13 Signs You Could Be In A Forced Relationship — And What Should You Do

Suffering and Healing | | , Expert Blogger
Validated By
forced relationships
Spread the love

You get into a relationship with someone because you’re in love with them and want to be with them out of your own will. You get a sense of safety when you are around them. You feel loved, appreciated, acknowledged, and adored. However, when all these warm feelings are missing in your dynamic with your significant other, you may well be in a forced relationship. 

Simply put, you’re in the relationship out of a sense of obligation and not because the relationship brings you joy. For more clarity on what being forced into a relationship looks like, we reached out to counseling psychologist Aakhansha Varghese (MSc Psychology), who specializes in sexual problems, dating and premarital counseling, compatibility issues, financial conflict, breakup, abuse, separation, and divorce.

Aakhansha says, “Forcing a relationship isn’t limited to romantic connections. It also exists in platonic relationships. Even a relationship that starts out happy and joyous can turn into an enforced relationship.” We’ll delve deeper into this issue and find out more about the signs of a forced relationship.

What Is A Forced Relationship? 

Before we get to identifying the signs of this clearly unhappy dynamic, let’s address an important question — what exactly is a forced relationship? According to a study on forced marriage done in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, it was found that most of the unwilling marriages have witnessed intimate partner violence and sexual violence. 

Forcing a relationship to work is like forcing a cat to speak. It will purr and meow. But it won’t speak your language. Ever heard of this saying: “You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink?” Well, it holds true for relationships as well. Aakhansha explains, “A forced relationship is one where either one or both partners hold on to the idea of togetherness even when deep down, they know fully well that their connection is slowly fading. When you force a relationship onto the other person or on each other despite a clear absence of love, it can quickly turn into an emotionally abusive relationship.”

One such relationship example could be that of a closeted gay person who is unable to embrace their sexuality openly and ends up starting a relationship with someone they aren’t attracted to. Since there is no love in the connection, this person inevitably ends up forcing a relationship to work by hook or crook, and in the process, treats their partner unjustly and dishonestly. But ask yourself, can you force yourself to love someone?

13 Signs You May Be In A Forced Relationship

Do you often ask yourself, “Am I forcing my relationship?” Well, forcing yourself on someone or forcing someone to love you can never end well. At least one or both partners are bound to feel trapped in such a relationship. A 27-year-old Reddit user shares through a post how he had been pushed into a romantic relationship for two years with his girlfriend. He says that she was initially a good friend who insisted on making them exclusive, and he “caved in”. He adds, “Tried to break up a few times after that, more crying and begging ensued. ‘You are my everything’, ‘Can’t live without you’, ‘I’ll break if you leave’. I caved.”

Being pushed into a relationship can bring about mental and emotional challenges. See what the guy shares further. He says, “I feel stuck… This relationship is taking a toll on my mental health. I feel like I am caged. I get unreasonably angry… I feel like the worst person in the world… I feel weak.”

That’s not love. Love is when you feel liberated. All of what he mentions are symptoms of forcing a relationship. But relationship rules are simple: you can’t force a connection. If you have been reeling under a similar sense of suffocation but haven’t been able to put a finger on it, the following signs you are being forced to love someone may help you find the answers:

1. Never getting over fights and arguments 

Aakhansha says, “People in a shotgun relationship or marriage argue constantly and it’s never water under the bridge. The same fights will take place almost every day without a solution or resolution in sight. You and your spouse will say hurtful things to each other without meaning them.”

Disagreements and fights between partners are inevitable. The difference is that in healthy relationships, people accept the differences and let them go because of the love they have for each other. When the relationship feels forced, you will never let go of even the slightest of conflicts and hold on to that resentment. There will never be any resolution.

2. Forced relationships are marred by negativity 

When you are forcing someone to love you or are being forced to “stay in love,” there’s bound to be some negativity. Aakhansha says, “A forcible relationship will be fraught with negativity. There will be jealousy, suspicion, manipulation, and gaslighting. So much so that the outsiders can tell there’s something wrong about your relationship.”

