There are many different types of dead-ends out there: Dead-end roads and highways; dead-end career paths and jobs; and dead-end negotiations and communications. But the most unpleasant dead-ends in life occur in relationships.
Any relationship is susceptible to hitting a dead end. But long-term romantic relationships tend to run the highest risk of continuing long after they should have ended.
One reason such relationships continue like this is due to the levels of attachment that form during the extended amount of time a couple spends together. In other words, people appreciate the stability that the relationship offers, and often choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships to avoid being left alone.
Signs You’re In a Dead-End Relationship
It’s natural for a relationship to wax and wane as time passes, but don’t ignore the red flags that you’re in a dead-end relationship. If any of these six signs apply to your relationship, it’s time to take a step away and evaluate it.
- You’re unhappy.
Unhappiness in a relationship, or perhaps even worse, feeling you’d be happier outside the relationship, is significant. You may be more than just unhappy. You may feel depressed, bitter, or broken down.
- You feel that something’s wrong.
If you feel as though something’s inherently wrong in the relationship, it may be time to end it. You may not want to accept this idea, but if these feelings have been persistent, you should not ignore them.
- The bad times outnumber the good.
Spending more time arguing than enjoying each other’s company. fighting about the future, or avoiding discussions about the future are all red flags that your relationship may have come to a dead end. If you’re arguing over the same matters time and time again, things won’t likely change in the foreseeable future. If you’re not willing to accept that, it’s time for you to move on.
- You’re always angry.
A related symptom of a dead-end relationship is becoming angry— perhaps even irrationally angry—over everything your partner does, especially if you would easily have let things go in the past.
- The relationship has transformed.
In addition to an increase in arguments, other dynamics in your relationship may have changed as well. More distance between partners could manifest as a decrease in physical intimacy. Spending more time with your friends leads to spending less time together as a couple.
- You feel compelled to fix your partner.
Do you try to “fix” or “save” your partner, or does your partner treat you as his or her latest project? These attitudes are not healthy and are rooted in anxiety and stress. Accepting people as-is requires humility and vulnerability from both parties, which leads to equality and unconditional love in the relationship.
Ending a Dead-End Relationship
Every person naturally values his or her time. A relationship that doesn’t add value to your life is not worth the time spent on it. So, if you recognize any of the above signs in your relationship, it’s time to recognize that you may be in a dead-end relationship, and need to move on from it. Here are seven tips on how to part on pleasant terms so both of you can move on in a mature and healthy way.
- Be honest.
It won’t be easy to take the initial steps to end a significant long-term relationship. But if the relationship has been strained for a while, or your partner hasn’t been meeting your needs, you need to be honest with each other and accept the fact that it would be best to move forward. Once you reach this decision, don’t waver or question yourself further.
- Talk things out in person.
Don’t ever end a relationship via email, text, social media, or even snail mail. This will not allow for the creation of a strong foundation for the future and will lead to significant issues down the road.
- Choose the proper place and time.
You may be tempted to rush into this conversation to get things over with as quickly as possible. But it’s worth it to think through the potential factors that might disrupt your talk. Select a time and place that will allow for an adequate length of time free of interruptions.
- Be honest and straightforward about how you feel.
Being honest and straightforward about your feelings will cause you and your partner the least possible amount of stress. Being honest and candid is far more effective than blaming yourself or ending things gradually.
- Strive for balance.
Just because honesty and directness are best doesn’t mean you should be blunt or lay blame on your partner. You should strive for a balance. Avoid making promises that you don’t intend to keep. Be firm and hold your ground.
- Pause communication after the breakup.
You may be tempted to continue meeting together as “friends,” but this will only create confusion and doubt for both of you after you break up. After you’ve committed to ending the relationship, stop communicating for a month or so to give yourselves adequate time to accept your new normal. If you live together, make arrangements for one of you to move out.
- Practice self-care.
It can take 18 months for partners to move on after a breakup. Allow yourself enough time to heal after the relationship ends. This is the only way you’ll be able to grow and to engage in other pursuits in a healthy manner. If you feel guilty about ending the relationship, it’s in the best interest of both parties to move past it. Practice good self-care, find a support system you can rely on and give yourself enough time to heal.