The Collaborative Divorce Center

How to Know When Your Relationship Is Over

How to Know When Your Relationship Is Over

The New Year is a time when many people re-evaluate many things, including their marriage, especially if times have been rough. I have been working this month on helping folks figure out whether or not to divorce. It is one of the hardest decisions you ever have to make. And I came across a great article by Andrea Bonior Ph.D. that I thought, based upon my experience working with divorcing folks was really spot on.

Here is what she said:

  1. Conflict is constant.
    When fighting is unrelenting, to the point where there are very few minutes of calm, take it seriously.
  2. You’ve stopped even bothering to fight.
  3. It doesn’t occur to you to share good news with your partner. Your partner should not have to be your only cheerleader, and there may be plenty of types of news—when all personal good news feels irrelevant to your relationship as a whole, or when you feel your partner no longer knows you well enough or even cares about what’s happening in your life for it to be worthwhile to talk about, that’s a sign that things are not well between the two of you.
  4. One of you wants to seek help, and the other doesn’t.
  5. You feel increasingly drained by your partner, even when they’re not particularly needy. Romantic relationships are like friendships in this way; spending time together may not always be fulfilling, but it shouldn’t be consistently draining over long periods of time.
  6. You can’t agree on what the problem is. It’s particularly difficult to begin to work on a problem when there is a total disagreement about what that problem is.
  7. You’re increasing your justifying of staying in the relationship for external factors. There are many tempting reasons to stay in a dysfunctional relationship: financial security, avoiding temporary disruption of children’s lives, fear of dating again, or even just the inertia of not wanting to move out.
  8. You’ve begun to treat each other with superficial politeness. Similar to a total lack of fighting, a completely detached and superficial civility is often a sign that both partners have checked out.
  9. You feel like a different person than the one your partner believes you to be. Subtle misrepresentations of who you are can add up over time. And if it has gotten to the point where your partner could realistically endorse the cliche of “I don’t even know who you are anymore!” then that is a sign to take seriously.
  10. You feel that trust has evaporated. Trust is the foundation of a committed relationship, and a lack of it hollows out a relationship from the inside.
  11. You make up excuses to not spend time together.
  12. You’re no longer laughing together like you used to. Sharing a sense of humor and laughing together can be an important component of a relationship.
  13. You’ve begun to intensely question your future together.
  14. You no longer have the desire to grow together.
  15. There is resentment that keeps getting worse, and you refuse to work on it.
  16. You stopped talking about things big and small because it’s easier not to let each other in. Emotional intimacy is what keeps people connected and invested in a relationship.
  17. You’re taking pleasure in revenge, or hurting each other.
  18. You constantly have to apologize for who you are. Being able to be your genuine, authentic self, and be not just accepted but loved for it, is one of the great gifts of a supportive relationship. In the absence of that, it may be time to re-evaluate and examine your true level of compatibility.
  19. Your goals are totally at odds with each other, with little wiggle room or compromise. There can be hope with compromise, but without that, the warning signs are hard to ignore.
  20. You no longer respect your partner’s values.

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