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18 Indicators You’ve Outgrown Your Partner

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Relationships can break down for any number of reasons, but a frequent cause is that one partner outgrows the other.

This can happen over a long period, or it may be a sudden epiphany, but either way, it’s distressing when it occurs.

If you’ve outgrown your partner, there’s a high chance that several of the following signs will be familiar to you.

1. You’re in conflict most of the time.

You argue almost daily, often about the most inconsequential things.

Far from bantering playfully, you’re sniping at each other over everything.

When your partner suggests something, your immediate reaction is to argue—even if they’re making a salient point.

In turn, they may find fault in everything you do, from not putting the cutlery in the right slot to hanging toilet paper the wrong way.

Traits that you used to find endearing now simply annoy you both, and you may find yourselves incandescent with rage over the sound of each other’s breathing or chewing.

2. Your maturity levels have diverged.

When you got together, you may have both enjoyed watching cartoons and eating cereal while experimenting with intoxicating substances.

After several years, however, perhaps your priorities have shifted to health, fitness, career, or more mature subject matter. In contrast, your partner seems to be the same person at 35 that they were at 20.

Alternatively, you may be the free-spirited one who’s still going to concerts five nights a week, but your partner wants to discuss investment banking and watch Scandinavian murder dramas on TV.

As such, their stifling company feels like a lead weight on your soul, dragging you down into the swamps of sadness.

Whichever way round it is, it will be a frustrating match for both of you, with little chance of reconciliation.

3. You’ve become too different over time.

We’re all changing constantly, but we don’t always change in the same direction.

The two of you may have been very similar when you met, but then personal interests, maturity levels, goals, and pursuits took very different paths.

You may barely recognize the person you fell in love with in the person you see now, and vice versa.

Think of it this way: you probably aren’t in the same job you had when you were in high school, nor are you wearing the same clothes. Why would you expect a relationship formed several years ago to fit the same way it did at the beginning?

If you can accept and embrace the difference, great. But if one of you is forever harking back to the ‘good old days’ and wishing for something that no longer exists, it’s a good sign that you’ve outgrown each other and your relationship.

4. You resent your partner for not supporting your personal growth.

A lot of people are uncomfortable with change, particularly if it involves those closest to us treading a new path.

Some folks are so scared of change that they’ll sabotage or criticize those around them when they grow in unexpected directions.

For example, you may be considering going back to school to pursue a career you’ve always dreamed of, but your partner likes things the way they are and tries to convince you that you’ll fail at this endeavor.

Or perhaps you’ve embarked upon a journey of spiritual or self-discovery that your partner doesn’t understand or support, or is even actively trying to discourage because they think it’s weird.

Regardless of the path you’re on, if your partner isn’t encouraging and supportive, it’s a huge sign that you’ve grown apart and will continue to do so.

5. You feel annoyed rather than excited about spending time together.

Remember how excited you felt when the two of you first started spending time together?

You looked forward to one another’s company, planned all kinds of fun things, and simply enjoyed each other’s energy.

Now, you not only have little interest in spending time together—you get annoyed by the prospect of having to invest energy into them, rather than doing your own thing.

You may not share any interests anymore and thus don’t want to waste precious seconds of your time pretending to care about what they’re into. Or perhaps you now feel put off by aspects of them that you were once drawn to.

Either way, if you’re no longer motivated to put the time and effort in, it’s an injury that’s unlikely to heal.

6. You have different visions for the future.

One key sign that you’ve outgrown your partner is that your visions of the future are incompatibly different.

For example, you may be looking forward to furthering your career or buying a house in the country and raising children, while they want to remain child-free, living in a small city apartment, doing the same daily routine they’ve done for years.

Maybe one of you is talking about traveling after you retire, while the other doesn’t want to stop working until they drop dead, and so on.

If you’re on very different pages about how you envision your future unfolding, and it’s a non-negotiable for you, that’s a surefire sign that you aren’t a good fit anymore.

7. You wish your partner would change.

Have you found yourself wishing that your partner would change something about themselves that you dislike, or you feel that they could do it if they would only apply themselves?

Maybe you’ve offered what you feel are ‘helpful’ suggestions about their aesthetics, food choices, fitness level, career, or hobbies.

