4 Signs Your Relationship May Be Doomed

Valuing your emotional health means knowing when it's time to say, "Enough."

Posted Aug 14, 2020

Across all stages of life, when you just start dating or when you’re at the beginning of a new relationship, you're floating on air! Everything feels like it is going great and your relationship seems almost perfect. You’re super attentive to each other, respect each other’s differences, and enjoy romantic times together. When one of you is feeling down, the other steps up as a supportive best friend and lover all-in-one.

But once you start taking each other for granted and you no longer make a significant effort in your relationship, this often leads to what I describe as the 3D Effect. I explain in my book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, the 3D Effect happens when couples get Distracted, which creates Distance, and this results in feelings of Disconnection. Relationship partners consequently lose respect and appreciation—and face possible doom.

If you’re not really sure whether your relationship is nearing the hopeless zone, here are four signs that you’re likely in a relationship being pummeled up against the ropes.

1. You prefer to spend more time with your friends and family than with your partner. Do you now notice that before, you used to spend a great amount of time together because you really enjoyed every second of each other’s company and now you no longer do that because something changed in your feelings? Perhaps you no longer see your partner’s company as something enjoyable but more as torment because you’re not relaxed. Or maybe, you’re constantly fighting with each other or because they are no longer the same person you used to know.

Since they are no longer that one person you believe can make you happy, you no longer feel drawn to them. Instead, you prefer spending time with the people close to you or on your own.

2. There are no conflicts in the relationship. You may be wondering, how can there be no conflicts in a relationship? More so, if there are no fights, then how can this be interpreted as something negative? Just think of that famous song from Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb":

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying

In other words, while frequent arguments are certainly not indicative of a thriving relationship, no arguments at all are also not healthy. As implied by the above lyrics, in the context of relationships, satisfying relationships are not detached and numb to sharing concerns. They consist of healthy conflicts and arguments to a certain extent.

Part of having a healthy relationship is expressing your individual needs. By having disagreements with your partner, you’re telling them that you’re not okay with something and you’re trying to find a solution for it with mutual efforts because you care. Yet, by avoiding any types of arguments, you’re subtly telling each other that you don’t care about what’s happening in the relationship and you're resistant to dealing with it.

3. You feel like you are constantly criticizing each other. On another musical note, the song "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers conveys that as you become more and more aware of the things that annoy you, there is a temptation to criticize—and withdraw. Yes, it's one thing to tell your partner that something is bothering you about them from time to time. But constantly bringing up every annoying, idiosyncratic behavior or even bad habit is not a healthy sign and will not bode well for your relationship.  

By too often criticizing your partner, you’re basically telling them you don’t approve of them. You’ll struggle to see them as good enough for you because you consequently lose attraction, appreciation, and respect for each other.

4. Lack of appreciation. In my over thirty years of counseling couples, I have never had intimate partners desire to break up because they openly express too much gratitude for one another! If you’re showing you’re grateful for everything your partner does for you and vice versa, you’re motivating each other to continue doing so.

However, if there’s a lack of gratitude in the relationship, there is also a lack of contentment--and happiness! When you no longer appreciate the big things or the little things you do for each other, you no longer value each other as whom you once fell in love with. When gratitude is lacking, you'll find that even if you work hard to rescue your relationship, you won't get too far. But when you do sincerely express gratitude, you'll be working smarter because appreciation usually brings feelings of closeness and harmony back to the relationship. 

For more, click here.

Facebook image: ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock


Bernstein, J. (2020). The Anxiety, Depression, & Anger Toolbox for Teens, Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing.

Bernstein, J. (2003). Why Can't You Read My Mind?, Perseus Books, New York, N.Y.

Bernstein, J. (2015). 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (2nd Ed.) Perseus Books, New York, NY.

Bernstein J. (2009) Liking the Child You Love, Perseus Books, New York, NY. 

Bernstein, J. (2019). The Stress Survival Guide for Teens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Bernstein, J. (2017). Letting go of Anger—Card deck for teens. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing.

Bernstein, J. (2017). Mindfulness for Teen Worry: (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications)