Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your relationship is actually headed for the rocks. Or you might suspect that, in fact, it’s already over. But is it just a normal part of a relationship to be in conflict sometimes? How do you know if it’s really in trouble?
Most of us get uncomfortable thinking about ending any long term partnership. It’s super scary to leave a comfortable relationship even if it’s not fulfilling, even if we become unhappy or close to miserable. We stay in what we know. We don’t want to hurt another person.
Plus, it’s hard to move furniture. And change your whole life.
Here are several ways to tell that your relationship might be headed for trouble (or really over).
The romance is gone.
It feels like you are watching TV with your brother or sister. You have no desire to make out or hold hands. You’d rather sit on your end of the couch and snuggle with the dog.
Sometimes that’s totally okay. Who wouldn’t want to hang with the dog? But if you feel it all the time, every night, and you freak out when your partner sits down on your side of the couch to be next to you, start re-evaluating.
You don’t care what they think.
You stop dressing up, you wear your old underwear to bed, you don’t care if your partner sees you without makeup or with dirty hair. This could mean you finally found someone who accepts you for who you are, or it could mean you just don’t care what they think anymore.
This is also totally normal. We all want to be ourselves with our partners. But if you stop putting in any effort, how do you expect your partner to continue to be attracted to you? Maybe it’s a sign that you really are just done.
You can’t orgasm with them anymore.
You can’t relax when you make love and haven’t had an orgasm for as long as you can remember. You used to have erotic orgasms and climax when they looked at you funny, but now it seems like your body just doesn’t respond to your partner the way it used to.
Now this could be caused by lots of things – stress, exhaustion, medication, hormones, or aging. So don’t think the relationship is over just ‘cause you can’t get off.
Stop looking at porn, and focus on your partner for a day or two, maybe take some responsibility for your own pleasure, and see what happens.
You haven’t had sex in months.
You haven’t made love to your partner in months. Yes, sex comes and goes, and you might find yourself in a dry spell. And disinterest in sex could be a sign that you are feeling stressed or you are just tired (see above). But it could also be a sign that one of you is out the door.
Don’t leave yet. Talk to your partner. Figure out what is going on. Talking about sex could actually lead to more sex.
You can’t stand their smell.
Sometimes our bodies know before our minds do. If you can’t stand the way your partner smells, it might mean you’re done. But let’s be clear – if you don’t like the way they smell when they come home from working out at the gym, that doesn’t count. I mean all the time. If you want to put your hand over your face to avoid having their scent anywhere near you, and you used to love it, that could mean their pheromones have become a total turn off.
But it could also mean they’ve been eating something disgusting or they need a new cologne or a freaking shower. Don’t breakup. Just tell them you love to take baths and get them in that bathtub.
You don’t like their touch
Or maybe you’re turned off by the feel of their touch. Do you recoil when they put their hands on you? Do you hate their kiss? This is not a good sign. It could be the beginning of the end.
Or it could be a sign that you are angry and frustrated and you need some space. Talk about what you are holding inside. Intimacy means sharing your feelings, even the bad ones.
You are trying to meet other people.
Do you find yourself on the Internet trawling, looking to meet other people? Are you looking up your old boyfriend or girlfriend on social media and sending them a “Friend” request? Are you perusing dating sites looking for anonymous sex?
This searching behavior could indicate a healthy sexual appetite. Or it could be a sign that you are ready for a relationship outside of your committed partnership, and that it might be time to end the one you are in before you swing to the next branch.
Is your relationship in trouble? Talk to your partner.
If any of these signs are already present in your relationship, talk to your partner. Don’t wait. If you need help to have that conversation, find a therapist. If it’s time, try to end your partnership with intention and kindness.
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This blog was written by Dr. Tammy Nelson, PhD.
Tammy is a sex and relationship expert, an international speaker, an author and a licensed psychotherapist with almost thirty years of experience working with individuals and couples. In private practice she focuses on helping people of all ages, orientations and genders find love, healing and passion.
Tammy is a Board Certified Sexologist, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Imago Relationship therapist, and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. She is the author of When You’re The One Who Cheats, Ten Things You Need to Know, The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity and Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together as well as What’s Eating You: A Workbook for Teens with Anorexia, Bulimia, and other Eating Disorders.
She has many other eBooks including Six Weeks to Erotic Recovery, as well as chapters and articles on topics ranging from sexuality, desire, affair recovery, monogamy issues, open marriage, online infidelity, intentional divorce, passionate relationships and everything related to couples.
She has been a featured expert in NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan, RedBook, MSNBC, Men’s Health, Woman’s Day, and has been a source for Time Magazine. She writes for the Psychotherapy Networker, is a blogger for Huffington Post and YourTango, and can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.