These Are The Warning Signs Your Partner Has Checked Out Of The Relationship
Hello? Is anyone home?
Sometimes we keep on doing something even when our heart isn’t in it anymore.
We stay in a job we hate, we renew our lease even though we’ve been wanting to move, we stay in a marriage that stopped working a long time ago – or maybe never really worked.
Why do we do this? Sir Isaac Newton actually figured it out back in the 1600s, when he discovered the first law of motion: an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. It’s also known as the law of inertia, and the definition of inertia is, “the tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.”
Is it any wonder, then, that once you’ve committed to a relationship – moved in together, opened joint bank accounts, gotten married, had children, etc. – it’s hard to leave without a very compelling reason?
An easier way to leave a relationship is not to actually leave it at all, but to check out emotionally while still being technically in the relationship. Nashville-based couples therapist Jeannie Ingram sees this often. “Commonly, couples fall prey to what I call ‘functional exits’,” she told The Huffington Post. “These are behaviors that are part of everyday life, but serve the dual purpose of avoiding intimacy. For example, work, hobbies, or when you regularly say or hear, ‘You go on to bed; I’ll be along later.'”
Has your partner emotionally checked out of your relationship? The following signs are warnings that he may have made a “functional exit.” However, Ingram reassures us that these signs aren’t necessarily harbingers of doom. “Exits like these are not necessarily a sign the relationship needs to end, but rather, an indication that it’s time for some work.”
Don’t worry about it
No one likes fighting – no matter how good the make-up sex is. It’s always more pleasant to get along with your partner and be on good terms. So if you’re in a relationship where you rarely, maybe even never, fight, it might seem like a good thing. But watch out.
There’s conflict in every relationship – fighting is a normal part of living with someone, and actually really healthy. A University of Michigan study of 192 married couples found that couples who fought more frequently and managed to hash out their issues lived longer and were physically healthier than those who repressed their anger.
If your partner doesn’t ever get upset about anything and deflects every potential issue with “it’s fine” or “don’t worry about it,” it might be that they just don’t care enough to fight. Their minds and hearts are elsewhere; there’s no passion for you, or for your relationship.
Not tonight, honey, I have a headache
Sex is an incredibly important part of a healthy relationship. Sure, sometimes you’re tired, or busy, or dealing with a health issue that might mean you don’t get down and dirty as often as you used to, but even if you’re not having sex, intimate touch should always be a frequent part of your day. Cuddling in bed at night, kissing hello and goodbye, holding hands, rubbing your partner’s knee under the table – all of these are ways of saying “I love you” and maintaining the intimacy that’s so crucial in a relationship.
If your partner continually puts you off when you initiate sex, doesn’t want to kiss you or hold hands, and just generally keeps his physical distance from you, there’s something going on – and you need to find out what.
Not convinced that sex and intimacy are that big a deal in your relationship? Consider this: sex therapist Sandor Gardos says a healthy sex life makes the rest of your life better, too. “When things go well in bed, you feel more confident and powerful in other parts of your life.” If your partner isn’t interested, your self-esteem, as well as your relationship, is likely to take a serious hit.
Sure, fine, whatever
Does your partner know where you are right now? And does he care? When someone has checked out of a relationship, they stop asking what you’re up to, because they simply don’ t care. Want to go out of town for the weekend without your partner? Sure, fine, whatever – have fun. Did you come home late last night? No big deal.
It’s one thing to maintain your autonomy in a relationship. No one wants their comings and goings obsessively monitored, and no adult should need permission from their partner to hang out with friends, stay out late, or go on a weekend trip. But people in a healthy relationship check in with each other first. They care.
On that note, here’s one more thing to keep in mind: a little bit of jealousy is actually healthy in a relationship. Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., tells CNN that a touch of jealousy “is going to wake you up. When you’re reminded that your mate is attractive and that you’re lucky, it can stimulate you to be nicer [and] friendlier.”
Is anyone home?
Some things aren’t quantifiable: you just know them deep in your bones. And when you’re not connecting with your partner, you usually feel it. Maybe you still fight – and make up – on a regular basis. Maybe he holds your hand everywhere you go and is up for having sex every night. Maybe he asks you about your day, gets a little territorial when you run into your ex, and seems engaged in your life together. And still, if you’re reading this, maybe you have doubts about whether he’s really invested in your relationship.
Your gut is the best resource you have when it comes to knowing what’s up with your relationship. If you feel that your partner isn’t fully present in your relationship, talk to him about it. Ask if he’s willing to go to couples therapy.
You might think it’s better not to know, but it never is, in the end. If he’s checked out and doesn’t want to work on things, hanging on isn’t doing you any favors. You deserve someone who is engaged and invested in your relationship, 100 percent. Sometimes, walking away is the best thing you can do for your relationship.
Images via shutterstock.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Have you ever stayed in a relationship where you were emotionally checked out?