Yet another long argument has taken place between you and your partner over something you two probably won’t even remember next week. Hurtful things have been said, tears have been shed, it’s awkward to now head to the dinner reservation that you had made and, perhaps you’re questioning, “Am I the problem in my relationship?”
It’s normally after the tough tide has passed that one realizes that one could be in the wrong. Usually, when your feelings overcome you that much, it’s hard to gain perspective and agency over your own emotions when all you want to do is feel seen and heard by your partner. But then slowly it hits you that they could have been right, and perhaps, it’s you that needs to make some changes.
So before it’s too late, how to tell if you are the problem in a relationship? Counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades, offers insights into the signs to look out for.
How Do I Know If I’m The Problem In My Relationship? 9 Signs
Being excessively needy, blame-shifting at the drop of a hat or even something as simple as ignoring all your household chores in a live-in relationship could be one of the reasons your answer to ‘am I the problem in my relationship?’ is a yes.
Kavita tells us, “Being possessive, clingy, jealous or excessively argumentative are obviously some of the signs. But even being codependent and trying to be their whole and sole person can make things go awry in your relationship.”
Reading this and thinking to yourself, “What if I am the problem in my relationship?” Well, in all honesty, you could be. But that’s what we are here for. Not to ridicule you or point any fingers. But to help you recognize some troublesome behaviors that you may not have realized but could be destroying your relationship.
1. It’s my way or the highway
In every relationship – there is usually one person who calls most of the shots for the sake of convenience and harmony. It is often the man but in a female-led relationship, the roles are reversed. Whoever it may be, they do it so that both can be in check but also happy. However, if you start abusing that right, you could be a big problem in your relationship.
Tiffany Boone, a lawyer, had this problem with her boyfriend, Jeremy. Having him being the steering wheel of this relationship, Tiffany used to trust Jeremy with everything. But eventually, things started becoming toxic as Jeremy began to walk all over what Tiffany wanted. Even commitments like meeting Tiffany’s mother for dinner were unfulfilled just because Jeremy chose not to. From choosing their apartment’s wallpaper to how many kids they were planning to have, Tiffany felt like she never had a say anymore.
If you are reading this and feel like a Jeremy in your own relationship, you might be right about your ‘Am I the problem in my relationship?’ hunch. Take it from Tiffany, this can be a distressing experience for your partner. This is your sign that it’s time to let go of the reins a little bit.
Related Reading: I’m emotionally drained because my wife uses our private arguments to criticise me in public
2. Failure to hold yourself accountable
“Why am I always the problem in my relationship?” Asking this question itself could be the start of your problems. Clearly, you’re being evasive and not willing to be accountable for what you might be doing wrong. This very thought process can drive a relationship downhill.
Your partner needs to know that you value your connection much more than just always wanting to be right. In fact, if you have a hard time saying sorry, Kavita suggests, “There are many ways to resolve a problem without saying sorry. There are other suitable ways to apologize and reassure your partner that you will not repeat your mistakes.
“But know that it is necessary to arrive at a solution without mudslinging or backbiting, which can only happen when you hold yourself accountable for your mistakes and eventually arrive at forgiveness in a relationship. It is also what makes your partner feel safe in the relationship.”
3. Am I the problem in my relationship? Yes, if you have temper issues
Feeling strongly about being ill-treated is one thing. But using that as an excuse to throw a tantrum or even a vase for that matter points to something more serious. If you feel like you unduly ill-treat your partner by yelling at them too much, cursing them or have had instances of domestic abuse, then therein lies the answer to how to tell if you are a problem in your relationship.
Kavita says, “A little anger in relationships is healthy for it helps you understand what is truly going wrong. But when anger is backed by aggression in terms of verbal assault or physically throwing things at somebody, that is a problem. There may be an internal rage in you owing to your childhood and coming from a dysfunctional family. This can lead to trust issues, intimacy issues and lower your self-esteem and even fear in those around you.”
4. You keep a score-card of mistakes in the relationship
Dylan Kwapil, a software engineer, has been married to Grace for about four years now. While trying to get to the bottom of the general unrest they are feeling in their relationship nowadays, Dylan realized something: they start blaming each other for past mistakes in every argument.
“I just don’t understand why am I always the problem in my relationship? Every time I bring up something that Grace does wrong, she turns the tables on me and will narrate the laundry list of my mistakes throughout our relationship. I can’t take this constant blaming anymore, it is harrowing. I’m tired of apologizing, I wish she would see her own mistakes too.”
