Humans are, by nature, emotional creatures. So, emotions ebb and flow in every relationship. Learning to successfully navigate those variations is just part of being human.
But can you discern if your romantic relationship is simply going through a phase, or if it’s something more serious than that? How can you tell when you and your significant other are growing apart?
A stressful day at work, family problems, and health concerns are all common factors in day-to-day life that can throw us for a loop. But if you felt distance between yourself and your partner for a while now, you may be ignoring a red flag in your relationship.
But don’t despair. There’s still time to focus your attention back on the relationship and solve the issue. As long as both partners want things to work out, there’s a way to make it happen and get things back on the right track.
But you need to know if the relationship is simply going through a phase, or you’ve grown apart for good and the relationship is beyond repair.
Here are five important questions to help you work that out:
- Are the lines of communication between you and your partner severed?
Communication is one of the most important factors of any successful relationship. As with everything else in life, the amount and style of communication will vary. But you should always find your way back together.
If it seems as though your customary heart-to-heart talks and deeper conversations have been giving way to brief, shallow conversations and occasional text updates between you, be warned that you’re probably not just going through a phase. You’re growing apart.
The crucial detail to note is if you know why your partner is acting differently. Grief, loss, mental health fluctuations, financial issues, or other stressors can cause couples to grow distant for varying periods of time. If you know why your partner is acting distant, or what’s bothering him, it’s something that could be repaired.
Rifts like these will often heal themselves over time. But don’t ever assume that they will. Look for ways you could support your partner while he’s going through the rough time. You’ll help subdue his concerns, and your relationship will grow stronger for it.
- Does your partner say the issues in your relationship are your fault?
When partners stop working \for the benefit of the relationship, it’s a signal that one or both of them don’t care in the same way they did before.
One common way this change manifests is through blame. If your partner resorts to blaming you for every issue that exists in your relationship, he or she is showing that their feelings have changed and they’re moving on.
- Have you or your partner lost interest in what the other does?
Do you feel as though you simply don’t care what your partner is doing anymore? Or has he stopped asking you what you do during your downtime? Is your free time at home spent in separate rooms doing different things? Do you rarely go out to do things together? All of these are indications that you’re growing apart.
Some time apart is normal and simply occurs naturally. But when you or your partner just stop caring what the other is up to, there is certainly some real distance developing. You need to address the issue before things reach the point of no return.
- Do you feel compelled to compare responsibilities?
One concrete way you can discern if your relationship is going through something more serious than a phase is by evaluating how you work together.
When you and your partner are truly close, each of you will seek ways to help the other however you can. There typically won’t be conversations centered around phrases such as “I handle these duties,” or “You need to get up and do your part.”
It may happen occasionally that one partner or the other gets distracted by outside issues, such as feeling overwhelmed at work. But when each person is genuinely concerned for the other’s well-being, this won’t be a common occurrence. And it’s a really bad sign if one or both partners start to keep score.
- Do you no longer see a future with your partner?
This is significant. Having a future with somebody means that he or she will be in your life. But distancing and increased space are signs of a desire to go separate ways or in different directions.
Ask yourself how you feel about that. Can you still see yourself having a future together with your partner? Can you imagine life apart from them—moving into your own place, hanging out with your friends, pursuing your dream job, just living life—without your partner in the picture? This is the most significant sign that you’re growing apart.
If you still envision your future with him in it, what about him? Is he acting as though he’s still in it for the long haul? Or does he no longer want to talk to you about anything that has to do with the future?
Does he change the subject when marriage comes up? Does he tense up at any hint at or mention of kids, even if it’s unrelated to the possibility of the two of you ever having a family together? Or, possibly worst of all, has he hinted at the potential of moving away for his job, switching careers, or engaging in some new hobby or pastime but he hasn’t discussed it with you?
Some relationships end because the partners grew apart. But more often, when partners in a romantic relationship grow distant, the relationship is just going through a phase. They’re still in love, so as long as both partners are committed to the relationship and are willing to work for it, their spark will glow again.