How To Fix An Emotionally Draining Relationship (Before It's Too Late)

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how to fix an emotionally draining relationship

Relationships are hard work and both people have to put in time and effort to make it work, especially when things are starting to feel emotionally draining.

While going through rough patches here and there in a relationship is normal, you should never feel completely and utterly mentally or physically exhausted — especially if you’re the only one feeling that way.

Not feeling emotionally supported by your partner in your relationship can lead to mental health issues and it can affect other parts of your life such as losing focus at work or becoming distant from family and friends. 

As Clinical Psychologist Patricia O’Gorman explains, "Relationships aren’t always easy but they shouldn’t be depleting your energy."

If a relationship has been taking a mental and physical toll on you for awhile — it's time to start finding ways to fix it.

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The eight ways to fix an emotionally draining relationship:

1. Evaluate and acknowledge the problem

Many people ignore problems thinking they will go away on their own. However, that's rarely the case, as these same issues will continue surfacing until they're dealt with.

As Bhavna Dalal, a leadership coach, explains, "Improving emotionally draining interactions begins with awareness of it."

It's important to know where you stand in your relationship. Give yourself time and space to carefully think about what the problem is and why you find yourself emotionally drained in the relationship. Once you have a clear view of the "why," the "how" becomes that much clearer.

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2. Communicate with your partner

Once you've figured out the problem, it's time to express it in words to your partner. While you may have been struggling for a long time, your partner may not know about what you’re going through. They don't know what's going inside your head and vice versa.

Communicating effectively will help you both gain insight into each other's feelings and perspectives.

Set a good time to talk to your partner when both of you are free of distractions and other obligations so you can sit down with them and discuss how you feel.

To avoid being too accusatory, it's best to focus on the problem itself, instead of letting the conversation devolve into a tit-for-tat argument that just makes things worse. If you can focus on the issue of what makes you feel drained more than placing blame, it will be easier to come together to find to a resolution.

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3. Make sure your basic needs are met

An important part of communicating with your partner is making sure that both of your needs are being met. Try doing an exercise where each of you goes in separate spaces and comes up with individual lists of basic needs you want from your partner in order to feel fulfilled in the relationship.

For example, one of you might put on your list "I need to feel more physical affection, such as a hug or kiss, when I tell you I had a hard day" or "When I tell you I'm really tired, I would really appreciate it if you could take out the trash that night."

These are just examples, of course. But yours may include desires for more affection, reassurance, compromise, acknowledgment of trust, encouragement, or even needing more alone time or time out to go out solo with friends. 

4. Love and care for yourself

Forgetting about yourself and your priorities in a relationship is common. While caring for your partner’s needs, you may have let your own needs fall by the wayside and forgotten that you are a human too that demands the same level of thoughtful and attentive effort.

Before caring for someone else, you need to care for yourself. In the process of re-learning how to love yourself, you will be able to set boundaries in your relationship and show your partner how they ought to treat you.

When a relationship is draining, you need to put yourself at the top of the list. Make sure you're eating right, sleeping enough, and getting some exercise.

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5. Find time to do what you love

Everyone needs to relax once in a while. Spend time doing the activities you enjoy such as meditation, going for walks, watching movies, or cooking. It will give you a break from your heavy emotions and bring you joy.

Keep up with your friends and your hobbies. Stick to your routines and, if you don't have any in place, start developing some so you feel like you have control over your own life.

This will reduce your stress levels and have a positive impact on your mental health.   

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6. Reach out to friends or family

While it may not be easy, sharing your problems and feelings with people close to you is always a good idea. Struggling alone is probably the worst type of struggle especially when no one knows about it.

Talking to someone can be deemed helpful as your loved ones are one of the few people who are there to support you without judgment.

You might find a solution or some help from them. If they're unable to help, they can still serve as good listeners. Sharing your problems isn’t always about finding solutions. Just letting them out will make you feel better.

Plus, when you've been in an emotionally draining relationship, chances are, you may have been neglecting some of your other relationships with friends and family. Take some time to mend those fences and nurture your connections with your friends and family.

After all, these are the people who will be standing by your side, every single day, no matter who you're with, no matter what's going on in your life, through all the bad and, of course, through all the good, too. They will often be the reason for the good!

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7. Spend some time apart from your partner

Taking some time apart doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up. It just means you have to rediscover yourself. Set clear boundaries for this time apart so both of you are clear on what rules you have about communicating with and seeing one another (or lack thereof).

It may be best to have a "clean break" during your break, where neither one of you talks or meets up with the other. Escaping from those negative emotions and toxic behavior will feel like a breath of fresh air. Take this time to really reflect on what you want in your relationship, and any relationship, for that matter.

Being away from each other will help you both grow and evolve as an individual. You may realize you feel like a better version of yourself when you're not around your partner, or the other way around, so you need to do your best to be prepared for that possibility.

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8. Seek professional help

Maybe you realized during your time apart that you really want to make things work, but you can't do it on your own. Or, perhaps, a friend suggested it. Regardless of what made you want to seek a therapist's advice, know that an expert will know the ins and outs of how to guide you through the issues you're facing.

If you aren't sure how to find a counselor who specializes in relationships and marriage, you might ask a friend or someone in your family (if you feel comfortable). You could also approach your family doctor to see if they know anyone and can write you a referral if needed. You're always allowed to change who you're seeing if you would prefer someone else.

You can also see a therapist individually if you feel that would be best, so you can work through your own personal challenges. This includes you and your partner seeking individual help. Be aware that just because these people are experts doesn't mean they can solve every broken relationship.

Ultimately, you will have to decide if your relationship is failing and no longer worth the fight. But if any of these steps help create real change in your relationship and breathe new life into it, maybe there's hope for it yet.

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Sanika Nalgirkar, M.F.A. is a writer and an Editorial Intern at YourTango who writes on entertainment & news, lifestyle, and pop culture topics.