Making a romantic relationship work is one of the most challenging things we must do as humans.
Life is no Disney movie. To ensure our relationship lasts, we have to put in the work.
But how much work exactly?
There is a big difference between making a joint effort and giving so much of ourselves with nothing in return.
So, if you feel like you’re the only one trying to make it work and you’re questioning whether it’s time to call it quits, read on.
Here are eight signs (according to science and relationship experts) that you’ve tried your hardest, but there is no way back for you and your partner.
1) You constantly feel emotionally exhausted
You shouldn’t feel constantly drained by your relationship.
Romantic partnerships are supposed to feel safe and comforting. We should feel happy and energized after spending time with our partners, not depressed, anxious, or fatigued.
If you are constantly on edge or feel like you are always walking on eggshells around your partner, you’ll become chronically stressed and at risk of adrenal fatigue.
So listen to the signs your body gives you and connect to your emotions.
Have the butterflies in your stomach been replaced with a sense of dread and anxiety?
Do you notice your mood dips after a phone call with your partner?
If you’ve been emotionally exhausted for over a few months, and no matter what you try, it doesn’t improve, take this as a big sign to move on.
2) You don’t enjoy spending time together anymore
Even if you don’t feel emotionally drained, you may have noticed that you no longer enjoy each other’s company.
As our relationship progresses, that initial spark we had in the beginning diminishes. This is normal.
But what isn’t normal is:
- Always preferring to be alone than with your partner
- Feeling easily irritated and annoyed by the things they do
- Not knowing what to talk about with each other or getting stuck in the small talk loop
Sometimes, this can be a temporary problem linked to a specific reason – such as arguing a lot or one person dealing with personal issues.
However, if this is a feeling you’ve had for many months now, it can be a supporting sign that your relationship no longer meets your needs.
3) You’re always the one to initiate conversation
Relationships require effort from both partners, but sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one trying.
Does your partner ever:
- Text or phone first
- Initiate conversations
- Arrange or ask you on date nights
- Suggest to spend time together
- Ask about your day or how you are doing
If you can’t remember the last time your partner did any of the above, and you’ve expressed your need for more communication on their end, it could be time to move on.
Scientific research shows that communication is the heart of a relationship.
For example, this paper published in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences reported the findings of studying 40 married couples. The researchers found that in every case when communication deteriorated, the couples’ relationship satisfaction inevitably declined.
4) Your partner won’t take responsibility for their actions
Another sign that your relationship is a one-way street is if your partner won’t accept any responsibility for the state of the relationship.
If your partner constantly blames you for the problems and won’t accept that they play a role, fixing the issue and making the relationship work again will be impossible.
A healthy relationship is where both partners admit when they are wrong, apologize, and do what is necessary to right their wrongs.
So if your partner denies ever being in the wrong, they create a roadblock you cannot overcome until they decide to take responsibility.
Often, in these cases, the partner who isn’t at fault is the one who is always apologizing.
According to psychologist Mahek Pathan, we may take the blame for things that are not our fault to keep the peace and avoid further conflict.
But when this becomes a habit, it can affect our self-esteem and ability to set boundaries and undermine our authority, giving our partner the upper hand.
5) Your partner ignores your needs (after you’ve expressed them)
Sometimes, we expect our partner to meet all our needs without communicating them properly.
In these cases, it is on us to ensure our partner understands what we need from them to feel valued and loved.
But what if you have repeatedly expressed your needs, yet your partner continues to overlook or dismiss them?
If so, this shows your partner does not value or respect you enough.
Relationships are about give and take. When there is an imbalance, one partner will constantly prioritize the other’s needs with little to nothing in return.
Over time, this can lead to resentment, and you’ll likely feel:
Now, I’m not suggesting that it is your partner’s responsibility to make you happy or always be at your beck and call.
Unmet emotional needs can damage a relationship as much as poor communication.
So, if your partner shows no desire to make you feel safe, secure, loved, and appreciated, it’s probably time to move on.
6) No matter what you do, there is no intimacy
It’s common for passion to fade when we’ve been with our partner for a long time. So you shouldn’t expect your sex life to always be fiery and exciting.
However, research shows that regular sex (at least once a week) in a long-term relationship is crucial to relationship satisfaction.
But sex is just one form of intimacy. Other forms include hugging, kissing, holding hands, and even sitting close together on the couch.
This 2018 study examined the link between intimacy and sexuality in daily life. Researchers found that higher levels of intimacy are associated with higher sexual desire.
If your partner shows no signs of intimacy toward you and doesn’t respond when you initiate it, this may be a sign to move on.
7) You’ve lost your sense of identity
Sometimes, we give so much of ourselves to make our relationship work that we lose ourselves in this progress.
For example, you might:
- Pursue your partner’s hobbies to try to build more connection (and, as a result, give up your own hobbies)
- Always go along with what your partner wants to do
- Put their needs above your own
- Spend so much time and energy on your partner that you neglect your other relationships (friends and family)
Sometimes, this is due to our own codependent tendencies. Other times, it is because our partner is always demanding (either directly or indirectly) more and more from us.
If it’s the latter, your partner does not respect and value you as an individual, which is a huge red flag!
8) Your future goals no longer align
As humans, we are constantly growing and evolving. As our interests and values change, so do our priorities and goals.
So even if you shared the same life goals and priorities when you first got together, it doesn’t mean you always will.
Sometimes, our goals become so contrasting that we drift apart to the point of no return. This can be extremely sad, especially if there are many good aspects of the relationship.
If it seems you are both going in separate directions, consider (and discuss together) if the relationship can still work.
If you both initially wanted children, but now one of you has changed their mind, this could be a deal-breaker for the other person.
Or let’s say your partner takes a job opportunity in another country and wants you to move with them. But your priorities are at home, and you are unwilling to give up everything you have built there.
Unlike some of the other signs on this list, there is no right or wrong decision for this one. It depends entirely on your personal situation.
Change is inevitable, but sometimes, the change our partner proposes is too misaligned with what we want.
At the end of the day, we have to follow our hearts and do what makes us happy.
If you relate to several of these eight signs, take an honest look at your relationship. If you’re out of ideas to make it work, your partner isn’t trying anymore, and communication is at an all-time low, there may be nothing left to do but walk away.
Talking to a loved one or a therapist before deciding can help. But remember that only you can truly know when you’ve reached the point of no return.