All of this toxicity will give way to the following signs that you might be in a negative relationship, which are all major red flags:

  • Your partner only takes but never gives anything in return. Be it love, compromise, gifts, or even time 
  • Your partner judges you for everything
  • You feel like you are walking on eggshells around them
  • Your partner isn’t supportive of you
For more expert-backed insights, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Click here.

3. There is no genuine affection or love 

When a partner forces their love on you, there won’t be any genuine affection. While you may indulge in a lot of PDA to paint the picture of a happy couple for the world, when the two of you are alone, you will barely feel any connection with one another. Aakhansha says, “In a compulsory relationship, two people will be on their own despite living under the same roof. They may put on a show of love and adoration for the world, running errands together, throwing parties, sending Christmas cards, but in their personal space, they won’t touch, make love, or look into each other’s eyes.”

On the other hand, in healthy relationships, even when a couple might look like they aren’t spending time with each other, what they might actually be doing is giving each other space to pursue their personal hobbies, relationships, careers, life goals, etc.

Related Reading: How To Stop Feeling Empty And Fill The Void

4. There is no respect 

There can be multiple reasons behind your partner not loving you. It could be because you hurt them, or they lost their feelings for you, or because they fell in love with someone else. But there should be no reason why this person can’t respect you. If one partner calls the other partner offensive names, mocks them, and passes sarcastic comments when they are in a private setting, these are all classic symptoms of forcing a relationship. But you can’t force a connection.

5. There are no boundaries

A person who is forcing you to love them won’t respect your boundaries. They will invade your privacy and won’t let you have any time to yourself. There will be no individuality left and you will eventually feel caged in the relationship. Consider this a major red flag.

Speaking of the characteristics of a person who forces love, a Reddit user shares, “Someone that doesn’t respect your boundaries or discomfort is forcing you to love them. There are many more boundaries that this person will push. You have to figure out some way to leave, get a new place set up, find some new friends, and stay out of the house as much as possible.”

Infographic on signs you could be in a forced relationship
Evident signs of forced relationships

6. Feeling intense emotions 

Aakhansha shares, “Considering all the conflicts that are taking place in forcible wedlock or relationship, you will end up feeling intense emotions like hurt, frustration, resentment, anger, disappointment, and heartbreak. Whereas all the positive emotions will be missing because of a lack of affection, love, care, and empathy.”

These negative emotions that are so intense will harm your mental health sooner or later. If you’re struggling to cope with a forced relationship, it’s imperative to prioritize your mental health. Should you need professional help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away

7. When they only love the ‘idea’ of love

There is a thin line between loving someone and loving the idea of loving someone. Let’s say you see a cute person at a bar, but you don’t make a move, nor do they. When you go back home, you imagine what it would feel like to fall in love and have a relationship with them. That’s what it is to love the idea of loving someone

Selena, a telemarketer from Boston, wrote to us, “I don’t feel like I’m in a relationship with my boyfriend. I give my everything and he barely lifts a finger to keep the relationship going. He says that he loves me, but his actions don’t match his words. It always looks like he is making excuses. I feel he loves the idea of being in a relationship more than he loves me.”

This is exactly what it feels like to be in a forced romance, where your partner relies solely on their words and lofty promises to keep you around but their actions rarely measure up. This individual loves to be in a relationship or likes the idea of this relationship. But one thing is for sure: there is no love present.

Related Reading: How To End A Long-Term Relationship? 7 Helpful Tips

8. Emotional abuse is common 

Another major red flag. Forced relationships can have insidious markers of emotional abuse. As a result, the person trapped in it may end up feeling depressed, stressed, anxious, or even suicidal. Aakhansha advises, “You need to ask yourself whether you are in love or are forcing it because the person you’re with has been abusing you emotionally. 

