Doubt in relationships – a sudden fear or uncertainty about the person we are with – is inevitable and not necessarily a bad sign.
Doubts can feel a shock as they tend to first surface when the high of falling in love is infiltrated by the truth that you are not so entirely simpatico with your partner as you had hoped. You are indeed two people with differences.
But doubt can also mean that things are progressing to another stage of commitment where differences are worked on and growth happens.
Unless, of course, you let doubt get the better of you.
Why do we doubt the ones we love?
1. Doubt is a normal response to change.
Just like we doubt what taking a new job or moving to another city might do to our lives, doubts surface in relationships when things progress in a new direction. Doubt often comes, for example, when a new level of a relationship presents itself, such as talk of moving in or of marriage.
So some doubts are really just a stress response. They can be our brain’s way of working through and preparing for the new challenges ahead. These doubts tend to sound like:
- What if I’m still attracted to other people, is that a bad sign?
- But I don’t like his or her friends all that much…
- Are they really my ‘One’?
- Are we really a match sexually?
- I am not sure about the way he or she manages their finances….
Note that all of these doubts are actually perspectives over things set in stone. They are issues that can change over time, or are often only one side of the story.
(Are your doubts more over your partner’s actions and behaviours towards you? See below for doubts that are not so healthy.)
When doubts are your issues in disguise
By: Lance Neilson
Doubt can be hiding your fear. Often this is a fear of intimacy. If every step towards a more committed relationship has your doubts rising like a crazy chorus, you might want to look into what it is you are scared of around letting someone close and sharing your life.
Doubts can be a form of sabotage. If you do have a fear of intimacy, doubts might be your secret way to sabotage a relationship and push away the person you love before you even realise what you are doing.
Doubts can be hangovers from past experiences. Sometimes we think we are doubting the partner we are with, but really we are assuming certain things about our present relationship based on past experience. For example, you might doubt your partner truly loves you if in the past you dated emotionally unavailable types, or doubt your partner is honest if your previous partner cheated.
Doubt about your partner can also be your own doubts about yourself. It can pay to take a good look at yourself first when it comes to doubts. It might be your own behaviour towards your partner that you are projecting. If you have doubt that you can trust your partner, is it possible that deep down you aren’t sure he or she can trust you?
Doubts might even be your own feelings about yourself that you are putting onto the other. If you doubt your partner loves you, is it possible you don’t, deep down, really love yourself?
It’s often not doubt that’s the problem, it’s this
Doubt is rarely the real problem in a relationship. It’s a lack of communication that tends to be the true issue.
By: Scarleth Marie
If you have doubts that you feel you can’t talk over with your partner, the question might be less why you have doubts but why you can’t communicate them.
Do you fear upsetting them? Why? Do neither of you know how to navigate conflict, or do you not trust each other enough to be vulnerable around each other? These are issues worth looking at, alone, or with a couples counsellor.
More ways to deal with doubt
Journalling can often help. Free form writing about your doubts can often help you see where they really come from, such as if they are really just a doubt you are bringing over from a previous relationship.
Be wary of talking over your doubts too much with the wrong people. Doubts are often just fears and anxieties over real problems. But talk about them too much with, say, your friend who is jealous of your relationship, or your mother who never likes any girl you date, and they are going to help your turn those doubts into real issues by bringing in biased views. Try to spend time sorting out your doubts for yourself first, then talk to someone you truly trust, or even to a relationship coach.
Balance your doubts with an equal focus on what is working. Many of us have brains that are trained to focus on the negative, meaning we don’t even notice the positive unless we choose to. Try spending time every morning going through five things that are going right with your relationship. Or keep a list you can add to and review in trickier moments about all the ways the relationship works and your partner is just what you need.
But what if your doubts are more serious in nature?
It’s important to know the difference between garden variety relationship doubts and more serious doubts.
By: Victoria Reay
Big, red flag doubts are questions about how you are being treated in a relationship can be more serious, as they can be a sign that you are in a relationship that is damaging to your emotional, psychological, or even physical wellbeing.
They sound like:
- He refuses to tell me where he goes at night
- she didn’t tell me she was seeing other men too
- She pushed me last night and it was the second time
- He won’t let me see my friends
- She keeps making negative comments about me that make me feel awful
- When I tell him I don’t want him to come over he shows up anyway
- He keeps grabbing my arm so hard it hurts
How can you tell the difference between healthy doubts and red flag doubts in your relationship? Healthy doubts tend to be assumptions about the relationship itself. Whether it’s working, whether it’s the right one for you, whether you both want the same future.
Red flag doubts tend to be about the other persons actions and behaviours are and are often things that come with factual evidence if you consider them further.
If you doubt they are trustworthy when they took your car without asking and didn’t pay back money you lent them, that’s a reasonable doubt. If you doubt they have your wellbeing in mind when they have pushed you during an argument, that’s evidence they might not.
The above red flag doubts are signs of betrayal, control, disrespect, and completely overstepping personal boundaries.
