11 brutal signs your relationship is holding you back from reaching your full potential

I’ve seen firsthand how a relationship can make or break a person. 

If you’ve got a healthy, supportive relationship, nothing can hold you back. 

But what if you’ve got the opposite? What if your relationship is draining, leaving little time to focus on yourself? 

That’s what I’ll be covering today – 11 brutal signs your relationship is holding you back from reaching your full potential. 

Let’s dive in: 

1) You prioritize the relationship over your goals

I know all too well how a relationship can stop you from achieving your goals – I watched my cousin give everything up because she was so focused on her partner. 

This included new career opportunities because “it would mean she wouldn’t be home as much.”

Don’t get me wrong, often this isn’t a conscious choice you’re making. 

But if you’re in a demanding relationship or your partner expects a lot from you, it’s natural to sacrifice other things – in this case your goals – to see your relationship survive. 

But here’s the thing:

A relationship should support you in reaching your goals, not hold you back. And while relationships require effort, they shouldn’t be all-consuming. 

2) You sacrifice your needs without support

We all make sacrifices in our relationships, but if your partner never acknowledges the things you’ve given up, it’s a sign you’re being held back from reaching your full potential. 

For example:

When I was studying, my partner was kinda just hanging around, waiting for me to be done. He spent a year in my hometown, basically in limbo, and I really appreciated it. 

So in return, when I graduated, I suggested that we move so he’d have better career opportunities. 

We both made sacrifices, but we both also acknowledged and supported each other in getting back on track. 

If you’re not receiving the same, you’ve got to ask yourself, why? 

3) You feel more drained than energized

This is probably one of the biggest red flags to look out for. 

A relationship shouldn’t drain you. And if it does, you’re certainly in no position to live your best life. 

I know how this feels; you’re constantly tired, feeling down, and distracted. Not a great recipe for pushing your limits and expanding your horizons. 

On the other hand, a healthy relationship will set you up for exploring your potential. You’ll feel motivated, supported, and optimistic for the future. 

4) You lose your sense of self-identity

This happened to the cousin I mentioned earlier. 

She was such a go-getter. Always on the move, studying, working, and enjoying her passions such as travel and playing guitar. 

All of that changed when she got into a relationship (with the wrong guy I may add). 

It’s almost like she forgot who she was. Everything became “We”. 

And I have to say, her total immersion into the relationship meant she stopped caring so much about developing herself. 

She passed up on career advancements, stopped investing in self-care, and essentially, based her entire identity around her relationship. 

5) You miss out on professional opportunities

Whether it’s turning down a job opportunity, missing out on networking events, or passing up on further education, if you feel you can’t do any of the above because your relationship consumes your time and energy, it’s not a good sign. 

Maybe you’re tired. 

Maybe your partner doesn’t see the importance of advancing in your career. 

Whatever the reason, missing out on such opportunities can prove to be detrimental to your future. 

Because if your relationship ends, what will you be left with? 

Years spent being stagnant and not developing yourself – not a good place to find yourself in. 

6) You experience diminished self-confidence

Now, if your partner constantly criticizes, belittles, or offers no encouragement, you may find your self-confidence at an all-time low. 

And naturally, that’ll stop you from trying new things or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. This is something I experienced with an ex. 

He was incredibly negative and would point out all my flaws (regularly). Within 6 months of being together, I was a shell of the person I used to be, but luckily I got out before it got worse.

In contrast, my current partner is very uplifting and loves to see me succeed. It’s with him that I’ve advanced the most in my personal development – he gives me the space to grow.

This goes to show how much a relationship can affect how we see ourselves. 

7) You are discouraged from exploring new interests

pic1923 11 brutal signs your relationship is holding you back from reaching your full potential

If your partner scoffs, mocks, or downright forbids you from trying out new things, you need to think seriously about whether this is someone worth staying with. 

I had a friend who wanted to travel abroad for a week to attend a spiritual retreat – something she always wanted to do. 

Her boyfriend accused her of wanting to go just to sleep with other men behind his back (crazy, I know). In the end, she canceled because of all the aggravation he was giving her. 

It’s sad to say, but some people will limit their partners due to their own insecurity, fears, or desire to control. 

And if you relate to this point, know that no one should ever dictate what you can and can’t do. 

Ultimately, if someone is trying their best to discourage you from exploring new interests, they probably don’t have your best interests at heart

8) You see little to no personal development

Ask yourself – have you grown as a person in this relationship? 

Or are you in the same place as when you first got together? 

If you’ve not experienced:

  • Personal growth 
  • Achievements (big or small)
  • Advancements (whether that be at work, in your personal life, hobbies or more) 

Then something isn’t right. 

Whether you’re just completely consumed by the relationship or your partner is intentionally holding you back, it’s worth thinking about why you haven’t progressed at all. 

9) You are surrounded by constant negativity

Negativity kills ambition. 

It can so easily stop you from reaching your full potential because while you try to look for opportunities, the other person is busy trying to put a dampener on everything you’re interested in. 

I remember telling my ex that I wanted to go on a girly holiday with my cousins. 

I was so excited because I loved to travel and this time I could organize everything myself (without parental involvement). 

He laughed and told me I’d make a mess of it. He then went on to list all the dangers of traveling alone as women. 

Funnily enough, the entire trip was a success and we had a great time. That was the turning point in gaining back my confidence, and it wasn’t long after that I ended the relationship. 

Let this be a reminder that it’s never too late to take back your autonomy and regain belief in yourself. 

10) You become isolated from friends and family

When you’re trying to reach your full potential, it helps (a lot) to have the support, love, and motivation of your loved ones. 

But if your relationship isolates you, it could be another sign it’s holding you back. 

Let’s say your partner doesn’t get along with your tribe; rather than letting you hang out with them alone, they’ll get annoyed every time you want to see them. 

Slowly but surely, you see your family and friends less and less. 

This isolation can cause you to become lonely and even lead to anxiety and depression. 

None of which is conducive to living a fulfilling, well-rounded life. 

11) You stay for fear of being alone, not for growth

And finally, if you’re not staying in your relationship because of love, but rather because you fear being alone, it might be time to confront some difficult truths. 

I used to feel like this until I realized that I needed to be “whole” with or without a partner. 

And that’s when I started valuing myself more, investing in my growth, and pushing my capabilities. 

The truth is, when you do that, you’re in a much better position to attract a relationship that ADDS to your life, instead of taking away from it. 

So, I appreciate this article might not have been very easy to read, especially if you related to the points above. 

But I hope that, ultimately, it’s opened your eyes to the fact that perhaps your relationship isn’t bringing out the best in you and that you could be so much more. 

Picture of Kiran Athar

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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