Signs You're Forcing a Relationship and How to Avoid It


Being in a relationship can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, but only if it is the right relationship for you. Unfortunately, sometimes we may feel trapped in a relationship that is not meant to be. When this happens, it can be tempting to try and force things to work. But the truth is, forcing a relationship can lead to even bigger problems down the line.

At Mind This Up, we understand the importance of being in a healthy and fulfilling relationship. In this article, we will explore some of the signs that you may be forcing a relationship when things are not right. By understanding these signs, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to continue with the relationship. So, let's dive in!

1. You don't feel happy

One of the most crucial signs that you are forcing a relationship is when you no longer feel happy. Happiness is a feeling that should be present in any healthy and fulfilling relationship. However, when you are forcing a relationship, this feeling is often absent, and you may not even realize it.

It is vital to evaluate true happiness within a relationship. Often, people conflate happiness with the temporary feelings of pleasure or excitement associated with being around their partner. These short-lived emotions are not the same as genuine happiness, which comes from a more profound sense of trust, affection, and connection.

When you are in a positive relationship, happiness is evident in the things you do together. You feel happy when you make each other laugh or have meaningful conversations. You look forward to planning joint activities or even mundane things like grocery shopping or cleaning the house because you enjoy each other's company.

There are several reasons why ignoring your lack of happiness within your relationship could be problematic. For example, if you remain in an unhappy relationship, it can lead to feelings of resentment towards your partner. This resentment may then lead to you constantly picking fights or nitpicking about things that may not seem significant.

An appropriate real-life example of this could be a couple that had been dating for several years and decided to move in together. Initially, everything seemed to be going well, but after some time, one person began to feel unhappy despite efforts to communicate this with their partner. They started noticing that they no longer looked forward to spending time with their partner and doing things together no longer brought them joy.

If your relationship is only providing fleeting moments of pleasure, it's essential to take a closer look and determine whether or not you're genuinely happy.

Understanding and recognizing these signs is crucial to leading a healthy and happy life in any relationship. Happiness is essential for both partners since every person deserves love and affection. If you're not happy, it's essential to evaluate and take the necessary steps to improve your well-being. Don't force a relationship that does not provide you with true joy and fulfillment.

2. No Emotional Connection

One of the most important aspects of a healthy and fulfilling relationship is the emotional connection between two people. It's easy to get caught up in physical attraction, shared interests, or even common goals, but without an emotional connection, a relationship is likely to struggle.

What is an emotional connection? Simply put, it's the bond that exists between two people that goes beyond just physical attraction or shared interests. It involves feeling safe and secure with the other person, being able to be vulnerable and open, and knowing that the other person understands and accepts you for who you are.

Signs of a lack of emotional connection in a relationship can range from feeling emotionally distant or disconnected from your partner to constantly feeling misunderstood, unheard, or invalidated. You may feel like you can't be your true self around your partner or have difficulty expressing your feelings and needs.

In some cases, one partner may be more emotionally invested in the relationship than the other. This can lead to frustration, disappointment, and ultimately the breakdown of the relationship if not addressed.

A real-life example of a lack of emotional connection in a relationship could be a couple who find themselves constantly arguing and misunderstanding each other, despite sharing many common interests and hobbies. They may enjoy spending time together doing things they both enjoy, but when it comes to deeper conversations about their feelings or needs, they struggle to connect.

If you think you might be lacking an emotional connection with your partner or have concerns about the strength of the connection between you both, recognizing this is the first step towards addressing any issues that might exist. Here are some tips that can help:

1. Communicate honestly and openly with your partner about your feelings and needs. Don't be afraid to express what you're feeling, even if it's uncomfortable.

2. Make time for each other regularly and prioritize quality time together. This means putting down phones/screens and focusing on each other completely.

3. Practice active listening and empathy. Try to understand your partner's point of view, even if you don't necessarily agree with it.

4. Accept each other for who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on building each other up rather than trying to change each other.

5. Seek professional help if needed, such as counselling or therapy, to work on developing a stronger emotional connection.

 A lack of emotional connection can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness within a relationship. It's important to recognize the signs and actively work on building and maintaining a strong emotional bond with your partner to ensure a healthy, happy relationship.

