Relationship Burnout: How to Recognize and Overcome it

Relationship Burnout: How to Recognize and Overcome it

When you burn out, you are completely drained. You no longer have the energy, strength, or motivation to move on. Caring has been pummeled out of you. Now, you just want to rest. Nothing can be more fulfilling than a happy relationship. But when one is going off the rails, nothing can be more painful, or exhausting.

We usually recognize the signs of burnout at work. Some savvy coworkers at a bad job can even tell who will have an awkward episode, who will make a scene, and who will leave quietly after they become incompatible with their job. Sometimes it comes out of the blue for everyone. A coworker just up and moves to Colorado and begins making handmade furniture. But the signs of relationship burnout, though similar can be harder to spot. In the work sphere long hours, hard work, and little return for a sustained period often result in burnout. In your love life, if you feel you have worked so hard and gotten nowhere, and your toil and energy have been met with little progress, the same result occurs. When you have tried and tried, and meet nothing but a wall each time, it is time to move on. But we are too close to that wall we fail to see the writing on it. We get stuck in how we remember our relationship back in the happy days that we forget to face facts, and see it for what it is today.

Though all relationships have their ups and downs, if you feel there is no way to get back on the upward track, you are experiencing relationship burnout. But for many, the alternatives scare them into not leaving. Some are fearful of the dating scene. They think they have been out of it for too long, or they just have no enthusiasm for it. This relationship has left a bad taste. People with relationship burnout have no optimism toward their love life. They have no gitty anticipation at finding a new, better suited mate. Those who are experiencing this particular kind of burnout often feel drained emotionally. They don’t laugh as hard at jokes, and are not as moved by inspirational speeches. They have spent all their emotional capital fighting the battle of their relationship, and in other realms in life have none to spend. Flashbacks of negative scenes with you and your partner play in your head as if a film on a loop, until you cannot stand it anymore. It is the stressors of the day and fights with your partner you remember most. That’s when the world between your ears becomes a loathsome place to reside, an emotional prison.

If you are a complete pessimist about love, you are probably experiencing burnout. It may be time to talk about splitting up from your partner, or at least spending time apart. Once it is over, give yourself time to relax, recharge, and reflect. What did you learn from this relationship? Are you ready to move on? Keep asking those questions until you have positive answers for them. Now is the time to reinvest in yourself. Get the negative emotions out of your system. Start to date again only when you feel comfortable. Don’t feel guilty about where you are with someone who is interested in you and you aren’t interested. If you are with someone worth your time, tell them up front, you just got out of a bad relationship and what that means. Whether you aren’t ready to date yet, or aren’t ready to get serious. Do not feel pressured to have someone in your life. But do not be scared of it either. Trust your senses and yourself. You will know when you are ready. Get in touch with your inner light and search for your authentic self. Pursue your interests and passions. When your life and your heart are ready, you will be able to have the kind of relationship you can feel good about.

When you have been by yourself for long enough and are ready to try again read, Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships by Kira Asatryan.

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

HEAL

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

A loving, supportive romantic relationship is one of the biggest joys in life. But it can also be a source of regret, guilt, anger, resentment and sorrow. We learn all about weddings and courtship as children and teens. But we really don’t learn much about how to make marriage work. This is reflected in the divorce rate. The latest is 41% for first marriages and 60% for second ones. Life’s stresses and having different expectations for things can railroad even the best of relationships. Something else that weighs heavily on a relationship is a phenomenon called “attachment injuries.” This is when a particularly stressful or painful event arises in our life and we need our partner to comfort us but they aren’t available either physically or emotionally. This leads to resentment and suppressed anger. Therapist Dr. Melanie Greenberg has come up with a certain type of therapy to counteract these issues and get relationships back on track. It’s called HEAL, an acronym standing for Hear, Empathize, Act, Love. It exchanges self-protecting behavior with reconnecting, loving, and compassionate behavior.

First you have to listen actively to your partner. Consciously take down your defenses and open up your heart to them. Look at their facial expressions, body language, register their tone. What else are they saying with these nonverbal cues? How are they really feeling? Are they actually expressing some sort of need that isn’t currently being met? Companionship, understanding, control, and love are all needs that perhaps are going unfulfilled. The best way to calm your significant other is to really listen, find out what need isn’t being met, and be open to changing and working hard to meet their need. Next, empathize with your partner. Realize what it’s like from their point of view. Feel what they are feeling and let it come over you. Sometimes one emotion such as anger resides at the surface, but is put there by another emotion lingering underneath, perhaps frustration, loneliness or feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life. Sometimes there is a deeper reason. But sometimes your partner just needs validation and compassion. Oftentimes these two are enough to quell the problem. The next step is act. Talk with your partner and find out what needs to be done or what you need to change in order to meet their needs. Finally, love. Feel love for the person and express it unconditionally. If your relationship has trust issues, restore it with HEAL.  For more advice read, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum.

If you get Bored of your Lover, Should you Dump Them?

UNHAPPY-COUPLE

If you get Bored of your Lover, Should you Dump Them?

