17 Relationship Trouble Signs You Should Never Ignore
Those little red flags you can't ignore anymore.
Every relationship has its ups and downs. The challenge for most people, however, is knowing when a “down” is actually just a routine bump in the road and not a larger, more deep-rooted issue. And if you’re not careful, what may seem like a minor hiccup to you could be the very thing that causes your significant other to throw in the towel.
To save you from being blindsided by your partner packing their bags, we’ve talked to psychologists and relationship experts who spell out some of the relationship trouble signs you should never ignore.
Your pupils don’t dilate for each other.
An easy way to see if your partner still has the hots for you? Simply look into their eyes, says Patti Wood, a body language expert. “When you’re sexually attracted to someone, your pupils will dilate in a moment of intimacy. It happens subconsciously, so it’s a good indicator of your significant other’s interest in you,” Wood told Good Housekeeping.
You’ve stopped fighting.
In the earlier stages of your relationship, those heated debates you and your partner had made it clear that there was plenty of fire between the two of you. Now, the fact that the fighting has stopped altogether might point to a disturbing new reality: that neither one of you is invested in the relationship anymore.
“Co-existing is a silent killer,” says Sonya Kreizman, the co-founder and CEO of JCrush, a dating app for Jewish singles. “When both of you become indifferent and agreeable instead of fighting with passion for what you believe should change in the relationship, it’s a sign the relationship might be heading towards its end.” Some small disagreements help you grow as a couple, making you both happier in the relationship in the long run. And for more relationship distress signals that you should be able to spot, check out these 23 Major Signs of Marriage Trouble a Shocking Number of People Don’t See Coming.
You’re both committing financial infidelity.
Make no mistake: financial issues can tank a relationship just as quickly as physical or emotional infidelity. If you’re beginning to notice that your partner has been hiding their spending habits from you, it might point to a bigger divide in your relationship.
“Financial infidelity refers to secretive money-related behavior, whether that’s secretly setting cash aside or covertly maxing out credit card balances,” explains Sean Messier, a credit industry analyst with Credit Card Insider. “While financial independence in the early stages of a relationship is healthy and expected, long-term partners must generally make financial decisions that affect both parties. Financial infidelity might indicate that your partner’s goals differ significantly from yours—and that’s an important sign that your relationship might be in trouble.”
Your major values differ.
When you first met, the fact that your core values didn’t exactly align may not have seemed like a major stumbling block—but now this incompatibility seems to weigh heavily on your mind. Perhaps you had hoped that they would change their mind about wanting children after a few years of dating, or that they would come around about getting married, moving overseas for work, or supporting you if you go back to school. Either way, this incompatibility could signal the end of your relationship, says Adina Mahalli, a certified relationship expert for Maple Holistics.
“While it’s normal to differ on some views, you and your partner should be agreeing on the same major values,” she says. “Your core set of values is what guides you through life. Whether or not you both like Chinese food isn’t going to make or break the relationship, but something like wanting to start a family might. If you and your partner differ on major values, your romantic relationship might be in trouble.”
You’re actively looking to sweat the small stuff.
If you or your partner seem to suddenly take pleasure from creating fights out of thin air, whether you’re arguing over how they loaded the dishwasher or the way they’re chewing their food, that’s a surefire sign your relationship isn’t on solid ground.
“When couples seem to be arguing over the most insignificant things, they are probably looking for that proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back,” says Lawrence Siegel, a clinical sexologist and founder of the Sage Institute for Family Development. “At this point, there’s often a lot of passive-aggressive behavior creeping in, like subtle little jabs to push him or her away. There’s so much resentment built up that it’s tough to come back.”
You’ve stopped venting to each other.
Remember when your significant other was the only person you wanted to vent to about all of life’s drama? If it seems like both of you would prefer to talk to other people about what’s going on in your lives, it may mean you’ve got a rocky road ahead, according to relationship and sex expert Dr. Kat Van Kirk.
“You may stop asking each other for advice and feedback on both major and minor life situations. This means one of you may have developed a different friendship—or relationship—that serves that purpose, or you no longer trust one another’s input,” she says.
You don’t trust each other.
If your significant other can’t run to the grocery store without you getting suspicious, or if you never give a straight answer about who you’re really texting, the trust you need to create a solid relationship isn’t there—and soon enough, your partner might not be, either.
“Any relationship, whether romantic or not, is founded on the basis of trust. With this in mind, if you and your partner don’t trust one another, your relationship might be in trouble. Whether it’s stemming from you or your partner, you need to deal with your trust issues in order to have a chance at a healthy relationship,” Mahalli says. Whether your trust issues stem from infidelity, financial issues, or your own anxiety, if you want to keep your relationship intact, it’s time to get to the heart of the problem either with a therapist or through some serious soul-searching with your partner.
You’re always on the defensive.
