The Most Difficult Time in a Relationship: Exploring Challenges Along the Journey

Choose the time you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 8, 2023 06:40)
Are you ready to dive into the world of relationship challenges and explore the most difficult moments couples face? Welcome to StrawPoll's latest ranking: "What is the most difficult time in a relationship?" We've put together a list of the most testing times, from the nerve-wracking honeymoon phase to the delicate long-distance trials, and everything in between. But we don't want to stop there! We invite you to cast your vote, share your thoughts, and even suggest other heart-wrenching scenarios we may have missed. Join thousands of fellow voters as we collectively navigate the complex labyrinth of love, and uncover the moments that truly push relationships to their limits. Don't miss out on this emotional rollercoaster - click through to make your voice heard and uncover the most challenging relationship hurdles!

What Is the Most Difficult Time in a Relationship?

  1. 1
    The initial stages of a relationship can be challenging as both parties are trying to get to know each other, establish trust, and build a foundation for the relationship.
    The beginning of a relationship is often hailed as one of the most difficult times, characterized by uncertainty, vulnerability, and a steep learning curve for both partners. It is a crucial period that sets the tone for the rest of the relationship.
    • Emotional rollercoaster: Feelings of excitement, nervousness, and apprehension are common as two people navigate uncharted territory.
    • Insecurity: Both individuals may question their own worthiness, wondering if they are good enough for each other.
    • Communication challenges: Learning to effectively communicate and understand each other's needs can be a source of frustration and misunderstandings.
    • Fear of rejection: There is a fear of being rejected or not fully accepted by the other person, leading to cautious behavior and self-doubt.
    • Laying foundations: The beginning is a time of creating a foundation of trust, shared values, and mutual respect.
  2. 2
    Communication is key in any relationship, and when there is a breakdown in communication, it can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and ultimately, the demise of the relationship.
    Communication breakdown is a state in a relationship where there is a significant breakdown in effective communication between the involved parties. It occurs when there is a failure to express thoughts, feelings, or needs clearly, leading to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of connection.
    • Frequency: Can occur periodically or persistently
    • Cause: Misinterpretations, lack of listening, differences in communication styles, emotional barriers, etc.
    • Symptoms: Arguments, constant misunderstandings, reduced intimacy, avoidance of conversations, silence or withdrawal
    • Effects: Strained relationship, building of resentments, emotional distance, decreased trust, potential break up
    • Resolution: Active listening, empathy, clarification, openness, effective non-verbal communication, seeking professional help if needed
  3. 3
    Cheating or infidelity can be devastating to a relationship, and it is often difficult to repair the damage that has been done.
    Infidelity is a significant breach of trust in a committed relationship or marriage where one partner engages in sexual or emotional intimacy with someone outside the relationship. It is often considered one of the most difficult and painful challenges a couple can face, as it can lead to feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, and confusion.
    • Definition: A breach of trust in a committed relationship involving sexual or emotional intimacy with someone other than the partner.
    • Causes: Various factors like dissatisfaction, unresolved issues, lack of communication, curiosity, or personal vulnerabilities.
    • Emotional Impact: Feelings of betrayal, hurt, anger, sadness, shame, and confusion for both partners.
    • Trust Issues: Infidelity often leads to a significant erosion of trust between partners.
    • Consequences: Breakdown of the relationship, separation, divorce, emotional distress, and potential long-term effects on future relationships.
  4. 4

    Conflicting values

    Dr. John Gottman
    When partners have conflicting values, it can be challenging to find common ground and build a successful relationship.
    Conflicting values in a relationship refers to a situation where two or more individuals in a relationship have differing beliefs, principles, or priorities that are fundamental to their identity or worldview.
    • 1: It can stem from differences in religious or spiritual beliefs.
    • 2: It can arise from differing political ideologies or values.
    • 3: Conflicting values often lead to disagreements and conflicts.
    • 4: It can manifest in different attitudes towards money, career, or family.
    • 5: Conflicting values may result in challenges in decision-making or compromising.
  5. 5

    Lack of trust

    Helpful Assistant
    Trust is essential in any relationship, and when it is lacking, it can lead to feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and suspicion.
    Lack of trust refers to the challenge of not having confidence or faith in the person or system providing personal support. It can arise from previous negative experiences, skepticism, or uncertainty about the competence or sincerity of the support provider.
    • 1: Can make individuals hesitant to seek or accept support
    • 2: May result from a breakdown in communication or unmet expectations
    • 3: Can arise due to a perceived power imbalance between the giver and receiver of support
    • 4: Can hinder the effectiveness of support and personal growth
    • 5: Can be influenced by cultural, social, or personal factors
    Lack of trust in other rankings
  6. 6

