10 alarming signs your relationship is breaking down (and 10 ways to save it)

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Are you having trouble keeping things together in your relationship?

Maybe you are feeling stressed out or anxious because of arguments.

If something doesn’t feel right, then you might want to consider these signs that your relationship is breaking down.

10 signs your relationship is breaking down

1) You rarely or never have sex anymore

Sex is far from everything in a relationship. But it can be an important glue that holds a connection together.

It is also often a strong reflection of the overall state of the relationship.

A healthy sex life helps couples feel closer to one another. And those chemicals released when you’re having sex heighten your connection to each other.

Whether it is the sex itself or the act of intimacy that is significant is open for debate.

But one thing is for sure, research has certainly shown that sex strengthens the attachment between partners, and in the process, increases their long-term relationship satisfaction.

Most couples will notice dips and shifts in their sexual habits. That’s totally normal. But if your sex life has fallen off a cliff, it could signal deeper issues below the surface.

2) You bottle issues up rather than resolving them

Whilst having blazing rows is a more obvious sign of tension in a relationship, unhealthy communication can come in many forms.

One of the more silent yet insidious signs your relationship is breaking down is that you stop talking to each other about your problems.

Rather than resolve issues as and when they arrive, they might be swept under the carpet instead.

Perhaps you don’t have the energy or inclination to address them. It feels easier to simply keep quiet.

But these issues still sit there and have a corrosive effect. They fester and grow into bigger problems over time.

And as you don’t talk about them, you don’t get any closer to solving them either.

So if you find yourself avoiding discussing certain topics with your partner, or becoming more distant from one another as a coping strategy — this may be a sign your relationship is experiencing some problems.

3) Resentment is setting in

The truth is that resentment within relationships can be quite common.

It may start as niggles and annoyances which grow into frustrations, dissatisfaction, and even bitterness.

Resentment is a toxic emotion that eats away at relationships. It makes people less happy, less trusting, and less likely to forgive.

And it can make relationships feel like a struggle rather than a source of joy.

It can be caused by many things.

Things like:

Doing more than your fair share of household chores, feeling unappreciated and unseen by your partner, or your other half making decisions that aren’t right for you.

It’s more common for resentment to set in when you struggle to communicate your own needs and wants to your partner.

For example, in co-dependent relationships or between couples who have a non-confrontational style of communication.

Resentment causes couples to emotionally withdraw from the relationship, which leads to further distance and disconnection.

4) You’re arguing more and more

Maybe discussions usually turn into arguments. Whether that’s full-blown rows or passive-aggressively snapping at one another.

If you are finding yourselves constantly bickering, then it’s probably time to take stock.

Particularly if your disagreements have started to descend into screaming and yelling, research suggests you are more likely to be heading for a split.

As highlighted by Business Insider:

“If you and your partner are yellers and screamers, an arguing style described as “destructive,” you may be more likely to head down the divorce path. (Interestingly, they found that women more so than men engaged in destructive arguing styles.)”

Arguments are bound to happen, and it can be healthy that you express your feelings rather than bottle them up.

But if your fights have ramped up a gear or are becoming far more commonplace, then it signals a breakdown in communication.

5) Your (or their) eyes start to wander

Often when we feel satisfied in a relationship we find ourselves only having eyes for that person.

That’s why most instances of cheating are a sign that something isn’t right at home.

But even if there hasn’t been any infidelity, a wandering eye can also tell you a lot.

It’s not that you cannot find other people attractive simply because you are no longer on the dating market.

But you may start to look around you and notice good-looking people a lot more. It’s almost as though you are subconsciously (or consciously) checking out your other options.

You might start to daydream about having another lover or develop a crush on someone. You could even join a dating app to see what else is out there.

Browsing for other potential partners can be very common towards the end of a relationship that has started to break down.

It suggests that you might not be fully committed to your existing relationship.

6) You’re unhappy

No relationship is happy all the time. It’s important for us all to remember that.

In a way, realizing that real life will always be full of ups and downs takes the pressure off a bit.

There’s no such thing as a fairy tale. Happiness is an extreme emotion, much like sadness. So perhaps contentment is the more realistic stable ground that we should strive for.

Having said that, if you have been feeling unhappy in your relationship for some time now, then perhaps it is not simply one of those natural peaks and troughs, but something more.

You don’t feel content, you don’t feel safe or secure in the relationship, and you feel sad often.

You may have been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

If you feel in your gut that something is wrong, then that feeling is a signal to you that the relationship has problems.

7) There is little intimacy

Sex is only one way of building intimacy in a relationship. But there are far more forms.

Other types of physical intimacy come from touch in general.

