and the lack of additional income create resilience and I just want to be happy and confident that he will be able to take care of me in the long run. I do feel like we’re in love but I don’t want to be a sugar mama. Please advise. I appreciate you. Thanks Misty

Reply July 3, 2015, 11:41 am


I been in good or bad and yes all relationships take work. Even shitty ones but the shitty ones have worse problems.(cheeting los of trust, loss of self) though there is a limit to how much a person can give till she breaks. Not talking about just dating relationships family relationships can be severed by taking a person’s trust and grinding it into the ground so much they they can’t understand why. Sometimes it’s the family that screws up ability to trust because a girl gave it all and lost her ability to.

Reply June 30, 2015, 3:52 pm


I totally agree with the relationships on both ends. It took me so long to realize that! It took me even longer to realize that I was the cause of my mindset and insecurities. Countless times I did not love myself to the point I kept losing myself and only putting energy into the relationship only and didn’t care about myself or him, only what we were! I enjoy reading what you and Eric write. Any relationship takes work, and when you find someone who wants to make the effort is even better. To fear is ok, it’s funny cause I always thought that feeling fear was a sign of weakness. To express yourself and admit to your fears (not the little things) to your person is such a relief and I’m always shocked how vulnerable and receptive they are. Little at a time.

Reply June 30, 2015, 2:57 pm


Congrats!! But I feel like relationships are so impossible to have in today world. I mean why does it takes so much to input into a relationship if it’s no guy worth wanting to be with you not even just be interested. I give up on love for good. It’s nothing worth giving your time to. But I understand completely.

Reply June 30, 2015, 12:05 am


Hii Sabrina,
Thank you for your articles, the work you put into them and thank you for not wanting anyone to fork out moolah to read you.
Also- you are very wise. I’m too, but I’m 60…wise or not- it’s always great to read other peoples’ thoughts.
Congratulations to you and your groom! I hope that all your work will pay off with a most amazing relationship.

Reply June 29, 2015, 11:35 pm

Sabrina Alexis

You are very welcome. Thank you for those sincere compliments and well wishes, I really appreciate it :)

Reply June 30, 2015, 4:03 pm


i just want to know how the heck i can ask a question, i dont even see any option for that.

Reply June 29, 2015, 11:26 pm


I broke up with my boyfriend 6 months ago and I miss him very much wishing he’d come back but he’s moved on and he wanted to remain friends I said no. I still have strong feelings for him but I believe I hurt him so much he won’t forgive or forget that I broke off the relationship for wanting more time spent together. What do you advice?

Reply June 29, 2015, 9:57 pm

Sabrina Alexis

Give it time and give him some space. You must have broken up with him for a reason, I doubt it came out of nowhere. Just because you miss him it doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice…it’s normal to miss someone who was an important part of your life, even if the relationship wasn’t that good. Focus on yourself for now and trust that if it’s meant to be, it will work out.

Reply June 30, 2015, 4:06 pm


Congratulations Sabrina! May you have many long years together. Thank you for the article ^-^

Reply June 29, 2015, 9:24 pm


I liked this article.. Thank u. It validated my view especially on the part it’s better to be sorry than right. I have a couple single friends that tell me I’m being a push over when I apologize for hurting my partner even tho I m in the right. I try to explain to them y I apologize., but get the rolling eyes. I was married for 20 years n recently in a casual new relationship. Many of the things u touched on I can relate to in my marriage. Too many resentments crept up .. And rather than dealing with them humbly n with respect .. Lots of hurtful things were said or done. Going forward which is difficult to do.. I’m hoping to look at a new partner with all their baggage and hurts and be able to communicate more effectively and hopefully some day develop a close relationship of mutual respect . I think the forgiveness or letting resentment go is a big one as well as loving urself. Too many people harbour anger n grudges…Thank u for reminding me and encouraging me in ur words .:)

Reply June 29, 2015, 7:53 pm

Lady T

Awesome, Sabrina! I’ve always believed that being in a good relationships take far more work and effort than being in a crappy relationship. What you wrote was so well thought out and well written. Thanks! xo

Reply June 25, 2015, 11:01 pm

Sabrina Alexis

That is an incredibly insightful statement and I actually never even thought about it that way. But yes, in a lot of ways it does take more work in a good relationship. A bad relationship can feel like work but really it’s just a lot of pain. A good relationship is one where both people are willing to put in the effort to open the lines of communication and form a genuine partnership. A bad relationship is more like two people who are adversaries. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the article, it really means a lot to hear that :)

Reply June 30, 2015, 1:45 pm

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