Relationship Burnout: Meaning, signs, causes, remedy, and prevention
We’ve often heard the terms “Relationship Burnout” “Emotional Exhaustion in a Relationship” and “Love Burnout”
But what are they? Is your relationship experiencing any of these?
Well, first things first, we’ve got to know the meaning of these, what they represent, and how they manifest in a relationship.
The ‘symptoms’ can be mixed up with emotional distance, or lack of interest within the relationship due to the similarities they have.
However, they are slightly different, and without further ado, we’ll understand why and how!
The meaning: What is a relationship burnout? Is it the same as emotional exhaustion in a relationship?
A relationship burnout portrays a relationship’s state of exhaustion characterized by a lack of enthusiasm, passion, communication, and romance.
A relationship burnout/emotional exhaustion/love burnout renders the same state of a romantic relationship.
Different from other factors that lead to a relationship ending abruptly, relationship burnout is rather a slower – longer – path to the end of a relationship.
In other words, a relationship burnout/emotional exhaustion in a relationship brings the relationship to an end slowly rather than rapidly.
It can go noticed or unnoticed but it’s the stem of conflicts, arguments, or simply the unwillingness to try and work things out.
How can you tell if a relationship is burnt out?
A relationship burnout is often followed by a lot of expressive signals by one or both partners involved.
Emotional exhaustion in a relationship reflects a lot on the daily activities, the approach the couple has with each other, and the way they treat each other.
Here’s a list of 10 signs to help you understand what does emotional burnout in a relationship looks like:
1. The romantic and passionate spark is gone.
Love has a multitude of forms. In romantic relationships, it’s ought to be expressed through romantic, passionate, erotic, and sexual gestures.
In the standard narrative, at the beginning of a romantic relationship, those gestures are expressed strongly, while they start to ‘settle down’ a bit as you get more familiar with your partner.
However, even though they settled down a notch, they’re still there.
On the other hand, when a romantic relationship is burnt out, those gestures representing love and lust are no longer present.
You’re more like friends rather than lovers. It’s usually one of the first signals of burnout in a romantic relationship.
2. You feel trapped.
With the lack of what sets the foundation of a romantic relationship – passion, romance, lust, sex, and respect – you start feeling trapped in that relationship.
You perhaps feel love and respect for your partner, but you don’t love them ‘that way’ any longer.
You fail to see them as your romantic partner like you once did at the early stages of the relationship.
The pink filter is gone, and you don’t see them that way any longer.
You’re hanging on a little longer for the sake of something: a condition or a memory.
You feel trapped in a relationship that doesn’t remind you of a romantic relationship.
This is yet another strong sign of relationship burnout.
3. You feel exhausted: it’s like you can’t bring anything else to the table.
You’ve given your all, you’ve tried everything, you’ve given and got your bests, and now you’re exhausted.
You can’t seem to have anything else to give due to feeling drained from the relationship.
The relationship seems to simply be stagnant and not flowing or moving any further.
It’s stuck, and it seems like there’s nothing you can do about it.
It can stem due to continuous arguments and trying to solve them, or lack of communication (no arguments at all), trying hard to bring your best to the table, etc.
The point is you’re both exhausted from trying to hold the relationship strong and together, so much that there’s nothing else left to try.
4. Emotional distance and/or resentment are starting to build up.
Undiscussed issues left unsolved have accumulated within the relationship leading both of you to grow emotionally distant from each other.
You’re having difficulties communicating, you’re having difficulties connecting.
When things are left unexplained and unclear it creates room for resentment: a sense of not being able to stand each other.
With a lack of communication comes a lack of understanding and connection.
Now communication can be verbal or non-verbal, communication can lead to a stronger bond and connection.
However, with too many things swept under the rug, you lose the sense of touch and connection with your partner, making it difficult for both of you to communicate.
This creates a vicious circle:
- Not communicating.
- Losing sense of connection.
- Not being able to express/communicate.
5. You can’t seem to find time for each other.
When a relationship is burnt out, it starts to resemble a place of unease and stress.
This often leads both partners to want to avoid it as much as possible: not finding time for each other.
When things are fresh and exciting within a relationship, there’s an eagerness to spend time together.
On the other hand, when things are a source of stress and anxiety within a relationship, there’s an eagerness to avoid spending time with each other.
It’s how emotional exhaustion in a relationship manifests itself. There’s stress and anxiety, and you can’t seem to find a single positive fraction within your relationship.
6. Lack of excitement to do things together.
A relationship burnout reflects a lot on the couple’s sense of team, or the sense of “we’re in this together, we’ve got each other”
You can’t expect things to be as hot and intensive as they are at the beginning of a relationship.
But you also want to keep that sense of partnership alive.
Once the sense of partnership dies out, there’s room for concern. It’s a common sign of relationship burnout or emotional exhaustion in a relationship.
When you lack excitement to do things together, even if that only means spending time with each other, then your relationship is most probably suffering from burnout.
The sense of partnership and team with each other is what glues all the traits of romantic and non-romantic together. It’s what keeps the relationship fresh, healthy, and long-lasting.
7. The relationship is tiring to maintain: everything feels dull.
The relationship feels like a lot of work, it’s becoming tiresome. The relationship feels like a source of stress rather than a source of joy and ease.
Maintaining a relationship, generally, isn’t an easy thing to do.
In a healthy relationship, the positive traits outbalance the negative ones, and you’re more willing to work things through.
On the other hand, when the positive and negative traits are a bit messed up, and the negative ones outbalance the positive ones, working things out in the relationship becomes tiring.
The harder you try, the more you get tired to the point where you’re exhausted and you can’t do it anymore.
