- Every relationship has its ups and downs
- But when there seem to be more lows than highs, it may be a sign that something’s not right
- It can be hard to figure out if it’s time to break things off – but here are four signs your relationship might already be over
You’re failing to communicate
Communication is key to making a relationship work – so if you’ve stopped having meaningful conversations with your partner, it’s potentially a sign that something’s off.
A lack of communication can manifest in different ways. Perhaps you’re bickering all the time because neither of you are willing to compromise or truly engage with the other. Or, conversely, you could hardly ever argue, and just not bother to resolve issues with your partner, choosing to repress your feelings instead.
Arguably, this is more worrying than arguing 24/7. As relationship expert Rachel DeAlto says: “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.”
“Are either of you no longer talking about issues or communicating about things that bother you? That is a huge sign that one of you has checked out,” Alto explains.
If you’re looking to try and rectify things, plan activities where conversation should come naturally, such as going for a walk or eating a meal together. If you still find it hard to communicate when there’s literally nothing else to do but talk – or, worse, you’re too apathetic to even plan a date – it may be a sign that you’re flogging a dead horse.
The chemistry’s gone
It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll be in the ‘honeymoon phase’ forever. Arguably, intimacy in a long-term relationship is more about learning to put with up all your partner’s disgusting, human habits, rather than being unable to keep your hands off each other.
As relationship expert Dr Suzanne Vegges-White puts it in a blog post on Psychology Today, “familiarity with our partner can cool off our passion.”
“Novelty and innovation are “sexy,” whereas sharing a home – bathroom, kitchen, whatever – with a partner can make you feel more like roommates than lovers,” she explains.
This might not always be a sign that your relationship is doomed. “If you still enjoy the thought of being intimate with your partner, but don’t feel like you have [the energy], that’s actually a good sign,” Dr Vegges-White says. “Pressure, stress, fatigue, external demands, these all take a lot of the emotional and physical energy that you would need for intimacy with your partner.”
So when do you need to start worrying? “When just the thought of your partner being close or touching you intimately is off-putting or mildly ‘disgusting,’ it may signal that the relationship is in need of an overhaul,” Dr Vegges-White explains.
Relationships are built on more than just physical attraction, sure – but this attraction is undeniably a key component to making a relationship work. If the mere thought of your partner touching you makes you cringe and you find yourself constantly fantasising about other people, that’s not a good sign.
You constantly get on each other’s nerves
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s likely that you find everything your partner does adorable. The way their face screws up when they yawn? Cute. The way they mumble in their sleep? Sweet. The funny way they tie their shoelaces? Endearing.
But one way of ascertaining if a relationship is nearing its end is if you actually start to hate all your partner’s little quirks. It’s like that part in 500 Days of Summer where Tom lists everything he loves about Summer – only to go on to cite the exact same things as reasons he hates Summer, post-breakup.
If you suddenly find yourself snapping at your partner to cover their mouth when they yawn, or else cringing at how they’re a grown adult that can’t tie their laces properly, it’s unlikely that your partner’s behaviour is the issue and more likely that you’ve got some soul-searching to do.
Perhaps you’ve caught the dreaded ick, defined in The Independent by Dr Becky Spelman, psychologist and clinical director of Private Therapy Clinic, as “the sudden onset of the feeling that a person to whom one was previously attracted is suddenly unattractive to the point where physical contact seems revolting.”
According to Dr. Vegges-White, the ick isn’t something to be taken lightly. “When you can’t stand looking at your partner or dread your partner’s return home or feel like you’re going to scream if your partner starts telling the same joke […] then you probably need to sit down and talk honestly about whether or not the relationship is growing into what both you and your partner need it to be.”
You stop making future plans
While planning weekend breaks and romantic getaways might have once been a source of excitement for the pair of you, if you’ve started to find it awkward to try and make plans that are months in the future, alarm bells should be ringing.
“Making future plans is a healthy ingredient for a growing relationship,” says Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure. “It’s also an indicator of the commitment you have to each other.”
This also applies to more serious future plans, too. If you’ve previously chatted about moving in together; having children; or getting married, but now find yourselves purposely avoiding these topics, that’s a clear sign something’s amiss.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth dealing with the issue head-on and asking your partner why they change the subject every time you suggest going house-hunting. Or, if you’re the one that laughs it off whenever your partner mentions children, perhaps it’s time for you to reevaluate if you and your SO are really the best match for each other. If you can’t give them what they need long-term, you owe it to them to let them go.
At the end of the day, avoiding talking to one another is never the answer. It can be hard, but if you’re having doubts about your relationship, communication is the only way forward. Perhaps things are fixable. Perhaps not – having a big chat might mean that you do end things for good – but you owe it to yourselves to split amicably, with everything out in the open, rather than letting resentment settle in and simmer away.