How to Tell if Your Relationship Is on Its Last Legs

Few things combine as much frustration and joy as romance. When things are going well, every day can be a delight. When they go poorly, it can easily seem as if you’re wasting your time with somebody who will never be able to make you happy, only for everything to improve as if by magic the next week.

Nobody ever said that being happy means being happy all the time. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and requires us to act differently than we might if we were single. In general, the good outweighs the bad, but sometimes a point is reached where it’s necessary to decide whether or not the way forward leads upwards or only downhill. If this sounds like the situation you’re in, remind yourself that this kind of realization is one you’d rather not experience only in hindsight.

Either of You Aren’t Willing to Make an Effort Anymore

Ideally, both parties in a relationship get more out of it than they put in. If one (or both) of you don’t feel that it’s worth exerting yourselves to bring the two of you back together, that means that this is no longer the case. Unless something changes, you’ll be doing less and less for each other until there’s nothing left to save.

“Working on it” can mean many different things depending on circumstances. Sometimes, this means changing your habits, choosing to spend more time together or simply being honest about whatever may be bothering you. A therapist or therapy should be one of the first options you explore together; not the last. But, if you’re not both willing to work through what’s between you, the chances of things getting better are minute.

Treating Each Other with Resentment Rather than Affection

Some couples’ councilors claim to be able to tell within five minutes whether a couple will go the distance or not. The way they do this is simple: people can disguise their real feelings behind a facade of habit and courtesy and even tell themselves that they still love their partner, but little verbal and behavioral cues always reveal their true feelings.

Little verbal jabs disguised as teasing, a reluctance to make physical contact, and starting to say something but veering off instead are all indications of a relationship in trouble. Every couple has their bad days and weeks, but if this becomes routine, it might be time to move on and make a fresh start.

Lying and Mistrust

This should be obvious, but if you can’t tell your partner the truth, including about how you’re feeling, something is seriously wrong. The same goes if you sometimes don’t believe what they say.

It’s okay for some topics to be off limits: former boyfriends, what you really think of his mother, whether or not you look fat in a certain garment. However, this quickly becomes toxic if it’s really an act of withdrawal or deliberate deception.

Not Standing up for Each Other in Public

Complaining about or criticizing your partner when they’re not around is very often a sign that you no longer care about your relationship and are already on your way out, mentally and emotionally if not in fact. Similarly, placing each other in awkward social situations, making humiliating comments in public or airing your dirty laundry at the wrong time is a clear sign of contempt, an emotion that cannot easily co-exist with love.


Statistically, most relationships and marriages end long before death does anyone part. There are choices to make even at the end, though, and one of them can be between walking away without tears, or continuing to flog a dead horse until the acrimony becomes unbearable.

Thanks to Marie Miguel

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