I had a long term relationship when I was in university and I remember the day we broke up. However, even though that day is the clear end, the relationship was “over” long before then. Many relationships, whether it’s marriages, dating, or even friendships, limp along days, months, or years past their true expiration dates.
People stick with bad relationships for many reasons. It can be loyalty, pity, financial and legal obligation. It could even be out of habit. If you’ve been with someone for a long time, you might just fear moving on because it’s new and different.
However, you also might be confused. You might feel like something is missing with your husband, wife, or partner. You might feel like the magic is gone. You’re asking yourself “is my relationship over?”
This article will offer some signs that your relationship might be over. Keep in mind that every relationship and every person is different. So, your relationship might be fine even exhibiting these signs. But, if you notice several of these signs, then it’s pretty good evidence that, either in your mind or your partner’s, the relationship is nearing an end.
Lack of Attraction
The main thing that separates friendship from a romantic relationship is this: attraction. And, you’d be shocked (or maybe not) at how many people in long term relationships simply aren’t attracted to each other anymore.
Attraction isn’t the same as love. So, this isn’t about loving your partner or not. But, if you were to ask the honest question, “am I attracted to my partner?” could you answer yes?
You don’t have to feel as attracted as you were early in the relationship. Some of that passion will fade. But, you should still be turned on by your partner. If your partner has let him or herself go or a lot has changed, then perhaps the spark is gone.
If so, then you’ve more or less become friends who love each other. If you both accept that, then you can carry on as normal. But, if you feel no attraction and want that feeling for a long term relationship (as most do), then, unless changes are made, the relationship is over.
Lack of Sex
Experts estimate that almost half of all marriages and relationships are sexless or nearly so. That’s a staggering number.
Some people can be in sexless relationships and it’s not “over.” But, for many people, once the sex stops or slows to a crawl, the relationship ends, even if they technically stick around for the kids, the house, or something else. So, if you want to have sex and never get it, then clearly the relationship has changed in a fundamental way. Some people in a sexless relationship would ask “is my relationship over” and say “absolutely!”
Losing An Emotional Connection
Relationships aren’t all about sex and physical attraction, of course. Any meaningful one will also have a strong emotional connection. This can include sharing your thoughts, feelings, and needs and always being there for your partner.
But, these bonds can fade too. You might feel like your boyfriend or girlfriend never listens or doesn’t care. Perhaps you feel closer to a friend or co-worker than your own spouse. Losing the deep emotional connection can make you feel lonely and depressed. If you’ve reached that point, you have to ask what is truly left of your relationship.
You Look Elsewhere For Fulfillment
I’m friends with a couple who recently divorced. Looking at their interests before they separated was quite enlightening. I remember noticing that he followed a bunch of Instagram “models” and often commented on their statuses. She talked all about “50 Shades of Grey.” It turns out, they didn’t have much of a sex life with each other. But, their fantasy lives were great.
This is an example of where partners used to look to each other for fulfillment, but now find it elsewhere. In the case of intimacy, women typically retreat into erotica novels while men go for adult movies and photos. If this applies to you and/or your partner, you should probably find out why!
This can happen in other ways too. Both partners might give their attention to hobbies, their friends, religion, or other things to replace the fulfillment they once had with their partner. Now, I’m not saying these things are bad. However, when they become escapes from a bad relationship, it’s a sign that the relationship is no longer fulfilling. And, once it reaches that point, it’s basically over.
If you seek emotional fulfillment elsewhere, what experts call an emotional affair, it’s also a clear sign your relationship as you once knew it is nearing its end.
I’m a firm believer that individuals should keep a degree of independence in a relationship. I’ve seen too many instances of co-dependence with awful consequences. However, a couple should still be interdependent to a degree.
But, many partners get so far apart emotionally and physically, that they seem to have separate lives. They go to work separately, come home and spend time in different rooms, hang out separately, and pursue different hobbies. They might sleep in the same bed or maybe they don’t even spend their nights together. They have separate friend groups and have very little emotional connection to their partner.
Some people can live this kind of life and be satisfied. But, for many people it’s a sign the relationship isn’t healthy.
You’re In It For Someone Else
Are you in the relationship for yourself (at least to a degree)? Or, are you doing it for someone else? Could you be sticking with your current partner for your children? Maybe your conservative parents don’t like divorce. Perhaps you are staying only for your partner because you will feel guilty if you leave.
Everyone’s life involves compromises and choices. I’m not judging those. But, if you married for love and now you’re only sticking around for the kids or other people, then it’s clear the relationship you once knew is over.
What to Do If You Think It’s Over
First, it’s possible your relationship has entered a new phase. For example, you might be happy with less intimacy and living more separate lives because your number one goal is making the kids happy. Or, maybe your spouse makes a lot of money and you prefer comfort to a vibrant relationship. If you’re content, then don’t fret changes.
Second, anything can be saved. If you once loved each other, you can, through hard work restore your relationship. Couples and individual therapy can help. For some couples, simply recognizing things have changed and resolving to get back on track can be enough.
However, you also might not want to continue to live in a shell of your former relationship. Many people get into relationships at a young age and haven’t experienced other options. It’s possible that your relationship with your partner is over. And, even though it’s difficult, if you move on, you’ll find a better relationship. In this case, the relationship being over is difficult and sad, but it can lead to a new, happier you.