Being in love is a fantastic feeling, but even if you're in a happy, healthy relationship, that doesn't mean that everything between you and your partner needs to be perfect all the time. There may be moments where the dynamics of your relationship can feel tense or off. Maybe you've noticed your chemistry has toned down, or maybe your partner isn't as enthusiastic as they used to be. Whatever the case, these signs your relationship feels stale, straight from an expert, might help you understand how your relationship might feel if it's hit a rut. But first off: Don't freak out. This feeling? It's so normal.
"Even the best of relationships can fall into an occasional rut," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily. However, just because a relationship feels stale doesn't mean that it's in big trouble. No relationship is perfect, and falling into a rut doesn't mean the relationship will stay in a rut forever, or that you can't work together to get back to a point where you're both happy and fulfilled. But it is important to recognize the signs that a relationship feels stale, so that you and your partner can address it and get back on track.
So, how can you tell if your relationship feels stale? Look for these signs, so you can work with your partner on doing what's best for both of you.
1. You're not as physically intimate as you used to be.
One pretty major sign that your relationship might be stale is that you and your partner aren't as intimate anymore. "You avoid or have simply settled for no romantic involvement," Brown explains. "You don’t even cuddle or hold hands anymore."
Being physical, in any sense, can be a huge part of a relationship. So if it feels like something has shifted in your physical dynamic, that might be a sign your relationship has gone stale.
2. There isn't a sense of appreciation.
Another thing to look out for is if you and your partner used to constantly tell each other how grateful you are for one another, and that's stopped. "You take each other for granted," Brown describes. "One or both of you does not feel or express any gratitude to the other."
3. You're no longer as nice to each other.
There's a fine line between being indifferent and being hurtful, but Brown says it's when you cross over into the realm of hurt that your relationship might be feeling stale. "You or your partner now say and do hurtful things, rather than go out of your way to be kind," he explains.
Obviously, you should never have to deal with a partner who is mean to you, but if your tones toward each other have shifted, it might be a sign your relationship is in a rut.
4. There's a palpable lack of joy.
Since you're in the relationship, it might be hard for you to notice that things have changed, as you're so close to it. But if "Your friends comment that, 'you guys don’t seem that happy anymore'," that could mean you aren't wrong in thinking that something is off. More, Brown adds that if "you don’t laugh anymore either," your relationship might be a little tired.
5. There's no more excitement.
Last, but certainly not least, Brown explains that if "you don’t look forward to seeing your SO" anymore, that's something to take note of. Seeing the person you love should make you happy! If you feel apathy toward them and toward your time together, that might signal a rut.
But it's important to remember that, again, having a relationship go stale doesn't mean it has to end. "Relationships go stale for many different reasons," Brown says. "For the most part, they go stale because whatever true emotional connection that existed when you first started out, has been broken. It might also mean that there is significant unfinished business between the two of you. Things that need to be said are avoided." Whatever is going on is worth exploring so that you can both be as happy as possible.
"All of this could be temporary," Brown continues, "or it may be a sign that the relationship is simply not what it once was, or could have been." Whatever the case, don't be afraid to seek couples' therapy or talk about it with someone you trust. You deserve exactly the kind of relationship you want, and if yours has fallen stale, but you still feel love for your partner, seeking help to repair your relationship might be worth it.