Whether it be short-term or long-term, we have all experienced the feeling of doubt that begins to loom over us after the honeymoon phase. It’s never easy to admit to a weakening in your relationship. Maybe he’s no longer bringing you flowers or calling you during your lunch break. But let’s be real, this doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed or unrepairable. All relationships are ever-evolving and your partner’s actions might be revealing what they simply can’t communicate.
Men are typically not known for sending clear and obvious signals; they tend to have a hard time translating their emotions into words. This is why it’s important to take a step back and try to recognize the signs that he might need more from your relationship. Here are a few to be on the lookout for:
1. He’s Checked-Out Mentally
When you first started dating, you could be talking about dirt and he would hang on to every word as if you were a poet. He wanted to talk about your day and what you had for breakfast but now, it feels as if you’re talking to a wall. You know you had an amazing connection but he doesn’t seem as interested as he once was. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment that leads to disinterest but oftentimes, you just begin to notice patterns of behavior. It’s important to remember that there are a lot of reasons why a partner checks out and not all of them have to do with you.
Life is stressful; balancing work and relationships come with a lot of anxiety that men typically do not like to discuss, or don’t know how to cope with effectively. Anxiety, depression, and stress can all come from overly-dependent relationships, so it’s essential to establish some independence outside of your relationship. Try to give each other some space if things feel tense or distant so you can both clear your heads. Then, talk it out. Nothing is worse than forced communication, so instead of beating around the bush, try having an open conversation with him about what’s going on in his life. Make the effort to understand him and he will notice it.
2. He Doesn’t Want to Be Intimate
You often find yourself thinking back to the days where he would jump your bones the moment you walked into the room, and now you’re lucky if you get a goodnight kiss. You wouldn’t say the spark is gone but you know you need to throw a little more gasoline to get something going. Now, there isn’t just one reason why a man doesn’t want to be intimate, but one of the biggest reasons is boredom. Sexual ruts come and go in long-term relationships, so it’s important to try to keep things interesting in and out of the bedroom. Incorporating romantic and fun dates nights can help spice things up and add some excitement.
Physical Intimacy isn’t all about sex, either, so it’s crucial to nourish the different aspects of affection in your relationship. From holding hands more regularly to cuddling on the couch, these simple acts of affection can make you both feel reconnected. It’s also helpful to ask your partner what intimate aspects of the relationship are lacking. Like we said before, men may not be great at giving clear signs but they have the potential to be extremely honest.
Do you find yourself explaining to your friends why you haven’t seen your boyfriend in over a week? Telling them he’s been so busy with work and he needs to unwind on his own? Sadly, you know that isn’t the truth; the truth is that he isn’t making the effort to spend time with you. He cancels on plans to hang out with his friends or skips important events because he isn’t feeling it. It feels like a punch to the gut, but that does not mean there is something wrong with you.
If you find that a week has gone by and you haven’t spent any one-on-one time with your partner, talk to him about it. Let him know that you miss him and want to spend more time with him. Try to incorporate activities that he enjoys, surprise him with tickets to see his favorite band, or take a nice evening stroll, If none of these improve your time together, take a step back and see if you have been making an effort to spend time with him, or if you have been relying on him to do all the work. A simple change of pace might be just what your relationship needs to show him that you care.
4. He is Constantly Criticizing You
Picture this: you decide that you want to make your partner’s favorite dish for dinner. You get out of work early, put on your best dress, and spend hours seasoning this steak to perfection. You’re excited and ready for him to get home, yet, the moment is quickly ruined by his critical attitude. Criticism is a huge red flag in any relationship, and is not to be confused with constructive criticism. Constructive criticism means to offer a valid opinion with good intentions. So, when your partner is scrutinizing your appearance or surprise dinner, he is not doing it because he cares.
Many times, this insensitive behavior comes from a place of insecurity that your partner might be holding. This can take a huge toll on your self-esteem, so it’s necessary to let him know that his words are hurtful. Boundaries are what keep relationships healthy and respectful, and when you allow negative behavior, it becomes easier to grow further apart. If you notice a pattern of negative or insulting comments, be upfront and honest with your partner about the effects of his criticism on your self-confidence and your relationship.
5. He Picks Arguments Over Everything
Couples fight– even the healthiest couples bicker over unwashed dishes every once in a while. However, when you find that you and your partner can’t even breathe in the same direction without a fight breaking out then there’s most definitely an issue. In order to understand what’s really wrong, you have to identify the root of the problem. You have to address what is triggering your partner to go on the defense. Not shockingly, most unwanted arguments are the outcome of bad communication. Men do not like to be talked down to or feel small, and berating them does nothing but escalate even the smallest problems.
Put yourself in his shoes. If he talked to you the way you talked to him would you react in the same way? It’s never fun admitting you need an attitude adjustment just as much as he does, but relationships work both ways. If you feel like you are getting nowhere with your partner, then maybe it’s time to check out couple’s therapy. Maintenance is an important aspect of any relationship. In order for your relationship to work long term, you have to find ways to evolve with each other. Even a few sessions of couple’s therapy can give you an honest reflection of what is really going on, and what behaviors need to change.
6. You Have a Gut Feeling
It’s never easy admitting that a relationship has run its course. You have invested a lot of your time and energy into making it work but deep down you know it is not healthy. It’s easy to be comfortable in the daily routines of life and get lazy in any relationship, but when you find yourself anxious and stressed out over a man who won’t put in the same effort, you may need to look at the bigger picture. You should never force a person to be with you, or guilt yourself into staying in a tired relationship. When your efforts to recover your relationship prove unsuccessful, or your relationship starts to feel more like work than a partnership, it’s okay to throw in the towel.
If your gut feeling is weighing heavy on your mind, and it becomes a lot to handle, it’s perfectly okay to reach out for help. Talk with your friends, family, or the ones who know you best and get an outsider’s perspective. Sometimes those who are not directly involved, but have your best interest at heart can give us the advice we so desperately need. While advice from others may not be the first strategy you want to jump to, it can be extremely helpful to hear a third-party point of view. Take the ideas of those close to you and use them to make a careful decision on how to move forward (or not) with your relationship.
To be frank, every relationship is different and what you choose to do with yours is completely up to you! You might believe that your relationship is worth salvaging, and so long as it isn’t detrimental to your mental health, you should go with your heart.
It’s no secret that relationships can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. Make sure you don’t lose touch with your health, your happiness, or your self-confidence. And remember, there’s no reason to be ashamed. All couples require different effort and attention, and you should do anything you feel is necessary to reclaim your relationship. Know what you want, what you deserve, and hold your self-worth at the highest standard.