Essentially, do you wish that they would change to better suit the person you’ve become, rather than accepting them for who they are, as they are?

There are always going to be things about your partner that you’d prefer to be different. But if you can’t let those go and accept your partner as they are, the distance between you is only going to get bigger and bigger.  

8. Your arguments focus on each other’s perceived shortcomings.

The words, “You’ve changed” are often slung around negatively in arguments, but the opposite is also true.

When couples have outgrown one another, they often accuse their partner of having stagnated. Or they reel off various shortcomings in their partner that they find pathetic.

Insults about sub-par cooking, housework, career goals, and so on are common, with, “Why can’t you just…?” being a frequent lead-in to criticisms and condemnations.

When you feel your relationship has drifted beyond the point of return, you may even suggest that your partner would have been happier with someone else (and indeed think it about yourself too).

9. You don’t feel engaged or challenged.

Couples who are engaged with one another have interesting conversations, exchanging ideas, opinions, and so on.

They encourage each other to try new challenges or push themselves out of their comfort zones.

If this isn’t happening, it’s likely your interactions revolve around maintaining a superficially pleasant tone when you happen to bump into each other in the kitchen.

Another solid sign of disengagement is when things that used to annoy or upset you about your partner don’t have any effect anymore.

You’re so checked out that you simply don’t care, and you can’t even be bothered to argue or fight about things that used to get you riled up.

10 You feel like they’re holding you back.

Do you ever feel like you’d be able to achieve or experience something, but can’t because your partner or relationship is holding you back?

For example, would you love to go back to school but you can’t because you’re the primary breadwinner?

Or is your dream job in another city, state, or country but your partner refuses to move?

Or perhaps you’d love to save up money for a major purchase, but your partner is too irresponsible with money for this to be a reality.

If any of these (or other similar examples) sound familiar, be honest with yourself: would you be able to make your dreams a reality without your partner?

If the answer is “Yes”, and without it you’ll never be satisfied, it’s a clear sign that you’ve outgrown this partnership and it’s now holding you back.

11. You prefer to spend time with other people.

When someone is truly taken with the person they’re dating, they enjoy their time together.

They don’t have to be doing anything particularly special—simply sitting on the couch together and reading, or going to a favorite brunch spot to watch people and pigeons is enough for them.

In contrast, if you’ve outgrown your partner you probably prefer other people’s company to theirs, and you may put a great deal of effort into spending time with anyone other than them.

As a result, you’ve become like ships passing in the night rather than loving, engaged partners, which of course, only widens the growing distance between you.

12. You are no longer your authentic self around them.

Do you feel you have to perform a particular way so your partner doesn’t berate you for having changed? (Or not having changed, depending on the case.)

Maybe they make fun of you for hobbies or subjects you like, or for not keeping up with certain trends, whether that’s fashion, or the ‘right’ phone, car, etc.

Essentially, you feel like you have to pretend to be something you’re not, rather than being your wonderful, authentic self.

This will get increasingly draining, especially if your partner keeps pushing you to do things you have no interest in.

You pretend to enjoy yourself, but inside you’re dying.

13. You feel like you’re parenting your partner.

Few things can destroy a relationship like one having to ‘parent’ the other.

Nobody in their right mind wants to be physically intimate with someone they see as their child.

If you’re in a situation where you’ve had to shoulder all the adult responsibilities while your partner remained in a collegiate mindset, that’s going to breed resentment and distaste.

A partnership should be equal, rather than centering around one person doing the lion’s share of the physical and emotional labor while the other is passive and does the bare minimum.

And chances are, the less they do, the more you’ll do (and vice versa), so without a big change, the distance between you is only going to get wider.

14. You’re no longer interested in the things that brought you together.

Imagine 20 years ago, in a rock n’ roll-loving haze you fell in love with a successful, well-known musician. Because of your mutual passion, you loved the fun lifestyle you shared, and the prestige of having ‘won’ this person.

But now, they’re still living that rock n’ roll lifestyle… because that’s who they are, and you’ve got no interest in it.

Or vice versa: you might be the wild one, and over the years, your partner—and greatest fan/supporter—has ‘quieted’ down and is into other things.

