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Do Relationships Really Take “Work”?

Photograph of two young women, each with dark hair, wearing black leather jackets. One is leaning on the other's shoulders.

Do Relationships Really Take “Work”?

Some people stay in relationships that aren’t very healthy because they’ve heard that relationships take “work,” and therefore they should be difficult. At loveisrespect we know that relationships do take work, but maybe not in the way a lot of people think.

The work that goes into a healthy relationship isn’t necessarily difficult or exhausting. Think about a hobby you’re really into, or a school project you got really psyched about. Those things take work, and sometimes they might even be a little frustrating, but in the end it’s work that you find fun, inspiring or engaging. That’s how a relationship should feel!

This isn’t to say that relationships should never have conflict; sometimes they do, because partners are different people with different needs. But the “work” that goes into resolving conflict should be mutual and respectful, and no one should walk away from conflicts feeling disrespected or unheard. Disagreements in a healthy relationship aren’t about who “wins” or who can say the meanest things. It’s not about tearing each other down, it’s about building each other up! That’s why it’s so important for both partners to listen, try to understand each other and figure out a way to make things better together. That can take a certain kind of work, of course, but ultimately your relationship will be stronger for it. If one partner isn’t willing to put forth the effort of making a relationship grow and thrive, then it might be time to reconsider whether the relationship is worth continuing.

We think Molias at Scarleteen sums it up really well:

What that “work” looks like to me (in a healthy relationship) is doing something like painting a room together – maybe you have to compromise on the color, and neither of you are SUPER into painting near the ceiling up on a ladder, but you switch off and it’s fun to hold a bunch of paint chips up to the walls while you’re deciding on what color paint to buy. At the end of the day you’re tired and the paint fumes have gotten pretty gross, but the room looks fantastic and it feels great to go eat some pizza in celebration. It’s something that took shared effort and maybe some momentary frustration, but ultimately it’s making both your lives better and more colorful. That sort of work doesn’t really feel like work at all; it’s taking time to listen to a partner and take their needs & wants into account, and trusting that they will do the same for you.

Do you feel like your relationship is too much work, or that your partner isn’t considering your needs or feelings? You can always call, chat or text with a peer advocate. We’ll talk it through with you!

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