Relationships don’t always end with a huge blow-up fight, sometimes things change more slowly before you even realize what’s going on. And that means that it’s possible that you may end up in a place where you’re no longer interested in your relationship anymore, even if you think that you are.
Knowing that you may not actually still want your relationship doesn’t necessarily make ending it will be any easier, but it could spur you to consider what you really may want, and could mean less heartache in the long-run.
If you don’t want to spend much time with your partner, that could be a red flag that there’s something going on in your relationship — or, at least, how you feel about it.
“Enjoying spending time with your partner, regardless of what you’re doing together, is often one of the fundamental parts of a relationship, so when this part is missing, it may mean that there’s a bigger issue at play here,” Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage, and family therapist, told INSIDER.
Figuring out what’s going on and what might be keeping you from wanting to spend time with your partner could help you determine if the relationship should end, or if there’s something that you can do to address the situation.
If it’s not just that you don’t want to spend much time with them, but that you’d rather spend time with other people, that too could potentially mean that you’re no longer interested in your relationship, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the case. You should think more about it to figure out what might be causing these feelings.
“Is your relationship still young and not at the point where you feel comfortable or want to share these things with your significant other? Do you feel disconnected from them emotionally? How has your communication been with this person, how deep and vulnerable have you been with them? It’s normal for relationships to go through slumps, which is why it’s important to evaluate whether this is a natural slump or the sign of something deeper,” Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, a therapist and owner of Abundant Life Counseling St. Louis, told INSIDER.
Picking up on something “off” in your relationship would typically upset you because you’d want to figure out what that is and how you can fix it. So if you’re OK with the idea that there’s something that feels “off” in your relationship, that could potentially mean that you don’t actually want to be in the relationship anymore.
“Some people describe this as not being ‘in love’ anymore, or compare it to being roommates,” Erin Parisi, LMHC, MCAP, a licensed mental health counselor, told INSIDER.
“The person you’re in a relationship with should be someone with whom you want to share big news. If you’re opting to share that news with coworkers, friends, family, or someone else instead of with your partner, that may be something that should give you pause,” Parisi said.
Wanting to tell other people something big doesn’t necessarily mean that you want the relationship to end, but if your partner is the last person you want to tell, you might want to reflect a bit more about why that might be.
“Typically, we want to share the things that are the most important to us with the people most important to us,” Williamson said. “If your significant other does not come to your mind when you think about those people, it may indicate something lacking in the relationship, namely, a depth of attachment in the relationship.”
That being said, this, too, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready for it to end. It’s possible that your relationship hasn’t progressed to the point where you feel that your relationship is ready for all of that. But thinking through the why behind these sorts of things can be a good idea.
Relationships require compromises sometimes, but if you’re no longer willing to make those compromises for the good of the relationship, that could be a sign that you’re not as invested in the relationship as you used to be.
“These things are all not as noticeable as the big, knock-down, drag-out fights, they tend to creep in slowly,” Parisi said. “In some ways, it’s even worse because there’s nothing that draws your attention to it, telling you there’s a problem that needs attention.”
If you could spend time with your partner, but decide not to, that could be another sign that things aren’t going well, according to McBain. Again, you might need to spend some time thinking about why you feel this way.
“Talk to your partner to find out if they are feeling the same way, or if the change is just coming from your side,” McBain said. “If you and your partner are both committed to your relationship and working out your issues together, then couple’s counseling might be the next step for you and your partner.”
Thinking about your partner from time to time is totally normal in a relationship. You may not spend all of your time thinking about them, but if you’re really not spending much time thinking about them, it might be time to think about what’s going on with you before moving on to evaluate what’s going on in your relationship.
“Are you pretty satisfied, and interested, in the other things you have going on in your life, like your work, friends, hobbies, etc? If you find that you’re feeling ‘blah’ or disinterested about several things in your life, it might be that something is going on with you,” Parisi said. “For example, a symptom of depression is a decrease or lack of interest in things that you used to be interested in (anhedonia). If you have something going on with you emotionally, it could taint your perception of the relationship. If that’s the case, see a counselor and take care of yourself before making a decision about the relationship.”
You likely value the opinions of those closest to you, including your partner. If you no longer particularly care about what they think, however, that could indicate that you may not be fully invested in the relationship.
Parisi said that after checking in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about things, a good next step is to consider what sort of relationship you have with your partner, how you feel about them, and what you ultimately want. That can help you determine where to go from here.
If you’re no longer putting in the effort for your relationship to succeed, that might mean that you’re not interested in keeping things going any longer, Parisi said. But if you notice that you’re not putting in the effort and you can point to reasons as to why that might be the case, maybe you do want to improve your relationship after all, not call it quits.
“If you want to do something to improve the relationship, it’s probably time to check in with your partner,” Parisi added. “See if they’re feeling checked out the same way, and talk about what you’d like to do to change things up. Make time for your partner, and for the relationship, make it a priority again. Are you in a rut? Make some plans to add some adventure back in, take a weekend trip, spring for some great concert tickets, try a new restaurant, or make a point to knock some things off your bucket lists! Are there some resentments that have built up that maybe need to be hashed out? Talk it through, ask for what you need. Get professional help to talk things through, if you need, or if you’re not sure what to do.”
Ultimately, you may choose to end the relationship if it’s true that you’re just no longer interested in keeping things going or in putting in the work required to help your relationship succeed. And though it’s hard to hurt someone, if you’re not actually interested in them or you don’t want the same things that they do anymore, you might have to make a tough decision.
Originally published on Business Insider.
More from Business Insider:
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.