According to most relationship experts, a power struggle is nothing uncommon in the beginning of a relationship with someone new.
You want to show this person that they can’t play with you and you see this as a way of earning their respect.
Even though this is childish and completely useless, power struggles in new relationships are actually quite common and nothing to be worried about.
In most cases, this is not a red flag that your relationship is doomed to fail, as this power struggle stage will go away the moment you two get to know each other and become more certain in the other person’s feelings.
However, if power struggles in a relationship continue even after a while, it can be quite alarming.
It’s a clear sign of deeply rooted insecurities and fragile egos in both partners.
When this happens, the romance stops existing as an equal partnership and it becomes a competition, which is in no way a healthy environment. Sounds familiar, right?
Well, if this is the case, you should definitely keep on reading and see whether you can relate you and your partner to some of these signs mentioned below.
1. You’re both stubborn
The first thing common for couples who deal with power struggles is that they all have incredibly strong personalities.
These are usually hard-headed people who find it impossible to change their minds, listen to someone else’s advice, or look at things from another point of view.
These are the people who don’t give up easily on something they set their minds to and whose stubbornness is their most dominant quality.
As soon as something doesn’t go the way they planned it to be, feelings of powerlessness overwhelm them – and that is something they can’t stand.
Looking at things from this angle, these personality traits seem quite appealing.
After all, the last thing you want is a partner who doesn’t know what they want and doesn’t stand behind their words.
Nevertheless, stubbornness is not good for any relationship, let alone a romantic one.
And that is exactly what is going on with you and your partner.
It appears that both of you would rather die than admit that you’re wrong.
You rarely change your mind and admit something was your fault, even when deep down you know you’ve made a mistake.
This type of arrangement can only work when one person is hard-headed, while the other doesn’t have a problem bending a little (even though this isn’t a healthy relationship either – nobody should be forced to take over the role of a people pleaser or deal with feelings of powerlessness just to keep a loved on from walking away).
However, in your case, this is not a dominant-submissive kind of relationship.
In fact, you both want supremacy and you’re both used to being in charge; that’s exactly why all these power struggles are happening.
2. There’s no compromise
Stubborn people don’t compromise. You and your significant other never put an effort into finding common ground, meeting halfway, and making a decision that will satisfy both of your needs.
There is no healthy ways of communication, no understanding, no trying to look at things from the other person’s point of view.
Neither of you ever take a walk in your partner’s shoes, try to comprehend how they feel, and try to get to the bottom of the struggles they’re going through.
Instead, the only thing that matters is your perspective.
You’re both quite selfish and rarely take the other person’s needs, desires, and feelings into consideration.
Related: 35 Social Media Red Flags In Relationships To Beware Of
3. You make each other jealous
I won’t lie to you – a little bit of jealousy in romantic love is cute.
This is especially the case in the beginning of a relationship when the two of you are just getting to know each other.
After all, you don’t want to appear too desperate in front of your new date.
You don’t want them to think you’ve spent your entire life patiently waiting for them, as if you had no other options and would’ve remained single forever if they didn’t come along.
Besides, you know that this person will fall for you harder if they sense a little bit of competition around the corner.
They will get scared of losing you before even getting you for real and that fear will awaken stronger feelings.
Also, a little jealousy can be a sign that the other person cares.
It would be unnatural for your partner to be completely indifferent towards the possibility of being replaced and to be perfectly okay with you, for example, flirting with other people in front of them.
However, making the other person jealous even though you’re in a committed relationship is definitely a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
But this is exactly what you and your loved one have been doing for as long as you can remember.
Even though you’re not doing anything behind each other’s back, you feel enormous satisfaction whenever you notice you managed to shake their sense of security.
The truth is that neither of you cross the line, so you can’t think that the other person is actually having an affair, but you both use every opportunity to make each other jealous.
It doesn’t matter if you keep bringing your ex to the table, comparing each other to other people, whether you have a habit of flirting right in front of each other, texting other people, or simply disappearing for hours, leaving them wondering what you’ve been up to – your sneaky intention is what matters.
You both want the other person to feel like they could easily be replaced and deprive them from a sense of safety.
Also, every time you two fight or break up, you both make sure your significant other thinks you’ve found someone new in a matter of seconds, even if this person doesn’t even exist.
It’s clear that you both seek confirmation of your partner’s feelings through jealousy.
You want them to see you as wanted and desirable, and you want them to live in constant fear they might lose you in a blink of an eye.