    Financial stress

    Parents themselves
    Money can be a significant source of stress in a relationship, especially when there are financial struggles or disagreements about how to manage money.
    Financial stress is a significant challenge for parents that arises from the strain of managing and providing for the financial needs of their children. It is the pressure and anxiety resulting from the financial responsibilities associated with parenting.
    • Income stability: The ability to maintain a consistent and reliable source of income to support the family.
    • Cost of living: The overall expenses required to sustain a decent standard of living for the family.
    • Childcare expenses: The often high costs of childcare services, including daycare or hiring a nanny.
    • Education expenses: The financial burdens related to education, such as tuition fees or school supplies.
    • Healthcare costs: The expenses associated with medical care, including insurance, doctor visits, and medications.
    Financial stress in other rankings
  7. 7
    When partners have different views on parenting or disagree about how to raise children, it can lead to conflict and strain on the relationship.
    Disagreements about children is a common and challenging issue in relationships where the couple has conflicting views and opinions about parenting and raising children. It refers to the disagreements that arise due to differences in beliefs, values, and parenting styles when it comes to making decisions and taking actions related to children.
    • Frequency: Frequent in couples with children
    • Causes: Different parenting styles, cultural differences, differing education beliefs, past experiences, personal values
    • Impact: Can lead to strain in the relationship, arguments, emotional distress, resentment, potential impact on children
    • Resolution: Open and honest communication, compromise, seeking professional help if needed, focusing on the best interest of the children
    • Signs: Frequent arguments about parenting decisions, inability to reach agreements, feeling unheard or disrespected
  8. 8
    Intimacy is a crucial component of a healthy relationship, and when it is lacking, it can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, and disconnection.
    Lack of intimacy refers to a significant decrease or absence of emotional, physical, and sexual closeness between partners in a romantic relationship. It is characterized by a noticeable decline in affection, connection, and mutual understanding.
    • Emotional disconnection: Partners feel emotionally distant, have difficulty communicating, and lack emotional support from each other.
    • Physical distance: There is a decrease in physical touch, such as cuddling, holding hands, or kissing.
    • Decreased sexual activity: Partners engage in less frequent or no sexual activity, leading to a decline in sexual satisfaction.
    • Loss of passion: The intense emotional and physical attraction that was once present diminishes or disappears entirely.
    • Sense of loneliness: Partners may feel alone, even when together, due to the lack of emotional and physical connection.
    Lack of intimacy in other rankings
  9. 9
    When one partner loses attraction to the other, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
    Loss of attraction refers to a declining physical or emotional attraction between two individuals in a romantic relationship. It is characterized by a decrease in the desire or pull towards one's partner, causing a strain on the relationship.
    • Emotional Distance: Couples may feel emotionally disconnected and find it challenging to connect on a deeper level.
    • Lack of Intimacy: There may be a decrease in physical affection, sexual desire, or intimacy between partners.
    • Loss of Chemistry: The initial spark and chemistry between partners may dwindle over time.
    • Reduced Attraction: One or both individuals may feel less physically or emotionally attracted to their partner.
    • Increased Frustration: The lack of attraction can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and dissatisfaction.
  10. 10

    Growing apart

    Over time, partners may grow apart, and their interests, goals, and values may no longer align, leading to the end of the relationship.
    Growing apart is a term used to describe a significant change in the level of connection and compatibility between two individuals in a relationship. It refers to a gradual drifting apart emotionally, intellectually, or in terms of life goals and priorities.
    • Timeframe: Can occur at any stage in a relationship
    • Causes: Changes in personal interests, values, or priorities; lack of communication or emotional investment; external factors like career changes, relocation, or major life events
    • Symptoms: Decreased communication, spending less time together, disinterest in shared activities or future plans, increased conflicts or arguments
    • Effect on emotions: Feelings of loneliness, frustration, resentment, or indifference towards the relationship
    • Impact on relationship: Diminished intimacy, lack of emotional support, decreased relationship satisfaction, higher likelihood of separation or divorce if not addressed
    Growing apart in other rankings

Missing your favorite time?


Ranking factors for difficult time

  1. Communication
    The ability of both partners to effectively communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs is essential in maintaining a healthy relationship. Difficulty in communication can lead to misunderstandings, unnecessary fights, and growing resentment.
  2. Trust
    Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship. When trust is broken or questioned, it can create a significant amount of stress and lead to instability in the relationship. Factors such as dishonesty, betrayal, and past traumas may impact the level of trust between partners.
  3. Conflict resolution
    Every relationship faces conflicts and disagreements. It's crucial to assess how partners handle conflicts – whether they work together to find a solution or allow the issues to fester and grow unresolved.
  4. Compatibility
    Assess how well partners' personalities, values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices align. Differences in these areas can create tension and make it difficult for partners to truly understand and support each other.
  5. Emotional support
    The ability of partners to provide emotional support to each other is necessary for a healthy relationship. When one or both partners are unable to offer support during challenging times, it can lead to feelings of isolation and distress.
  6. Life stressors
    External factors such as financial difficulties, job stress, health issues, or family problems can put significant strain on a relationship. Assessing how well partners navigate these challenges together can provide insight into the resilience of the relationship.
  7. Intimacy
    Emotional and physical intimacy are crucial components of a strong relationship. Assess the level of emotional closeness, affection, and sexual satisfaction, as well as any factors that may hinder intimacy, such as past traumas or health issues.
  8. Personal growth
    As individuals grow and evolve, their needs and priorities may shift. It's important to consider how well partners adapt to these changes and support each other's personal growth.
  9. External support
    The presence or absence of a supportive network of friends and family members can impact the overall health of a relationship. Strong external support can help partners navigate difficult times more effectively, while a lack of support may exacerbate relationship challenges.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult time in a relationship. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or time is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 180 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each time once every 24 hours. The rank of each time is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More information on most difficult time in a relationship

Relationships are an integral part of our lives, and they come with their own set of challenges. From the initial phase of getting to know someone to building a long-lasting connection, relationships require a great deal of effort and commitment. However, there are times when maintaining a relationship can be particularly difficult. These periods can be influenced by a variety of factors, including differences in personality, communication problems, financial issues, and external stressors. Understanding these challenges can help couples navigate these difficult times and emerge stronger and more connected than before. In this article, we explore some of the most challenging phases in a relationship and offer insights and advice for overcoming them.

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