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Stagnant Relationship: Sad Signs You’re at a Standstill

Are you in a stagnant relationship? Does nothing seem to be moving no matter what? Learn how to get out of a relationship standstill and get things moving. 

Stagnant Relationship

Relationships ebb and flow; there are times when you cannot imagine having more fun. But, there are also times where things are on pause. You aren’t going out together or really doing anything together other than living your life. Are you in a stagnant relationship?

Now, this is normal every once in a while. If you are going through a busy period at work or have a lot going on, making the romance and fun of your relationship a priority is difficult. It happens. As long as you break out of that rut, it shouldn’t end your relationship.

However, a rut is different than a stagnant relationship. A stagnant relationship isn’t just put on pause temporarily, it is truly on hold indefinitely. [Read: Relationship feels like friendship? 15 naughty ways to spice it up]

What is a stagnant relationship?

A stagnant relationship isn’t always what you think. You can think you are happy, but really you are just fine. And relationships should be more than fine.

Often stagnant relationships are formed out of ruts that are never broken. You may have fallen into a rut with your partner after a fight, a hard time in your family, or even a big change. 

Most of these things are temporary. If you don’t take the steps to get back into the fun of your relationship and really focus on your partner and your connection, your relationship becomes stagnant. [Read: The signs your relationship isn’t working out and it’s time to end it]

A stagnant relationship will lack communication, passion, romance, intimacy, and may even lack anger, arguments, and fights. 

A stagnant relationship isn’t the same as a doomed or dysfunctional relationship. It isn’t necessarily toxic. A stagnant relationship is more empty. The strong feelings that make relationships so amazing are missing. [Read: How to make a relationship work and build a stronger bond]

Am I in a stagnant relationship?

It can be hard to figure out if you’re in a stagnant relationship or just in a passing rut. Either way, breaking out of those down or empty times is important to ensure you are on track and happy.

There are quite a few signs of a stagnant relationship that can help you better identify where your relationship is. Then you can put all your efforts into returning to a healthier and happier state. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]

1. Lack of quality time

You may think your relationship is doing just fine because you spend a lot of time together. But it isn’t about the quantity of time, it is about the quality.

You may eat dinner together, watch TV together nightly, and even go to parties together. But if you aren’t making the most of that time, it is like you are apart.

A stagnant relationship has no depth to it. It is taken up by filler. You may talk about the bills or a TV show or even your families, but you don’t really connect any more than roommates. [Read: 15 common reasons why you’re getting bored with your relationship]

2. You’re waiting for something

A stagnant relationship is hard to break from. You are always waiting for it to get better on its own. You are waiting for intense feelings to rise up or for your partner to surprise you with a candlelit dinner.

Patience is a great trait to have, but too much patience in a relationship causes a stillness. If you are just patiently waiting for a change or movement, you could be waiting years while your relationship gets colder and colder.

3. Feeling like you’re single

Sure, on paper you’re in a relationship. When it is stagnant, you may not feel that partnership. It’s not necessarily that you go out and flirt with strangers, but you just don’t feel your partner’s emotional presence.

You may not have their active support or you may not vent to each other or confide in one another. You may have someone to bring as a date to weddings, but lack the closeness and dependability of being in a relationship. [Read: 15 revealing truths about feeling alone in a relationship]

4. You’re letting go

Sure, in relationships you want to pick your battles. You don’t want to start a fight about something so minor it doesn’t matter, but letting things go too easily can be a sign of a stagnant relationship. 

It is fine to let go of the fact that your partner left their dirty clothes on the floor after a rough day at work. If you don’t say anything about them going out every night without letting you know when they’ll be home or where they are, it could be a sign that you aren’t caring as much.

Not wanting to ruffle feathers because you don’t have the urgency to, shows that your passion for this person is lacking. You don’t want to put the effort into difficult discussions. [Read: Why are relationship ruts so common and how to recognize and fix them]

5. You lost your spark

Relationships can start with a spark or a slow burn. But without at least some passion, attraction, or chemistry, you basically have a friendship. Something that keeps couples together for decades is that spark – it is a touch of flirting even after years together.

