When it comes to a relationship, it may seem like love is the answer to all your problems. After all, if you love someone there’s nothing you won’t do in order to make the relationship work. But according to experts, sometimes love isn’t always enough. Despite the feelings you may have for each other, you may still be in a
There are many ways to define a “dead-end” relationship. But Mark B Borg, Jr,. Ph.D, clinical psychologist and author of
Relationship Sanity, tells Bustle, “A ‘dead-end relationship’ is one where those within it are interacting with each other in ways that inadvertently protect them from the very reasons for which we form romantic relationships in the first place.” These things are empathy, intimacy, vulnerability and emotional investment.
By Natalia Lusinski and Carolyn Steber
If you’re doing things that contribute to a lack of empathy or intimacy in a relationship, you might be keeping your walls up, or you might be afraid of getting too emotionally invested for fear of getting hurt. This can all cause a relationship not to work down the road.
That’s because more than love is needed to make a relationship successful, Dr. Borg says. It takes a lot of work and nurturing. So how do you know if you’re in a dead-end relationship? Here are some unexpected signs to look out for, according to experts.
You Find Yourself Constantly Missing Your Partner
If you’re in a dead-end relationship, you might ask yourself questions like “What are we even doing together?” or “Where did the warmth in our relationship go?” According to Dr. Borg, this can indicate a sense of missing your partner, even when they’re there. If you are asking yourself these questions, it can even result in spending less time with each other, and spending more time with other people, he says.
You’re Being Very Patient
Patience is needed to make a relationship work. But if you’re being too patient, you may have a problem. According to dating coach Holly Shaftel, your relationship may not be working when you have to patiently wait for your partner to catch up. For instance, you may be in love, but if your partner is putting off marriage and kids while you’re waiting for them to change their mind, you’re not guaranteed that the outcome will be in your favor. “The person holding out may be wasting their time,” she says. Your partner may be stringing you along or they really won’t be ready for a good while. Either way, the relationship becomes stagnant, she says.
You Think Your Relationship Or Your Partner Is “Perfect”
Even though it sounds counterintuitive, believing your relationship is perfect may be a red flag. A relationship that’s meant to last isn’t built on perfection. As psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD, tells Bustle, a dead-end relationship can be a lot like adolescent love. “Adolescent love is all about fulfilling the person’s dream of true love,” she says. “Mature love, on the other hand, looks for character traits that will make it possible to build a partnership and sustain it.” Adolescent love will typically lead to dead-end relationships because it’s usually built on fantasy. When you believe things are perfect, or should be perfect, you’re less likely to work on any issues you may have.
You Accept Your Partner For All Their Flaws, Including Red Flags
When you truly love someone, you should be able to accept them for who they are, flaws and all. But if your partner lacks ambition or shows signs of immaturity, Scott Carroll, MD, author of
Don’t Settle: How to Marry the Man You Were Meant For, tells Bustle, it may not be built to last. “You may love them, but if you feel like you are the only adult in the relationship, you may want to get out now,” Dr. Carroll says. If you see no signs of your partner trying to better themselves, you may be dealing with someone who’s emotionally immature. In this case, you may never know how long it’s going to take for them to change, so it’s up to you to decide what you truly want.
You’re Very Comfortable In Your Relationship
Hitting that comfortable point in your relationship is a really good thing. But if you’re not careful, comfort can quickly turn into boredom. “It’s common to experience boredom in a relationship, but if boredom is the only emotion you are feeling every time you are with your partner, you may be heading for a dead-end,” Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. Of course there are ways to revive a relationship that is getting boring — trying new things together is a great place to start — but whether or not it’s a dealbreaker is up to you.
You Assume You’re Committed To Each Other Because You Say “I Love You”
If you and your partner are both in love with each other, but haven’t clarified your level of commitment to one another, you may be in a dead-end relationship. Being in love and being committed to each other are two totally separate things — you can’t really control who you love, but you can control your level of commitment for them. According to Licensed Professional Counselor, Julie Williamson, commitment levels can also change. For instance, if you’re starting your dream job, your commitment towards your job can outweigh your commitment for your partner. So it’s always important to check in. “Love can certainly make a difference, but commitment matters most of all,” she says. “If you marry your partner knowing that you see things differently, but you’re both committed to having a lasting marriage despite those differences, your challenges won’t be impossible to work through.”
You’re Taking The Relationship One Day At A Time
“A ‘dead-end’ relationship would be one that is good for you while it’s good for you, but there’s no potential for the next steps,” Bethany Ricciardi, Sex and Relationship Expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. “There’s a cap off to your relationship, whether or not your love is overflowing.” If, for whatever reason, you can’t picture growing old with your partner, it’s likely not going to last. The potential for the future should excite you. But if your relationship is moving at a slow pace because you’re unsure of where you want it go, that’s not a great sign.
If you find that you’re in a dead-end relationship, does it really mean it’s not going to last? According to Dr. Borg, not necessarily. “When each person in a relationship is willing to account for [their] part in the problems of relating, and commit to creating a balance, even some very difficult relationships can be turned around,” he says.
If it’s really not meant to last, it’s going to be OK. “Sometimes relationships are like seasons,” Ricciardi says. “We need to let them go so we can start the next cycle.” Chances are, you probably learned some important things you can take to your next one.