When your relationship hits a rough patch, it can become hard to tell whether it’s just a temporary hurdle or if it’s time for a breakup. Although everyone has their own breaking points, there are some differences between a relationship rut and the end of a relationship. Just because the going gets tough doesn’t always mean it’s time to move on, but if your dating troubles don’t seem to improve, it may signify the end is near. Recognizing certain relationship patterns can help you understand when to push through and when to pull the plug.
“It is key to recognize when you’re in a relational rut — versus when the relationship is headed toward a breakup — because if you’re in a rush to misread the signs of a rut, you may prematurely end what could be an incredible relationship,” licensed psychologist Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, tells Bustle. “You may misinterpret opportunities for growth — for you, your partner and the relationship — if you are quick to rush toward the end. Slow down, and ask yourself, ‘Is it really over, or is this salvageable?'”
Here are seven interesting differences between being in a relationship rut and nearing the end of your relationship, according to experts.
1-Just A Rut: You’re Feelings Bored
If you are feeling bored in a relationship, it is likely just a rut. “Human beings love all things shiny and new,” Dr. Balestrieri says. “When we are in a relationship for a long time, some of the shine start to look dull. It’s not because our partner has lost their shine, per se, but because we can become habituated to our partner’s level of awesome, and we can begin to take it for granted. A quick reality check can help restore some of the boredom, and keeping things spicy and interesting can go a long way in keeping your relationship rut-free.”
2-Just A Rut: You’re Still Attracted To Your Partner
Many couples find they experience a s**ual lull in their relationship, but there’s a difference between being busy and no longer feeling attracted to your partner. “In a rut, you are generally still attracted to your partner, but perhaps you are not having as much se* as you once did,” Dr. Balestrieri says. “But given the chance, you’d welcome some adult alone time with your partner.” If you find that you’re not attracted to your partner and you can’t pinpoint why, it may be time to move on.
3-Just A Rut: Honesty Is Still A Priority
“If honesty has begun to erode, this could be a sign that your relationship is near its end,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “When in a rut, you generally respect and care for your partner and do not wish to hurt them. However, if you find yourself lying or telling half-truths, then you may have more than one foot out the door.”
4-The End Of A Relationship: You’re Imagining Being Single
When a relationship is ready to be over, you might find yourself imagining “solo living.” “Sometimes when in a rut, people can fantasize about the greener grass somewhere else,” Dr. Balestrieri says. “But when your ‘we’ thinking transitions to ‘me’ thinking about the future, your FOMO may be taking you down a path of no relational return.”
5-The End Of A Relationship: You’re Feeling Contempt For Your Partner
Feelings of contempt toward your partner likely means the relationship should come to a close. “When you loathe not love, this is a huge predictor that the end is near,” psychotherapist and relationship expert Kelly Bos, tells Bustle. “The Gottman Institute has studied signs of a relationship ending and state that contempt, which might show up as a loss of any empathy, showing disrespect, mockery or belittling, is the most serious indicator of a relationships demise.”
6-Just A Rut: You’re Both Still Willing To Work On Things
When you’re just experiencing a rough patch, you’re more likely to want to figure out ways to resolve your problems. If the relationship is coming to a close, there is a loss of a desire to work on your issues. “Perhaps things could get better, but if you are the only one working on making any changes for might be looking at the beginning of the end of things,” Bos says.
7-The End Of The Relationship: You’re Staying Together Out Of Fear Of Being Alone
An honest inquiry as to why you want to stay in the relationship might reveal how likely it is that this relationship will work. “If ideas about fears of being alone, worries about how others will feel, or how [the breakup] might appear are the main narrative, it might reveal that you are not in this relationship for the best reasons,” Bos says.
When the going gets tough, it can be hard to tell whether you’re just experiencing a bump in the road or if the relationship is doomed. Thinking bigger picture and really digging into your specific problems can help shed some light on the future of your relationship.