You may be living your lives, but a simple kiss in the morning and comment about how good your partner looks goes a long way. Your spark can flicker quite often over the years. Once it goes out, it is hard to get it back. [Read: How to rekindle love and bring back the romance spark]

6. You don’t talk

Talking is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Communication, comprehension, and just listening are what drives a relationship. If you don’t really interact, your relationship is going to stop existing and turn into a stagnant relationship.

Even without a proper breakup, not talking to your partner about your feelings and desires can end a relationship before you know it.

7. You don’t fight

Fighting is a hard term to quantify. You can have a healthy and vibrant relationship without yelling and screaming. Sharing your concerns and disagreements is important to ensure honesty and trust. 

If you don’t want to share what you are feeling or thinking with your partner, especially when you disagree, it can lead to a lack of caring. You may think things are going well because you don’t fight or have disagreements, but it can actually be a sign that you are in a stagnant relationship. [Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and grow closer]

8. You’re not excited

Whether you are in a new relationship or have been together for years, there should still be excitement for new adventures to take together. Whether you are flying to another country or trying a new restaurant in town, a lack of excitement for spending time together is a bad sign.

You may not dread spending time with your partner, but you feel nothing about it. If going to lunch with your mom ignites more feelings from you than a date with your partner, things are definitely stagnant. [Read: How to let go of your past and be excited by your future]

9. You’re scared of being alone

If the strongest feeling you have for your partner is the fear of being alone, it is not a good sign. A healthy relationship includes a fondness for your partner and maybe even a fear of losing them. 

But if your only fear is being alone, this relationship is not just stagnant but a placeholder. Being with someone just to be with someone is like having a vacation house just to tell people you have it. It isn’t doing anything for you, or adding to your life. [Read: How to let go of your fear of being alone and find peace]

10. Constantly arguing about the same things

Not arguing is one thing, but arguing constantly about the same topic over and over simply means it’s not being resolved. You’re stuck. You’re not moving in any direction.

A lack of communication is a precursor to the death of a relationship. While you shouldn’t avoid having difficult conversations or even fights over problems, you should make sure you’re getting somewhere in the end. If the problem isn’t being resolved, it’s just going to grow and grow until it tears you apart.

11. You feel drained

A relationship isn’t supposed to feel like work. For sure, relationships take work but they should never feel like they’re draining the life out of you.

If you regularly feel like you’re tired simply from your relationship, you need to question why. It’s not moving anywhere and it’s causing you to feel down. A stagnant relationship can suck the positivity right out of you, leaving you simply making do with a negative situation. [Read: Do you feel emotionally drained? 15 reasons and cures]

12. Doubt and lack of trust

Trust issues can happen in all relationships but if you always feel on edge, ask yourself why. Do you trust your partner? Do you always doubt them?

That’s not the best basis for a relationship and it’s a key sign of a stagnant relationship that isn’t going anywhere fast. You need to face your trust issues and overcome them, rather than allowing them to poison your relationship and turn it completely negative.

13. You avoid each other’s families

It’s normal not to get along with everyone in life, so perhaps you just don’t get on with a member of your partner’s family. But, you try your best and you’re civil with them because they matter to your partner. If you’re both avoiding one another’s families, that’s because you’re not invested in the relationship anymore.

It doesn’t mean you need to always be at their houses and doing things as one big happy family, but you should regularly visit together and make them a part of your life. If you’re not doing this, it could mean you’re at a relationship standstill. [Read: 18 signs it’s time and ways to prepare your partner to meet the parents]

Why your relationship isn’t progressing

What could possibly be the roadblock that’s standing in the way of your relationship moving on to the next level? Here are 11 possible culprits.

1. A fear of commitment

A terrible way to start the list, right? Might as well get the worst reason out of the way first, so when you get to the end, you realize it doesn’t all have to be negative.

