Most relationships begin with promising and dynamic energy. Over time, however, this can fade. Many couples feel stagnant, unable to move forward, and unwilling to return. It is during these times that we must admit that we have reached a dead end . We can choose to move forward with courage. We can choose to leave our relationship with dignity and strength. We simply cannot get stuck where we are.

Signs that you are at a dead end with your partner

1. You feel lonely

Loneliness can be confusing in the context of an active relationship. Many people will stay in a bad relationship simply because they feel lonely. They worry that breaking up with their partner will make them feel even more alone. Fortunately, this is not how loneliness works. Loneliness comes from a lack of connection with another person, not from a lack of their presence. When your partner disconnects, it can cause a confusing type of loneliness that can easily be mistaken for true love. As John Green wrote, “You can love someone so much… But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.” If you are missing your partner while they are still in the room with you, something is not right.

2. Your sex life is almost abandoned

Maybe you will follow the steps and wait for it to finish. Maybe you’ve stopped having sex altogether. When you don’t have a strong personal or emotional connection, it becomes difficult to nurture a fulfilling sex life. In a healthy relationship, sex is fun, engaging, and deeply intimate. If your relationship is happy, but sex has fallen by the wayside, don’t despair. There are many ways to reconnect if both of you are committed to doing so.

3. You feel a frequent need to escape

Your home should feel like a welcoming place to arrive after a long day. If you fear spending time with your partner, your relationship is likely in trouble. Many people fall into this pattern without even realizing it. They put overtime at work and tell themselves that they are focused on their career. They come to the gym every afternoon and claim to be working on their physique. They stop planning date nights because they would rather spend more time with their friends than with their partner. Balancing time together and apart can be healthy. However, if you find yourself avoiding your partner and purposely minimizing your time with her, it might be time to rethink your relationship .

4. Their fights used to get hot. Now they bore you

When a couple fights passionately, it is because both are deeply involved. They care about their relationship. They care about the problem. They are desperate to fix things. The more you disconnect from your partner, the less important these struggles will start to seem. A fight that would have ever made you cry could only elicit a sarcastic comment. Passion turns to sarcasm. Things that used to feel powerful and important are just not worth fighting for.

5. You keep repeating the same fight

If you have the same argument over and over again, it is clearly not being resolved. It just might not be resolvable. Neither of you may be willing to compromise. However, there is most likely an underlying issue that the two of you are unwilling to talk about. Go back to an argument that feels safe, rather than addressing an issue that scares both of you. No matter what the cause is, you are running in circles. They have reached a dead end , and they need to find a way out, separately or together.

If your relationship has hit a dead end, you need to turn things around in some way. If both spouses are engaged, they may choose to go to counseling to get things moving again. If this is not an option, it might be time to gather the courage to go off on your own. You already know that you can’t live like this forever.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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