Most relationships start out with a promising and dynamic energy.
With time, though, this can fade. Many couples find themselves feeling stagnant, unable to move forward and unwilling to go back. It is during these times that we must admit we have hit a dead end. We can choose to move forward with courage. We can choose to leave our relationship behind with dignity and strength. We just can’t stay stuck where we are.
Here are five signs your relationship has hit a dead end:
1. You feel lonely.
Loneliness can feel confusing in the context of an active relationship. Many people will stay in a bad partnership simply because they feel lonely. They worry that, logically speaking, breaking up with their significant other will make them feel even lonelier. Fortunately, that’s not how loneliness works. Loneliness comes from a lack of connection to another person – not from a lack of their presence. When your partner becomes disconnected, it can cause a confusing sort of loneliness that can easily be mistaken for true love. As John Green wrote, “You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.” If you are missing your partner while they are still in the room with you, something is not right.
2. Your sex life is all but abandoned.
Maybe you go through the motions and wait for it to be over. Maybe you’ve stopped having sex entirely. When you don’t have a strong personal or emotional connection, it becomes difficult to nurture a fulfilling sex life. In a healthy relationship, sex is fun, engaging, and deeply intimate. If your relationship is otherwise happy, but sex has fallen by the wayside, don’t despair. There are lots of ways to reconnect if you are both committed to doing so.
3. You feel a frequent need to escape.
Your home should feel like a soft place to fall after a long day. If you are dreading time with your partner, your relationship is likely in trouble. Many people fall into this pattern without even realizing it. They put in extra hours at work and tell themselves they are career focused. They hit the gym every evening and claim to be working on their physique. They stop planning date nights because they would rather spend time with their friends than their partner. Balancing time together and apart can be healthy. However, if you find yourself avoiding your partner and purposefully minimizing your time with them, it might be time to reconsider your relationship.
4. Your fights used to be heated. Now they don’t really get to you anymore.
When a couple fights passionately, it’s because they are both deeply invested. They care about their relationship. They care about the problem. They are desperate to fix things. The more you become disconnected from your partner, the less important these fights will start to seem. A fight that once would have brought you to tears might only elicit a snarky comment. Passion devolves into sarcasm. Things that used to feel powerful and important just don’t seem worth fighting for these days.
5. You keep repeating the same fight.
If you are having the same argument over and over again, it is clearly not getting resolved. It might simply not be resolvable. It might be that neither partner is willing to give in. Most likely, though, there is an underlying issue the two of you are not willing to talk about. You revert to an argument that feels safe, rather than addressing an issue that is scary to you both. No matter what the cause, you are running in circles. You have hit a dead end, and you need to find a way out of it – separately or together.
“It’s easy to fall in love, Ben. The hard part comes when you want out,” wrote Colleen Hoover. If your relationship has hit a dead end, you need to turn things around somehow. If both partners are committed, you may choose to go to counseling or talk therapy to get things moving again. If this is not an option, it could be time to summon the courage to leave on your own. You already know you can’t live this way forever.