If you think you need a break, you probably do.
The term “burnout" means experiencing exhaustion, dwindling motivation, and a loss of interest in something that formerly engaged you. We usually apply this term to working environments, but burnout can easily happen to people in their love lives—and often for the same reasons it happens in their work lives.
At work, burnout usually occurs when you start to feel like you’re working too hard for the results that are being produced. It’s not just the long hours or the slow progress — it tends to be the combination of both that makes you start hating what you are doing. When you feel like you’re working as hard as you can but you're getting nowhere, feeling frustrated, pessimistic and exhausted are only natural.
This happens in our personal lives and our romantic relationships too. Relationships that are on the decline can become as demanding and taxing as a full-time job. If we worked exceedingly hard to make the relationship work and it still fails, the period of singledom that follows your breakup is often riddled with signs of burnout.
Here are 5 ways to spot relationship burnout:
1. You think dating sounds awful
After a breakup, some people can't wait to get back into the dating scene, but some feel indifferent to dating for a longer period of time. These are all relatively positive reactions to being single again. But if you have a strong negative reaction to the idea of going on a date for a significant period of time post-breakup, that’s an indication of relationship burnout.
2. You don't find it fun to look for someone new
Most people find actively seeking dates (such as online dating) stressful, but what about meeting a potential person organically? What if you meet someone you’d normally be interested in through work or through a friend? If even the idea of meeting someone right now sounds dreadful, you're probably burned out in the relationship department.
3. You feel emotionally exhausted
After a breakup it's pretty common to feel emotionally stressed — especially if you lived together and it took a while to get things separated again. But there’s a particular type of exhaustion that indicates relationship burnout — complete lack of emotional energy. If you find it hard to have an emotional reaction to anything — even small positive things like jokes and laughter — your emotional reserves may be completely depleted.
4. You can only remember the bad parts of your past relationships
Typically, when you leave a job to move on to another opportunity, you tend to remember your previous job holistically — the good parts as well as the bad. But if you quit your job because you're completely burned out, all you can remember are the stressful and overwhelming parts of your job. If you can only remember the fights you had with your former partner and not much else, the negative energy of the breakup is still very much with you.
5. You feel cynical or pessimistic about love
Do you imagine that if you got into another relationship, it would be doomed to fail? Do you secretly believe that people in love are fools? This type of disillusionment about love in general is an unfortunate consequence of relationship burnout.
If you notice any of these signs in yourself, it may be time to recognize the role of relationship burnout in your life.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make this period of your life easier and move past it:
1. Give your previous relationship time to make sense
When you eventually become able to look back on a relationship and see the lessons it taught you, the relationship — no matter how bad — will start to hold a meaningful place in your life. Did the breakup make you stronger? Did it teach you more about what you need in a partner? Understanding these lessons will help you heal and prepare for your next relationship.
2. Be upfront with any potential partners
If you’re not ready to jump in to another relationship, you’re not ready. Even if someone great comes along, there’s a good chance it won’t turn into lasting love if you’re still in the throes of relationship burnout. Have fun and meet people, but be upfront about not looking for anything serious.
3. Give yourself permission not to be interested
Many newly single people feel great internal and (often) external pressure to “get back out there.” But if you’re genuinely not interested in being in a relationship, give yourself permission to be alone. This may very well be your intuition telling you it’s time to reconnect with yourself.
4. Spark interest somewhere else in your life.
If you’re going to disengage from the dating and relationship world for a while, be sure to cultivate passion and interest somewhere else in your life. What have you been longing to try? What gives you that spark of energy you've been missing? These are the pursuits that will, with time, draw you fully out of relationship burnout.
For more relationship advice, visit Kira's website or follow her on Twitter. Her forthcoming book Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships is available for pre-order on Amazon.
This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.