There’s a loss of spark between the couple, both seem to be exhausted and ready to give up, yet they’re holding on to a thin string for a while longer until it breaks.
8. You fail to see the good bits of your relationship.
Again, it’s about the positive and good bits to outbalance the negative ones within the relationship.
Expecting a relationship to be flowery the entire time positive is unrealistic. Especially considering the complex nature of humans.
However, once you fail to see beyond those negative bits and traits of your relationship, things aren’t where they should be.
This could be due to relationship toxicity or many other factors that lead a relationship to slowly die out along with the spark between the couple in it.
9. You love your partner but you just can’t seem to enjoy their presence.
It’s correlating to the feeling of being trapped in a relationship with a person you love but don’t see as a partner anymore.
It can be a different type of love. A love out of respect, a love for a version of your partner you once knew…
Whatever it is, it’s holding you back from saying the giant words weighing on your chest.
You love what they once used to be, or what they once used to bring out of you, you simply can’t seem to love them for what they are right now.
You’re starting to not enjoy their presence due to the stress you’re bringing each other. It’s all circling and bringing one trouble after the other.
You’re ready to call it quits, but you’re not able to do so, yet.
10. You don’t know why you’re staying in the relationship.
Some stay for the sake of old times, some stay for the sake of children, some stay for the sake of the length of the relationship…
There are various reasons people stay in relationships experiencing burnout.
Again, it’s a very thin string you’re both holding on in to, but you don’t know what that string represents.
… Maybe some of you do.
However, it’s just you’re there. You’re hanging on a little longer, but deep inside you’re exhausted.
Things seem to have been overwhelming you for a long time now, and you can’t find the strength to finish the puzzle and find the missing pieces.
You both tried hard, and now you’re just left with a barely standing relationship, waiting for the next event to either end it, or bring the old spark back.
How do you fix emotional exhaustion in a relationship?
Relationship burnout can often seem unfixable, and in some cases is.
Despite what it seems like, with the right amount of willingness and effort, you can bring a burnt-out relationship back to its feet.
Of course, it takes effort from both sides, it takes time and practice to rekindle your relationship.
Here are 3 things you can do to overcome emotional exhaustion/relationship burnout in a relationship:
1. Sit down for a genuine conversation: talk about it. A lot of troubles and issues within a relationship stem from a lack of communication.
This will be your time to talk about it. With an honest and genuine approach to this conversation, you’ll be taking the first step to healing (even if that means ending the relationship).
Such conversations can turn into a chaotic argument, which in this case is also healthy.
It can seem absurd, but a chaotic argument will reveal the unspoken troubles you’ve been holding in.
A chaotic argument will bring out what caused this relationship to burnout. You’ll get to finally know the issue and know if it’s solvable.
It’s a chance for both of you to save the relationship, or save yourselves from something neither of you wants to be part of.
2. Take a break if needed. After finding (or not) the trouble through your genuine conversation, the next thing to consider is taking a break or seeking help from a therapist.
If your issue is not something particular (e.g. something your partner or you did) that resulted in the relationship burnout, then a break could be healthy for both of you.
You’ll get to have enough time and calmness to reflect on yourselves but also on the rights and wrongs you did within the relationship with each other.
You’ll get to think, you’ll get to have time to yourself, and have a little rest from the exhaustion you both experienced due to the relationship.
You can set a time (e.g. 2 months) which you’ll both use separately to reflect on things.
And after that time of aloneness has passed, you break the silence, and you get to have another genuine conversation to see each other’s stances on this.
3. Seek help from a therapist. This is one of the best remedies for both of you as a couple, or as individuals.
A therapist will help you spot the issues and give you the options or lead you to the path of solving them as a team.
On the other hand, if the relationship has no chance of reviving, your therapist will point it out and save you a lot of time, effort, and tears.
Note: If you can’t afford therapy due to your financial state, try to find reliable online sources that offer advice or even therapy for couples.
It can tremendously help you shift the relationship and your approach to each other as a couple and as a team. Give it a try!
Relationship burnout: Why does emotional exhaustion in a relationship happen?
Sometimes the spark within a relationship naturally fades away the more the couple gets familiar with each other.
However, there are also other factors and causes, besides the natural flow of the relationship, that leads to emotional exhaustion/relationship burnout within a relationship.
Here are 10 common reasons why a relationship experiences burnout:
1. Unspoken and unsolved issues accumulate each day as they’re left unspoken.
2. The relationship got stagnant due to a lack of communication (verbal or non-verbal).
3. You’re having the same routine without ever trying out new things to bring excitement to your relationship.
4. Lack of compatibility of your personality and tastes.
5. Frequent arguments that cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
6. Lack of trust in one another.
8. High expectations from one another lead you to disappointment in further stages of your relationship.
10. External factors such as family disagreements, societal pressure, or long distance.
How to avoid relationship burnout?
Keeping the spark alive by not making it a job or a duty within the relationship is just one of the many ways to avoid relationship burnout.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid relationship burnout:
– Take care of yourself and reflect on what you can do to improve yourself and which aspects of yourself you can practice those improvements.
– Listen to your partner, listen to their story, their needs, and their presence.
– Don’t leave yourself behind.
– Try out new things with your partner, and build a sense of partnership.
– Be there for one another.
– Keep in touch with how you’re feeling about the relationship now and then. Have conversations about your expectations of the relationships and how you can improve your connection.
Relationship burnouts can happen in any relationship, to any individual. It’s a fairly common occurrence, and you can overcome it.
Society pressures us into these frames of perfection, and at times, it gets difficult due to so many things on the to-do list.
Give yourself a break and a pat on the back for trying.