In a world of those highlight reels we call social media, it can be more difficult than ever to accept when we’re not feeling the most amicable toward our romantic partners. Little frustrations here and there often turn into big ones if we aren’t careful. Sometimes it even makes us wonder if we’re just wasting our time with this person who annoys us, considering everyone else on Facebook and Instagram just looks so darn happy all the time.
But there’s actually good news for those of us who find ourselves getting annoyed with our partners, according to a TIME article written by relationship coach Kira Asatryan.
“There’s no doubt that the ability to manage conflict—even low-level conflict—is an essential relationship skill,” says Asatryan, who is also the author of the newly published relationship self-help book Stop Being Lonely. “But I’d argue that there are times when it’s fine—even good!—for partners to annoy each other.”
Specifically, Asatryan says that, deep down, what annoyance could mean in a partnership is that you’ve made it past the honeymoon phase (you know the one—when we’re all still trying to impress our partners with everything we do) and are finally feeling comfortable enough with each other to reveal our true, pizza-for-breakfast-loving, Disney-pajama-sporting selves.
“Expressing one’s authentic self—oddities and all—is a sign of a healthy level of comfort in a relationship,” she adds. “When you start butting heads, it means you no longer feel it necessary to always say the ‘right’ thing—which is a good thing for the longevity of the relationship.”
And while many of us might (understandably) feel worry in the heat of an annoyed moment about where our relationship is going if we feel this way, Asatryan goes on to make some really good points about how feeling annoyed is actually sort of the “middle ground” between the initial relationship excitement and the moment we all hope never happens: when we emotionally check out of a relationship, and it’s pretty much over.
If you’re feeling a little annoyed with your partner, it means you’re still feeling in general,” Asatryan says. “Annoyance in a relationship is not always a bad thing, because it can be a sign that there’s still life in the relationship.
The article also argues that points of irritation should be looked at as opportunities for growth, which makes sense. If something is frustrating one of the people in a relationship, it’s a good idea to dig into whether the annoyance goes deeper than just a one-time thing. And if it does, that’s a place you can both work to figure out and grow together as a result—and a relationship where its participants grow together is always a great thing.
“Sometimes annoyance is pointless, but other times it’s a powerful catalyst for positive change,” Asatryan adds. “I’d suggest that the goal of relationships should not be to eliminate all frustrations with one’s partner. Instead, a better goal might be to recognize annoyance for what it is—a sign that you’re being yourself, a sign that you still feel, and a sign that things could be better—and use it as a tool to grow together.”