10 signs that your relationship is burning out

When you feel like your relationship isn't living up to your hopes, it can wear you down mentally. When two people start dating, they often hope that their relationship will grow and get better over time. But when reality is different from this ideal, sadness sets in, making people wonder what was so appealing at first.


Relationships are often pictured as a "happily ever after" that lasts forever. Even though everyone knows that fairy tales aren't always true, the difference between what people expect and what actually happens can still be surprising.


Most of the time, the word "burnout" is used in professional settings, where people feel tired and uninspired by their daily work tasks. In a strange way, the idea of "marital burnout" is similar to this feeling when a pair realizes that their relationship isn't what they had hoped for.

The word "relationship burnout" will be used here because it can be used for more than just marriage. Solaleh Zamani and his colleagues from Kharazmi University did a study on this idea in 2023. They found that it describes a state where many different things add up to "emotionally life lost function." This is a sign that a person's coping strategies are being overworked. A person with this kind of mental problem might feel tired, have headaches, feel hopeless, or get angry with their partner.


The study conducted by Zamani et al. aimed to explore predictors of relationship burnout. Before delving into their findings, you can gauge your own experience of relationship burnout using these 10 items (rated on a scale of 0=never to 7=always) from a study by Ayala Malach Pines and colleagues (2011) from the University of the Negev:

  1. How often have you felt tired when considering your marriage/intimate relationship overall?
  2. How often have you felt disappointed with your spouse/intimate partner?
  3. How often have you felt hopeless?
  4. How often have you felt trapped?
  5. How often have you felt helpless?
  6. How often have you felt depressed?
  7. How often have you felt weak or sickly?
  8. How often have you felt insecure or like a failure?
  9. How often have you experienced difficulties sleeping?
  10. How often have you reached a point where you've had enough?


If you or your partner exhibit signs of burnout (scores exceeding 5 per item), the subsequent query revolves around the various contributing factors to this predicament. Zamani et al. propose that those with high levels of alexithymia, which signifies a deficit in expressing emotional words, are susceptible candidates. Individuals with this trait struggle to connect emotionally with their partners due to their emotional void. Their "deactivating strategies" often lead them to disconnect when emotional responsiveness is required.

Beyond impaired communication, individuals high in alexithymia may also possess an insecure attachment style. This could involve fearing emotional closeness (avoidant) or dreading abandonment (anxious), both of which hinder personal growth within the relationship and obstruct the partner's growth as well.

A related issue, the inability to regulate emotions, further contributes to relationship burnout. Those who struggle with emotional dysregulation describe difficulty controlling their emotions during moments of distress and may struggle with labeling their feelings.

The study encompassed 216 adults who self-identified as experiencing relationship burnout and were recruited through a family psychiatric clinic. The majority (71 percent) were female and over 30 years old. Analyzing data collected before their entry into emotion-oriented couples therapy, the researchers found that attachment styles indirectly influenced alexithymia through the mediation of emotion dysregulation.

If emotion dysregulation is a significant predictor of the alexithymia underlying burnout, the subsequent question is how couples can enhance their relationship by focusing on emotions. According to the framework of emotion-focused therapy adopted by the Iranian research team, this might indeed be possible. This approach empowers individuals to better comprehend their emotional experiences and develop stronger emotional regulation skills. Such a strategy could potentially transform insecure attachment into secure attachment.


The notion of altering an ingrained attachment style from childhood might seem daunting. Similarly, attempting to change a personality trait like alexithymia through intervention might appear far-fetched. Restoring a relationship that has deteriorated can also seem like a formidable task.

However, the research conducted by Kharazmi University and their associated therapy clinic offer optimism. The path to positive transformation involves gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional experiences shared by the couple. This journey enhances emotional resilience.

In practical terms, this means engaging with your partner to analyze and comprehend the evolution of emotions during daily experiences. Exploring the deep-seated insecurities and anxieties that surface during disagreements, as well as recognizing the positive emotions that arise when validating each other's feelings, can be immensely enriching. If discussing emotions is a challenge, this only emphasizes the importance of embarking on this journey.

In essence, while burnout might seem like an inevitable outcome of a long-term relationship, the Iranian study suggests otherwise. As you work to identify and manage your emotions, you pave the way for a fulfilling connection where inner lives are shared and cherished.


As the romance fades and questions start to creep in, remember that your relationship is worth fighting for. If you're having trouble with confusion and fear of infidelity, or wondering how to catch your spouse cheating, iFindCheaters can help. With our online service, you can find out what your partner is hiding without breaking their privacy or making things worse if they find out.

Through many ways to catch a cheater, our service can search through more than 55 popular dating and alternative lifestyle platforms to make sure that no stone is left unturned. Whether your suspicions are based on jealousy or a lack of closeness, our service gives you the information you need to make choices about your relationship that are based on facts. Try us for free and get the answers you deserve.

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