Have you ever been in a relationship and had a moment of clarity where you realized that somehow, you'd gotten off track? You used to be so happy and invested in the romance, but suddenly the signs your relationship is going south are everywhere — especially in your own heart. Or perhaps even worse, you can tell that your partner is pulling away. It's definitely a bummer, to say the least. What's even worse is when you have a gut feeling that something is off but you aren't sure what it means. In that case, knowing what to look out for if you suspect your relationship is on the rocks can be really useful, either in helping to get things back on track, or assisting you with beginning to accept that this relationship may not be the right one for you.
To help break down what to be on the lookout for as indications that the relationship is on a downward trajectory, I reached out the the experts. First things first — Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and executive dating coach, tells Elite Daily it's important to understand what makes for a great and solid relationship: A combination of love and passion. "Love is about connection, caring, empathy, understanding. Passion is sexy, raw, fun, wild — the colors of the rainbow. A great relationship has both of these elements," he explains. According to Barrett, a relationship that has gone south is typically one that has lost one or both elements. Here is how the experts say that will look and feel and what the signs are that the relationship is in decline.
1. Declining communication.
Communication is an essential part of a healthy and happy relationship, so if it suddenly it feels like too much effort, Andrea Amour, founder and dating coach at UpDate Coaching, tells Elite Daily that's a sign the relationship is heading south. “Are they texting less? Are they canceling plans or avoiding making plans? If you notice your partner avoiding communication, it's a good time for an honest conversation about what's going on,” she says. Amour cautions that this isn’t an automatic cause for panic, because it can sometimes be explained away. “A lot of times, a slowdown in hanging out or communication in general is just ‘life getting in the way,’ stress, or busy-ness from work or school, but it's important to figure out if it's just life, or if it's [your relationship],” she says.
2. Decreased sex drive.
It's normal for the sexual chemistry in a relationship to ebb and flow in the bedroom, but if there is no physical intimacy, Barrett warns this is another sign that doesn’t bode well for the relationship. “There’s more to life than sex, but a relationship without physical and emotional intimacy is not a romantic relationship,” he explains. Amour agrees, but adds that sometimes this is just a sign that not all relationships are meant to last. “Sometimes a relationship is a crazy, sexy whirlwind, and then it falls flat. It happens all of the time, and a lot of people get surprised when it occurs. Not every relationship is meant to last, and if you're not ‘excited’ by one another, it might be time to call it quits,” she suggests.
3. Growing animosity.
There are moments when our partners get on our nerves, but if it’s starting to feel like yours always annoys you, Amour says this is another indication that the relationship is heading south. “There are a lot of sources of frustration you can have with another person: Differing values, salaries, spending habits, leisure ideas, professional success, etc., can grow into resentment from one person or another. When you feel it come up, it's important to address so it doesn't turn into full-blown resentment,” she warns.
If the animosity is coming in your direction from your partner, then Barrett says this is not just a sign but a red flag of problems in the relationship. “The other person consistently treats you with contempt or disrespect — criticizing you, blaming you for problems in the relationship, or asking you to compromise your values. These things do not regularly happen in a good relationship,” he explains.
4. You've stopped sharing things with one another.
One of the best things about being with a partner is having someone to share things with, so if that suddenly feels like a chore, then Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking, tells Elite Daily that’s a sign that your relationship is not heading in a positive direction. “People who are in good relationships want to share things with each other. Your partner should be the first person you think of to tell something when something happens, good or bad. If you find yourself no longer wanting to talk about things with your partner when he or she used to be the first person you ran to over anything, this is a red flag,” she says.
5. You’ve stopped enjoying their company.
How much do you enjoy just being with your partner? Does it seem like you’d actually rather have more alone time than quality time? If so, Shannon Smith, relationship expert for Plenty of Fish, tells Elite Daily that's another indication that the relationship is on the rocks. “If you're making an effort to create more time and experiences that don't involve your partner, the long-term prognosis may not be good. Sure, the healthiest relationships have doses of alone time and time spent apart, but if you're no longer finding your time together fulfilling, that's a major red flag. If you're making up excuses why you can't hang out with them much anymore, or making a habit of spending a little too much time at the bar after work, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship,” Smith warns.
Though it may seem like a small thing, if you’ve stopped laughing together, Daniels says that’s perhaps the biggest red flag of all. “Laughter is one of the key ingredients in any relationship. People who are in love and happy laugh together a lot. They have inside jokes and they tend to find similar things funny. If your laughter together is dissipating, this is a sign that you are growing apart,” she explains.
6. You don't picture a future together.
Do you feel like you’re growing together, or growing apart? Answering that question will tell you pretty much all you need to know about the path your relationship is on, explains Amour. “It should feel like you're both consistently growing and making the relationship better. Sometimes your partner is making the growth and sometimes you're making growth for the better of the relationship. However, if someone becomes resistant to changing when there's obviously a problem, it's definitely a warning sign,” she says.
Ideally, your partner should be a part of the future you envision. If they aren't, then that should tell you something, says Barrett. “Your relationship may be in trouble if you’ve stopped thinking about a future with that person. Or, if your partner talks about the future as a couple — moving in together, getting married — and you shut down or quickly change the subject. It’s a sign that perhaps you can’t see yourself with that person long-term,” he concludes.
What to do about it.
Just because your relationship is heading south now, that doesn't mean it's doomed, the experts say. If you want to get things back on track, you’ll have to get in front of the problem and address it head on, says Barrett. “Your first move is to have an honest, heart-to-heart talk and share with your partner what needs of yours aren’t being met. You can’t fix a relationship on your own. It’s a two-person job. So you have to both be working on it,” he explains. “When you talk, don’t mention breaking up. No ultimatums. Rather, share what you need that you’re not getting, while also asking your partner what you can do better to meet their needs. Often, an honest, open conversation alone can jumpstart a stuck-in-the-rut relationship.”
It's ultimately up to you to decide if this is the right relationship for you. You may determine that it has run its course — after all, not all relationships are meant to last, and that’s OK. However, if you do chose to work on it, the key, the experts say, is to do it together. There is plenty to be hopeful about, just don't be afraid to follow your heart and your gut, and do what is right for you.