The chances are, you’ve been together for years. What if you never got to experience X, Y and Z? What if you are afraid of taking a bigger step, since the whole long-term thing seems big enough? Not everyone feels this way, but it is pretty common. [Read: 10 sure signs you’ve got the fear of commitment]

2. One of you feels you haven’t made enough progress in other parts of your life

Most people attribute this to men, specifically how a man needs to feel like a provider, like he’s winning at life, and is worthy before taking the plunge. That statement is half true.

Women are the similar, but slightly different. Women want to be successful and accomplish certain career goals, too. Most won’t turn down a proposal if they haven’t accomplished those goals yet, but they will wish it had happened a little later.

The stereotype that women want to be married as fast as possible? Myth. Everyone wants to get certain things done before getting married. [Read: What’s the best age to get married?]

3. Finances

Short and simple. Money makes the world go round. If you don’t have enough money, you can’t move in together, can’t go on as many date nights, can’t get married, can’t plan a family, can’t take that first vacation together *important in any relationship*, etc.

For instance, if you’ve been dating someone for years, and you’re both broke, chances are, that dream of moving in together is a long, long journey away. So, you end up doing the same thing time and time again, hanging out at mom and dad’s, and probably not going out a lot since you don’t have the means. Relationship standstill. [Read: 17 brilliant ways to save money as a couple]

4. Growing apart, but unsure what to do about it

There’s a stereotype that when you’re with someone and you don’t see eye-to-eye anymore, you simply throw the relationship away. In reality, most people have a tough time with this.

Even if your partner is completely different from two months ago, you still have the feelings, the memories, and the desire to make it work. Only, you don’t know what to do about the situation.

A relationship standstill is the answer, where you both continue dating and have feelings, but you don’t know how to handle the new dynamic. Your best bet? Waiting it out, or joining the fun, so your partner realizes what you’ve been dealing with and thinks, “this isn’t us.” [Read: 12 reasons couples grow apart over time]

5. One of you doesn’t feel the ‘rush’ anymore

Everyone knows about the rush. Everyone reaches an age where their friends are getting married. Then, it’s like a giant race to married life.

For others, the race means the race of trying to move in together. Meanwhile, others feel the pressure to reach a certain stage in a relationship. For instance, the man might want to reach the point in which he can go to the bathroom with her. She might refuse that for a while.

Every relationship has its own rhythm. Whatever your version of the “rush” is, one of you isn’t on the same page, not out of any negative feelings, but because they know you’re The One.

It’s like a backhanded compliment. It’s like saying “I love you, and know you’re the one for me, but because of that same reason, I don’t feel the need to rush, so let’s sit here and enjoy the standstill for a while.” [Read: 10 steps to reignite the lost spark in a relationship]

6. One of you is hanging onto youth or feels too young

Two separate methods of reasoning about the same thing.

Hanging onto youth means you know, even subconsciously, that you should grow up. Your age says so. Your relationship more so. And yet, you just don’t want to let go; you want to be able to stay out till sunrise and make poor choices.

Feeling too young means the reality that you’re older hasn’t hit you yet, or that you don’t feel like you have what it takes to take the next step yet, whatever that step may be. [Read: How to feel better about life – 16 small steps to feel great again]

7. Not having your priorities in order or taking things for granted

One, or both of you, could be making the mistake of taking things for granted. It could be that you’ve been together for so long, you assume they won’t leave. It could be you’ve come to expect a certain treatment from your partner because you’re so used to it.

Whatever you’ve gotten used to, one or both of you has reached the “I expect it” zone, rather than the “you didn’t have to, but thank you” zone. You might throw priorities away, since they have their situation organized. Surely, they’ll take care of things for you.

No. This is leading to a relationship standstill because your partner isn’t your parent. [Read: 16 discreet signs you’re being taken for granted by your lover]

8. You haven’t sat down and had a talk about your future

It’s not that you don’t want to talk about it, though it could be, in some cases. Most likely, it’s that it’s a hard topic to bring up. People who have been dating for years can still stumble on this. But like riding a bike, once you do it successfully the first time, it stops being daunting.

