12 Warning Signs Of A Failing Relationship

Suffering and Healing | | , Copywriter & Writer
Updated On: February 8, 2024
failing relationship

A breakup, just like a relationship, is not a spontaneous event; it doesn’t just happen out of the blue. If you’re observant enough, you’ll spot the indicators of a failing relationship a mile away. This knowledge can help you do some damage control or at least reach a place of acceptance for the impending end. We believe that each individual should be perceptive enough to see when things are going downhill with their partner.

Thankfully, this is a faculty that can be cultivated. We’re here to help you identify the most important failing relationship signs with the guidance of consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert. Let’s find out whether your bond is barreling toward a separation or not. So, what are the major signs of a failing relationship?

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Relationship? Here Are 12

Most people have trouble discerning failing relationship signs because they seem very trivial. But in actuality, they’re the things that are eating away at your bond. For instance, both partners getting the time wrong for dinner is an insignificant one-off event. But when this happens often, it suggests that they are failing to communicate in a relationship. Our list is going to acquaint you with 12 (yes, 12!) such signs that will give you a good understanding of common dating mistakes.

A mini-education will empower you to take decisive action in favor of the relationship. Approach the list with a growth mindset and learn from it. We are merely trying to show a few problem areas so you can work on rebuilding the connection you share. Hey, don’t be anxious – we’re going to work as a team and get you through this rough patch. Here’s presenting the top signs of a failing relationship…

1. Disrespectful behavior

Jaseena explains, “Disrespect is one of the main ingredients of a failing relationship. You don’t respect each other anymore and condescension creeps in. Hurtful and snide comments, doing things that are contradictory to your partner’s values, and humiliating them in front of company are a few examples of disrespectful behavior. It is quite unfortunate that partners even become hostile sometimes.” Take a moment and think about your relationship.

How have you and your partner been treating each other? Are you dismissive of them and what they believe in? Do you crack jokes at their expense when you are out with friends? If yes, then there’s trouble brewing in the relationship pot. Mutual respect is the cornerstone of any bond – you cannot function in a healthy manner without giving your better half the respect they deserve.

Key Takeaway: A relationship characterized by disrespect is not sustainable. You cannot build a life with someone if you don’t value them.

2. Lack of communication

As if this hasn’t already been said a couple of hundred times! Communication is so vital to the dynamic between two people; an absence of conversation is always a red flag. Jaseena says, “People stop talking about many things in a failing relationship. They don’t feel the need to share their experiences with their partner because ‘it doesn’t make a difference.’ This is how silence sets in and creates distance between the two.

“So much relies on communication if you think about it. Fights are resolved, misunderstandings are cleared, plans are made and trust is built by simply talking to your partner. Failing to communicate in a relationship will make it fall apart. This is applicable to long-distance bonds too. Communication is the cement holding the partners together when they live apart. If conversation tapers down, how will they be involved in each other’s lives? Silent spells are a tell-tale sign of failing long-distance relationships too. “

Key Takeaway: The absence of communication is hazardous to all kinds of relationships. When conversation vanishes, so do affection, trust and honesty.

3. Patterns of lying – Failing relationship signs

Dishonesty in relationships has far-reaching consequences which nobody sees coming. It begins very casually – a white lie here, another there. But slowly, the frequency and intensity of these increase. Have there been instances where two and two don’t add up in your partner’s stories? Or are you the one lying instead? It need not always be a case of infidelity, sometimes people lie to spend time away from their significant other. (But this too is a cause of concern.)

Related Reading: 9 Signs You Have Serious Communication Issues In Your Relationship

A reader from Vancouver wrote, “It’s been three months since my breakup now and I wish we had parted ways earlier. Toward the end, we kept looking for excuses to get out of the house and not be with each other. I could’ve been honest and addressed the real issue, but at that point we were both failing to communicate in the relationship. In retrospect, I realize that I was consistently lying to him about little things. It would’ve been better if we had realized that ours was a failing relationship.”

Key Takeaway: The lies in a relationship add up and make it more and more difficult to communicate with your partner. Dishonesty is a precursor to distance and conflict.

