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18 Signs of Indifference in a Relationship & How to Prevent a Drift

Relationships can be difficult, and sometimes we just stop caring. So, what are the signs of indifference in a relationship and what should you do?

indifference in a relationship

Whether the relationship is new or old, serious or casual, ruts happen. It is human nature. We get comfortable and things can just be blah. So, you should always be aware of the signs of indifference in a relationship.

When being boring turns into indifference, that is where the problems lay. Having a boring week or setting a routine does not have to be a bad thing. In fact, that is what some couples thrive on.

You may not care about going out or dressing up, but feeling indifferent about everything is not just being unsure, it is not caring. See how that could a problem?

[Read: Is there an unhappy person hidden behind a sunny smile?]

What is indifference in a relationship?

Feeling indifferent means you lack interest, concern, and even sympathy. You may be indifferent about what to eat for dinner, what to watch on TV, or what your sister-in-law is going through at work, but indifference in a relationship can be a sign that things are headed in a downward spiral.

Why is indifference so bad?

Well, when couples fight, it may not seem healthy or useful, but arguments are a form of effort. Both parties have to care in order to discuss important topics. But indifference puts that passion on the back burner.

When you start losing interest, not just in your partner but in the partnership, the effort lacks and so does happiness. If you don’t care about how your relationship turns out, you won’t feel fulfilled by it.

A relationship should not be something that you are fine with or without. A successful relationship requires both people to care about what happens to the other and what happens to the relationship. [Read: 24 sad signs of an unhealthy relationship that ruin love forever]

What leads to indifference in a relationship?

Indifference can sprout from a fight or event. It can also be gradual and can form over time. It can also be contagious in a way. When one partner becomes indifferent, the other can mimic that until both people are slowly pulling away from each other.

Say you and your partner got in a fight. Maybe one of you cheated. But instead of breaking up, you decided to forgive and move on. Well, that is not so easy for everyone. What tends to happen in these situations is that trust is never restored, so the person that wanted to forgive starts to stop caring.

It could start by making less effort on date nights, and grow to not saying “I love you” or even letting go of things that used to cause fights.

If your partner always got mad when you left dirty dishes in the sink or came home late, but now just doesn’t say anything, they may not think putting in the effort to say something is worth it. [Read: 16 signs you’re settling in an unhappy relationship]

You may think your relationship is free from indifference, but it can happen in any relationship at any time. In order to get in front of it or face it as soon as possible, you’ll need to know the signs of indifference in a relationship.

The subtle signs of indifference in a relationship

When explained simply, indifference in a relationship is a lack of importance. But that is quite a broad description.

When you actually look at how indifference shows itself in a relationship, there are a lot of signs that can tip you off to it.

1. Lack of intimacy

There are a lot of reasons that intimacy stops in a relationship. Sickness, a rut, work, etc. But, when there is no reason you can think of to explain why you haven’t been sexually active or even affectionate, it could be the start of indifference.

Although it doesn’t sound difficult to cuddle with your partner when indifference is the star of the show, it is one of the first things to go. [Read: Intimacy in a relationship and why it’s key in making a relationship last]

2. No more nagging

When your partner nags you to clean up, make it to date night on time, or show up at your parents’ house by six sharp, it is because they care.

Nagging may not be an obvious sign of love, but it shows that you are willing to annoy your partner to get them to be better.

When something that has bothered your partner for ages stops bothering them all of a sudden, they may have lost interest. They no longer want to put the effort into it. An end to nagging may seem like a Godsend, but it can be an end to your relationship. [Read: The clearest signs you’re experiencing a loss of attraction for your partner]

3. Stopping traditions

Do you always go to the restaurant you had your first date at for your anniversary? When that day comes along and your partner says “forget it” or would rather order in or doesn’t feel like getting dressed up or making reservations, something is probably off.

Things that you have always done together, things that you enjoyed and were part of your relationship will not matter anymore to someone that is feeling indifferent in a relationship.

4. Lack of communication

This is a big one. Communication is key for any successful couple. But when the effort of talking things out becomes more of an effort than the outcome is worth, indifference is the culprit.

You may talk about what to eat for dinner, the recycling schedule, and plans for the weekend, but you don’t talk about your feelings or your relationship.

When your relationship covers the essentials and not the fun stuff, that is not a good sign. [Read: 28 revealing truths about feeling alone in a relationship and how to fix it]

5. Fighting stops

Another sign of indifference in a relationship that seems like it would be a good thing is fighting. If your fighting ceases after going to counseling, that is good. But if you fight regularly and it just stops, that could be a sign of one or both of your feeling indifferent.

When someone feels nothing, there is no need to fight. You fight with those you love and you fight with those you hate.

But when there is just no feeling one way or the other, there is no need to fight. This is a huge sign of indifference in a relationship, and it’s not good.

6. Silence

Resentment is a silent killer of relationships. It is not always seen in anger or discussions. It slowly bubbles up until the anger becomes a lack of interest.

