7 Signs Your Relationship May Be Past Its Expiration Date By Your First Anniversary
If you're planning on being with someone forever, making it to the one-year mark may not be such a big deal. It's obviously not the same as making it past seven years or even 50. But that first year together is crucial. Because according to experts, the habits that you develop as a couple in that first year can really determine if your relationship has an expiration date.
According to relationship coach Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI-MP, couples who last and don't have an expiration date are able to do the following three things: set healthy boundaries, take risks, and have serious conversations.
"Setting boundaries by knowing when to spend time together and when to have some alone time is important," Ponaman says. You also need to take risks and and "make choices that are connected to your true desires of how you want to feel in your relationship," she says. "Even if you're unsure of where it will take you, try new things. Trust that your partner will be right there with you for the ride."
Of course, communication is key. Once you hit that one year mark, you should be able to communicate where exactly your relationship is going. Are you going to move in together soon? Is marriage in the future? "You both want to be on the same page, and that means being completely transparent about what you want," Ponaman says.
So if you and your partner still do these things after one year, your relationship may not be meant to be.
1. You Fight About The Same Issues
"If you’re still fighting over the same disagreements you had in the first months of your relationship after a year, you may need to reevaluate your relationship," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. It’s common to fight and it's normal to have disagreements. But as Backe says, these should be happening in the moment and dealt with then and there. "Constantly bringing up past disagreements may indicate that your relationship is past its expiration date," he says.
2. You Avoid Arguments Altogether
Arguing, believe it or not, is a good thing in relationships. According to Ponaman, having healthy arguments means you’re willing to fight for what you want. "The relationship still means enough to you to want to work through the hardships," she says. "But if you lose that fight or that drive, then the relationship has lost its value to you."
3. You Criticize Each Other (Even In A Joking Way)
Criticism, even if done in a joking way, isn't great for a relationship. Even if one partner laughs it off, it can still be pretty hurtful if said over and over again. "If many of your interactions are full of contempt and criticism [in] your relationship, your relationship is likely past its expiration date," therapist Erika Miley, M.Ed., LMHC, tells Bustle. According to her, couples should be having at least five positive interactions to every negative one. If there's contempt or criticism, it may be time to talk things out together.
4. You Tune Out During Conversations
Couples in healthy relationship get excited by each other’s lives. They like sharing in their accomplishments, their struggles, and their interests. But as Ponaman says, if you find yourself tuning out when your partner is trying to let you in on what’s happening in their life, that usually means you no longer resonate on the same level. "When each partner resonates at a different level, the relationship begins to feel like you’re just going through the motions," she says. "Neither person really cares to be there, but you do it because you still care for them in some way and don’t want to hurt them." When this happens, it may be time to move on.
5. Things Might Become "Boring"
Some couples would say they're "boring" and they're totally happy with that. But there is a difference between being a boring couple and being bored with your relationship. "You can tell that your relationship is not working and probably past its expiration date if you are not having fun together anymore," Irina Baechle, LCSW, Relationship Therapist and Dating Coach tells Bustle. According to her, people are creatures of habit. We get used to certain things very fast. If you feel like you're just with your partner because it's more convenient, when you reach the one-year mark, Beachle says it's time to re-examine things.
6. You Put Up A Front With Each Other
If you and your partner can't be your authentic selves around each other by one year, you may need to reavalute things. One year gives you plenty of time to open up and really get comfortable with each other, Backe says. But if you're feeling like you can't be your true self around your significant other, you may not be in the right relationship.
7. Things Remain Stagnant
You've probably heard how relationships should change you over time. According to Ponaman, that's a good thing. "Relationships that last are able to do so because each person grows both as an individual and as partners," she says. Your partner should challenge you to become the best version of yourself, while still being your one number one cheerleader and support system. "If you find that nothing much has changed over the last year, perhaps ask yourself if the relationship truly supports you to be the best version of yourself, or if it really is a crutch that keeps you in the safe zone," she says.
If you reach the one-year mark and you're still doing any of the above, it doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is doomed to fail. It just means you may have some areas in your relationship that need to be worked on. If you both make a conscious effort to do so, your relationship can get back on a good track.