You still have tons of energy and want to live a life of excitement, but they don’t.

Ok, it’s an extreme example, but you can apply it to any passion or lifestyle that you both once shared, that no longer works for one of you.

Ultimately, it’s a situation of one partner desperately wanting the old way while the other partner has completely outgrown it.

As you may imagine, a middle ground here can be impossible to reconcile.

15. You feel a strong desire for autonomy that the relationship can’t accommodate.

In most healthy relationships, partners communicate with one another if they need more independence, and they support each other in this as best they can.

When relationships are imbalanced, however, one partner may feel they’re being unfairly weighed down by obligation and responsibility that can’t be resolved. This often happens when one half of a couple is clingier than the other or has more complex needs.

Or it could simply be that you have very different ideas about how much independence is desirable and acceptable in a relationship.

If you’re discovering you need or want far more alone time and freedom to do your own thing than your partner does, you’re likely starting to feel like you’ve outgrown this relationship and your partner.

16. You now prioritize your needs over the needs of the relationship.

This can manifest in different ways.

You may simply have grown so disconnected from your partner or the relationship that you no longer consider their needs a priority.

Or it may be that you’ve been pushed to this point by their inability to meet your needs and so you are now prioritizing yourself because you have no other choice but to do so.

Hard experience may have shown you that you’re the only one who will get your needs met in this relationship, so you put them first and foremost.

Prioritizing your needs over theirs can show up in funny little ways or bigger, more obvious ones.

You may find yourself making toast or coffee and preparing yours before your partner’s. Or maybe you accept a job promotion in another city without even discussing it or considering how it will affect them.

Either way, if you find you’re prioritizing your own needs with little consideration for your partner, particularly if this wasn’t how things used to be, it may be an indicator that you’ve outgrown the relationship.

17. You don’t have any fun together anymore.

In the simplest terms, you just don’t do anything fun together anymore. Ever.

Whereas you once watched fun films while having living room floor picnics, laughed together until your faces and stomachs hurt, or went on spontaneous trips to the beach, you now only endure or tolerate each other’s company if you have to.

Time spent together is a chore instead of a pleasure, and you only talk to discuss family duties and responsibilities.

When you’ve outgrown your partner there’s simply no joy or fun left.

18. You find yourself looking at other potential options.

One of the strongest signs that you’re feeling unsure about the relationship and have outgrown your partner is checking to see what other options are available to you.

Maybe you’ve downloaded a dating app onto your phone, or are checking out groups online to see whether anyone piques your interest.

Perhaps you’re wary about the current state of the dating pool and are trying to figure out whether you’re better off sticking with your current situation.

Or you might simply be considering if you’d be happier alone.

Whatever options you’re exploring, the fact that you’re actively considering them is a pretty clear sign that your feelings for your partner have changed and that you may have outgrown the relationship.  

What To Do If You’ve Outgrown Your Partner

If several of these signs seem familiar to you, there are really only three options available:

  1. Communicate your difficulties as best you can and wait and see if things improve.
  2. Maintain the status quo and spend the rest of your life feeling miserable and held back by your relationship.
  3. End it.

The first option is definitely worth exploring if you’re only just starting to experience this feeling and haven’t yet discussed it with your partner.

If you’re feeling conflicted by your thoughts because you don’t want this to be the end, it may be worth talking it through with a therapist.

They can help you work through any deeper or subconscious issues that may be erroneously contributing to your feelings of having outgrown your partner.

But if you’ve already tried to communicate your concerns and/or been through therapy and nothing has made lasting change happen, you only have options 2 and 3 left.

Sticking things out in miserable circumstances isn’t going to do either of you any good, and you’ll both get increasingly more unhappy over time.

Your best option here is to end the relationship so you both have the opportunity to be happy.

This may involve finding partners who are better suited to your current interests and pursuits, or spending time alone to discover who you are when you aren’t trying to keep a dying partnership alive.

Ultimately, the kindest and most beneficial option available is for both partners to be set free.

Neither of you can be happy in your current circumstances, but by severing the cords that bind you, you’ll both have the chance to find real joy and fulfillment outside of the cage you’re currently trapped in.

About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.