While fighting over a problem, one might quickly deflect from the issue at hand and instead bring up all the other times when they felt hurt. As important as it is for you to express your feelings to your partner, do not make a list of their shortcomings and throw it at them every time they accuse you fo doing something wrong.
Related Reading: 6 Harmless Mistakes In A Relationship That Are Actually Harmful
5. Not having any boundaries or having walls that are too high
Kavita says, “Lack of emotional boundaries or very high barricades can be a major problem in any relationship. Perhaps you spill everything too much or others have a hard time reaching out to you. Either of these situations can drastically affect your personal life. This can even lead one to develop an avoidant personality or avoidant attachment.”
A relationship thrives on a healthy flow of communication, emotions and affections. If one has a hard time managing those, it’s a good enough reason for you to have those ‘I think I am the problem in my relationship’ pangs. It’s time to work things out and swing in a happy medium that allows you to express yourself correctly.
6. Your mental health is making you ask, ‘Am I the problem in my relationship?’
What if I am the problem in my relationship? You could be if you think you need some help. When your own mental health is hanging by a loose thread, it is hard to live up to someone else’s expectations and be a good partner to them. To be in the headspace for a relationship takes more than just butterflies in your stomach. When you’re depressed, you feel inactive and that can lead to you being a less involved partner.
On the other end, when you have anxiety, your overthinking and dating anxiety struggles can consume you to the point where you are unable to cope. If such is the case, don’t force yourself through a ‘right person wrong time’ situation. Put yourself first and allow yourself to heal before you get too involved with anybody else.
7. You’ve stopped making any real efforts
Relationships are a lot of work. Not every day is a romantic hot air balloon ride but most days should feel just as good as one. Over time, it is possible for a little boredom to creep into your relationship and for things to seem mundane. However, the relationship only disrupts when you stop working on it. So if you’re curious, ‘What if I am the problem in my relationship?’, then think about how much effort you put into your relationship each day.
Are you involved in your partner’s life? Are you making plans with them? Do you talk to them often? And is the sex still good? A few bumps along the road are just fine. But if you see this relationship slipping out of your hands and you’ve grown indifferent to the same, then the problem might be with you not trying hard enough to make things work. Keeping a relationship afloat requires persistence every day and complacency in a relationship can be a scary thing.
8. Constantly comparing your relationships with others
“But Ricardo took Gwen to Miami last week! Why can’t we ever have any fun like that?”
“Wanda and Oleg make adorable Instagram reels together. You never even take cute pictures with me”
Or the most dreaded,
“Olivia’s engagement ring is way bigger than mine. You never go all out for me.”
If you often sound close to any of these examples, well then, you were right to ask the ‘am I the problem in my relationship’ question. Love is about celebrating each other and understanding different sides of each other’s personalities every step of the way. Yes, Instagram aesthetics, social media and what you tell the world about yourselves do matter but not enough to make the other person feel inadequate.
We bet that your priorities in this relationship are a little off. You don’t know half of Olivia’s love life, so there’s no point bringing her up and messing up your own. Talk to your partner if you feel invalidated but don’t do it because your rock isn’t as shiny.
Related Reading: Stop Comparing Yourself With Your Partner For A Healthy Relationship
9. Insecurities lead to ‘I think I am the problem in my relationship’ mindset
Kavita says, “Insecurity is the biggest reason for things not going well in your paradise. If your own self-esteem is low, you will never be able to do enough to sustain a connection. Even though a connection may be old, equations keep changing and are created by both people.
“Feeling insecure can hamper that and destroy your sense of belongingness to another person. There is a good chance this problem is rooted in your childhood and your attachment style and response patterns.”
Not only does this exacerbate your own downward spiral and questions of ‘am I the problem in my relationship?’ but also leads to intimacy issues with your partner. You often feel suspicious of your partner, find silly reasons to doubt them and are always on the edge of your seat in this relationship. Being a recipe for a failed romance, it’s time to think about how often you display these insecure behaviors.
If one or some of these traits have resonated with you, take a deep breath rather than overthink ‘why am I always the problem in my relationship?’. The first step to a happy relationship is realizing the problem. Now that you know what is going wrong, you can face it head-on and work toward it. Bonobology has a wide range of counselors who are only a click away and will be happy to guide you through the same.