What To Do In A Relationship That’s On The Verge Of A Breakup

Updated June 17, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
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If your relationship has been going through difficult times lately, you may have started to ask yourself the question "What should I do in a relationship when I’m not happy?" or "what can I do in a relationship when I’m bored?" Many people had had thoughts like these when their relationships were going through a challenging or stagnant phase. Having these feelings is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is available for individuals and couples who are invested in strengthening their relationship (or moving on with grace).

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Boredom can weaken a strong relationship over time

Instead of feeling guilty or defensive, it’s important to try to get to the bottom of what's causing the rift between you and your partner. Has one of your work schedules recently changed? Is there a new stressor in the relationship that is causing you to feel unhappy or bored? In this article, we answer tough questions about intimate relationships, including what to do when you’re on a relationship break, what to do when you're not happy in a relationship, and how to make time for one another when your schedules change.

What to do on a relationship break

It is not uncommon for dating and married couples who have been having escalating issues for an extended period to consider taking a break. According to research, 40 to 50% of couples get back together after a breakup. This implies that half or more than half will end the relationship for good. If you and your partner have decided to take a break from your relationship to give each other space, establish guidelines for what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable during the period of separation. Examples of ground rules include the following:

  • Setting a timeline: when will the break start and end? A timeline can provide a sense of uncertainty during a process often associated with unpredictable outcomes.
  • Defining the terms: will you see other people during the break or stop dating altogether? To what extent, if at all, will you communicate with your partner while on break?
  • Establish the purpose: what do you and your partner hope to get out of the break? 
  • Enforce boundaries: decide what behaviors are off limits, such as texting each other’s friends or family, cruising by your partner’s house, or posting on social media.

Be honest with yourself (and your partner) about the reasons for taking a break. Do you or your partner feel like you need personal space? Are you interested in dating someone new? While it may seem hurtful to establish these rules, they can ultimately help you understand what is best for your individual and shared futures.

What to do when you're not happy

Are you feeling unhappy with your relationship lately? If you are starting to wonder if you made the right decision in choosing your partner, you may begin to feel unsettled. This is especially true in cases where relationships have been having ongoing issues. You may start to feel like you and your partner may never be happy together.

The first thing that you should do when you're feeling unhappy is to ask yourself why. Common factors that cause unhappiness in relationships include:

  • Poor communication
  • Trust issues
  • Opposing goals or values
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Financial woes
  • Unrealistic expectations

What changes or improvements do you feel would make you feel better? Does one partner need to adjust their nonverbal communication during tense discussions? Are you not getting your needs met? Do you have a challenging time trusting a partner who was unfaithful in the past?

Once you start to understand the answers to these questions, you will be on the road to self-discovery that will guide your next steps. Is your unhappiness due to an issue with yourself, or with your partner? When you take a moment to reflect, you may be surprised at the answer that comes up.

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What to do in a relationship when you're bored

If you and your partner are feeling stuck in a rut, say so! Boredom is not necessarily anyone’s fault, but if left unchecked, it can compound other issues. Let your partner know how you are feeling; it’s likely they've been feeling the same way. Find a way to spice up your relationship by trying new things together. Visit places you have never been to or take a new route through your neighborhood. Many relationships get to the point of boredom when there are no breaks in the routine.

Child-rearing and everyday adult responsibilities can affect how you feel about your relationship (and your life as a whole.) Switching up your routine while making time for self-care will go a long way towards sparking new conversations with your partner and renewed interest in activities outside of the relationship.

What to do in a relationship when schedules change

Sudden or extreme schedule changes can shake up the foundation of even the most solid relationships. Both partners may be taken aback by the sudden or prolonged absence of their partner as they struggle to find new ways to fill the space. Managing schedule changes can be tricky. Both partners should sit down together to discuss realistic options for managing new schedules so that the relationship is not left on the back burner.

Working spouses may feel stressed from the pressure of work and the added pressure of missing time with their partner or spouse. This can lead to internal frustration that may start to come up and cause problems in the relationship. On the other hand, partners who stay at home or work fewer hours than their busier spouse may begin to feel neglected if schedules change, and they are not able to spend the time that they used to with their partners. 

