Do relationships have a "shelf-life?"
The other evening I was talking with a client and they asked me an interesting question, they asked me “do you think all relationships have a shelf life?” This is an interesting question and one that I will answer with not a “yes” or a “no” but a “kinda.” I‘m guessing when one asks this question one is asking if relationships are meant to last or are invariably doomed to get spoiled (i.e. milk) or become obsolete (i.e Crystal Pespi). So this is why I say kinda.
Relationships have to change, otherwise they get, well, stale (continuing with the shelf-life theme here). So in a way relationships have to “end” and then start over if we are going to continue to exist in them. Let me clarify “ending” doesn’t mean breaking up it means the conditions under which you are having the relationship must change.
So how do you know when it is time to actually end the relationship as is? Here are some tell-tale signs:
1. You are getting on each others’ nerves more than usual. Of course there are occasional moments where you and your partner are bickering about stuff like doing the dishes or who should make the plans. This only becomes an issue when you start anticipating annoyance in your interactions with your babe. Examine where this frustration is coming from. If it’s happening even before you are interacting it likely you are holding on to some kind of resentment that is best dealt with ASAP.
2. You never see each other… and its no big deal. I don’t think one should spend all of their free time with their partner but if you seems to be spending less and less time together try and figure out if it is just a by product of incompatible schedules or if your guys are just straight up avoiding each other. After a couple has been together for a while it could be the case that...
3. You are taking each other for granted. When two people are in a relationship it is a choice to remain in the relationship. If you stop “showing up” by not taking care of your partner you might lose them. This involves anything from basic interest in what their day to day life is like as well as their long term goals and dreams. It also involves taking care of your self physically and trying to remain attractive and appealing. Just because you live together or having been together for an extended period of time doesn’t mean you have to stop brushing your teeth or wearing cute outfits.
ALSO take care of your mental health. If you are depressed or anxious and feel that you need to seek out the opinion and assitance of a professional— do it. This is the only way you will be able to show up for your own life and your relationship.
4. You stop having sex. So much so that when you try and get it on again its awkward. Listen, life gets busy or there are hormonal fluctuations or libidos shift. Ask yourself why you think the interested has waned on your part. Is it because you are not excited about the kind of sex you are going to have? Routine can be the source of comfort in some parts of life but I can also suck the sex out of, well, sex.
In the end if you and your partner are willing to address these kinds of issues head on there is a good change you can create a “new” relationship, the old one reinvigorated and hope for a future. If one or both of you are uninspired exhausted and unwilling to modify behaviors and routines it might be time to end the relationship altogether. Whether or not it is time to shelf it is only for you to know.