“Tread carefully when you are involved with a person who uses emotional abuse, because their tactics will never be transparent to you. You will only realize you were emotionally abused when the relationship is over or when your mental health takes a hit,” she says. Some other signs of emotional abuse in a relationship include:

  • Name-calling and using derogatory terms 
  • Character assassination
  • Embarrassing your partner in public
  • Insulting their appearance 
  • Belittling and being dismissive
  • Gaslighting, manipulation, and love-bombing 

Related Reading: 13 Subtle Signs Your Wife Is Not Attracted To You Anymore – And 5 Things You Can Do

9. You have a trauma bond

Another involuntary relationship example is when you’re bound together not by love but by an unhealthy attachment, also known as trauma bonding. Very much like Stockholm syndrome, trauma bonding can look different in different relationships, depending on the relationship dynamics. Some classic signs include:

  • Justifying or rationalizing the behavior of the abuser
  • Feeling dependent on the abuser
  • Engaging in self-blame or considering themselves to be the reason behind the abuse
  • Getting alienated from their support system

The cycle of trauma bonding has two main phases — abuse and love bombing. First, they will abuse you and then they will shower you with love, kindness, and care. This cycle repeats on a loop, until the victim recognizes the issue and decides to put an end to the relationship.

10. Constant hope of things getting better

Aakhansha shares, “Even when there are clear signs that a person is in an unhappy and unnatural relationship, they will cling on to the hope that things will get better. They don’t walk out because they are giving their relationship another chance.”

It’s an unwilling relationship when both parties don’t feel comfortable with each other. They are always faking interest to find commonalities, which gets tiring. They feel that there’s no physical chemistry. Feeling lonely even when in the same room as the partner becomes an accepted reality.

You would imagine that these two people will break things off. But they still give it time because they want to see if they can make the relationship work. They keep waiting for things to change and improve. The pressure could be because of external factors, or the mutual respect coming from mutual love in the past. 


11. There is no emotional intimacy 

If you often wonder, “Am I forcing my relationship?,” look out for signs of lack of intimacy. You see, you need vulnerability and emotional intimacy to sustain a relationship. The difference between a quick spark and a lasting relationship is only an emotional connection away. When there is no emotional connection between two people, you deliberately avoid talking about your feelings. Just the thought of spending time with them or talking to them fills you with a sense of futility because you know they are going to disregard your thoughts. 

Some other signs of emotional intimacy in a relationship are:

  • You only talk on the surface level
  • You don’t share your fears, traumas, and secrets
  • You constantly feel unheard and unseen

12. You don’t talk about the future 

Aakhansha says, “Forced relationships are ones where partners don’t discuss their future plans with each other. Even when a third party asks you about your goals, you’re likely to dodge the question.” When it’s a good match, you want to have a future with them. It doesn’t have to happen immediately, but someday down the lane you envision a house with them. You spend quality time discussing your love lives. Whereas, when you don’t ever talk about your future, it’s one of the signs of a forced relationship that is nothing but an obligation. 

13. You imagine breaking up with them 

Breakups are painful. Just the thought of breaking up with someone you love can be terrifying. But when the relationship feels forced, the thought of a breakup doesn’t bother you. In fact, it brings you relief. This is what happens when two people are exhausted by each other. It may be because of a lack of communication, boundaries, and trust. But there could be other reasons as well.

A few years back, my boyfriend at the time and I had simply grown out of love. When he would be upset with me, I would simply let it be. I didn’t want to mend things with him or apologize for my part. I would hope that our relationship would just end without me having to say anything. While actively breaking up with him was something I didn’t have the courage for, I would pray that our relationship would just fizzle out one day. Fortunately, it did.

How To Get Out Of A Forced Relationship 

Forcing someone to stay in the relationship or forcing your partner to marry you is never okay. It is even considered a crime in the UK. Under The Forced Marriage Act, of 2007, a wedding ceremony can be legally stopped if it’s taking place without the consent of both people. This reflects how potentially dangerous such an arrangement can be. And that’s why it’s important to plan an exit strategy once you identify the signs you’re in a forced relationship. It takes grit, courage, and correct redressal of emotional traumas to be able to walk out of a forced relationship. 

Aakhansha shares, “Low self-esteem is one of the biggest factors why a person chooses to be in a forced alliance. It all starts with valuing themselves and choosing their happiness over their partner’s.”