All of this might sound interesting, but it’s actually a red flag that something is seriously off with your romance.
A serious relationship doesn’t bring any doubts and insecurities – it makes both people in it secure.
Let me tell you one thing. Jealousy is not a proof of genuine feelings. Instead, it’s a sign of someone’s huge ego.
And just because your partner acts like they couldn’t stand seeing you with someone else, it doesn’t have to mean that they love you for real.
Maybe they just couldn’t bear the possibility of someone taking what’s theirs.
Remember: Just because you’re a couple, you don’t magically own each other.
Also, doing things in spite of each other won’t bring you anywhere.
4. It’s important who sends the first text
When you meet a new person, you calculate your every move, including the texts you send.
You measure the time of their last reply and make sure you don’t rush with your answer (so they don’t notice that you spent hours staring at your phone, waiting for a text back.)
You avoid double or triple texting them. You keep track about who sent more good morning or good night texts, who sent which emoji, and so on.
As much as all of this might sound immature, the truth is we all do it.
You don’t want to appear too needy or look like you don’t have a life of your own.
However, this is another practice that ends when you enter a committed relationship. At least with most couples.
Nevertheless, everything, including this, is way different between you and your partner.
For you two, it is still important who sends the first text during the day, who takes longer to reply, and who’s the first one to reach out when you’re in a fight.
Not only that, these mind games include social media as well.
You both keep track of who watched whose story first, who put more likes and comments on whose status update, and who posted a picture of you together to their wall.
Sounds frustrating and nerve-wracking, right? Well, besides this, it is also dangerous for the future of your relationship.
And the worst thing is you don’t talk about it.
Instead, while all of these power struggles are happening, you’re both pretending that everything is in perfect order and all of this is normal and usual.
After all, if you’re involved with a person who’ll see you as a lunatic or stalker just because you sent them a few text messages in a row, maybe it is time to reconsider your choice.
Are you really willing to play these games for the rest of your life?
5. And who initiates dates
The same goes with your dates. Despite the length of your relationship, both of you still care about who proposed more get-togethers and who invited whom on a date.
Even if you want to see your partner today, you won’t ask them out just because you did that the last three times. How childish!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should go around, begging someone to spend time with you while they couldn’t care less whether they’ll see you or not.
However, does it really matter who initiated more dates, after all this time?
What you need to keep in mind is that all of these calculations, besides being childish and without an actual point, are also decreasing the quality of your relationship.
You see each other way less than you would both like to and you both get frustrated if you feel like you’re dragging the other person by the sleeve.
6. You compete when it comes to money
Another surefire sign of power struggles in a relationship is strongly connected to money.
When you’re in a committed romance, it’s perfectly natural that both partners share everything they have, but this is not the case between you and your significant other.
I’m not saying it’s acceptable for one person to take care of all expenses while the other acts like a typical gold digger.
However, does it really matter who pays more and most importantly, who earns more?
But this is exactly what’s going on between you and your partner. No, neither of you avoids taking the check – you’re actually doing completely the opposite.
It seems like the two of you are competing about who has more money and who earns more.
You can’t wait to brag to your partner about your new purchase and make it clear that you’re the one who can afford more.
The same goes with your careers as well. You use every opportunity to put each other’s jobs down and present them as totally irrelevant.
A mature love relationship is about pushing each other to accomplish more. It certainly doesn’t include lowering the other person’s self esteem and making them feel as less worthy just because they’re not doing their dream job at the moment or because they earn less money than you.
7. It matters who’s right
All couples fight – there’s absolutely no doubt about that and whoever’s trying to convince you otherwise is lying.
After all, according to almost all relationship experts, an argument now and then is one of the romantic relationship challenges we all face and actually a sign of a healthy relationship.
It’s perfectly normal for two people to disagree on something.
Yes, you might not have any issues in the honeymoon period, but as soon as you take your rose-tinted glasses off and the romantic love stage passes, it’s inevitable for some things regarding your partner to start bothering you.
That said, if what you have is a mature love, your fights will be productive. It will serve you both to find a common ground and solution to whatever you’re dealing with.
In serious relationships, it is always you two against the problem.
You stand united, looking for a resolution and for the best way to put this issue behind you, without it affecting your relationship any further.
Healthy ways of arguing include partners who take responsibility and don’t have a problem with admitting they are guilty.
