Sometimes, relationships end not with a huge betrayal or a loud bang. Sometimes, it dies a slow, numbing death – also known as “growing apart”. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons couples break up.
How does growing apart happen? How do you go from being practically joined at the hip to almost being strangers?
There are many reasons, but the most common are: unresolved conflict, a shift in priorities, a routinary existence, and general absence.
The result is that couples begin feeling disconnected from each other, and if it’s left unaddressed, can reach the point of no return.
How do you know if you’re at that point? Here are 11 signs you’ve grown apart from your partner, and that it’s not just a phase – that it’s time to let them go:
1) Communication has dwindled
At the start of every relationship, you may have spent hours and hours talking. About the big stuff and the nonsensical. It didn’t matter what the topic was, every conversation just felt sparkly and shiny.
But over time, once the honeymoon stage passes, “real life” sets in, and you no longer make as much of an effort as you used to.
That’s perfectly natural. Unfortunately, letting communication fall by the wayside is a step away from your partner.
When you stop talking or sharing the highs and lows of your day with your partner, an invisible gap appears.
Then it widens and widens until you reach a point where conversation becomes merely functional. LIke groceries and bills, who’s going to pick up the kids, whose turn it is to do the laundry…
And so, because you’re no longer emotionally connected to each other…
2) You feel lonelier with them than without them
This is a big one, and it’s so telling of the state of your relationship. How do you feel when you’re with your SO?
If you feel lonely and you often reach out to others for comfort or companionship instead, sorry to say it, but you might be oceans apart inside. Even if you’re sitting side by side.
Your relationship should be your safe space, where you feel understood, supported, and cherished. I mean, that’s the whole point of it, isn’t it?
Otherwise, you might just as well be single.
3) Arguments have become the norm
Now, what if you do communicate, except that it’s nowhere near healthy?
Your disagreements have become more frequent and more intense. The tone you use with each other has an underlying aggression or annoyance in it.
That’s a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. It may even be a sign that you’ve not just grown apart, that your relationship has, in fact, turned toxic.
Look, every couple argues. And according to experts, healthy disagreements actually help strengthen relationships.
One study even found that happily married couples don’t argue less – they just do it the right way.
The keyword here is HEALTHY.
If all you ever do is bicker and argue yet things never get resolved, it might be time to think of an exit strategy.
4) There’s little to no physical intimacy
I’m not just talking about sex here. I’m also talking about the more mundane yet absolutely powerful acts of intimacy like holding hands or hugging.
These might seem minor, but they’re a good measure of your closeness and connection.
So, if they’ve been missing for a long time, it means the warmth and bond between you two might be fading.
5) You live separate lives
There is perhaps no more glaring sign that it’s time to let go than this – separate lives.
I’ve been there in one of my past relationships, and that’s how I knew it was time to go.
The exact moment was when I had a successful day at work, and the first person I thought of sharing the news with wasn’t my partner.
Not only that, but we pretty much spent our days, even the weekends, doing our own thing. I’d go shopping with my friends, and he’d play basketball with his.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to have individual hobbies and friends. But there should still be a point of intersection. Things you do together, plans you make together.
So, if you’re now leading completely separate lives, one thing is clear here – you’re no longer choosing each other.
And what is love if it’s not the decision to choose your person every single day?
6) You reminisce more than you create new memories
The problem with leading separate lives is that you no longer have a shared present to talk about. And that’s another sign that it might be time to let go.
You’re not making new memories – how can you when you’re now barely connected?
Which means, anything you talk about in terms of your relationship is in the past. All you can do now is reminisce, because what else is there to do when there’s nothing new?
This brings me to my next point…
7) They figure less and less in your view of the future
Maybe in the past, you once had shared dreams. Maybe you both looked forward to having kids or traveling the world together.
But that all seems like a very hazy picture now. In fact, when you think in terms of the future, your partner figures less and less in it.
Or you may have both evolved in different directions so that you no longer have the same shared vision.
That’s nobody’s fault, really. But still, it’s a sign you should heed. Otherwise, you could be wasting time with someone who’s no longer compatible with you.
You both deserve somebody who will feel excited about a future with you in it!
8) Your values have shifted
Just like it would be hard to go on with someone who now has a different vision, so would it be impossible if you’ve got different values.
In the beginning, you might have felt like your partner was “The One” because you felt so in sync. You agreed on the stuff that matters, which means you valued the same things.
The thing is, we’re constantly evolving. The ideals we used to hold dear can change, and our values can shift.
And if it so happens that your evolutions don’t match, to the point where you can see no compromise happening, it might be a sign that it’s time to let go.
Otherwise, you’d be constantly butting heads and making decisions the other isn’t okay with.
Again, this isn’t anybody’s fault. It’s just the way life goes sometimes. It’s up to you if this misalignment is a dealbreaker.
9) You now have trust issues
I don’t just mean that you have trust issues related to cheating or secrets. I’m talking about trust as a whole, like you no longer trust your partner to be…your partner.
To have your back. To be there when you need them. To look past your flaws and still love you just the same.
You know why?
Because they’re a stranger now. Because you’ve grown so far apart, they now seem like a completely different person from the one you fell in love with.
So, naturally, your trust in them isn’t as strong as it used to be.
The problem is, trust is something so fragile and so hard to rebuild that sometimes the smarter thing to do would be to say goodbye.
10) You’ve tried, but things remain unchanged
Like I said, it’s up to you to decide if you want to go or stay. But staying means you’d be constantly trying to make it work.
You might even have tried counseling, but you still can’t seem to regain that connection you once had.
Sadly, if you’re already past that stage, no matter how much you want to keep trying…it might be time to walk away.
11) You no longer desire to make it work
And if you absolutely have zero desire to try and make it work…well, you know what that means.
Forgive me for the bluntness, but what’s the point in staying? It would be like riding a car with a broken engine – you won’t get anywhere.
And what’s more, you’d be denying the both of you a chance to try again with somebody new, somebody who’s possibly a better fit.
Now, I know that this is a list of signs that it might be time to let go. But who am I to say that, really?
Ultimately, it’s your decision to stay and make your relationship work. If both you and your partner are up for it, and you feel like somewhere in that chasm between you, there still lies love…then go for it.
But if it seems like you really can’t go back to the way you used to, then feel free to walk away. Don’t stay just for the memories, or just because you’ve been together for so long that it feels like a waste to throw it all away.
Your relationship should honor who you are today – both you and your partner. In that case, letting go can be the last supreme act of love you can do for each other.