If it feels like your relationship has been under extra strain lately that’s no surprise—after all, a global pandemic hardly makes for smooth sailing in any major area of your life. Stress levels are at record highs, your usual support systems have evaporated, and of course there is such a thing as too much time together. But licensed clinical psychologist and bestselling author Andrea Bonior, PhD, recently explained to Psychology Today that even if you’re questioning your coupledom, especially amid the pandemic, “all is not lost." However, there are a handful of signs that the relationship is “past the point of no return.” In particular, Bonior says that you may be headed for a break up if you and your partner can’t agree on one thing: specifically, what the problems are in the relationship. Read on to find out whether your own relationship is on the rocks, and for more relationship advice, check out The One Word You're Saying That's Ruining Your Relationship, Experts Say.
Bonior explains that not agreeing on what your relationship issues are can send your romance spiraling because if you can’t even decide which problems you need to address, it’s very difficult to progress to a healthier place. “It's particularly difficult to begin to work on a problem when there is a total disagreement about what that problem is,” Bonior writes, adding that blaming one another for your relationship issues can lead to your relationship's ultimate collapse. “If each of you blames the other as being the true origin of what is going wrong, it will be hard to find common ground, or be willing to be vulnerable enough for real change.”
Additionally, if one partner is prone to placing blame, it can discourage the other from bringing up concerns in the first place for fear of being dismissed, attacked, or misunderstood. Without naming your problems and being open about the areas of the relationship that need work, you’re less likely to find effective solutions.
Nancy Colier, LCSW, told Psychology Today that the best approach is to let go of the idea of assigning blame to either party whenever possible. Ask yourself whether your impulse to place blame is habitual, reactive, or self-serving, rather than necessary for moving forward—if so, it’s important to recognize that this reaction may be impeding your communication and eroding trust. Ultimately, these are feelings that frequently result in relationships ending.
The good news? Bonior says that even if you don't currently see eye to eye about the relationship's issues, you may still be able to salvage things with some effort. "This isn't insurmountable, as professional help can typically give insight into the roots of the issues," she writes. Try sharing and receiving concerns with an open heart, perceiving them not as criticism, but as a starting point for mutual growth. And, when in doubt, hopefully you can both agree to this: if either one of you considers something "an issue," it deserves both parties' time and attention. Wondering what other signs may signal a breakup ahead? Read on for more serious red flags, or if you're looking for a partner, This Trait Makes People Want a Serious Relationship With You, Study Says.
You resort to name-calling.
Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, so resorting to name-calling during an argument can seriously damage the dynamic. “Once the name-calling floodgate opens, it is difficult to stop the flow,” says Amanda Lopez, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Vista, California. “This is where it takes a lot of inner self-control to focus on what makes your partner special, and what they do well. If we can change our thoughts, we have better control of what comes out of our mouth,” she adds. And for more relationship tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You feel lonely when you’re together.
If you find that you feel lonely while spending time with your spouse, this could be a sign that you and your partner have been drifting apart. Amid the pandemic, which has pushed cohabiting couples to spend much more time together but diminished the opportunities for quality time, it's likely affecting more couples.
California-based marriage and family therapist Devorah Rogers suggests that when couples find themselves in this situation, they should focus on increasing their communication. Equally important, she says, is learning to discuss these feelings with a balance of honesty and tact. Because this is a deeply emotional topic and a hard thing to hear, Rogers recommends that you “utilize ‘I’ statements and avoid assigning blame.” Be clear that your ultimate goal is not to point fingers, but to return to a place of better intimacy and deeper connection. And for more sage love advice, check out the 33 Most Common Reasons Why Relationships Fail.
You don’t make an effort to spend quality time together.
You may be spending more time together than ever during the pandemic, but spending quality time is something else entirely.
“Think of your relationship as a cup,” says Kathryn Moore, PhD, a psychologist at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. “The cup is filled up by connection, caring actions, support, emotional and physical intimacy, and positive moments together. This cup is emptied by negative interactions, stress, and feelings of isolation and [being] unloved. Quality time together is the stuff that fills up the relationship cup and provides fuel to get through difficult or stressful times."
This is undoubtedly a challenge amid the pandemic, but quality time can be as simple as a COVID-safe date night, a thoughtful gesture, or even just a conversation.
You’ve stopped sharing the things that matter to you.
Finally, collaborative communication and reciprocity are essential ingredients of a thriving relationship, says Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in California.
That's why it's so important to “make an effort to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences daily,” she says. Not making a sincere effort to “show interest when your partner is sharing about their day and follow-up with sharing about your day” can have a degrading effect on the relationship over time. And if you're finding it hard to keep things fresh amid the pandemic, check out these 17 Quarantine Marriage Tips from Relationship Experts.