Things like cuddling, holding hands, and kissing. In fact, some couples are happy not having sex and getting a sense of closeness through these other intimate forms of touch.

And then there is mental, emotional, spiritual intimacy, and more.

But if you don’t feel particularly close to your partner, they can start to feel more like a roommate.

When the relationship has started to break down, plenty of couples will describe how they feel like they are platonically cohabiting rather than feeling like they are in a relationship.

This sensation often comes with a breakdown in intimacy.

8) You sense you’re growing apart and want different things

Sometimes we get into relationships where we think we know what our partner wants. But somewhere along the way, we change, and they change.

The things that we once had in common no longer seem to apply. Those deeper values and life goals just aren’t matching up anymore.

In short:

We’ve grown apart.

They may have wanted children at first, but now they don’t. They may have wanted to travel the world together, but now they’d prefer to settle down. Or maybe they used to love going out every night, but now they would rather spend their evenings at home watching TV.

Priorities and desires have a habit of shifting for all of us.

When a couple’s priorities and desires no longer align it can lead to a breakdown in the relationship.

9) The trust has gone

Trust is a big part of any healthy relationship.

Without trust, nothing else works.

A lot of people struggle with trusting others. We tend to hold back when we are unsure about someone. Even once we build a connection, trust can feel delicate.

If you find yourself struggling to trust your partner, then it could be because you feel unsafe in the relationship.

There might be jealousy or suspicion. Maybe it’s because of past actions, or maybe not.

Perhaps you feel like you can’t trust them to keep their promises, to protect you, or to make good decisions.

Without a feeling of trust, it makes a relationship very fragile. So when the trust starts to go, the relationship stands on increasingly unstable foundations.

10) You’re lonely

Here’s the thing:

A lot of us go into relationships in order to find a teammate and partner in crime.

We don’t want to feel alone. We want someone on our side to do life with.

But a certain amount of loneliness is actually part of the human condition. Even in healthy and happy relationships, you may experience moments of loneliness.

But it all depends on the extent to which you feel this way.

Perhaps ironically, the feeling of loneliness can be far more intense when we are in a relationship where we don’t feel an emotional connection to our partner than when we are single and alone.

It highlights the emotional distance between you if you feel lonely, and like your partner doesn’t understand you.

Perhaps you don’t talk about anything anymore. You used to share all kinds of things with each other. But now you barely even speak to one another.

And that has left you feeling increasingly isolated and disconnected.

10 things to do when your relationship is falling apart

1) Have realistic expectations

So many relationships break down because they are falling foul of unrealistic expectations.

We want our partner to complete us. To be responsible for all of our emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs.

We put pressure on our partners and then get frustrated when they are not everything we want them to be.

One of the best ways to maintain a strong and successful relationship is actually by not expecting too much from it.

That does not mean having low standards. But it does mean not expecting our partners to “save us” and instead stepping up for ourselves.

My relationship improved tenfold when I finally understood all the toxic ways I had been chasing love.

I came to these profound realizations after taking an incredibly powerful free masterclass on Love and Intimacy from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê.

His profound video taught me about how we end up self-sabotaging our relationships. And importantly, how to stop doing it so you can experience truly fulfilling connections.

I honestly think it’s essential viewing for anyone who wants to prioritize healthy and happy relationships.

So I’d invite you to watch this short video and open your mind to new possibilities.

Click here to watch the free video.

2) Improve communication

A lot of relationship red flags that start to emerge often arise from problems in communication.

We always hear about how vital communication is to any successful, healthy, and happy relationship — but the overwhelmingly vast majority of us still struggle with it.

And for good reason. It is hard.

It often requires vulnerability, patience, and deep compassion. And they are not simple emotional skills to master.

Some ways to improve communication in a relationship include:

  • Trying to understand and process your own emotions before talking to your partner about them.
  • Being mindful about choosing the best time to raise problems for discussion.
  • Using “I feel” statements to express yourself and take self-responsibility for your own emotions.
  • Setting boundaries.
  • Learning to compromise.
  • Become better listeners and practice active listening.
  • Writing to your partner if you find it easier to express yourself that way.

3) Spend quality time together

If you are feeling a disconnect within your relationship it’s important to focus on spending quality time with one another.

Spending time alone or with friends is great, but it’s also really important to spend some time just being together as a couple.

This doesn’t have to be romantic. But it should be fun, relaxed, and enjoyable.

You could go out for dinner, play board games, or simply sit around talking.

Whatever you do, ideally it’s something you both enjoy. In order to strengthen your bond, you could also explore new hobbies and interests together as a couple.

I know that real life can be busy. And it’s easy to get bogged down in day-to-day things.