If these doubts sound familiar, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust such as a good friend, to call a support hotline, or to talk to a counsellor or coach who can help you understand what you are dealing with and what decisions about the situation are right for you.
Do you have an experience with doubt in relationships you’d like to share? Do so below, we love hearing from you.
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Should you ignore doubts in a relationship? ›
Doubt is a perfectly normal part of any relationship. It becomes problematic, though, when we avoid resolving it. You've heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Pretty much everything in a relationship boils down to communication, Batshaw says.Is it normal to still have doubts in a relationship? ›
Every relationship has moments of doubt and uncertainty. That's OK. It doesn't mean your relationship is a fraud or destined to fail. Flaws don't make your relationship an imposter.Should I give my partner the benefit of the doubt? ›
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt not only helps you to avoid these feelings, it promotes positivity and patience in your relationship. It keeps your partner from jumping into defensive mode. It shows them that you trust and appreciate them.How do you give someone the benefit of the doubt in a relationship? ›
5 Steps To Give Your Partner The Benefit Of The Doubt
When something upsets you, seek to understand the reasons why it happened. Put yourself in your partner's shoes. Assume that they have good intentions. Consider your partner's caring and love shown in the past.
And while having recurring doubts about if you're in the right relationship can definitely be scary, it might not mean that breaking up with your partner is the solution. If however, you are considering taking the next step into a deeper commitment, then having doubts could certainly be a reason to pause.Should you marry someone if you have doubts? ›
If you do find yourself having doubts before your wedding, does that mean you definitely shouldn't get married? "No," says Lavner, "but you should pay attention. You know yourself, your partner and your relationship more than anyone else does. If you're having uncertainty, then you should talk about it."Why do I feel unsure in my relationship? ›
You Have Trouble Communicating
It makes sense to have doubts about your relationship if you feel like you can't talk to your partner. Like trust, communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. Both people in a relationship should be able to go to each other with thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
Do you prefer spending time with family, friends, or people other than your partner but still won't give up on your relationship? If you feel this way, you could be settling. On the other hand, if you don't have a sense of happiness and feel nothing when you are around him, it is a sign you are settling.Is it normal to unsure your partner? ›
Every couple experiences doubt. It is natural, it is unavoidable, it can cycle back more than a few times throughout the course of a healthy relationship, and it's something you can work through. “Doubt is the other side of certainty,” says Dr. Linda Carroll, a relationship therapist.What to do when you start doubting your partner? ›
- Clarify what you actually want—to yourself. ...
- Acknowledge whether doubt is a pattern. ...
- Have an honest, clear conversation with your partner. ...
- Talk out your doubts with a trusted third party.
How many times should you give someone the benefit of the doubt? ›
If it happens again, it may be a coincidence, and you can give the benefit of the doubt once more. But, if it happens a third time, it's a pattern, and if you're still giving the benefit of the doubt, you're inadvertently signing off on the bad behavior.”Can anxiety make you doubt your love for your partner? ›
Doubting long-term compatibility
Relationship anxiety can make you question whether you and your partner are truly compatible, even when things are going great in the relationship. You might also question whether you're actually happy or if you just think you are.
Open up to your partner. Explain your doubts to them and explain also the work you've done to come to this point. Leave out any blaming language and try to keep your emotions out of it (as much as possible). Once you've had a chance to express yourself, give them space and time to respond.Why do I doubt my partner so much? ›
"Doubt in relationships, particularly after being with your partner for a long period of time, is a common feeling we all may undergo at some point. It's normal to have fear or uncertainty about the person you are with." It's part of the human condition.What are the signs you need to break up? ›
- You're Making All The Sacrifices. ...
- Your Values Aren't Aligned. ...
- There's No Trust. ...
- You're Always Fighting. ...
- There's A Lack Of Communication. ...
- Your Needs Aren't Being Met. ...
- There's No More Effort. ...
- You're Not Happy Anymore.
- Encouragement to Become the Best Version of Yourself. ...
- Commitment to Solutions, Not Problems. ...
- Common Values Shared. ...
- Forgiveness. ...
- Unafraid of Judgement. ...
- A Long-Term Vision Is Shared. ...
- Trust & Respect Are Still There.
If you're not being satisfied emotionally, sexually or intellectually, it's probably time to move on. Ending a relationship is hard, but it's sometimes the only correct thing to do. If you and your partner aren't connecting on the most fundamental levels, it will be best for both of you to move on.How do you know if it's just cold feet? ›
- Your feet are at a lower temperature than the rest of your body.
- You have mild, throbbing pain in your feet and toes.
- Your feet take longer to warm up if you're exposed to cold temperatures.
- Your feet are a different color (pale, red, blue or purple) than the rest of your body.
Lack of Self-Esteem: Feeling insecure in your relationship can also be caused by a lack of self-esteem and feeling like you don't measure up compared to others. If you struggle with feelings of inadequacy or not being good enough, this is especially likely to cause insecurity in your relationship.Why do I feel so much uncertainty in my relationship? ›
What causes uncertainty in relationships? Most uncertainty in relationships is caused by fear, whether rational or not. You may fear being vulnerable with your partner and being rejected.
