Perhaps you’ve been with your partner for a while and things have fallen into a rut. Maybe time together isn’t as enjoyable as it once was, the spark feels like it’s dwindling or as a pair, you’re treading water rather than making a splash. Yet the love between you might still be there, and you don’t want to end the relationship. It’s just that everything seems flat. Welcome to relationship burnout.
Signs of Relationship burnout
Couples can experience emotional burnout, physical burnout, or a combination of both. Here are some signs and behaviours of such issues.
1. Feeling unmotivated
For burnt-out couples, venturing out for dinner or initiating time between the sheets seems more like a chore than fun. You might feel complacent — like the relationship isn’t bad, but it doesn’t excite you anymore. You may feel like you’re not “wanting to put any effort into it.”
2. You feel hopeless
We all have thoughts about the direction we’d like our relationship to take. However, rather than being optimistic about your days ahead, “you might feel hopeless about the relationship’s future. You might also be concerned that this sense of despair will persist for the rest of your relationship.
3. There’s a disconnect
The disconnect could be emotional or physical, such as when intimacy become infrequent.
4. Doubts are creeping in
Think the grass might be greener elsewhere? Another sign of relationship burnout can be feeling “anxiety about if this is the right person for you.
5. Patience has dwindled
You find yourself far more easily irritated or frustrated. Perhaps your partner’s habits and quirks are no longer quite so endearing. This shift in temperament can also lead to more frequent arguments or cause one of you to start taking on the ‘nagging’ role.
6. One of you cheats
At its worst, relationship burnout can drive one (or both) partners to consider cheating or doing so. Cheating can occur “if there isn’t an open line of communication or is an attempt to feel excitement and change.
What causes relationship burnout?
No one factor causes a relationship to fizzle, and reasonings vary between couples. For example, maybe things have become one-sided: You give lots to your partner and the relationship but receive little in return.
Think about relationships like bank accounts, even the smallest deposits can add up and prevent an overdraft or burnout, so maintaining equilibrium is vital.
Early in a relationship, little gestures are a frequent occurrence. But, as you become more comfortable and secure, these typically fall by the wayside — which can spell trouble. When one or both partners stop showing appreciation and stop trying to do special things for the other, it can lead to burnout.
Not spending enough time together can lead to feelings of unappreciation and frustration. Yet, being 24/7 is also not an ideal approach. When we spend all of our time with another person, we begin to think we know their thoughts inside and out, and it may not be much fun to be around them anymore.
Also, if one person is burnt out in another area of their life — such as work — this can impact their romantic relationship, as they have less time and energy to dedicate to their partner.
How to prevent relationship burnout
Communication is everything: You can both share your feelings and how you want to move forward. Conversations allow couples to “identify what is missing in their relationship,” after which it is “much easier to take steps to feel engaged and excited again.”
A quick way to incite enthusiasm is to plan fun things to do together — perhaps dinner at your favourite restaurant, a night of board games, or, if you’re sans kids for the weekend, a mini getaway. On the flip side, if spending much time together is tiring your relationship, you might start doing some things apart.
If you’ve been getting snappier and more argumentative, take a moment to pause. Controlling your emotions and responses can be the difference between having a happy lasting relationship and an unhappy one that’s doomed to end. It is essential to decide what expectations are most important to you and communicate them to your partner properly and respectfully.
Relationship burnout doesn’t mean you no longer love each other or want to call it quits. It can present in various ways, such as lack of physical intimacy, feeling emotionally exhausted, arguing more frequently and cheating. While some couples will decide the relationship has run its course, burnout doesn’t mean things have to end. Steps that can help breathe life back into your partnership include:
- showing little signs of appreciation and affection
- purposing to spend time together
- opening lines of communication
All that’s needed is a dose of optimism and willingness to put in the effort.