It's sad but true: Sometimes a good relationship goes south. Through no fault of either party, there are times when one or both halves of a partnership want out. If you think you might be ready to give up on your relationship, there are signs that manifest in your daily interactions with your partner that may help cement your decision. It's OK — maybe you're just not that into your boo anymore. It happens.
And if it's happening, you might be the last to know. Your friends and family might be aware of a slowly widening rift between you and your partner, but maybe you're in denial. Or perhaps you have an inkling, but you don't want to face the problem. Clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York. She says that there are both obvious and not-so-obvious signs of trouble in paradise. Do you feel trapped? Do you dread going home after work? Or maybe there's something more subtle?
Here are 10 hints that you might be over your relationship and ready to slip out the back, Jack. Or hop on the bus, Gus. You don't need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Lee. And get yourself free. (Shout-out to Paul Simon!)
1. You Never Want Sex
This should raise a flag or two. "Sex plays a vital role in adult romantic relationships," Astarte says. "The intimacy created when we make love becomes a fundamental form of communication between our partners and us." But if you're not down, a schism begins to form between you and your beau. "Lack of sexual interest in our partner is perhaps the first warning sign that we have given up on the relationship (at least as a romantic partnership — there are many healthy couplings that are non-sexual)," says Astarte.
If you're just in a dry spell, don't fret. "Of course, sex drives ebb and flow in every relationship," she says. But if it's more than that, it might be a very powerful sign that you're ready to make a new plan, Stan. "When the thought of making love with our partner stirs nothing in us most of the time, it’s a strong indicator that we’ve given up hope on the union."
2. You Couldn't Care Less What Your Boo Is Up To
If you feel super bored when your partner tells you about their day, it's an indication that you are no longer invested in your partnership. "At the beginning of your relationship, you were invested in your partner’s day-to-day life," Astarte says. "What s/he did, what interested him or her, and how s/he experienced the world played a major part in your blossoming connectivity as a couple."
But if these days, you find yourself inwardly (or outwardly) yawning when your partner drones on about their stupid friend or difficult boss, take heed. "If you’ve given up on the relationship, your partner’s life is no longer of interest to you," says Astarte. "In fact, it may seem futile or even flat-out uncomfortable to ask, 'How was your day?' Your partner’s path in life feels quite far from yours — miles away, emotionally speaking." If you feel like a little tugboat very far away from your partner's harbor, it may be time to face facts and take a serious look at your relationship.
3. You Fight More Than You Talk
This is never good. Fighting is pretty much the worst, and though it's healthy to do once in a while, it's much better to communicate properly with your partner on the regs. "Communication," says Astarte, "is the core of all healthy relationships." If you let daily communication fall by the wayside, "contempt and resentment build up over time." This happens "when conflicts are not adequately resolved through open, nonjudgmental discussion and/or therapy."
Next, cue a "seemingly constant stream of non-productive arguments," she says. "Using extreme words like 'never' and 'always' indicate that we’ve given up on the possibility of change — e.g. 'You never listen to me,' or 'You always have to have the last word.'" It's all downhill from there. "The finite nature of this kind of language leaves no room for improvement in the relationship. The verdict has been handed down." To the gallows, methinks.
4. Your Plans Rarely Involve Your Partner
Remember when you started dating and you wanted to invite your Sig-O to every work party, birthday gathering, brunch, and picnic, no matter how big or small? "In the past, you and your partner may have taken great pleasure in scheduling shared events like dinner, holidays, and parties," says Astarte. If you're feeling less than joyful about your relationship, it's likely that you've started tending to 'make your own plans.' Perhaps you’ve justified this shift by asserting that "s/he does his/her thing, and I do mine," but that can be the start of a slippery slope.
Of course, doing your own thang is a sign of a relationship in fine fettle. Calling a "you do you" attitude "admirable," Astarte warns that it's all about the way you think about the time you spend apart from your partner. Having alone time and chilling with friends and family away from your partner "maintains the balance of autonomy and partnership," she says. "Spending time apart can be a real benefit, as long as you also spend loving and connective time together. If your separate lives rarely unite, it can be an indication that you no longer want them to do so."