If you’ve been dating for a year, a little miniature talk isn’t out of hand. Nothing about marriage, unless you both clearly want that, but more about meeting special people in each other’s lives that you may not already know. Or moving in some of your belongings to their place.

If you’ve been together for years, then yes, you can have a much more serious talk. You’ve invested so much time already, and clearly, you feel like the next step isn’t coming fast enough. Opening that level of communication is key. [Read: 12 life questions to help you visualize your future]

9. Relationship issues need to be sorted out

This is, by far, the most common of all reasons. It could be that you, your partner, or both of you feel like there are things you need to take care of within the relationship, before taking a stroll to the next stage.

Or, it could be that your partner has issues opening up to you. It could be that you aren’t entirely truthful all the time. Maybe you both argue too much over small things. It could be anything!

If it’s taken a toll on your relationship, there’s a good possibility it’s the reason you’re at a relationship standstill. [Read: 16 common relationship tips that ruin your love life]

10. Insecurity

Is your partner feeling jealous of your coworker? Are you wondering if you have the same seemingly magical effect on your partner as you once did? Is nothing of significance actually happening, but one of you feels like they’re just not worthy anyway?

Insecurity brings things to a grinding halt. It’s basically a barrier preventing access to the next phase together. If you or your partner is unsure about something, it’s best to lay it out clearly, and resolve the issue as fast as possible, before it becomes an even bigger issue.

Relationships are made up of several stages, and every single person has their own perception of the right pace. No two people are exactly the same, so why should it be different with relationships? [Read: 9 effective ways to stop being needy and insecure]

11. You want the relationship to be perfect

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. How can there be when there isn’t a perfect person roaming the earth? All relationships have their problems but it’s how you’d deal with them that matters.

By placing so much pressure on your relationship and expecting it to be a fairytale from a Disney movie, you’re creating a relationship standstill. You can’t move forward because there’s nowhere to go. Where do you go on the quest to be perfect? [Read: Dating a perfectionist – 12 things you must know before you date one]

How to get out of a relationship standstill

Breaking out of a stagnant relationship can be done in two ways. You can end things because you have no hope of recovering that spark and closeness. Or you can try to get back what you had.

Ending things may be the easier option. There is a good chance you would both be relatively okay with that. But, sometimes your relationship becomes stagnant just out of a lack of effort.

If you want to get the life back into your dead-end relationship, tell your partner how you feel and ask how they feel. You need to really listen. That’s the only way to get a relationship standstill moving again. [Read: How to not be boring in a relationship and bring the magic back]

1. Shake things up

Try new things together. Dress up for a casual dinner. Make a weekly date night. Take a dance class, go on a mini-vacation, or even work on a project together.

Be intimate. Hold hands, cuddle, just making eye contact can even reignite something between you.

By shaking things up, you can create a spark that might get things moving again. [Read: Spark in a relationship – 20 reasons why it’s gone and how to bring it back]

2. Know your needs

A successful relationship boils down to two people who know what they want and are respectful of what their partner wants and needs too.

Take some time to think about what you need in a relationship. Then, communicate this to your partner.

3. Understand your communication styles

Just as we all have love languages, we all have communication styles too. By understanding how you communicate versus how your partner does, you can find common ground.

Maybe you tend to talk about your feelings far more openly than your partner does, but they show their love through small acts of kindness instead. Understanding this helps you to appreciate the things your partner is doing, and vice versa. [Read: 10 Communication techniques to finally get them to open up to you]

4. Set realistic expectations

If you’re someone who is searching for perfection in a relationship, it’s no wonder you’re at a relationship standstill. You need to set realistic expectations and work towards them, rather than trying to reach a goal that is completely unrealistic and never going to happen.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have big goals for the future, such as moving in together or having children, but make sure that they’re within a realistic timescale and that your partner wants those things too.

5. Clarify boundaries

A healthy relationship has boundaries. This means both of you are comfortable with what is happening, the speed, and where things are going. Of course, that also means you need to have a conversation about boundaries too.

