As unhappy as the topic is, figuring out if your relationship is just in a rough spot or if it’s time to say goodbye is better done now than later. Unlike the milk in your fridge, not all relationships have an expiration date. But if yours does, let me help you find out if it has gone sour, or is heading that way.
If this topic is on your mind already, you are no doubt experiencing many uncomfortable, even painful, feelings. If the butterflies in your stomach at the sight of your special someone have been replaced with heartburn when he or she walks through the door (instead of a cozy familiar feeling of a good relationship settling in), you may have a problem.
Does daily life ebb and flow with a natural rhythm, ups and downs, but a general sense of “rightness?” If so – great. Keep at it. Or, do things feel “off” so that you are constantly giving yourself the pep talk, trying to convince yourself to stay? If so, maybe you shouldn’t. Stay, that is. Could be time to cut your losses. Tough as that sounds, it’s better to see the expiration date on the wall, not turn a blind eye to it.
Bottom line: trust your instincts. But there are some things to think about that might help you sort out, and give words to, those instincts.
Although your circumstances are unique to your relationship, the following are definite signs that your relationship is past the expiration date:
- Your values don’t align. If you enjoy the same food and or music and disagree on the big things like family, faith, and finances, you are not compatible. If you are doing things to maintain the relationship that go against your grain, you are acting in opposition of your values. Eventually you will feel resentment or a deep, uneasy feeling within yourself.
- You can’t visualize a future together. If you want to be married one day and yet never mention it to your partner or you can’t imagine having children together, although you know you want children, there’s a disconnect. If you are hesitant about booking two flights for next summer’s vacation because you are unsure if you will still be two, or back to one, it’s a surefire sign that you are putting your life on hold due to the uneasiness inside you. Putting your life on hold does not sound good, does it?
- You are contributing 99.9% to the relationship. Remember, the word “couple” means there are two of you in it. Two equals. If you are doing virtually all the heavy lifting to make this relationship work, it sounds like your partner is not equally committed to it. If that is the case, there’s no way you are getting what you want and need. Move on to find a 50/50 relationship.
- Uninspiring, ho-hum sex life. If you’ve been in a dry spell for what feels like forever and don’t particularly miss having sex, or want to rekindle intimacy on that level, it may be a sign that larger things are lacking in your relationship– more than just no longer being sexually attracted to your partner.
- Bickering and fighting. Are you fighting bitterly about things that surprise you? Things that normally would be “no big deal?” Or are the very normal disagreements that come up in relationships suddenly fertile ground for angry and abusive fights? If so, consideration and thoughtfulness have disappeared from your relationship. If there is no desire to call a ceasefire then you’re at a dead end.
- Continued infidelity. If infidelity has become routine for one or both of you, or if there is an infidelity that you can’t get over, it will be impossible to make your relationship work.
- Your partner wants out. If your partner says it’s over, it’s over.
Delineating, pondering and acknowledging these 7 warning signs is much easier than ending a relationship. But it’s a start. Even when you know it is in your best interests, it is always difficult to acknowledge the end of a relationship. Just thinking that all that time, love and investment has an expiration date is painful. But trust me on this—courageously facing the truth now will save even more heartache later. When a relationship feels over, let it be over.