I recently went through a breakup.
I probably don’t have to tell you how hard it was. Oh, woe is me and all that jazz.
What I do want to talk about, however, is one of the core reasons why the relationship didn’t work out.
While breaking up, my ex and I agreed that over the years we’d been together, I’d evolved faster emotionally. He couldn’t keep up, and I couldn’t hold out the hope that one day, we might be on the same emotional wavelength again.
So we called it quits.
Are you further along on your emotional journey than your partner? Here are the 7 signs.
1) Your lifestyles seem more different than ever before
During the last year of the relationship, I noticed a monumental change in how my ex and I led our lives. We lived together, yet it seemed as if the apartment was essentially split in half.
On the one hand, there was me, trying to stay productive, work on my goals, and get to know myself on a deep emotional level.
On the other, there was him, playing video games all day and avoiding his issues.
When you evolve and grow as a person, your habits begin to reflect that change.
The more I read about emotional maturity and worked on my behavior, the better my lifestyle became – I ate healthier, I started going to the gym, and I cleaned around the house a lot because I wanted my environment to mirror my organized and productive mind.
Meanwhile, my ex stayed the same. This meant there was an inherent clash in our daily routines, and while my productivity made him feel restless and guilty, his procrastination encouraged me to slack off more often than I would have liked.
Of course, we had multiple conversations about all that – but nothing much changed. Which brings us to the next point…
2) You feel like you’re talking to a wall
When there’s conflict, the absolute best way to reach a healthy resolution is if both partners communicate to the best of their ability.
But if only one of you is pulling their weight and trying to solve your issues (that would be you), it’s like leaning against air. There’s nothing to keep you standing, and you inevitably fall to the ground.
Think of a recent conflict you had with your partner. Did you try your best to communicate in a mature and open way only to be met with resistance (e.g., your partner flipped out and twisted your words) or negligence (e.g., your partner refused to collaborate and left)?
If your answer is yes, it’s a huge sign you’re evolving faster where emotional intelligence is concerned.
3) Your conversations lack that deep understanding
It’s heartbreaking when two people grow apart, but unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when you’re not on the same emotional level anymore.
Months or years ago, your conversations may have filled you with deep satisfaction and a feeling of aliveness.
Now? It’s all surface-level. And if you do try to break that barrier between you, it’s like digging a hole in a frozen ground – extremely difficult, exhausting, and often pointless.
What’s more, your preferred topics may have changed, too. Where you liked to gossip or complain, you now want to talk about books or new spiritual concepts.
Your partner’s frequent complaining is suddenly grating, the negativity keeps getting on your nerves, and the strong connection you once had seems to get weaker by the day.
Thus the painful price you sometimes pay for self-growth.
4) The same issues keep popping up over and over again
When your partner doesn’t work on themselves as much as you, one major problem occurs – you keep recycling the same issues over and over again.
While *you* are frustrated that they can’t put in the work to resolve this once and for all, *they* don’t understand what the big deal is or simply can’t figure out a way to fix the problem.
Every time they promise to change their behavior and fail to keep their word, it chips away at your trust. And as the months pass by and you feel yourself turning into a broken record – “All I want is X, why can’t you do X, have you forgotten about X” – your relationship deteriorates right in front of you.
Sometimes, waiting for your partner to catch up is a hopeless fight, no matter how much you’d like to believe otherwise.
5) Your encouragement and advice fall flat
I know how much you’re trying to make this work. I was in the same situation just a few months ago.
I encouraged my ex to open up to me and work on the relationship together. I suggested various avenues that might help him resolve the issue, I recommended books that inspired me to evolve emotionally, and I introduced him to different psychological concepts that could help him get to know himself better.
But no matter how many books I told him about or how many videos I sent him to watch, he never took me up on the offer.
His own internal conflicts were holding him back from taking the necessary steps to grow, and there was nothing more I could do.
Sometimes, even your best isn’t enough when you’re dating someone who isn’t ready to receive and embrace that energy.
That isn’t to say your partner won’t change, of course. They might.
It’s more about asking yourself, “How long am I willing to wait for something that may never happen?”
6) You often find yourself in a parenting role
Another setback of being further along on your emotional journey than your significant other is that you often feel like you’re the driving force behind the whole relationship.
You’re the one to initiate serious conversations. You’re the one to remind them to run that important errand for the fifth time this week. You’re the one who stays awake at night, tossing and turning, unable to figure out why the relationship isn’t working.
You’re carrying the weight of the entire relationship on your shoulders, and it’s so very exhausting.
What’s more, your desire to see your partner grow alongside you might make you act overly controlling, preoccupying yourself with *their* self-development instead of yours, reminding *them* to maintain their good habits, and nagging at *them* to finally get themselves off the couch.
But the truth is that if they don’t want to do it themselves, they won’t. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
7) You feel like your partner’s holding you back
It’s not easy to admit, is it? It feels almost like a betrayal of what you two have together.
But you can’t deny the truth. You’ve grown, and your partner hasn’t. You’ve changed, and your partner had stayed the same.
And, well, let’s just say it as it is: in some ways, it feels like they’re holding you back from reaching your full potential.
A side effect of self-development is that you begin to seek people who inspire you to grow even more.
You don’t want to drag others to places they don’t have any interest in going. You want to surround yourself with people who walk alongside you and who are just as excited to see where your journey leads.
Recently, I saw a video that said you should ask yourself these five questions when you’re unsure about your relationship with someone:
- If someone told you you’re a lot like your partner, would this be a compliment to you?
- Are you truly fulfilled or just less lonely?
- Are you able to be unapologetically yourself or do you feel the need to show up differently to please your partner?
- Are you in love with who your partner is right now as a whole or are you in love with their good side, their potential, or the idea of them?
- Would you want your future or imagined child to date someone like your partner?
If your answers to these questions make you feel uncomfortable… it might be the final sign you’re emotionally evolving faster than your partner.