3. Lack of Mutual Respect

In any relationship, whether romantic or otherwise, mutual respect is essential. It is a foundation that allows the relationship to grow and thrive. When there isn't respect between partners, it can lead to problems ranging from lack of trust to destructive behaviour. Mutual respect means recognizing that each partner has their unique personality, likes, dislikes, values beliefs and opinions.

When one partner has no respect for the other, it frequently leads to arguments that break the relationship down. Disrespect manifests in different ways, especially when the two individuals have different personalities or cultural backgrounds. For instance, one partner may insult or belittle the other publicly, speak to them using abusive words, cheat on them or contradict them in front of others. These actions often look like an attempt to gain control over the other person and their life. They can be a real deal-breaker in any relationship.

Often, the disrespect may be an ingrained habit that stems from insecurity or past experiences. There's a need to note that mutual respect comes hand in hand with communication. However, communication issues may hinder establishing mutual respect in the relationship. For instance, one partner may tune out the other when they're speaking or refuse to hear them out completely.

The lack of mutual respect can create an environment that breeds toxicity and instability. It's essential to create an atmosphere of respect in any serious relationship.

What is Mutual Respect?

Mutual respect is a non-negotiable aspect of any healthy relationship. In essence, it's treating your partner with love and dignity while recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. When two people respect one another, they rely on open communication and honest feedback to build a strong relationship.

Mutual respect doesn't mean that both individuals in a relationship view things the same way or have no disagreements. It involves being clear about expectations as well as doing all things necessary to meet those expectations without hurting other people.

When Mutual Respect is Lacking in a Relationship

The consequences of a relationship lacking mutual respect can be severe. Over time, it can lead to resentment and an inability to work through disagreements that can arise. When one partner consistently violates the boundaries and expectations of the other, it can create tension and conflict.

For example, taking up unwanted space, ignoring a partner's physical limit, or making crass jokes when they arrive home are all displays of disrespect.

Respect goes beyond how you treat your partner. It influences how the people around you interact with them as well. Suppose there is a pattern of disrespect from family or friends of either partner in a relationship, whether intentional or not. In that case, it can lead to the partners feeling unsupported, unimportant, and alienated from those closest to them in their relationship. 

If both individuals in a relationship refuse to acknowledge one another's feelings and opinions because of unresolved issues or egos that get in the way, it's essential to find ways to break down those barriers. Ignoring those differences often leads to playing games or manipulating each other as partners.

Consequences of Not Addressing the Issue

If left unresolved, a lack of mutual respect like many other problems could lead to an irrevocable breakdown in the relationship.

A therapist can be an excellent mediator for couples struggling with these issues. A trained professional can help both individuals understand each other and find common ground where respect is shared, irrespective of disagreements.

When two people show mutual respect in their relationship, it builds strong bonds that provide support through challenging times. When a relationship is mistreated carelessly, it becomes vulnerable and breaks under pressure. Therefore creating an environment of mutual respect guarantees a healthy relationship for both parties involved.

Let us take a married couple as an example. Michael and Jane have been together for four years, but tension has been escalating for the past month due to work pressures. Most of Michael's workload affects him, and he feels the only way to deal with the pressure is to stay late at work. Previous attempts by Jane to persuade Michael to come home have led to increased arguments between the two. 

Despite knowing that he gets stressed with paperwork, Jane expects Michael to spend some of his evenings with her. On the other hand, Michael believes that coming home will worsen his anxiety. After weeks of unresolved conflicts, their relationship is getting worse.

In an effort to get the relationship back on track, both individuals agree to attend therapy sessions. Through the sessions, Jane realizes the impact of pressurizing Michael to come home when he's not ready. During that shared time together, they express their personal issues and find ways to work through them. With time, mutual respect is established in their relationship, tensions are eased, and love rekindles between them.

