Recently, I celebrated two years of being officially divorced. It made me smile but it also made me think about all the reasons why relationships fail, and exactly when I saw the warning signs because let’s be honest, they’re always there.
In an ideal world, relationships would never end and everyone would fall in love with the first person they meet and get their happily ever after. In the real world, we all know that just isn’t how love goes. People change, our lives change and this can make or break relationships. All kinds of relationships end and despite what the movies tell us, splitting up doesn’t have to be acrimonious or full of regret and unrequited love. Often people simply drift apart and fall out of love. It’s boring but true.
The romantic in me believes that love is always worth fighting for, however, I’m also quite logical. Sometimes, you just need to know when to quit. This is why if you see just one of these signs, it’s definitely time to talk. More than one? Maybe it’s to accept the facts, the relationship is dead, move on.
So what are the signs that your relationship is dead?
I have to be honest, this isn’t an exhaustive list. These are just ideas that I’ve gathered from talking to friends and naturally from my own experiences. However, I’m willling to bet that many of us have experienced these in our time and can identify with one or two.
1. When you need them and they aren’t there
This could be as simple as having had the worst day ever and needing to talk to someone or to more important things such as bereavements and emergencies. I’ll never forget finally giving up hope that my marriage would get better, when during my second pregnancy I was rushed to hospital and my ex-husband refused to come. Instead my mum, who at the time was going through chemotherapy, was there for me. I remember at the time coming to the realisation that if I couldn’t rely on him for the big things, the little things had no hope.
Whatever the reason for your distress, if your partner doesn’t take the time to check on your well-being, it’s a huge red flag: they simply don’t care enough about you to be concerned by the fact that you need them. By not trying to make themselves available in some way during in your time of need, especially when they know that you need them, they are behaving completely unfairly. It’s selfish and selfish people do not make good partners. Ask yourself, how would you respond if the shoe was on the other foot?
2. When communicating feels like an effort
This is such a millennial problem but when the ‘good morning’ messages and ‘mid-day check-ins’ stop because frankly you can’t be bothered, you need to consider the relationship. It takes seconds to send a text message and it can mean so much to the recipient. I also don’t buy that it’s impossible to find the time. We all find time for the things we want to find time for. I find so much time to browse makeup websites…
The same message applies to finding the time to actually talk. If all of your conversations have dwindled to the kids’ routines, work schedules and whose turn it is to clean the bathroom, it’s not a good sign. I know these things should be and need to be spoken about, but so should your hopes, dreams and what you would do first if you could move to Wakanda.
3. When you start to fantasise about life without them
Having time to yourself is always a good thing, in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s an essential part of a healthy relationship. Everyone needs me-time. The problem comes when you actively look forward to every single time your partner is away. When you want more and more me-time and less ‘us-time’ start to worry because before you know it, you’re decorating an imaginary apartment, working out if you can survive on one salary and secretly dividing up the shared friends. When this happens, it’s time to go. Your partner’s presence not absence should enhance your life and if you’re happier and less stressed when they’re not around, it speaks volumes.
4. When other people assume you’ve split up
To be clear, I’m not saying that you should share every single aspect of your private life with the world, but if friends and family are starting to wonder if you’re still together because you don’t seem to be doing anything together anymore, alarm bells should ring. If you no longer talk, even remotely affectionately about your partner to the point that people wonder if you’re still together, then you need to actually ask yourself if the relationship is still there.
5. When everything else is more important
Got an oven to clean? Need to pluck every single hair from your body? Suddenly have a desperate urge to fold piles of laundry? I’m being extreme but if you would rather do anything then spend quality time with your partner, it’s safe to say it’s over.
6. When you don’t miss their absence
I completely believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder. There are a few people that I miss if I don’t see them for a while and to be fair, The Boy is one of them. If you aren’t actively looking forward to seeing your partner after an absence, why are you wasting your time with them? If you don’t care if they are out every single night and struggle to make time for you, find someone who makes your heart beat faster at the thought of catching up with them.
7. When intimacy is gone
Well obviously the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever and living together, a busy work-life and of course kids can cause your love life to go on the backburner. This is all understandable and normal but when physical intimacy, and I don’t just mean sex, but also kissing, hand-holding and cuddles dwindles to nothing, what is separating your relationship from your friendships?
8. When nothing they do bothers you
This is kind of linked to previous points but when your partner is trying to tell you about something that is important to them and it’s taking all of your strength to not do a massive eye-roll or yawn, call it quits. It’s not essential to have the same interests as your other half, but you should be interested in the fact that they are passionate about something and want to share in their joy.
9. When everything they do bothers you
At the risk of revealing my inner diva, I can definitely identify with the Beyoncé song Flaws and All. I’m not perfect, nobody is. But the whole point of love is that you love your partner regardless of their flaws. When everything from the way they never make the bed, to leaving the toilet seat up fills you with red, hot rage, it’s probably time to call it a day.
10. When you don’t censor what you say about them
This is quite an important one for me because I know the moment that I decide to breach the privacy of the relationship, in my head I know it’s over. As women, we all talk about our relationships and from time to time we all vent. The problem comes when all we do is vent our frustratations about our partners and discuss confidential matters and our inner most feelings before we’ve explained them to our partner.
The problem with this is two-fold. It means that you have a lack of respect for the privacy of your partner and additionally, if you tell other people about your doubts about the relationship or about any other relationship issues that you might have, in their eyes the relationship is weakened. It’s then hard for your family and friends to be around your partner because they may feel embarrassed or angry depending on what you have shared, and having been in a relationship where everyone (justifiably) hated my partner, it’s hard and isolating.
Is your relationship dead?
Well, that’s hard for any outsider to comment on. Personally, I feel if you’re seeing a couple of these signs, tak to your partner and see if you can resolve it. The caveat being that you have to both want to make it work for it to work.
If reading this post is making you mentally tick off a checklist and you are identifying with every single point, then maybe it’s time to leave. There is nothing worse than staying in a relationship when you’ve mentally checked out. It’s soul destroying regardless of which side you’re on. However, particularly if it’s a long-term relationship and children are involved, I would definitely advise you to think your next steps through carefully and get them straight in your head before you act. Breakups are emotional enough without adding in doubts and regrets.
Have you ever experienced any of this in the past? Is there anything you’d like to add to this list?