Both issues can lead to a build-up of resentment in your relationship if left unaddressed. In cases like these, seeking the advice of a licensed professional is a great way to get help figuring out how to manage a schedule change.

How can relationship counseling help?

When you find yourself at a loss for what to do next about the troubles that you have been having in your relationship, one suggestion is to enlist the help and support of a neutral third party. Having a detached, unbiased, professional point-of-view can help you and your partner discover the real issues behind the disconnect in your relationship.

Relationship counselors and coaches can provide struggling couples with insights on the relationship from an evidence-based perspective. Licensed counselors can also provide counseling and support for relationships that are plagued by issues of mental health that are often the root cause for relationships quickly deteriorating. 

If one person in a relationship is going through something like an eating disorder, mood disorder, or substance use disorder, for example, it will certainly impact their partner’s life in some way or another. Counselors will show empathy to both parties and focus efforts on working together, versus casting judgments and issuing verdicts about who is guilty for causing what relationship crime.

Many people today are struggling with undiagnosed mental health-related conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder (BPD) – all of which can disturb the progress of relationships if left untreated. There are free and paid options for couples and individuals seeking relationship counseling and mental health-related services online. More serious issues and relationships complicated by mental health concerns should be addressed by a licensed and certified mental health professional.

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Boredom can weaken a strong relationship over time

Individuals and couples are finding it beneficial to consult with online mental health professionals regarding key events and relationships in their lives. People not only take part in online therapy for life advice and guidance; they can also get treatment and support for chronic mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may be contributing to the negative outcomes in their lives. The following are examples of how individuals and couples benefit from relationship counseling online.

New Insights - Couples learn to understand each other's point of view with the guidance of a neutral third-party (the therapist). Therapists can quickly intervene when couples are on the road to a misunderstanding and offer new language and insights on how to address issues.

Communication skills - Many couples do not have formal communication training skills and are doing the best they can. A therapist can teach couples key relationship communication skills that can help couples to learn the cooperative language of "we" instead of using the passive-aggressive communication skills that are common to failing relationships.

Individual counseling - Individuals who are living with undiagnosed mental health issues may be surprised to learn that they are exhibiting symptoms of chronic mental illness that are having a detrimental effect on their relationships. This understanding places these individuals in a unique position to seek counseling and support for both their relationships and concurrent mental health disorder.

Community support and advocacy – Whatever you are going through, you are not alone. People who subscribe to mental health services online join a network of mental health advocates and awareness experts that can provide guidance, advice, advocacy, and support resources for living with mental illness.

Renewal of self and relationships - Now that you've taken positive steps in improving the quality of your life, you may feel renewed as the quality of the relationships in your life continuously improves. This sense of renewal doesn't end with your relationship. It carries over into everything you do - now that you understand that you do have the power to facilitate positive change in your own life.

Have you considered online relationship counseling?

Many individuals and couples may gravitate to online relationship therapy because of its convenience, flexibility, and affordability compared to in-person counseling. Through online counseling platforms like MyTherapist, people can find licensed counselors specifically trained to help clients in certain areas, including the relationship domain. You can set appointments at times that are convenient for your schedules and meet virtually with your therapist from any location with a secure internet connection. 

This advantage of online therapy may be particularly useful for couples in long-distance relationships, couples with busy schedules, or couples who are currently on a break and avoiding close physical proximity with their partners. 

Additionally, research shows that online therapy for couples is just as effective as in-person counseling. In a recent study, 30 couples ranging from 21 to 69 years of age took part in face-to-face or videoconferencing interventions with the goal of increasing relationship satisfaction. Those in the online cohort experienced just as much improvement compared to the in-person cohort, and these positive outcomes sustained over time for both groups.

Takeaway

Feeling like you are on the verge of a breakup can be a scary time. It can be difficult to lose someone who has been such a fixture in your life. Others may struggle with the concept of being alone or healing from a breakup. Having children together can make the process feel even more daunting.

Whatever your unique situation is, know that there are caring, dedicated professionals who will invest themselves in helping you (and your partner) achieve your relationship goals. They will not take sides with one partner over the other, and they can function as a mirror or soundboard to illustrate how each person’s words and behaviors impact the integrity of the relationship. When you’re ready to move forward in or out of your relationship, enlist the help of a professional online counselor at MyTherapist.

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