Relationships are like plants that require attention and care to grow healthy and strong. Mutual respect is no exception and requires constant nurturing from both sides throughout the relationship's lifetime. When each partner recognizes that their feelings and opinions matter and respects them, it goes a long way in building trust and strengthening ties in the relationship. When mutual respect doesn't exist in a relationship, these connections weaken over time leading to negative consequences

4. Trying to change your partner

One of the most dangerous signs that you are forcing a relationship when things are not right is trying to change your partner. Whether it's their behaviour, personality, or interests, the desire to mould your partner into your perfect match can lead to toxic dynamics and eventually, an unhealthy relationship.

It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that your partner would be better off if they just made a few changes here and there. You might feel like you know what's best for them in the long run or that by changing them, you're helping them become a better version of themselves. However, this kind of thinking can be incredibly problematic in the long term.

The dangers of trying to change your partner

One of the biggest dangers of trying to change your partner is that it can create resentment and mistrust within the relationship. If someone continuously feels like they are not good enough or not meeting their partner's expectations, it can be hard to maintain a healthy connection.

Moreover, trying to change your partner takes away their autonomy and makes them feel like they are not good enough as they are. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, which isn't healthy for any individual.

The consequences of failing to accept them for who they are

Failing to accept your partner for who they are can also lead to dissolution and heartbreak. If someone feels like they are always being forced to change or adapt to fit their partner's vision, they may start to question whether their relationship is worth it. They might feel like their significant other doesn't truly love them for who they are, but rather for what they could become.

Moreover, if you try too hard to change someone, you might start building resentment or feel like you're missing out on aspects of life that align better with your values. For instance, if you want a partner who is interested in yoga and mindfulness practices, but your significant other enjoys sports and outdoor activities, you might feel like you're missing out on shared experiences or that your partner isn't "the one" for you.

The bottom line is that trying to change your partner is a recipe for disaster. Relationships are built on love, mutual respect, and acceptance of one another's strengths and shortcomings. Instead of focusing on what you don't like about your partner, try to focus on what drew you to them in the first place.

Let's say that you're a vegan who practices yoga and mindfulness. You've been dating someone for a few months, and you're starting to realize that they enjoy meat and spending time outdoors engaging in adventurous activities like rock climbing or mountain biking.

Initially, you might view these differences as endearing, as it offers new avenues of experience to explore together. Still, over time you might start feeling like there are aspects of their behavior that don't align with your values and that might make you feel less compatible.

It's essential to note that differences are natural, and sometimes even celebrated aspects of all human relationships. However, it's equally crucial not to try and change your partner. Instead, try to find common ground where you can both appreciate each other's uniqueness and celebrate your differences. If their behaviour or interests clash with your fundamental values, then reinforcing your boundaries is essential.

Trying to change your partner is a sign that perhaps things are not in the right place in your relationship. It's important to remember that we all have unique attributes that make us who we are. While it's natural to want the best for our significant others, we must learn to accept their decisions and respect their autonomy. A healthy relationship is built on honesty, open communication, and mutual respect. Rather than trying to change your partner or fit them into your preconceived mould of the perfect match, trust that they are who they are for a reason, and learn to embrace their authenticity.

5. Constant conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of every relationship, be it romantic or otherwise. However, when conflicts seem to occur consistently and escalate into arguments, it can be a sign that the relationship is in trouble. Unfortunately, constant conflict can be challenging to spot because couples have different styles of communication, which means that healthy conversations can sometimes appear as arguments.

It is essential to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy conflict. Healthy conflict is a natural part of the relationship and involves constructive conversations that help to create understanding and trust. It is non-threatening, non-defensive, and mutually respectful. Unhealthy conflict, on the other hand, involves negative communication styles such as criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, and contempt. It is characterized by verbal and physical aggression toward each other.

Constant conflict can damage a relationship in several ways. For starters, it creates negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and frustration that can erode the foundation of the relationship. Negative emotions associated with constant conflict can reduce intimacy levels and create a sense of distance between partners. The continuous arguments over trivial matters create a lack of appreciation for each other, leading to reduced happiness and satisfaction in the relationship.

If left unresolved, constant conflict can lead to more severe problems such as infidelity, verbal and physical abuse, loneliness, and depression. It is essential to address constant conflicts as soon as you identify them in your relationship.

One way to do this is to improve communication skills by listening actively, expressing opinions clearly, being willing to compromise, and avoiding high-conflict topics when both partners are emotionally charged or otherwise upset.

