Relationships ebb and flow.
Sometimes you’ll feel close to your partner, sometimes you won’t.
But if your relationship hasn’t been great for a while now, how do you know whether it’s down to temporary fluctuations in connection or whether you are gradually becoming less compatible with one another?
This article lists some clear signs that incompatibility is having a growing influence on your relationship.
1. Your relationship leaves you feeling stuck, unable to move forward.
Feeling stuck in a relationship can be a huge source of stress and frustration. And it can be a sign that you and your partner are not compatible anymore.
You used to be able to work together, pull in the same direction, and both achieve your goals or pursue your passions.
But now it feels like you are heading in opposite directions. Neither of you really supports the other’s dreams, perhaps because they make you feel uneasy or as though you don’t really know your partner anymore.
You both feel like your relationship is holding you back, stifling your growth, and not allowing you to thrive in the ways you would like.
Your relationship should be a source of energy, inspiration, and motivation, so if it’s no longer any of those things, you either need to work to get those things back or accept that you no longer make a good couple.
2. You struggle to communicate your needs and opinions.
A breakdown in communication is common in relationships. But while it is often a temporary issue, it can sometimes point to a deeper divergence between a couple.
If you find yourself struggling to get through to one another—to express yourselves and to feel heard and understood—it could indicate that you’re starting to see things from very different perspectives.
There could be a gap between you, if not a whacking great chasm, that makes it difficult to relate to one another.
When attempts to bridge that divide are met with resistance or misunderstanding, it could indicate that the fundamental connection in your relationship is weakening.
3. You find that someone always needs to compromise.
Being able to compromise is a good thing in a relationship, but when you are always left searching for a middle ground, it could be a sign that you have grown less compatible over time.
Compromise is indicative of differences between the two of you, and if having to choose between options has become the default setup for your relationship, it’s a red flag you need to take seriously.
If you struggle to see eye-to-eye on many things, is it because of a fundamental misalignment in your values or priorities? Or do you simply feel less inclined to do the things that the other wants to do because you are no longer prepared to make as many sacrifices as you once might have?
Either way, if you’re stuck in a pattern of endless negotiation just to maintain harmony in the relationship, it likely stems from a more major problem.
4. But compromise is sometimes impossible.
You reach deadlock.
When trying to find common ground and bridge the gap between differing perspectives, you come to a point where there’s no movement on either side.
When both partners stand firm in their positions, it leads to a standoff, where a mutually acceptable resolution seems out of reach.
If this happens a lot, then you have to ask yourself whether you are still compatible as a couple.
5. Your hobbies and interests aren’t a lifestyle fit anymore.
It’s completely normal for people in a relationship to pick up new hobbies or delve deeper into their existing interests as time goes on.
But this can cause a clash in schedules as the when and where of these activities throw a relationship off balance.
This divergence can lead to couples spending less time together, creating a void in shared experiences.
Whether it’s immersing in personal passions, socializing in different circles, or championing individual causes, these shifts can unintentionally drive a wedge between partners.
And the longer this goes on, the more distant a couple can become.
While this doesn’t have to mean permanent incompatibility, unless you can both find the time to do things together—and not just any old things but quality time full of positive emotions—your relationship might end up as a mere shell, and the two of you a couple in name only.
6. Your life goals have diverged.
As time goes on, some couples realize that their once-aligned life goals have taken different turns.
What began as shared dreams may have transformed into starkly contrasting visions for the future.
This might involve opposing views on marriage, children, career aspirations, financial priorities, or simply diverging lifestyle choices.
These disparities can lead to feelings of disconnect. You may feel like you don’t even know your partner anymore because you or they have changed so much.
And when your ideal futures look very different, it’s going to prove extremely difficult to maintain happiness and harmony in the long term.
7. Your emotional needs have changed.
Some people are more independent than others. Some people like more intimacy. And if one or both of you have shifted further toward one end of the spectrum than you used to be, it can cause all sorts of problems.
Put simply, if the two of you can’t give each other what you require in terms of emotional connection, you may both feel disgruntled.
The more independent partner may begin to feel suffocated by what they see as neediness, while the partner who enjoys more intimacy and wants to spend a lot of quality time together may begin to feel unloved and unwanted.
This incompatibility may eventually overwhelm the relationship.
8. You have matured at different speeds.
A person’s emotional maturity affects how they think and behave.
Though a couple may not always share the same level of maturity at the beginning of a relationship, it’s usually similar to some extent.
As one partner undergoes personal growth and deepens their emotional maturity, they may find themselves desiring more meaningful and profound connections.
Conversely, the other partner, who may not have reached the same level of emotional maturity, could struggle to meet these evolving needs.
This discrepancy can lead to a sense of disconnect and frustration within the relationship, as well as a lack of understanding and empathy between the partners.
It may also result in conflicts arising from differing perspectives and ways of handling emotional situations.
9. There is more conflict in the relationship than before.
Conflict is essentially an expression of some incompatibility or another. Most of the time, that incompatibility is temporary, perhaps as simple as a difference in what each partner wants to watch that evening.
But more regular conflict can be a sign that two people have grown apart and now find it much harder to see eye-to-eye.
Expectations may shift, beliefs may change, goals can diverge. These things can all make conflict much more likely.
What’s more, it becomes much more difficult for the conflict to be resolved because your starting positions are further apart.
You might end up in a distressing pattern of conflict, distance, attempts at reconciliation, and then further conflict.
10. The relationship feels “heavy.”
The absence of fun, laughter, playfulness, and light-heartedness can occur when two people drift apart emotionally.
Over time, you may find yourself moving in different directions and this can cause a sense of disconnect. And when the emotional connection suffers, the joy tends to fade away.
You may even begin to feel weighed down by the relationship. It only brings you misery and pain—both when you’re together as a couple and when you’re thinking about it or talking about it to others.
Sometimes, the lack of connection stems from something such as a lack of effort, but other times it is a sign of a fundamental shift in the bond between you and your partner.
If you see many of the above signs in your relationship, you must consider the uncomfortable truth that you and your partner are simply not as compatible as you once were.
It’s nothing to beat yourself up over—everyone is constantly changing, and just because two people were right for each other when they first coupled up doesn’t mean they will always be a good match.
Yes, the end of a relationship is never easy, particularly if that relationship has lasted a long time, but if the two of you don’t work well as a couple, it may well be the best option.
If you are in doubt about any of this, do seek the guidance of a relationship counselor, either by yourself or as a couple. They can help you to figure out what the best course of action is in your precise circumstances.