If your relationship is going through a rough patch and it feels like you've exhausted all of your options, you may want to read one expert's advice.



Dating expert Nichi Hodgson, author of

The Curious History of Dating

, has shared an insightful guide on how to salvage any relationship in a few simple steps.

Speaking to FEMAIL, she said: "It's a cliche that all relationships take work to make them work. But having just written a history of dating, it's definitely true that beyond abuse and major lies, current generations need to do better at sticking out the tedious patches if they want to reap the rewards of long-term love."

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Here, she shares a guide on how you know it's time to salvage your relationship, how to do it and when to know whether it's simply time to walk away.

Where to start

If you're having doubts about your relationship, firstly, you need to draw up an inventory of what you truly want out of a relationship and where your current one is falling short. Ask your partner to do the same. But - be realistic.

Most of us expect our partners to fulfill too many of our needs - quite different to what our grandparents and great-grandparents expected.

Human connection is generally made in five broad areas: sexual, emotional, spiritual, political, educational/work-based. If you're connecting in three out of five of these areas with your current partner that's pretty good going - but ideally, you'd be connecting on the most important ones to you.

Can you get connection with other significant people in your life - close friends, family, trusted colleagues - for the others? Try it before you toss the relationship aside. If there are major aspects of your life that are not fulfilling, a different relationship is not likely to salve this.

Fixing the physical

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Not being sexually compatible isn't a reason to break up. Desire comes and goes in a long-term relationship so it's usually just about restarting the engine, rather than necessarily swapping the vehicle. So ask yourself if you can:

a) Open up a discussion about the sex you're having vs the sex you'd like to have. Both make a list of some things you'd like to try, and pledge to be open to trying something off each other's list (tastes permitting).

b) If the physical aspect of your relationship is lacking, try banning sex for a period of time. Taking the pressure off the physical can often reignite the spark naturally and in the meantime, it's useful to open up discussion about what isn't working for you sexually and asking your partner to do the same.

This can be a painful experience but it's less painful than a significant break-up, and if you're tactful, can turn things around, particularly if the prohibition of sex helps to raise sexual tension again.

c) If the sex is really the only thing troubling the relationship - perhaps it's an otherwise successful long-term marriage with children - as a last resort, ask your partner if they are open to you negotiating sex with other people - either together at swingers parties, or separately via private arrangements.

But be sure to define all the terms before you embark on this - who will you do what with where, when, how - and consider having couples counselling to help you feel it out before you do it.

Boundaries are everything if you are going to experiment with non-monogamy - and so is respect for your partner's feelings. You'll need to be willing to stop and renegotiate if it creates pain and unease. People may say sex is the only reason they are fighting but it's more likely that sex becomes the repository for other anxieties and resentments so couples therapy is the best bet before you take this step.

If you've grown apart

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Can you do some growing back together? Take a holiday to a place you both want to visit. Start a new hobby together. Try something like this for three months before you decide that you really are different people with no shared future.

And if you just don't feel loved - is it because your partner doesn't express love the way you like to receive it? Try reading the Five Love Languages to understand why you might need words but because they show you love in deeds it could be making you feel out of touch - when in fact the feelings are all still there.