But before you know it your only “quality time” is when you’re loading the dishwasher together or mindlessly bingeing Netflix.

You don’t need to spend every single day together. Just make sure you’re making time for each other to do quality activities.

4) Be honest about your feelings

Sometimes people will try to hide their true feelings from their partner.

They might even lie about what they’re thinking and feeling in an attempt to keep the peace. But it’s never good to hold back on your emotions.

Tactlessness is unhelpful, but practicing radical honesty in a relationship can be really constructive. Especially for couples who feel like communication is stifled and passive.

The truth is that it’s okay to feel angry, sad, scared, disappointed and a wide range of seemingly “negative” emotions in your relationship.

If you’re holding back on your feelings then you’re not allowing yourself to fully experience life or cultivate an honest and safe space in your relationship to be yourself.

That’s not going to help you grow as a person. And it’ll only cause more problems in your relationship.

When you share your true feelings with your partner, you give them permission to express theirs too.

And if you’re willing to listen to your partner without judgment, you’ll find that you will not only better resolve issues, but also feel a lot closer.

5) Spice things up sexually

Most couples notice a drop off in sex as they leave the so-called honeymoon period.

What once came naturally, suddenly now takes effort.

Sure, in an ideal world sex would be effortlessly fun and spontaneous. But real lives mean that’s not often the case.

The natural excitement and desire you felt starts to fade as the novelty of the relationship does. And that needs to be replaced by a concerted effort to keep the flames of passion burning.

You could try to spice things up a bit by trying different positions, dressing up, sending sexy texts, using toys, and experimenting with different types of foreplay.

Some couples feel like they benefit from scheduling a time to have sex. Particularly if it has a habit of falling down the list of priorities.

Getting sexually intimate with your partner is a good way to boost that feeling of closeness to them.

6) Talk to an expert

Relationships can bring so much joy to your life, but let’s face it, they take work.

As the saying goes:

“If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

But navigating the rain is damn hard. That’s why it’s made a lot easier if you enlist the help of an expert.

Therapists and relationship coaches can help you see your own blind spots.

If you want confidential expert advice on your own unique relationship problems, personally, I really recommend Relationship Hero.

They are unique because unlike a therapist who just listens to you, their relationship experts offer you personalized advice.

They actually help you come up with a plan of action to get your relationship back on track.

I’ve used them a few times, and love that you can literally connect instantly with an expert within just a few minutes.

If you are curious to see how they can help you, then click here to get started.

7) Build up your own life

It might sound counterintuitive to focus on your own life, interests, and goals when talking about how to save your relationship.

But the two are heavily intertwined.

It partly goes back to what I mentioned earlier in that Love and Intimacy video — about the expectations we have in relationships.

The more content you feel as an individual the more you have to bring to the table in your relationship.

Rather than looking to your partner to make you happy, you make yourself happy. And a loving relationship is the cherry on the top of the cake.

Don’t neglect yourself within a relationship or you’ll quickly lose yourself.

Make time for your friends and family, have hobbies, nurture passions, and do things for you.

Don’t live for your partner, it’s unhealthy.

8) Practice gratitude and appreciation

When you first start dating there are lots of “quirks” about your partner that you label as cute or endearing.

Later down the line, those same quirks become infuriating. But all that has actually changed is our perception.

My poing is that it’s easy to end up focusing on the bad and forgetting the good.

Remind yourself of the things you like about one another. Create gratitude lists of all the things you do like and value in your other half.

And don’t keep it to yourself.

Consciously show your appreciation to them. Praise them. Thank them. Celebrate them and support them.

Make that shift and you might be surprised how quickly your partner starts to reciprocate. And how it can begin to heal rifts that have grown between you.

9) Have a couples meeting every week

Another way of strengthening communication is to schedule a time each week to sit down and really talk.

Plenty of people are familiar with the concept of a family meeting.

It’s a formally set aside time to discuss issues, resolve problems, or just consciously check in with one another.

This can be really effective for couples too.

It actively encourages you to share what is going on for you. And it provides a clear time and space to talk about any recent difficulties you have faced.

10) Look to the future

Thinking about the future can work miracles in your relationship.

One study from the University of Waterloo found that thinking about the future had a positive knock-on effect on couples’ reasoning strategies and feelings.

And this ultimately leads to more relationship positivity.

The lead author of the study, Alex Huynh, says:

“When romantic partners argue over things like finances, jealousy, or other interpersonal issues, they tend to employ their current feelings as fuel for a heated argument. By envisioning their relationship in the future, people can shift the focus away from their current feelings and mitigate conflicts”.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get $50 off your first session (exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers).

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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