5. The Joy Of Being Together Has Peaced Out
Maybe you started out the evening on a mission to have a great night with your partner, but five minutes have passed, and you're already ready to say "uncle." Not a good sign. In a relationship past its prime, "it may seem everything your partner does upsets, embarrasses or offends you," Astarte says. Perhaps you were "once loath to leave each other’s company, even to use the bathroom, but now you avoid bumping into him or her in the kitchen." Eek. "Somewhere along the line, the loving qualities you saw in each other have been painted over with resentment and bitterness." It's hard to bounce back from something like that, and it's very possible that you're deeply considering leaving your relationship, whether consciously or not.
6. You Feel Bad About Yourself When You're Together
When you spend time with your partner, you should feel good about yourself — not awful. "No one likes to feel unhappy in a relationship," says Astarte. But in a dysfunctional partnership, unhappiness can become the norm, and this can lead to feelings of negativity toward ourselves. In part, this is likely because our innermost selves want out of the relationship, and we can start feeling trapped, and angry with ourselves that we are still there.
"If communication with our partner has been reduced to cordialities alternating with nasty snips and outright fights, it takes a toll on how we see ourselves," Astarte says. "There may even be emotional abuse from one or the other, deepening the lack of self-worth. We may ask ourselves how we ended up with this person, and feel poorly about our judgment and subsequently ourselves." Little by little, our self-esteem can take a hit.
7. You're Pissed Or Sad All The Time
"Ideally, our home is an oasis from the busyness and stress of the outside world," Astarte says. This can lead to some pretty awful stuff, like not even wanting to cross the threshold of your own house. "When we are no longer happy in our relationships, we may dread walking through the door. This leaves us feeling unsettled and trapped, even in the privacy of our personal space."
Next, feelings of overwhelm and frustration appear. "That sense of being trapped can, in turn, lead to anger about the situation that the relationship is in. If not properly addressed through healthy discussion or therapy, that anger may either be expressed unproductively (such as through personal attacks on our partner) or repressed." Don't let it go unchecked too long, though: "Over time, repressed anger develops into depression. We feel helpless and sad." If it's gone that far, it's time to take a long, hard look at the state of your relationship.
8. You Complain Constantly About Your Relationship
Are you that person who sits and catalogues every horrible thing your partner has done all week at girlbrunch? "When your relationship is failing — or already dead — you need an outlet," Astarte says. She suggests reaching out: "Speaking to friends and family about your dissatisfaction may help to express some of those frustrations you’re feeling."
Listen to the way you're discussing your partner. "The more fatalistic your tone and language, the more 'checked out' of the relationship you are," she says. There are different ways to go about talking about your problems with your pals. "For example, at a party with friends, you may find yourself refreshing your drink and slipping in a comment like, 'I don’t know what’s going on with John.' This could express concern, and open up a dialog." That's healthy. Not so healthy: "Alternately, in the same scenario, you may remark disparagingly about your partner: 'I can’t believe John insisted on wearing that ugly shirt tonight. He has no idea how to dress.' The resentment in the latter statement is palpable, and indicates disengagement from the partnership." You could also dropping breadcrumbs: "Additionally, you may be prepping your loved ones for the inevitable demise of the relationship." Understandable.
9. You Fantasize About Others, Or Act Like You're Single
It's probably not great if you're flirting with everything that moves. "Although you may not overtly cheat on your partner, excessive daydreaming about what life would be like without him or her — or considering other potential partners, both realistic and fantastical — is a definite sign you’ve pulled away," says Astarte. "Perhaps when you’re alone, you behave as though you are not in a relationship at all. You may refer to yourself in singular terms."
It can be subtle or overt, she says. "For example: You tell your favorite clerk at the bank, 'I’m going to the Cape this summer' when in reality you’re traveling with your partner. The 'we's get weeded out of your conversations with others." You're thinking about what it would be like if you really were alone. "You begin testing the waters to feel what it would be like to be single."
10. You Can See A Future Without Your Partner
It's pretty much curtains if you're fantasizing about a life without your partner. "The relationship has hit such a down point that you begin to imagine life without your mate," Astarte says. "This life feels possible, viable, or even preferable. Playing out the scenarios of a separate life in our minds is a way to rehearse life without our partner. We’re setting the stage for departure from the relationship. Once we’ve imagined this solitary life enough times, the reality is typically not far behind."
And that is totally OK. It's a huge relief to leave a partnership that's gone sour. The beauty of leaving a relationship that is no longer working is that we get the chance to live the life we're truly destined for, and free ourselves up for a happier, healthier love someday in the future.
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