Boredom in a long-term relationship comes on when novelty is over. Sometimes comfort can be well, comforting. But after a while your relationship can bore you utterly. And then what?! If you love someone and have exhausted all ways and manners of which to spice things up, if you crave novelty and they “just like the way things are” what can you do? If you get bored of your lover, should you dump them? Now it’s time to really sit down and evaluate the situation. There are really all kinds of changes that can bring about novelty. And have you truly exercised every avenue? Consider whether or not you truly love this person. Though you may need some change, making a radical move merely out of boredom might show you what you’ve lost. They say you only recognize what you’ve truly lost once it’s gone. You don’t want to be in that situation if you can help it.

Sometimes people say that they are bored with their relationship when they are really fed up. There are several unresolved conflicts brewing underneath the surface and they don’t know how to make headway on them. Their so-called boredom is frustration. The only way to deal with this situation is lock yourself and a lover in a room and don’t emerge until these problems are talked out. You don’t have to lock the door per se. If things get heated, you may need to de-escalate the situation, take a break, gather your thoughts and regroup. Still, only clear and honest communication and a plan of action can unstick this situation. In other cases, couples get stuck in a rut and they don’t know how to break out of it. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with our responsibilities. The couple may simply be stressed. A little down time, a date night, some time exploring hobbies on their own or more time with each other’s friends might be the answer. When a couple spends too much time together, they can often get bored of one another. But out of each other’s sight, and they each wonder what the other is doing, or can’t wait to share their own adventure later on with their boo.

The best way to reignite passion is to go to a place where both of you can play, use your imagination, accept one another without guilt or judgment and be free, loving and adventurous. For some that means having to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. For others, it means new antics in the bedroom. Sometimes circumstances change and we see our spouse or partner in a different way. The man she fell in love with used to be the center of attention at the office. But now he works from home, and she never sees him like that anymore. A solution may be to go out with friends, and allow him to work the room again. Really if you are both committed, you can communicate and work toward renewing your life together. Long-term relationships tend to have their ups and downs. If you run into an obstacle, how you work together to remove it says whether or not you will make it, or suffer the dust bin of history. But if your partner is in staunch refusal to change, if they won’t move one iota to please you, if they are dismissive and disrespectful, or if you have tried and tried and tried again with no result, and there’s no way you two can be happy together, don’t be afraid to sit down with them and be honest, and pursue brighter horizons. To learn more about aspects of the modern state of love and how to negotiate it read, In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims by Aaron Ben-Ze’ev.

Are On-Again Off-Again Relationships Unhealthy?

Couple sitting together on park bench

Are On-Again Off-Again Relationships Unhealthy?

We all know the boy-meets-girl plot structure of classic romantic movies. Some of us yearn for such easy, movie plot love lives where everything is all sewn up by the end, and happily ever after means no more problems to wade through. Instead, the path to love is often obstacle filled and rock strewn. And two people who love each other may be kept apart by circumstances. Those who barely tolerate one another may be thrust together. Then there are situations that are even more confusing.  Should you be looking for a relationship or just open to different possibilities? And when you find someone who doesn’t quite fit the bill should you stay with them? There are lots of people who get stuck on the roller coaster ride of on-again, off-again relationships. This is where a couple breaks up, reunites, breaks up again and the cycle continues. They have chemistry and a rapport with the person. Yet, something about the relationship just isn’t right. But are these relationships as unhealthy as many claim? First, understand that this situation is very common. One study found that 60% of the population experiences such a relationship at least once in their romantic life.

The reasons most people initially break up is out of boredom, stagnation, the desire to be with someone else or just general dissatisfaction. Oftentimes, communication is not clear. These couples don’t get a clean break. Instead, things are left open and unresolved. Then they reconcile. This can also be for many different reasons such as thinking your ex is “the one,” missing the comfort and companionship of the relationship and still having feelings for one’s ex. Then the list of annoyances, doubts or disappointments pile up until one or both parties can’t take it anymore. The emotional ups and downs, the uncertainty and more equate to a toxic situation. Not only is it bad for the relationship but also for each person’s own wellbeing. These types of relationships can be exciting for some. But they also increase stress, put you in psychological distress and decrease your overall quality of life.

Each relationship’s story is as unique as the people that inhabit it.  For some, a break can be a time of reflection, self-discovery and even growth. This may have one or both partners come back to the relationship reaffirming their love and carrying with them the tools to make things work this time around. Unfortunately, most of these kinds of relationships are the same story played over and over again. The same problems keep arising and the couple cannot find ways to overcome or negotiate them. For those in this kind of relationship, experts suggest negotiating a slow drawback. Over time extricate yourself from the situation. Sometimes one person cares about the other, but their partner cannot or does not fulfill all of their needs. The partner leaves them wanting. It can be hard to decide what to do. A good cost-benefit analysis might help. For those who are at the end of their rope, research shows that each person should sit down for a serious talk. Each should communicate their needs, and then evaluate if they can meet the other person’s. Then a temporary breakup period should be enforced. During this time, each person can lead their separate lives. Then they can get a better look at the relationship from afar and decide what is really best for them, and whether or not things will actually be different this time around. For more advice read, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not – The Emotional Dangers of an Off Again/On Again Relationship by M. Osterhoudt.