Let's use a real-life example where frequent conflicts signalled that the relationship was unhealthy. Jack and Jane had been dating for six months when Jack started to ignore Jane's needs. Jack was not supportive of Jane's career goals or her desire to spend time with her family. Every time Jack blocked Jane's aspirations, they would have an argument. Jack would be defensive and dismissive, which made Jane feel unloved and disrespected.

Jack's unwillingness to try and understand Jane's point of view escalated into more significant arguments, leading Jane to invest less energy into the relationship. Eventually, Jane decided to call it quits. In this example, Jack's lack of respect for Jane's priorities and goals created a rift in the relationship leading to constant conflict that ultimately caused them to break up.

It is always essential to recognize constant conflicts in a relationship and address them as soon as possible. It could involve trying to identify root causes, identifying communication problems, or seeking professional help. When conflict is unhealthy, it can be toxic and damage the foundation of any relationship, so it’s necessary to address it immediately.

Constant conflict can lead to negative emotions, reduced intimacy levels, and a lack of appreciation for your partner. It is important to identify healthy and unhealthy conflict and strive to address it positively by improving communication skills, seeking professional help or ending the relationship if necessary. Remember that no relationship is perfect. Conflicts are inevitable, but the difference is how partners handle them.

6. Lack of Trust

Trust is the foundation of any healthy and successful relationship. Without trust, a relationship may struggle to survive even in the face of the toughest challenges. A lack of trust creates a gap that can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and ultimately, a breakdown in communication. Whether it's cheating, keeping secrets, or just being unreliable, trust issues can cause irreparable damage to a relationship.

Trust is more than just believing that your partner won't cheat on you. It's about feeling confident in their reliability, honesty, and accountability. When trust is present in a relationship, partners feel secure and safe with each other. They willingly share their vulnerabilities with each other and lean into each other for support.

On the other hand, when trust is lacking in a relationship, partners can feel insecure, anxious and distrustful toward one another. This can lead to avoidance behaviours, such as not communicating openly or honestly with one another.

Identifying Trust Issues

Trust issues can come in many forms – from insecurities that stem from past relationships to one partner not being able to keep promises or telling lies. It's essential to recognize these issues because they can have a ripple effect on other aspects of the relationship, creating further problems down the line.

Some common signs of trust issues include:

  • Having difficulty confiding in your partner
  • Being suspicious of your partner's actions
  • Always checking your partner's phone or social media accounts
  • Feeling jealous or possessive over your partner
  • Having difficulty trusting your partner's intentions
  • Being overly vigilant about your partner's activities

Let's take the example of Anna and Tom. They have been together for three years and have been living together for the past year. Anna has always had trust issues due to her past relationships where she was cheated upon. Meanwhile, Tom has never given her any reason to doubt him.

However, Anna still struggles with the intrusive thoughts that Tom is cheating on her. She checks his phone and social media accounts regularly, reads through his messages and emails, and looks for signs of infidelity. This behaviour starts affecting their relationship: Tom feels like he's always under scrutiny and can't ever convince Anna that he's being honest with her. In contrast, Anna feels that Tom is hiding something.

Over time, this mistrust leads to a breakdown in communication between them. They can't speak to each other honestly about their feelings because Anna is too consumed with her own insecurities, and Tom feels like no matter what he does, he can't convince Anna that he's faithful.

It's crucial to realize that trust issues can damage or destroy even the strongest relationship. Addressing these trust issues right away will prevent them from getting worse and causing more significant problems down the line.

Ways to Address Trust Issues:

1. Acceptance and Openness

It takes acceptance and openness on both sides to address trust issues. The partner who's struggling with trust needs to accept that there's an issue and be open about it with their partner. The other partner needs to be open to hearing what their partner is saying without being defensive.

2. Communication

Communication is key in repairing trust issues in relationships. Honest, open communication between partners can help dispel doubts and suspicions. Understanding the root of one's trust issues can help develop better strategies for moving forward.

3. Consistency and Reliability

Consistency and reliability are essential in regaining trust in a relationship. If you're the partner who broke the partner's trust, then you must consistently act in ways that show your commitment to rebuilding that trust.

