10 signs your relationship is probably in its final stages, according to psychology

Every relationship has problems. 

Even extremely harmonious relationships can become boring, stale or lifeless!

But how do you know when your relationship is really on its last legs or whether you should put more time, energy and heartache into it? 

Psychology has valuable insights into whether or not your relationship still has life in it or not. Let’s take an honest look at the top signs it’s time to throw in the towel. 

1) Conversation has become increasingly rare

The two of you rarely talk. When you do, it’s stilted, awkward and uncomfortable. 

You just want to get back to not talking. 

There’s a feeling of detachment in the air, almost as if you’re around an old friend you used to know well or somebody you ended up with by mistake. 

Your immediate reaction when the two of you speak is “Who is this person and why are they talking to me?”

It may be hard to pinpoint exactly why, but you just don’t want to talk to your partner, or vice versa. 

2) There’s a high degree of emotional detachment in the relationship 

The relationship feels like a pair of faded jeans that’s falling apart at the seams and already been patched to death. 

Instead of being comfortable and smooth to the skin, they feel old, grimy and unwelcome. 

You just don’t care. You don’t feel any great connection or your partner doesn’t, anyway. 

You rarely interact beyond a surface level, and you feel emotionally detached when something unfortunate happens to your partner. They seem to feel similarly detached from you.

As clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. writes:

“Similar to a total lack of fighting, a completely detached and superficial civility is often a sign that both partners have checked out.”

3) Emotional and sexual intimacy has waned to almost nothing

You rarely sleep together and emotional sharing is near 0. 

You just don’t feel much attraction to them, or vice versa. The thought of sleeping together or sharing a bonding and close experience with them fills you (and/or your partner) with boredom and indifference.

“If your sex life has gone from 60 to 0, it is a bad sign that your relationship is on the fritz,” observes relationship expert Rachel DeAlto.

In some cases, it may be that one of you is very much still emotionally attached and sexually attracted but the other isn’t, of course. 

The problem is that even if one of you is still into the relationship continuing, it has to be mutual, and you or your partner isn’t able to sustain the connection solo.

4) One or both of you go out of your way to avoid each other 

If your relationship has crossed into an even deeper state of dysfunction, you may find that you actively avoid your partner or vice versa. 

The sight of each other is unwelcome. You get a bad taste in your mouth just seeing them or hearing their voice, and vice versa. 

In some cases, it is hard to say exactly why. There may not be a specific fight or issue you can even point to:

You just don’t feel like you want to be with them anymore and they seem to feel the same. 

As Bonior writes:

“When your partner isn’t being particularly needy and yet you still find it so tiresome to be around them, that is often a sign that the dynamic between the two of you is souring significantly.”

5) Nasty arguments, fighting and hurtful comments have become common

pic2456 1 10 signs your relationship is probably in its final stages, according to psychology

Complete lack of fighting can be a warning sign in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean that constant fighting is the goal. 

In fact if bickering and nasty arguments have become a centerpiece of your relationship, it’s a big red flag that something isn’t right. 

There’s a real resentment there which is bubbling to the surface and likely various unresolved issues and unexpressed emotions boiling up. 

As psychologist Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. puts it, one of the biggest signs a relationship is near the end is “having frequent and intense arguments, often involving strong expressions of fear and anger that show up in physiological reactivity (e.g., elevated heart rate).” 

6) You no longer trust each other beyond very small things

Trust has waned to almost nothing in your relationship. 

Apart from very small matters like meeting at a time and place or picking something up at the grocery store, you barely trust each other. 

If you make a plan for a week down the road, you already assume your partner will cancel. 

If they say they will cut down on their drinking going forward you start by just assuming that it won’t happen. 

The stock you put in each other’s promises has reached nil or very close to nil. 

“Doubting that one’s partner is dependable or trustworthy,” is a key sign the relationship is winding into its final stages, notes Gillihan.

7) There’s an increasing amount of resentment between the two of you 

For various reasons, the emotional tone of your relationship has reached a very bitter level. 

You just don’t like each other. 

This is often due to broken promises in the past, or to unresolved behaviors between the two of you that have festered and not been adequately addressed. 

You may have both tried to talk through some of these problems before, but it only leads to even bigger fights: you’re now in a holding pattern of avoiding the real issues but feeling more and more resentful. 

You just don’t really want to be together anymore, but you’re also unsure if the painful process of getting out is something you’re up for right now.

8) Individual dreams and goals have overtaken any shared purpose in the relationship

There’s little to no overlap between your dreams. 

You are headed in different directions and the core values that inform your life path have become starkly divergent

It’s not just having kids that’s become a point of contention or big and well-known divergences like that: it’s your social lives, your career aspirations, even the type of lifestyle you want to lead and foods you want to eat. 

Your core values aren’t overlapping at all, and it’s painfully clear that you’re simply not that well matched anymore.

As clinical psychotherapist Lisa Lawless, Ph.D. writes

“While it is completely reasonable to have differences of opinion, there should not be fundamental differences in your values or goals.”

9) You’d rather spend time with other friends and colleagues than each other

You would rather spend time with other friends than with your significant other, and they seem to feel the same way. 

Even if it’s only coming mainly from one of you, that’s enough to kick the leg out from the stool of the relationship, as I mentioned earlier. 

It does take two to tango. 

The connection has fizzled out in large part, and the thought of spending time together isn’t very scintillating, comforting or interesting to either of you. 

You’d rather meet up with coworkers who you feel more entertained by and connected with.

10) Talk of a shared future together has disappeared

Whereas you once talked about a future together, you now studiously avoid the subject. 

You rarely think of a shared future together and you and your partner don’t bring it up. 

It’s essentially become the elephant in the room for the two of you.

But rather than face it and really take a look at whether the relationship is over, it often turns out that the two of you are going in circles and trying to avoid the inevitable. 

Which brings up the obvious question… 

Time to end things?

If your relationship is experiencing a lot of the issues above, it’s certainly time to consider ending things. 

But the final call on ending a relationship always lies with the individuals involved. 

In some cases there is hope left in the relationship, if you’re both willing to address the painful roots of growing apart. In other cases it truly is over and it’s best to just rip the band aid off.

As Gillihan advises:

“If you’re hoping to make your relationship last, you’re not completely at the mercy of things outside your control… 

“I’m not suggesting that every couple ought to stay together. But perhaps the greatest sign of relationship commitment is the willingness to work on the things that make relationships last.”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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