They work on their communication skills and do their best to surpass this phase and proceed to the next stage of their relationship.
However, when it comes to you and your partner, things are nowhere near this.
Instead, you see each one of these relationship challenges as a threat that could put an end to your relationship.
Neither of you is ready to take responsibility for their actions and instead of trying to work things out, the only thing that matters is who’s right and who got what they wanted.
You don’t look for closure, you look for a personal victory.
When you fight, you forget about your communication skills, you insult and humiliate each other, and even when you realize that you’re wrong, you don’t admit your mistakes, even if your life depends on it.
Even when your partner tries to call you out on your actions, you see it as an attack. Instead of listening to their arguments, your defensiveness wakes up.
Consequently, you never get to the bottom of the problem nor do you make sure it doesn’t repeat.
Instead, both of you end up resentful, holding grudges as ammunition to fire at your significant other as soon as the next opportunity arises.
8. And who cares more
Whether you’re aware of this or not, the final goal of each one of these power struggles is merely one thing: not being the one who loves more.
You make your partner jealous and don’t want to be the one who first professes love, the one who forgives more, or the one who initiates dates just out of fear that you’ll be left hanging.
You see, this kind of behavior is understandable and somehow acceptable in the initial love stage.
You’re overly careful because you still don’t know who you’re dealing with.
You’re scared that you’re the only one who fell in love while the other person couldn’t care less, and you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself by exposing your true emotions right away.
Neither of you wants to be the one who says “I love you” first and you don’t want to admit how crazy you actually are for the other person, until you’re certain of their emotions too.
You don’t want to be the first to show your vulnerabilities, who invests in more effort and shows more affection, and who puts themselves out there completely.
So, you refuse to tear down the thick walls around your true personality and keep on acting heartless.
However, once your romantic relationship reaches the next stage, all of this should become a thing of the past.
The honeymoon period is over and you two are still together, which makes it obvious that you love each other. So what’s the point of faking indifference?
Instead, the end of the power struggle stage is the time in which you both should put an effort into proving to each other the intensity and strength of your unconditional love.
The period in which you should compete in who loves whom more, instead of doing everything in your power to show that you’re the one who cares less.
9. You play mind games
Sending mixed signals, blowing hot and cold, pretending to be hard to get – these are all signs of low self-esteem and insecurities.
Sadly though, this has become a usual pattern in most new relationships in modern dating.
Nevertheless, what’s even worse is when this kind of behavior continues – and this is what’s happening to you.
Instead of having open communication and being completely honest with your partner about both of your feelings, desires, deepest fears, and relationship goals, you do completely the opposite.
When you’re bothered with something your significant other did, you give them the silent treatment, instead of talking things through like adults.
Instead of telling them when you’re hurt and kindly asking them not to repeat their mistakes, you plot your revenge and wait for the best opportunity to get even.
Neither of you is consistent and you’re not constants in each other’s lives.
Instead, you’re always in some kind of an on-and-off relationship in which you basically never know where you stand.
There are periods when you act like you couldn’t live without each other and then days when you act like each other’s worst enemy.
You come and go, and are trapped in an endless circle of breakups and makeups, in which it’s only important who came crawling back more often and who was the one who left more times.
Your relationship would be non-existent if you’re both not putting in effort into dissecting the other person’s texts, words, and actions.
Nothing is clear and you never know what tomorrow brings.
Yes, this might sound thrilling – it’s never boring and it keeps the sparkle alive.
However, this kind of behavior is a major red flag and definitely not a basis for a functional relationship in the future.
10. You put each other down
Another clear sign that a couple is dealing with power struggles (or going through a power struggle stage) in a relationship is the way they use every opportunity to put each other down.
You see, when you’re in a mature relationship, you and your significant other have open communication and can tell each other everything, but as relaxed as you are, you don’t call each other names nor do you use jokes that you know might hurt the other person.
Well, with you and your partner, everything is quite different.
You’re constantly insulting humiliating each other (especially in front of others) and do everything you can to show the other person they’re beneath you in every way possible.
Instead of praising your loved one, you’re using every opportunity to point out their flaws, make them look bad, and feel as if they’re not enough.
It is obvious that you both want to be dominant and think that the only way of achieving this is to devalue the other person to the max.
At the same time, both of you refuse to accept that if you want your relationship to work, you have to be a team.
There’s no leader and no follower – you’re equal partners who should go through life shoulder to shoulder next to each other.