They say all good things must come to an end, but is your relationship one of them? Sometimes, it’s obvious when a relationship is over—other times, not so much. If you’re questioning the future of your relationship, look to these signs that it might be doomed.
- You’re keeping score. You know how many times you took out the trash, how often you initiated sexy time, and how much money you spent on your last date night. And you also know that you contributed to all those things more than your partner. Sound familiar? Keeping score in relationships is common in imbalanced or one-sided relationships, but it’s not a healthy way of dealing with your problems. After all, you and your partner should be on the same team, not keeping score and competing against each other. But if you and your partner are behaving more like rivals than teammates, your relationship may be doomed.
- You’re shutting down and shutting up. You know how it goes: you’re in a huge argument when you or your partner suddenly shuts down and stops talking. This behavior is called stonewalling, and though it’s a common coping strategy during arguments, it’s a toxic one that’s best avoided. A better alternative is to directly tell the other person that you need a timeout, which can give you each a chance to cool down and gather your thoughts. But regularly going cold and giving the silent treatment signals bigger issues in the relationship.
- You can’t see the positives. When a relationship is nearing its expiration date, it can be hard to see the positives. Instead, everything seems bad: your partner doesn’t listen, there’s no chemistry anymore, and even the way they brush their teeth is annoying. But this especially becomes problematic when you can no longer appreciate the good things in the relationship. Of course, for some relationships that have been tarnished by betrayal or other major conflicts, little favors and niceties won’t cut it. But in other cases, you might over-exaggerate the bad while overlooking the good. If you want to keep your relationship going, acknowledge both the positives and negatives in order to get the full picture. And if you really can’t see past the problems, it probably means your relationship is totally doomed.
- You’re overstepping boundaries. For a relationship to last, both people must feel safe and respected. And that means respecting each other’s boundaries. But if you or your partner has started to make a habit out of overstepping and challenging the other’s boundaries and needs, the relationship is bound to fail. Pressuring the other to do things they don’t feel comfortable doing or violating each other’s privacy are toxic behaviors that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
- You belittle each other. Some people’s love language just isn’t words of affirmation, and that’s okay. But if you’ve replaced the occasional compliment or “thank you” with sarcasm and insults, consider this a red flag for your relationship. Belittling each other isn’t only completely disrespectful; it also hides deeper resentments and anger in the relationship. Without working hard to uncover these feelings and resolve them together, your relationship doesn’t stand a chance.
- You treat the relationship like a chore. Relationships can be hard, but they shouldn’t land in the same category as cleaning the toilet or visiting the DMV. When you or your partner treats your relationship like a chore, it’ll inevitably start to feel that way. Quality time will feel draining, and your once-passionate sex life will feel like an obligation. And like most other chores, you’ll probably want to get it over with quickly so you can move on to better things.
- You look for ways to escape. Independence is healthy in a relationship, and time to yourself is a must. But if one of you constantly craves time away, like you’re in desperate need of an escape from the relationship, it might mean that it’s better to end things for good.
- You’ve stopped listening to each other. You might think you’re listening, but are you really? How often do you plan your next line of defense in an argument instead of actually absorbing what the other person is saying? Active listening requires listening, confirming and validating the other person’s point of view, and asking questions to find out what they need. During the most explosive fights, it’s common to throw active listening to the side and charge forward with defensiveness and criticisms. But if that’s how you handle all your disagreements, never taking time to truly listen to each other, your relationship might be doomed.
- You don’t care to fix things. A lot of people assume that big fights spell doom for a relationship, and that can be true sometimes. But often before a relationship ends, things actually get quiet, and the distance between partners widens. Then, there are fewer arguments, but also fewer attempts at improving problems and learning about each other’s differences. If you or your partner no longer care to fix the relationship, it’s probably time to officially give up.