4. Seeking Professional Help

Suppose the trust issues are too challenging to handle alone. In that case, partners should seek professional help such as therapy, counselling, or relationship coaching. These professionals can provide the right strategies for healing relationships and building trust.

Trust is essential in any relationship, and a lack of it can have far-reaching consequences. Identifying trust issues early on and addressing them head-on can help relationships overcome the challenges and thrive. Couples need to work together to build and reinforce trust in their relationship, which will create a safe, secure, and loving environment for their relationship to flourish.

7. Different Priorities and Goals

In any human relationship, it is vital for both parties to share a common goal or purpose. However, in a romantic relationship, shared goals and priorities are even more critical. Conflicting goals can cause many issues, and ultimately lead to a relationship that is not sustainable.

For example, let's consider a couple who have been together for several years. In the early stages of their relationship, they were both focused on their individual careers and had not given much thought to starting a family. However, as they got older, the woman began to feel the need to start a family, whereas the man was still focused on his career.

This example highlights the common issue of different priorities and goals in a relationship. If both partners are not aligned on major issues such as career, family, and lifestyle goals, there will be disagreements resulting in resentment, anger or frustration. 

It is essential for both partners to have clear communication about their priorities and establish a common goal they are working towards together. If they cannot agree on major issues, they need to go back to the drawing board.

The following are steps that couples can take to ensure that their priorities and goals are aligned.

1. Communicate clearly

Honest and open communication is the foundation of any successful relationship. Partners must be honest with each other about their priorities and goals without feeling judged or dismissed. Talking openly about what they want out of the relationship creates an opportunity for mutual understanding of each other's expectations.

2. Understand each other's priorities

Each partner must understand what is essential to their partner in life. Knowing what their partner values helps them focus on what is important and make the necessary compromises.

3. Work together on finding common ground

Sometimes in a relationship, it’s necessary to compromise on certain issues to find common ground; this can help create more significant understanding between partners with different perspectives.

4. Re-evaluate goals and priorities regularly

Goals and priorities may change over time as circumstances evolve, so couples need to be open to revisiting issues to ensure their alignment.

A relationship with conflicting goals and priorities can lead to many problems, including resentment, frustration, and arguments. However, open communication, an understanding of each other's goals, working together on finding common ground, and regular re-evaluation of priorities can help ensure that couples remain aligned towards a shared goal.


In essence, forcing a relationship when things are not right is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. You may be tempted to hold on for different reasons, such as fear of being alone, societal pressure, or simply the comfort of the familiarity of the relationship. Regardless of the reason, it is critical to understand when a relationship is not working and be willing to take the necessary steps toward addressing it.

Investing in the right relationship can make a positive difference in your life. A healthy relationship brings about a sense of purpose, trust, and contentment. It starts with acknowledging and valuing yourself enough to set the right standards and boundaries that align with your values and beliefs. The right relationship should foster your growth, and you should feel supported in achieving your goals as well as supporting your partner.

An example of this is the story of John and Kate (not their real names). They met in college and started dating when they were both students. However, as they progressed through their studies, they began to notice differences in their priorities and goals. While John was focused on his studies, Kate was more interested in exploring her creative side. John felt that Kate's interests weren't as important as his studies, and this led to constant arguments between them.

Kate tried to compromise by dedicating more time to her studies, but she still felt unfulfilled. John remained uninterested in her interests and made her feel like she was wasting her time. Eventually, Kate realized that she had been forcing the relationship for too long, and it was preventing her from growing personally and professionally. She decided to end things with John and focus on herself.

A few years later, Kate found love again in a man who shared her interests and respected her boundaries. They started a business together, which they are both passionate about. Kate now has a sense of purpose, trust, and contentment in her current relationship that was missing in her previous one.

Forcing a relationship is never ideal, and it can lead to emotional pain and unnecessary sacrifices. Pay attention to the signs that indicate that the relationship is not right for you, and take action. Remember, investing in the right relationship can make all the difference in your life. Value yourself enough to set the right standards and boundaries, and stay open-minded to finding the right partner who will support you in achieving your goals and aspirations.

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