Like anything worth participating in, relationships—no matter how perfect they may seem—have their fair share of ups and downs. We've all experienced tough times with those we love, but occasional arguments are usually nothing to worry about in healthy relationships. At some point, however, you may be faced with a feeling of doubt that's hard to ignore. You feel like you've lost your connection or a difficult event has damaged your trust. So, how do you know if the relationship is over? You'll want to take a closer look at your connection with your partner.
Analyzing the good and bad moments can help determine whether your problems are worth working through, or in some cases, if it's time to part ways. Even when you still care about each other, staying together might not be the best choice for either of you. When we're emotionally invested for a long period of time, it can be easier to turn a blind eye to disagreements (even if they happen more often than they used to). It's never simple to consider breaking up with someone you love. But by learning how to recognize when a relationship is over, and preparing yourself to cope afterward, you can determine what's best to move forward.
If you're unsure about what to do, look out for these six key signs that a relationship is over.
There's No Emotional Connection
When the spark is gone, it's hard to tell if a relationship is worth saving. One of the key signs your relationship is ending is that you are no longer vulnerable and open with your partner. A cornerstone of happy, healthy relationships is that both partners feel comfortable being truly open to sharing thoughts and opinions with one another.
"We 'hide' deeper feelings (from ourselves and from others)…When we find ourselves behaving in ways that aren’t typical, we might need to do a little soul-searching to get a clearer picture of where our attitude is coming from," says licensed counselor Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D. If you're not sharing what's really on your mind, it might be a sign that you no longer want a deep connection. Similarly, if you've found that the usual fun banter between you is gone—or it's difficult to have engaging conversations—your bond could be getting weaker.
Physical Intimacy Doesn't Appeal to You Anymore
Sexual desire can sway up and down over the course of a relationship. If you're in a lull and can't seem to get your sex life back on track, that's not necessarily a sign that the relationship is over. Degges-White suggests imagining the first time you were intimate with your partner and understanding how the memory makes you feel. "If you can get back there in your head—and you like where your mind takes you—then you are probably still sexually attracted to your partner," she says.
On the contrary, if your passion has deflated and you're no longer interested in your partner at all, that could be a problem. A lack of sexual interest is often a reflection of the health and potential longevity of relationships. "When just the thought of your partner being close or touching you intimately is off-putting, [it could] signal that the relationship is in need of an overhaul, or that a breakup is potentially near."
In some relationships that are on the verge of ending, sex can be the first of many connections that start to fade.
It's Hard to Agree on Anything
Another telltale sign you're heading toward a breakup is that you don't see eye-to-eye anymore. When you're dealing with constant disagreements, it can lead to anger on both sides.
"When fighting is unrelenting, to the point where there are very few minutes of calm, take it seriously," says licensed clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. Even if it seems strange, not arguing enough can also be a bad sign: "Some couples become so exhausted by fighting that they simply stop…They often stop sharing things with each other altogether, and have zero ability to bring up any sort of disagreement." When all you can agree on is that you can't agree on anything, it's an unfortunate indicator of the relationship's future.
Someone Else Seems More Appealing
While it's normal to fantasize about other people, desires can be harmful when they minimize the importance of sex with your partner. Whether you're fixated on your ex, crushing on someone from work, or longing for strangers, it's time to reconsider your feelings.
"When your fantasies are taking time and energy away from [what] you should be spending with your partner, you’re probably crossing a line that you shouldn’t," says Degges-White. "Sexual fantasies about others can be fine if they add to your relationship, but if they create a world in which your partner’s role is shrinking, it’s time to either put someone else in your fantasies or begin a conversation." If your partner is no longer your priority in bed, it's time for a talk.
The Trust Is Gone
Whether your partner had an affair or they just simply don't keep promises, trust is hard to rebuild. If you feel like you can't trust the person in your corner, it's a roadblock that prevents any meaningful connection. "Trust is the foundation of a committed relationship, and a lack of it hollows out a relationship from the inside," says Bonior. In order to regain it, both partners need to focus not only on trust itself but on the root of problems which led to a breakdown in the first place.
Your Goals Don't Align
One of the hardest disconnects to accept in a relationship is when partners want different things. No matter how deeply you care for each other, if you're not planning for the same goals in life, it's difficult to realign your hopes. "Sometimes even relationships [with] a great deal of love can be stymied by goals that are totally different," says Bonior. Desires for children, professional dreams, or where you'd like to live are common aspirations that couples struggle with. "There can be hope with compromise, but without that, the warning signs are hard to ignore," she notes.
Regardless of what's causing a disconnect in your relationship, it's never an easy situation to find yourself in. If you're still in love and want your bond to last, you might seek counseling to better communicate and understand each other. All relationships have their obstacles—so if you're certain your partner is "the one," try finding new ways to get past conflicts in a healthy way for you both.