I laid there in bed staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep. I looked at my phone—1:03 a.m.
My girlfriend was sound asleep next to me, so quiet you could barely hear her. But I was wide awake—my mind racing from one thought to the next. “What am I doing here? Where is this headed? Am I wasting my time?” The questions piled up in my head faster than I could answer them.
Although the relationship was once a source of joy and happiness, it had begun to feel more like a chore than anything else as of late. And as I became more honest with myself, the more I realized I was unhappy.
Sometimes it’s better to accept that your relationship has run its course and it’s time to move on.
Here are nine signs that you are stuck in a dead relationship:
1. You constantly need to “work” on your relationship. You have to frequently explain yourself or communicate why you’re saying or doing the things you say or do. You wonder when you will get to just relax and enjoy your relationship instead of fixing things all the time.
2. Your values are out of alignment. She’s all about partying, and you’re all about family time. You are focused on meaning and purpose, but he’s obsessed with money and status. It feels like you’re just pulling in opposite directions, and someone is always having to sacrifice what they want.
3. The relationship is fine on the outside, but underneath the surface, you’re angry and resentful. You just can’t let go of certain things from the past. Just thinking about it is enough to make your blood boil.
4. You find yourself trying to recreate the passion and romance from the past. Your best memories are years ago, and you often find yourself reminiscing about how good it was back then. You try to recreate the same feeling, but things just feel “off.”
5. You’re not growing in the relationship. You’re not being challenged to expand or grow, to become more of the person you are destined to be. You feel like you’re spinning your wheels and often wonder what else is out there.
6. You’re often just “going through the motions.” You’re fulfilling your obligations, doing the bare minimum to keep the relationship going. But there’s no excitement or enthusiasm behind it. Your relationship has become another item on your to-do list.
7. You can’t count on your partner for support when things get tough. Let’s face it: life is hard, and unexpected things happen. Illnesses. Family problems. Loss of a job. But you just don’t feel like they would stick by your side and help you get through a challenging time.
8. You hide your relationship from your friends. You don’t feel comfortable talking about your relationship, and find yourself hiding your true feelings. You deal with big problems on your own without any discussion or external input from a trusted friend or confidant.
9. You have to give up a major life goal to be with this partner. Whether it’s having kids, traveling the world, or starting your own business, the thing you desire most just doesn’t fit in with the relationship. You rationalize and try to convince yourself you really don’t want it that much, but deep down inside, you know that’s a lie.
When you outgrow your relationship, it eventually starts to feel like an uphill battle. Small issues become big problems. Daily living becomes tainted with frustration, disappointment, and resentment. And life starts to feel very heavy.
Eventually, my girlfriend and I realized we could no longer ignore our relationship problems. We talked about what was working and wasn’t working, what we aspired to, and what we wanted long-term.
As we shared openly and honestly with each other, it became clear that our paths were taking us in different directions. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other. But our time together had come to an end.
We acknowledged the end of our time together and thanked each other for all the beautiful memories. Tears flowed. We hugged each other and expressed our gratitude in a way that words could not.
If you’re trying to determine whether to hunker down or run for the exit, it’s important to take an honest look at how well the relationship is working in the here and now. Do you feel inspired most of the time? Disappointed? Frustrated?
Mindfulness practices such as meditating and journaling can help us get in touch with our true feelings about the relationship. We must allow ourselves to feel whatever we feel, without judging whether it is right or wrong. No matter which emotions arise, we must trust that they are giving us valuable information, as always.
Once my partner and I decided to let go of the relationship, it freed us up to live life in a more authentic way. We were both able to spend our time doing things we truly enjoyed, rather than doing things out of a sense of obligation. And we were able to preserve positive memories about our relationship.
There’s certainly a time and place for working on your relationships. But sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go.