“If you find that you’re always on the defense with your partner, that’s not a good sign. Your significant other should be someone who nurtures your growth and helps you to be the best version of yourself, not somebody who you feel that you need to explain or excuse yourself to. If you’re on the defense more often than not, it’s a red flag that your relationship is in trouble,” says Mahalli. And if your relationship is on its last legs, make sure you know these 20 Surprising Things That Can Cause Somebody to Cheat.
You avoid conversations about long-term plans.
In the early stages of your relationship, it might have been natural to chat about the future. Now neither of you are willing to engage in these talks about the future—and that could mean that your relationship is in its final stages, according to Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert at DatingScout.com, .
“It’s either they sound hesitant or dodge the topic completely when making critical plans for the future such as moving in together, marriage, or having kids. This red flag is also applicable on smaller plans you could be making with your partner. They will seem unexcited with the idea of having trips with your family or going on a vacation together,” she says.
You don’t make any effort to see each other’s friends and family.
If your partner seems to be dragging their feet when it comes to actually spending time with your friends and family, that may be a sign your relationship is in perilous territory.
“If your partner is constantly making an excuse not to get to know the important people in your life, he or she might not be too invested in getting to know you. He or she does not necessarily have to love everyone in your circle. But they must, at the very least, make an effort to respect you and your relationship with your loved ones,” says Schweyer.
You’re never present when you’re around each other.
As Kevon Owen, a clinical psychotherapist and relationship counselor, explains, the way you spend your time when you’re with your partner is a good indication of your feelings toward them. So, if you’re constantly on your phone or distracted with other things while you’re with your significant other, it shows them that you don’t value your time with them—and possibly that you don’t value them as a person, either.
“Your choices reveal your priorities,” says Owen. “Are you choosing time together? Are you choosing to give your full attention when you are together? Or are you choosing careers, friends, and distractions? Are you choosing to look at a person or a phone screen?”
You are happier when they’re not around.
C’mon, if you’re truly happier when your significant other is not around, it’s hard to make a case for your investment in the relationship. If either of you are feeling this way, it might be time to call it quits. If you find yourself jumping at practically any opportunity to spend time without your partner, it’s time to figure out why that’s the case—or you might find yourself with a lot more solo time.
Their friends are now cold and distant.
As it turns out, when your partner just isn’t that into you anymore, their friends tend to follow suit, according to Lavelle. If they used to like you, but are now acting standoffish whenever you come around, it could mean that your significant other has already expressed their unhappiness in the relationship—and perhaps even detailed their plans to leave you.
“Their friends can be a great tell,” says Lavelle. “If their friends suddenly turn cold or distant, this may be a hint that they have been talking and a move or breakup is in your future.”
Your relationship feels more like an obligation.
If your relationship feels more like a punishment than something you’re eager to actively participate in, then it’s time to reevaluate whether or not your head is truly in the game (because it’s probably not). However, if you’ve been with your significant other for some time, severing ties with them is easier said than done. In fact, according to one 2016 study published in Current Psychology, people are more likely to stay in relationships that they’ve already invested time and effort in. It’s the relationship version of the investment phenomenon known as “sunk cost effect.”
However, no matter how long you’ve been in your relationship, staying with someone solely because you feel an obligation to them is never a wise choice, and will only make you unhappier in the long run.
Your relationship lacks physical contact.
Not only have you stopped showing the more subtle signs of affection, like holding hands and cuddling up close to one another on the couch, it seems as though your sex life has either stopped being fun and exciting—or it’s completely non-existent. According to Schweyer, this lack of physical contact could spell trouble for your relationship.
“Sex plays a big part in a relationship. It is more than just an activity that you both do, but also a clear manifestation of intimacy between you and your partner,” says Schweyer. “Unless you both have a valid reason why you’re skipping activities in bed, you should start checking the status of your relationship.”
You’re feeling lonely.
If your relationship is in trouble, you’ll likely find that even when you’re with your significant other, you don’t feel any less lonely than when you’re flying solo. “If you feel alone even when you are together and you feel like your partner doesn’t have your back, it’s incredibly lonely,” says Kreizman.
Your libidos are no longer compatible.
If you find yourself constantly trying to initiate intimacy with someone who always rebuffs your advances, or you find yourself going to bed early to avoid your partner, this incompatibility means that your relationship—both in and out of bed—is out of sync.
“Couples are severely challenged when there’s a libido gap that cannot be bridged,” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist and author of She Comes First. “When one partner feels persistently rejected and the other partner feels persistently pressured, it’s a recipe for failure. I’ve seen many relationships fail due to desire discrepancy.” So be open with your partner about why you’re not interested and suggest they do the same—or you might be calling it quits before you know it. And if you want to reignite your romance, start with these 40 Secrets of Couples Who’ve Been Married 40 Years.
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