Talking about everything from the future to the phone bill feels unnecessary. Anything that seems like work doesn’t have a point when there is no fun. When neither one of you wants to stir the pot or make an effort, there is a problem. [Read: How to deal with resentment in a relationship and grow closer]

7. Lying

This is a tricky sign of indifference to see. You do not always know when your partner is lying. And lying can seem like a form of effort. But when lying is easier than telling the truth, someone who is feeling indifferent will take the easier route.

But this can go both ways. Someone who is indifferent in a relationship may tell you they went out to lunch with a good-looking coworker because they don’t care if you get upset or jealous. 

But they may also lie about it because they don’t see the point in fighting when they know the relationship is ending anyway.

8. Lack of trust

Lying and lack of trust are two different things. Losing interest in your partner is sort of like a forming relationship in reverse. You lose what came first, chemistry, communication, trust, etc.

Whether there is something someone did to lose trust or not, when interest is gone, any positive feelings leave too. [Read: Can *or should* a relationship without trust ever last?]

9. Time apart

All couples need time apart, but some need more than others. And most couples have a routine or average amount of time spent together. If the amount of time you spend together slowly dwindles, someone may be trying to distract themselves from their indifference.

Indifference in a relationship causes a decrease in effort, so spending time together will be difficult for the person feeling that way. They may spend more time at work or with friends or even alone to avoid having to face the fact that they feel nothing.

10. Cheating

Why don’t people cheat? They feel guilty. They love someone. They don’t want to hurt someone.

But, when someone feels indifferent, none of that really matters to them. They still have a moral compass, but the obvious reasons people don’t cheat go away. They may not even try to hide it. [Read: Why do people in happy relationships still find a way to cheat?]

11. No breakup

This is a biggie. Indifference does not show up overnight. It forms over time, and these signs of indifference become more and more obvious. But as you know, breakups take effort. They take courage, discussions, time, and more.

Someone feeling indifferent isn’t hating their partner. Rather they just don’t care if it works out or not. They may be waiting for you to end things, so they just ride it out until something happens. 

If your relationship feels like it has run its course but there is no sign of a breakup, one or both of you may be feeling indifferent. [Read: Mutual breakups – Why they happen in dead relationships and how to read the signs]

12. Use of the word “whatever” 

Remember when your parents asked you any question as a teenager? Your answer was probably, “whatever.” That is a sort of disrespectful way of saying, “I don’t care.” And when you use or hear that word repetitively in your relationship, the intrigue and care are gone.

Saying ‘whatever’ to everything from dinner choices to paint colors and even apartment buildings show signs of indifference in a relationship.

How to fix indifference in a relationship

If one or both of you have been feeling indifference in your relationship, then you are probably wondering if you should break up or try to fix it. So, here are some steps you can take to try to make you care again.

1. Figure out the problem

Sit down with your partner and try to determine what kinds of bad habits have led to you becoming indifferent. How do you communicate with each other? Have your feelings changed? Both of you have to share your honest feelings.

Once you get these out on the table, then try to identify the patterns you see and what you would like to change. Together, try to pinpoint where and when the apathy started – and why. [Read: The 80/20 rule in relationships and why it’s so important for happy love]

2. Talk about your feelings

Make sure you both talk about your feelings of indifference. Share these emotions without guilting or blaming your partner. Instead, you should talk about how you both can take action to make the relationship work again. 

Be sure to have empathy and listen to your partner’s perspective too. Stay away from personal attacks and take personal responsibility for your actions. [Read: How to talk about your feelings in a relationship and grow closer]

3. Try new things together

One of the reasons some couples become indifferent is because they are trapped in boring routines. So, try to come up with new activities or changes in these habits to try to “shake things up” and make life more exciting. 

It could be something like going on regular dates or going on a vacation together. Whatever it is, try to bring something new into your relationship so you can reconnect as best as you can.

4. Set goals together

When you first got together, you probably thought about your future and had some dreams. But how long has it been since you’ve talked about those goals?

Talk about long-term plans and desires with your partner. Maybe you can find a mutual goal you can work toward together. [Read: Couple goals – 27 fake and real things you should want in a relationship]

5. Try therapy or a workshop

Sometimes, a couple can’t overcome the indifference in a relationship without help from professionals. So, if you can’t seem to move past the apathy you have right now, try going to see a counselor.

Another idea is to attend a workshop or retreat that helps couples reconnect and deepen their emotional intimacy. 

6. If all else fails… move on

No one likes to end a relationship that once was happy. But if you have taken all of the above steps and you still can’t find the spark again, then maybe you won’t ever be able to overcome the indifference in your relationship. And that’s okay.

It might just mean that the two of you are not very compatible. Ending things will allow you both to find someone else that you are more excited to be with.

[Read: 20 signs to recognize a relationship is over and move on for good]

Have you noticed these signs of indifference in a relationship? Was it yours or maybe a friend’s? Or are you the one feeling indifferent? Pay attention, and try to fix it. All it takes is a bit of effort, and the interest in rekindling the love again.

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