4. A lot of mistrust

Jaseena explains, “When you don’t trust your partner, you’re constantly suspicious of everything they say or do. Consistent second-guessing becomes frustrating for both parties involved. Ultimately, there are two possibilities – you go into an investigative mode or you become indifferent to them. There’s a breach of boundaries or attempts at maintaining distance.” When the fundamentals of trust begin to falter, consider these to be failing relationship signs.

Here’s a simple test; when your partner relays a piece of information, do you ask incessant follow-up questions? If they say, “I’m going out for dinner, be home by 11” is your response asking where, with whom, and how they’re going? If your knee-jerk reaction is fact-checking their story, then something is super wrong in your relationship. We think it’s time you work on rebuilding the trust between you two.

Key Takeaway: Mistrust brings out the not-so-good aspects of people’s personalities. Letting suspicion and doubt control you is highly detrimental to the relationship.

5. Loss of emotional intimacy

Of all the failing relationship signs, this is the most unfortunate. When a connection has run its course, neither individual feels close to each other anymore. A romantic bond is such an intimate space filled with love, laughter, affection and concern; all this gradually dissipates when a breakup is in the pipeline. Even when they communicate, there is a one-arm emotional distance from both ends. The conversation becomes formal and functional.

Related Reading: What To Look For In A Relationship? The Ultimate List Of 15 Things

Neither partner feels comfortable being vulnerable or sharing their highs and lows with the other. (A failing relationship can never provide a safe space for anybody.) As emotional distance increases, both partners lead their own lives. At some point, interest in the other diminishes. Shared meaning and experiences decrease and finally disappear. Needless to say, this slow end is painful to live through.

Key Takeaway: Emotional distance is not perceptible initially but grows each day. The couple falls out of sync and the focus shifts from building a shared life to an individual one.

6. Constant arguing

Jaseena says, “There’s more to it than an increase in fights. When the couple argues, the anger isn’t pertinent to the issue at hand. There is a lot of resentment involved and past problems crop up. Disagreements escalate quickly in a failing relationship and things get blown out of proportion. This is connected to a lack of communication – a fight should not be the only thing that gets you both to talk to each other.”

Well, have you noticed patterns of constant arguing in the relationship? Where is this aggression stemming from? Chances are, that all your unresolved issues (the ones you sweep under the rug) rise to the surface in moments of anger. You might find yourself saying the most hurtful things deliberately. And maybe… Just maybe… you’re picking fights to sabotage the relationship.

Key Takeaway: Feeling angry toward your partner for the majority of the time is problematic. While fighting is healthy to a certain extent, constant conflict is a harbinger of woe for the relationship.

7. Absence of direction

We can’t discuss failing relationship signs without addressing an absence of direction. You and your partner have come together to build a future together. A shared vision is vital for the longevity and success of your connection. If neither of you has any idea about where you’re going, something is not quite right. Most individuals avoid discussing the future with their partners when they don’t see the relationship lasting.

infographic on warning signs of a failing relationship
The warning signs of a failing relationship are troublesome indeed…

When you talk to your friends about what the future holds, is your partner present in those hypothetical scenarios? If yours is a failing relationship, then they probably won’t feature in any plans you’ve made. And don’t get us wrong, this will be a genuinely unintentional oversight from your end. It’s just concerning that you’re investing time and effort in a connection that you don’t intend to carry forward in life.

Key Takeaway: The infamous ‘where is this going?’ does not come up in a failing relationship. The commonality of goals decreases and neither partner thinks about a future together.

8. No sexual activity     

Jaseena says, “Failing to communicate in a relationship leads to emotional distance and this compromises the physical aspect as well. There are different kinds of intimacies and physical intimacy is vital for a healthy connection. In the absence of sex or affection, the couple drifts further apart.” It is a widely known fact that sexual compatibility is one of the key components of a well-functioning dynamic. When there’s trouble between the sheets, you ought to start worrying.

Nine times out of ten, a lack of sexual activity is indicative of bigger problems. When gestures of affection like hugs, caresses, pats, or kisses disappear, it compromises the relationship’s, as well as the individual’s, well-being. A failing long-distance relationship also exhibits this sign, albeit in a different manner. For all the LDR readers, you will note a decrease in verbal endearments or cybersex activities. We hope this doesn’t resonate with you…

Key Takeaway: There are layers to an absence of physical intimacy. A decrease in sexual activity or displays of affection is troublesome for a relationship.

9. Excessive insecurity 

Jaseena explains, “When insecurity gets out of hand, it leads to jealousy and controlling behaviors. Checking your partner’s phone, stalking their friends on social media, asking them to not meet certain people, or restricting their comings and goings are surefire signs of a failing and unhealthy bond.” Insecurity in a relationship arises from trust issues. As we said before, constantly doubting your partner is a worrisome tendency indeed.

More often than not, insecurity becomes the gateway to toxic and abusive patterns. Using jealousy and love for the partner as an excuse, people dominate and control others. When the green-eyed monster rears its head, peace leaves the relationship. If you have been feeling insecure about your partner, sit and have a conversation with yourself. You’ll be surprised to know that your feelings have more to do with your emotional baggage than their actions.

Key Takeaway: Insecurity reigns over the minds of partners in a failing relationship. It leads to jealousy and a power struggle between the couple.

10. Manipulative tactics 

Since straightforward communication becomes non-existent in a failing relationship, partners engage in manipulation and gaslighting to make things go their way. Guilt-tripping, giving the silent treatment, withdrawing affection, blame-shifting, etc. are all examples of manipulation. Not only are they emotionally draining, but also highly toxic and unsustainable. Both individuals remain in a constant state of anxiety and start keeping score of who’s ‘winning’.

Related Reading: Gaslighting In Relationships – 7 Expert Tips To Identify And 5 Ways To End It

Whenever partners resort to manipulative tactics, they end up breaching relationship boundaries. Invading someone’s space, whether mental or physical, further erodes the foundation of trust. And once you begin walking down the road of controlling your partner psychologically, it is quite difficult to return. The real question is, why do you feel the need to indirectly manipulate your better half rather than speaking to them directly and honestly?

Key Takeaway: Gaslighting or manipulation always result in an invasion of your partner’s space. They birth a vicious cycle that generates mistrust and dishonesty.

relationship advice

11. Zero compromises are a staple of a failing relationship

A thumb rule of a positive connection is compromise; it is the key that helps two starkly different individuals negotiate their life together. If both of them begin to try having things their way, the relationship will break down. Balancing independence in relationships is essential, but a ‘me-before-we’ mentality isn’t exactly ideal for cohabitation and love. An unwillingness to compromise is one of the biggest failing relationship signs.

When one person stops compromising, the other has to bend over backwards to make things work. This might become a case of one-sided relationships. Calling this condition unfair would be an understatement. Conduct a small evaluation in your head – is there equality of effort in the relationship? Do you and your partner get room to do the things you like? Or are you always in a tug-of-war situation?

Key Takeaway: Compromise is the cement that holds a relationship together. The structure becomes weak when two individuals become self-centered.

12. Difficulty in forgiveness

Jaseena says, “One of the major signs of a failing relationship is difficulty in forgiving your partner for their mistakes. This happens because you lose empathy for them. You lose the ability to see things from their perspective or don’t regard them as important or worthy of your attention anymore. When there’s no forgiveness in relationships, you begin holding on to grudges – bitterness creeps in and causes immense unhappiness.” If you’ve been having trouble forgiving your significant other, there’s a chance you’ve begun resenting them.

You lose your temper quicker, pass snappy remarks (that take you by surprise too), and connect the dots between each fight. If only you understood the value of forgiveness. As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning,”

Key Takeaway: In the absence of forgiveness, a relationship becomes burdened by grudges and complaints. The end is near when the load becomes too heavy to bear for one of the partners.

And just like that, we’ve come to the end of our list of failing relationship signs. If any these indicators, seem familiar or have given you serious food for thought, seeking help from a mental health expert is a wise choice. Many couples have bounced back stronger after consulting a therapist or counselor. At Bonobology, we offer professional help through our panel of licensed advisors who can help you embark on the path of recovery. We are always here for you.

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