When we begin building a life with someone and we are in the early stages of the relationship it can feel like things are going to last forever. We tell ourselves that no matter what happens or how bad it gets, we are going to hold on to that person.
Yet this belief can be dangerous when a relationship has gone past its natural expiration date… which is when people will try to save something that is beyond saving.
I’m here to tell you from personal experience that holding on to the wrong person will only result in resentment and a lot of wasted time and effort.
When reflecting on the failed relationships in my past, I always knew at a certain point that they had run their course. Even with this knowledge, there were numerous times when I held on for a lot longer than I should have instead of accepting that it was better for both of us to move on.
Here are four signs that your relationship has run its course and it’s better to let go.
#1. You no longer feel the need or desire to be intimate
Years ago I lived with a boyfriend and during the last few months of our relationship, we were never intimate with each other.
We slept in the same bed and still spent time together but I could tell that the spark between us had faded into a tiny flicker.
Then we arrived at the one moment when I knew it was really over. We went on a vacation and I remember thinking that perhaps it could reignite our dying flame. By the end of our full week together, we hadn’t been intimate one time, and neither of us had tried initiating anything. While lying awake in bed next to my snoring boyfriend, something in me just knew… our relationship was beyond saving.
The physical element of a relationship is certainly something that will ebb and flow but if you don’t feel any desire towards your partner for an extended period of time it is a huge red flag.
#2. You don’t fight anymore
When I was in college I was head over heels over the guy I was dating, James.
At the beginning of our relationship, James and I had several arguments which we resolved because we had open communication and made an effort to work through our differences.
However, a few months later there was a shift and I began feeling James getting more and more distant. He began going out to the bars and not responding to my messages or even letting me know his plans. Even though it was causing me to feel horrendous anxiety I didn’t say anything because I was scared that if I started a fight… he would leave me.
A couple of weeks later James left me anyway and I realized that remaining silent about my feelings had done nothing to save our relationship, if anything it allowed him to pull away even sooner.
Fighting takes effort and a level of being comfortable enough to express your feelings to your partner. When your relationship is nearing the end you either won’t care enough to fight, or you won’t want to bring up your feelings at all.
#3. Being with someone else becomes more prevalent in your mind
The front door flew open and my roommate’s friend Sarah burst into the room in an absolute whirlwind… and to say she seemed distressed would be putting it lightly.
Before I could mention that my roommate wasn’t home she began telling me about her relationship woes.
“Ugh, John has been driving me crazy!” She informed me of this while kicking off her shoes and making herself comfortable on our couch. “He never wants to go out on the weekend, he says he’s too tired from work but I’m sick of hearing his lame excuses.”
I didn’t even have a chance to respond before Sarah began telling me about Ryan, her co-worker.
“Ryan just gets me and he’s so handsome and funny. Since John is so lame I’ll go out with a group of colleagues and we end up talking the whole night… if I were single I would totally shoot my shot.”
Sarah’s words were a reminder of something I have experienced time and time again. When you start entertaining the idea of someone else, it usually is a huge indication your relationship is about to end. Although she didn’t get with Ryan, she ended up cheating on John with another co-worker and ending their relationship.
#4. Your partner gives you an ultimatum
Several months ago I was having dinner at my best friend’s and was introduced to a couple I had never met before.
Sam and Elle seemed like they were both a bit... tense. After a couple of drinks, Elle began spilling her guts.
Apparently, the week before Sam had handed her a list that contained fifteen attributes/behaviors that he didn’t like. He said that if she didn’t stop doing all of the things that annoyed him on the list he couldn’t be in the relationship anymore.
Not only did this ultimatum make Elle feel like she is walking on eggshells but she now feels pressured and trapped. This is forcing her to take action and even if it’s not what she wants, she is most likely going to try to meet Sam’s expectations to “save” the relationship
It’s not my place to guess what will happen but I know that in the past when I’ve seen or encountered a relationship ultimatum, it was the beginning of the end.
We often hold on to what no longer serves us…
When I was younger and with my first couple of boyfriends I did everything I could to make things work, even when I knew deep down that the relationship had run its course.
The whole point of dating is to identify what you want in a partner, and who shares your dreams and values. If I had tried to make things work with any of my failed relationships, I would have sabotaged myself and never found the partner that ended up being exactly what I wanted and needed.
If you believe that your relationship has run its course it’s okay to let go. Even if things don’t work out, your past partners can be part of the journey, not the destination.