Devoting your energy to a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs can make you feel frustrated and emotionally drained. When you don’t feel supported by your partner, it can be very difficult to communicate and give each other the love you both deserve.
Of course, no relationship is perfect. Every couple is prone to the occasional disagreement from time to time. But if you’re constantly feeling stressed any time you think about your partner, or if you feel physically exhausted from spending time with them, it’s possible that your relationship is seriously impacting your mental health.
INSIDER reached out to several mental health and relationship experts to learn about some red flags that indicate a relationship has gone from being emotionally fulfilling to emotionally draining.
Going through emotional problems doesn’t always mean that you need to break up with your partner. But if any of the following experiences feel familiar, it may be time to reach out to a licensed mental health professional or relationships therapist who can help you work through your issues.
You are constantly worried about their issues
Dr. Tricia Wolanin, a clinical psychologist and author, told INSIDER that people tend to feel emotionally drained when they start worrying about fixing their partner’s issues more than caring for their own wellbeing.
“Their issues become our issues and we want to fix them,” she said. “These thoughts may ruminate in our heads. We may find we are continually offering support and care to ensure they are feeling heard and have someone to lean on. Comparatively, we may find that they cannot offer this type of support to us.”
It can be very easy to assume a caretaker role within your relationship if your partner is going through a difficult time. After all, you want to help them in the best way possible and be their number one cheerleader.
That emotional labor, however, can become exhausting if your partner is not dealing with their problems or allowing them to snowball. Suddenly their drama dominates all of your conversations, which in turn, forces you to put your own issues aside.
Worrying about any person that much isn’t healthy because it can keep you from taking care of yourself. Wolanin said if you find yourself in this kind of relationship, you should encourage your partner to seek additional support from their friends, family, or a therapist.
You don’t feel like being affectionate toward them
If someone constantly belittles and controls you, or ignores your emotional needs, it’s possible that “spark” that once made you fall in love with them will fade away.
Caroline Madden, Ph.D., licensed marriage and family therapist, and author of ” Fool Me Once: Should I take back My Cheating Husband”, told INSIDER said these relationships can “suck the life out of you,” which may cause you to lose interest in being physically affectionate with your partner.
“[You] don’t want to have sex. They have taken everything from you, you can’t give anymore any more of yourself,” she said.
The lack of emotional support and trust can take a toll on your desire to have sex with your partner. Without the original communication and affection that may have made you fall for them in the first place, intimacy of any kind can become more challenging.
You feel like you can’t be yourself around them
It’s never a good sign if you feel uncomfortable expressing your opinions about certain topics or sharing your feelings with your partner.
Whether you’re trying to avoid an argument or protect their feelings, hiding the truth is generally never a good idea in the long run. Even if it prevents an explosive fight from happening in the moment, over time you will likely become unsatisfied and resentful of suppressing who you are just to please them.
According to Cherlyn Chong, rapid breakup recovery specialist at Steps to Happiness, this doesn’t just affect what you say to them, but also how you behave when you’re around them.
She told INSIDER, “This is also called ‘walking on eggshells’. Your body is always tight and on edge because you worry that if you do something ‘wrong,’ he or she might blow up or leave you.”
You crave alone time
Although spending time apart is often necessary for a healthy relationship, having a frequent desire to be away from your partner can indicate that you’re trying to escape from them.
“When you’re spending a lot of mental energy on your partner, you’ll be thrilled to have a weekend away from them or any time at all,” said Adina Mahali, an M.S.W. and certified mental health consultant from Maple Holistics.
She told INSIDER, “Everyone needs alone time, but if it’s something you’re looking forward to, then you may want to rethink the relationship. If you feel like you want to celebrate instead of missing them, then it’s not a good sign. This could be a sign that they are draining you when you’re together.”
You aren’t as open with your friends anymore
According to Wolanin, an emotionally draining relationship can change the way you open up to your friends.
She told INSIDER, “Sometimes when we get in these types of relationships, it consumes all our time and energy. [This] impacts our ability to interact as deeply with our own circle of friends or in our regular coping skills.”
It may feel awkward to share some details of your relationship with your friends and this can also lead to some distance between you and your loved ones. But just because it’s awkward doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, Wolanin recommends nurturing those non-romantic relationships so that you know you have people you can depend on if things in your relationships go sour.
You feel physically exhausted
Even though they seem like separate things, mental health and physical health are closely connected to each other.
Madden told INSIDER that an emotionally draining relationship can have a physical impact on a person’s health.
Perhaps you’re sleeping in more because you stayed up until 3 a.m. trying to support your partner during a big work project. Or maybe you’re struggling to stay awake because every single one of your interactions with your partner has been an argument.
In any case, if a relationship is causing you anxiety or other mental health issues, it’s very possible for this to drain your physical body of its energy.
Your relationship is interfering with other areas of your life
“One of the biggest indicators that your relationship is negatively affecting your emotional health, is that it is impacting an area of your life [such as] work, friendships, family, health, finances, spirituality, or downtime,” Carolyn McNulty, licensed mental health counsellor and Guardian Ad Litem, said.
Most people are capable of keeping their relationships separate from other parts of their lives. However, when you’re with someone who needs constant attention and reassurance, it can distract you from being the best version of yourself as an individual.
“It’s hard to concentrate on other relationships and your career if you’re always mentally exhausted,” said Chong.
Chong told INSIDER, “big signs are when you always have an excuse to not go out with friends, friends stop inviting you out because you’re so unavailable, family talk about how you never see them anymore, or your boss calls you into the office to talk about your work performance. Everything in your life has stalled or is suffering.”
“When any of these areas are negatively affected, due to the relationship, then it is time to take some steps to restore you to an optimal level of emotional functioning,” McNulty said.