Starting the new year is a natural time to reflect on your romantic life. There’s no doubt that your relationship will be part of the audit if you’re taking time to reflect on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. If you’re finding yourself reluctant to replay highlights from your relationship this year, it’s a sign you could be suffering from relationship burnout. I’ll tell you exactly what that means!
When you have relationship burnout, the thrill is gone. It’s a very different feel from settling into a comfortable routine that provides stability. It also feels very different from the natural progression from the “honeymoon” phase to a mature relationship. While the relationship may feel stable, it’s plagued by cracks under the surface that reveal hints of resentment, disconnection, or a fear that you’ve “settled.” These are the common relationship burnout signs:
- You dread the presence of your partner when you’re trying to unwind after work.
- You rarely give your opinion out of fear of judgment.
- There’s a lack of intimacy and affection.
- You don’t feel motivated to fix the things that are wrong.
- You dream about doing things that you used to enjoy doing with your partner by yourself.
- You feel that everything your partner does is wrong.
- Your partner feels that everything you do is wrong.
- You find that all of your interactions are “transactional.” While you used to lovingly do things for your partner, you’re now in a state of keeping track of who made coffee last, who took out the trash, and who cleaned the bathroom.
The experience of relationship burnout mirrors the experience of workplace burnout in many ways. There’s a sense of going through the motions without feeling like there’s any meaning, purpose, or joy behind what you’re doing. Like workplace burnout, romantic burnout is something that demands a decision.
How Do You Fix Relationship Burnout?
Can the situation be fixed? You have to decide if you believe fixing the problem is worth it to you. These are the big questions to ask:
- Am I the problem? Take time to consider the actions that are contributing to frostiness within the relationship. Working long hours, not prioritizing your relationship, a habit of saying hurtful things to your partner, and poor time management that leaves you in a state of perpetual stress could all be contributing to the decline of your relationship. Take ownership of the things you can fix.
- Am I pulling away because I’m scared? We often pull away when we should be drawing closer to our partners out of a fear of abandonment. Make sure that the symptoms that look like relationship burnout aren’t actually self-protection mechanisms to burn it all down instead of risking pain.
- Am I prioritizing intimacy? You’d be surprised to discover how simply focusing on prioritizing intimacy with your partner can help to reverse feelings of burnout. Don’t assume that things should just “happen” easily. Put effort into planning special nights. Research shows that intimacy is linked with sexual desire in both men and women.
My final word of advice is to make sure you’re not confusing general life burnout for relationship burnout. When we’re stressed, we tend to neglect our partners because we assume that this is an area of our life that can continue to function without effort. Prioritizing your relationship can actually be a tool for restoring the balance that’s been lost due to overcommitting in your workplace and family life.