It’s Been a Long time: Is Your Relationship Flat Lining or Is It the Five-Year Itch?

New Relationship Energy, also known as NRE, is addictive. It gives you the butterflies in your stomach, makes you go wild for him, and puts you in a rose-colored world of love. Unfortunately, that amazing whirlwind vibe never lasts. Even with the most passionate couples, the vibe calms down into a nice contented feeling. 

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After a couple of years together, most people start to feel a little bored. Things got into a routine. You no longer have the mysteries and wonder of a new relationship. You might even start to see sex problems after a bit. This is known as the Five-Year-Itch, or in some cases, the Seven-Year-Itch. 

The Seven-Year-Itch refers to a time in a relationship where attraction wanes and you start to need effort to keep up the spark. It’s normal, and with effort, you can survive it and still be happy. The signs often reflect troubled relationships, with minor twists.

The hard part is figuring out if it’s just the “itch” or if your relationship has actually run its course. Not sure whether your relationship is worth keeping, or if you’re just feeling the “itch?” These signs suggest that you might have a relationship that’s going extinct.

  1. You dread having your partner head home. If you feel happier and calmer when your partner is away, you aren’t experiencing the Five-Year-Itch. You are most likely in a toxic relationship where you are actively starting to fear or resent your partner. This is a good sign that it’s time to break things off.
  2. Sex is avoided by one or both of you. Does it feel like you have to beg your partner for any form of physical affection? Do you make up excuses to avoid touching your partner? When a bedroom dies, your relationship is not too far behind. This suggests that your partner no longer is attracted to you in any way. 
  3. If you were honest with yourself, you regret your relationship. Think back to your single days. If you knew how your relationship would be like now, would you still date them? If the answer is no, your relationship is already dead.
  4. Gratitude is nowhere to be found, but resentment is. With the Seven-Year-Itch, most couples start taking one another for granted. That can be rectified as long as resentment and contempt have not taken hold. If resentment or contempt are visibly harming your love life, it’s time to call it quits.
  5. Date night, gifts, and compliments don’t even happen on holidays. The Seven-Year-Itch will see romance lose priority, but it can still happen. When your relationship is totally dead, even traditionally romantic days like Valentine’s Day won’t involve anything special. 
  6. You do more work with your partner than you would without. Marriage is a partnership. You need two people to make it work. When one person stops putting in any effort, it stops being a partnership. With a Seven-Year-Itch, your partner will still contribute to the workload in a reasonable way. With a dead relationship, you will have less work to do if you decide to be single.
  7. Your partner changed into someone you’re not attracted to. Did your partner stop taking care of himself, or start to become abusive? It’s not an “itch” you’re feeling; it’s a warning sign that your relationship needs to end ASAP. 
  8. When you try to fix problems in your relationship, your partner refuses to participate. You ask for counseling, your partner refuses. You try to talk to them, but it falls on deaf ears. You beg for affection, they stay cold. Sound familiar? It’s not an itch; it’s a sign your relationship already died.
  9. People have remarked that you seem miserable with your partner. When others are telling you that your relationship is draining you, it’s a good idea to listen. This suggests that your relationship is actively hurting your overall quality of life. In many cases, people don’t realize how bad their relationships are until they are out of them.
  10. It’s not about boredom or missing freedom. With the Seven-Year-Itch, there’s a major tendency of feeling bored with your life, missing your youth, and also feeling like you’re missing out on wild flings. It’s a nagging, “What if?” A lack of those feelings tends to suggest that your relationship might just be dying out. 
  11. Your lives are separating. Are you acting more single than usual? Is he behaving like he’s flying solo? This is a phenomenon called “uncoupling,” and is a phenomenon that almost always precedes a breakup. 
  12. You feel the need to walk on eggshells around him. If you no longer feel like you can relax around your partner because you’re worried something may set him off or make him leave, then you’re in major trouble. This is a sign that your relationship is a literal ticking time bomb. 
  13. It feels like your life is already over. A dead relationship can drain the life out of you. Studies show that staying in toxic relationships can cause health problems and depression. It shows, too. If you feel dead inside, suffocated, or otherwise lackluster, it could be that you’re stuck in a relationship that is literally killing you inside. 
  14. You’ve given up on fixing major issues in your relationship. Whether it’s a dead bedroom or a partner that just won’t work on themselves doesn’t matter. What matters is that giving up on a major issue that hurts your quality of life suggests that you’ve started to give up on the relationship ever getting better. Should they change later, it might be a case of “too little, too late.”
  15. The only reason you’re still there is due to finances or kids. Trust me when I say that these excuses are just that–excuses. It’s often better to split up and deal with the fallout than it is to stay in that type of relationship hell. 

Deep down inside, you already know it’s gone. If you are reading this list, then you already know the answer. It may be time to break up and find a better match for you.