Related Reading: How To Fall Out Of Love With Someone – 9 Tips To Make It Happen

1. When your partner is forcing you

The breakup healing process is never quick. It is slow and it will make you feel like you are alone. All you have to do is be brave and take the first step. Once you’ve taken that first step, the following tips on how to get out of a forced relationship can help you in your onward journey:

  • Engage in some self-analysis. Why are you having a hard time telling your partner that the relationship feels forced?
  • Talk to a trusted family member or a family therapist to assess your emotions. Place your mental health above everything else
  • Stop thinking that you won’t find love outside of this person
  • Tell your partner how you feel
  • If they don’t take it well, don’t be surprised. Handle things with courage and patience
  • Consider couple’s counseling. Should you need it, Bonobology’s panel of trusted counselors is just a click away

2. When you are forcing your partner

Another possibility is that it is you who is forcing your partner to be in a relationship, even if unknowingly so. I too was in a relationship that I later found out I might have been forcing on my partner — well, my ex said I was forcing it. Thankfully we weren’t too deep into the relationship. I immediately asked him, “Am I forcing you to talk to me? To be with me?” He said that he feared I would cry and he couldn’t handle my tears, and that’s why he was delaying a breakup. The moment I heard that, it felt like a wake-up call.

If you suspect you may be pressuring your partner to stay with you, here are some tips on how to not force a relationship on someone:

  • Introspect and ask yourself why it’s necessary for you to seek love from someone who doesn’t feel it anymore
  • Understand that even though you are in love, you may not be on the same page as your partner
  • Believe that you are capable of being loved, just the way you are, without begging for love. You just need to be loyal to your true self
  • Believe that love is a two-way street. You deserve healthy and genuine love. You deserve to feel safe in your relationship without the fear of being left alone. This perspective alone can make all the difference
  • Healthy boundaries in the relationship matter! Respect them and don’t invade their privacy
  • Ask them if they want to be in a relationship with you. Don’t act out of spite when they tell you they don’t love you

Related Reading: Breakup Signs Unveiled: 15 Key Indicators Your Relationship Is Ending

3. When you have to stay together due to external factors

Several external factors may force a couple to stay together despite feeling that they have fallen out of love. An important factor that studies show affects marital happiness adversely is childbirth/childrearing. But having children is often the very reason why couples choose to keep their marriage vows intact. Similarly, other reasons why a couple that is out of love, may feel compelled to stick together are:

  • Taking on big financial liabilities together
  • Having other dependents to care for
  • Medical dependence of one partner on the other, causing the ‘fit’ partner to feel guilty about leaving the partner ‘in need’
  • Peer pressure and societal expectations

Key Pointers

  • When either one or both partners stay in a relationship out of obligation, not love, or are not equally invested in the relationship, it’s a forced bond
  • Don’t force a relationship without asking for your partner’s consent. if they don’t love you the same way, it’s not worth it.
  • Don’t let another person coax you into staying in a relationship you want to get out of
  • Emotional abuse, manipulation in relationships, and lack of emotional intimacy and respect are some tell-tale signs of being forced into a relationship
  • If you’re in a forced relationship, walking away is the best for your well-being. But for that, you first need to work through your emotional traumas and build your self-esteem

You must stop trying to force someone to remain tied to you. Never force someone to love you, nor disrespect a person by showing them fake affection and giving false illusions of love. We know, neither is an easy task. Walking out on someone you don’t love is not as easy as it sounds. The dynamics of such relationships are often a lot more complicated. But remember, you deserve to be in a happy, fulfilling relationship. To get there, you need to take that first step toward your personal growth.

You need to remember the points shared above too. Introspect. Find your reason for sticking together. See if it’s worth it. And if it is, find a way to be together. But share your reason with your partner, so that you two are on the same page. This is crucial for the well-being of your relationship.


1. Can you force yourself to love someone?

Yes, it’s possible to force yourself to love someone. You may continue to stay in a relationship for the convenience it brings. Or because you love the idea of being loved. It’s the easiest solution for loneliness. However, it’s not healthy or sustainable in the long run. Never force someone to love you.

2. How to stop forcing yourself on someone?

Know your boundaries and respect their privacy. When this line is crossed, you have forced yourself on someone. Don’t assume that they want to exclusively date you and jump the gun by telling people you are in a relationship with them. Always ask for consent before telling people about this relationship. Ask for consent before taking them out on a date or before touching them too.

The Importance Of Letting People Go

Why Do Men Leave The Woman They Love?

9 Signs You Are In A ‘Right Person Wrong Time’ Situation

Ask Our Expert

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.