Is it my relationship or am I just unhappy? ›
Common Signs You May Be Feeling Unhappy In Your Relationship
You look for excuses not to see your partner. You feel an urge to be with someone else. You feel you would be happier living a different life. You are not attracted to your partner anymore.
Love evokes fond feelings and actions toward the other person, particularly. Attachment is driven by how you feel about yourself with the degree of permanence and safety someone gives you, based on your past relationships.Am I falling out of love or just comfortable? ›
If you find yourself totally disinterested in what your partner thinks, feels, says or does, it's likely that loving feeling is gone. Arzt adds people who “only do the bare minimum” may be falling out of love. “They may oblige with date night, but they feel restless and bored,” she says.How do I know if my relationship is right? ›
- You're Not Afraid to Speak Up. ...
- Trust Is at the Core of the Relationship. ...
- You Know Each Other's Love Language. ...
- You Agree to Disagree on Certain Issues. ...
- You Encourage Each Other to Go After Your Goals. ...
- You and Your Partner Hold Separate Interests.
The doubting is initiated in two stages. In the first stage, all the beliefs we have ever received from sensory perceptions are called into doubt. In the second stage, even our intellectual beliefs are called into doubt. Descartes presents two reasons for doubting that our sensory perceptions tell us the truth.Why is doubting necessary? ›
Doubt is important because it helps you to challenge the status quo, to face and overcome your fears, to redefine success as you see fit, to reflect on previous stories you've told yourself and search for the silver lining, to ask new questions, and to search for new answers.What is the difference between benefit of the doubt and trust? ›
A good reputation builds benefit of the doubt, and ensures your voice is heard in a crisis. Trust matters. When you trust someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. If that person gets in trouble, you will hear their side of the story before jumping to conclusions.How do I stop overthinking my relationship? ›
- Find Empathetic Listeners. ...
- Don't Try to Convince Yourself to Stop Overthinking. ...
- Talk to Your Partner. ...
- Focus on the Present. ...
- Make a Gratitude List. ...
- Meditate. ...
- Harness the Power of Your Mind.
ROCD is the fear of being in the wrong relationship, fear of not being truly loved by your partner, or fear of not truly loving your partner. It's important to keep in mind that no matter how disturbing the thoughts you have may be, you are not a bad person for simply experiencing intrusive thoughts.Should I tell my boyfriend I'm having doubts? ›
When in doubt, the best thing to do is talk it out. In every relationship, it's natural to question your feelings, but with enough open communication, you'll never need to doubt what your boo is thinking.
Should you talk about relationship doubts? ›
It's okay if you're questioning everything in a relationship, but learn to work it out without losing your mind. The only person you need to talk to is your partner to clear any doubts you are having.What is the root cause of doubt? ›
Self-doubt may stem from previous negative experiences or from attachment style issues. Those with insecure attachments may have experience being criticized, that can contribute to self-doubt later in life.When should I give him the benefit of the doubt? ›
to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either: I didn't know whether his story was true or not, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.When should I stop giving him the benefit of the doubt? ›
If there's someone in your life who has been repeatedly showing you their true colors, it's time to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. They showed you who they are – believe them. There's no reason for you to wait until they come to their senses and change.Do people deserve the benefit of the doubt? ›
Giving people the benefit of the doubt is an important part of life. It's what allows us to see the best in people, even when they make mistakes. It's a quality that we should all strive to have, as it makes us better people. Not to mention, it can also lead to some pretty great things in life.Is it normal for a woman or a man for that matter to have doubts about one's love explain? ›
Romantic doubts are normal, and they come and go no matter what stage of your relationship you find yourself in. They have underlying causes, though, and those causes can often be just as important as the doubts themselves.What are the benefits of doubting? ›
Here are a few more benefits of having doubt and openly contemplating it with others: It keeps us open to new ideas and perspectives. It keeps us humble and motivated (overconfidence is often often a precursor to failure) It causes us to question more and to test our own assumptions more carefully.When should you let your partner go? ›
- Your needs aren't being met.
- You're seeking those needs from others.
- You're scared to ask for more from your partner.
- Your friends and family don't support your relationship.
- You feel obligated to stay with your partner.
- When you live in past memories more than the present. ...
- When the relationship brings you more pain than joy. ...
- When he/she expects you to change. ...
- When you stay on, expecting he/she will change. ...
- When you keep justifying his/her actions to yourself.
- 7 Signs It Might Be Time to Let Go.
- You Feel Anxious When You Aren't Together. ...
- You Don't Feel Like Yourself. ...
- You're Giving Way More Than You're Taking. ...
- You and Your Partner Keep Score. ...
- You Suspect Your Partner Is Gaslighting You. ...
- You Make Too Many Excuses for Them. ...
- You've outgrown the relationship.