We’ve mentioned already that communication is so vital in relationships. If you’re experiencing a stagnant union or a relationship standstill, it’s probably because neither of you are talking about what you want and need. [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship]

6. Spend time with happy couples

A little positivity goes a long way. Spend some time with couples who are happy in each other’s company and radiate positivity. It’s very contagious!

You’ll soon see that perhaps your relationship simply needs a little fun injection to get things going again and not a major overhaul. However, avoid comparing your relationship to theirs – every relationship is unique in its own way.

7. Accept imperfection

You’re not perfect, so don’t expect your partner to be. One reason for constantly arguing about the same thing is that you just don’t let the small things go. That’s a big recipe for a relationship standstill.

Unless it’s a huge deal that you simply can’t live with, learn to accept your partner’s small imperfections and see the positives instead. It’s very unlikely that your partner doesn’t have a few problems with your quirks too! [Read: 13 avoidable habits that will change your life for the worse]

8. Seek professional help

If you’re sure that you don’t want to walk away from a stagnant relationship but you’re not sure what else to do, how about relationship counseling? This isn’t something to be ashamed of and actually something to completely embrace.

Accepting help from a professional means that you can tap into strategies that can help get your relationship standstill moving again. It might also make your union much stronger as a result. [Read: Relationship counseling – 10 signs you need it to save your love]

Why you should not stay in stagnant relationships

It’s very easy to simply stay in a relationship because it’s easy. You’re in a comfort zone that’s not fulfilling you but it’s not making you completely miserable either.

If you stay in the relationship, nothing is going to change. You can try to get things moving again and move away from your relationship standstill, but if you’re sure nothing will work, it’s best to move on.

It’s hard to admit that a relationship simply hasn’t worked, but not all couples are meant to be together forever. Some people simply enter our lives to teach us a lesson or show us an experience we would never have otherwise had.

To give you the nudge you may need, here are the reasons why you shouldn’t stay in a stagnant relationship. [Read: 42 red flags and signs it’s time to end your relationship and move on for good]

1. Stops you from growing

You’re comfortable and it’s easy but you’re not going anywhere. This relationship isn’t teaching you anything or allowing you to grow.

In the end, you’ll look back and feel resentful of the time you wasted on the wrong person. It’s far better to cut your losses and move on.

2. Lowers your expectations

The longer you’re at a relationship standstill, the more bogged down you’ll get. Your expectations will become lower because your relationship isn’t fulfilling what you need.

It’s likely you’ve forgotten what you need from a partner and your dreams for the future. Low expectations simply lead to disappointment in the end. [Read: 20 healthy expectations in a relationship that define a good love life]

3. Drains you mentally and emotionally

If you feel drained in your relationship, it’s a huge red flag. A stagnant relationship can cause you to feel drained mentally and emotionally and you’ll become more stuck the longer you stay.

Of course, no relationship has major excitement every single day, but you shouldn’t feel like it’s Groundhog Day every day either.

4. Creates a negative view of relationships

The longer you stay, the more negative you will feel about relationships as a whole. They don’t cause you to feel happy or fulfilled, so you begin to assume they’re a waste of time.

A negative view like this causes you to avoid new relationships in the future, when you may meet someone who really is The One. [Read: How to stop having negative thoughts that drag you down]

There’s no fun in being stuck

You might blame blockbuster movies or Disney for giving us a fairytale view of what a relationship ‘should’ be but if you allow yourself to stay with someone because it’s comfortable, you’re missing the point. A relationship standstill can be for a myriad of reasons but a lack of effort is at the heart of it.

Now you know what this type of relationship looks like, you can check the signs early and start making an effort to get things moving again.

[Read: The simplest and sweetest romantic gestures you can use in your everyday life]

A stagnant relationship can be so dull you may think you can never get the fun back, but if that is what you both want, it is possible. Just start with the right kind of effort, however small it may seem, and you’ll be there very soon.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...