Recognising a dead-end relationship

Even though it might seem like the type of thing that would be obvious, many of us have spent months and sometimes years in relationships that are never going anywhere.

Sometimes it is only after the relationship has ended that you can see this fact with real clarity. In other situations we know we’re in a dead-end relationship and just can’t seem to accept it.

Ending up in a dead-end relationship isn’t always your fault. When you love or have loved someone it is very difficult to accept that maybe this person is not right for you. However, it will become your fault if, once you recognise the relationship is going nowhere, you do nothing about it.

Sometimes even when things are bad it can be hard to call it quits.

Of course all relationships take hard work and go through rocky patches and when you have invested time into a relationship you want it to work out even when things are not right.

This means it can be hard to recognise when a relationship is failing and you need to let go. The first step in the right direction is looking out for some common warning signs that your relationship is headed for a cul-de-sac. When we take stock of a relationship we have to remind ourselves that marriage is a vocation. Ask ourselves is this person going to be part of my vocation? Here are some tips to help you spot when your relationship is headed for a dead-end:

Poles apart

Do you share the same hopes, aspirations and dreams? Of course you don’t have to share them all, but having common goals in life is important. You want children, they don’t. You want to live abroad, they don’t. You have a deep faith, they have none. If there is no common ground here then you will always be travelling in opposite directions.

Also ask yourself when you picture your future, do you see this person in that picture? If you can’t imagine spending the rest of your life together, then what are you doing wasting your time? If you differ on some of the fundamentals then it is unlikely that your relationship will last long term.

Making time

Have you ever noticed when someone who was really busy starts seeing someone they are crazy about, they all of a sudden manage to make time for the new person in their life?

There is having time for someone and making time. We make time for people that we want to spend time with. Oftentimes the effort can be totally one-sided. If you are always the one making plans and your partner can never be bothered it’s clear that they do not see it going anywhere.

If time is being channelled into something that is not connected to the relationship, excessive commitments often are a distraction away from the reality that you actually don’t want to make time for this person.

When you see a future with someone, you put in the time and effort needed to make a relationship work. Generally saying you don’t have enough time is an excuse. Often couples who don’t want to confront the problem hide behind excuses. You have to ask yourself why you would make time for someone who is repeatedly not making time for you.


A lot of people say that hate is the opposite to love, but indifference can be a much more telling emotion. Are you avoiding spending time with that person? Are you no longer excited by their company?  If your partner gets a big promotion or does well in an exam, are you excited and supportive of them?

Planning ahead

Are you or your partner reluctant to plan even a few weeks into the future of the relationship? If the answer is yes, it’s because you can’t see or are not excited about the future with this person.

When you care about someone you will plan for holidays or daydream about the future together. These thoughts perpetuate the sentiment that you will be a couple that gets married and grows old together. If all you are getting is a noncommittal grunt it’s a clear warning sign.

Discussing the future shouldn’t be something you are scared of doing, you should be excited about it. Being attracted to someone and wanting to commit to that person are two different things.

If your partner is seeing the bigger picture it will leave you with a sense of belonging and assurance. The absence of any planning shows the other person hasn’t made up their mind.

Selfless love

Our culture is focussed on individual happiness but our faith teaches us to be totally counter cultural, that a relationship with a real future is one that is selfless rather than selfish.

If the relationship seems to be all about ‘me me me’ then you’re heading for disaster.

If you don’t see yourself being able to ‘serve’ this person in selfless love then marriage is probably not on the horizon.

Sharing faith

If your other half is bringing you further away from God and weakening your faith then it’s time to reassess. Your relationship should enhance your spiritual life and indeed this should be something that is shared together. This can sometimes happen slowly over time where God is edged out of our lives, ultimately if this happens your relationship will suffer. When God is part of our relationships, we invite true love into our relationships.


Sometimes you get to the point where the conversation is just chit-chat or maybe you never moved on from conversation that only really scratches the surface.

I am always fascinated by couples who say ‘oh yeah we talk all the time’ when you ask what they talk about they say ‘everything’ and ‘everything’ translates to what’s on television, work or gossip.

A relationship that is going to last is one where you can communicate on a deeper level and be able to be vulnerable with the other person, where sharing your hopes, fears and dreams is a joy and you are not afraid to open up.

Perhaps you have noticed that you are identifying with some of the points made in this piece. I would advise not to have a knee jerk reaction and walk away, try to distance yourself from the relationship and honestly access if you feel it has a future.

Many of the above issues can be worked through and walking away without at least trying to remedy issues could be something you will regret.

Sometimes we can be pretty sure it’s not going anywhere, it is just finding the strength and courage we need to walk away. Remember this decision is not just about you, you don’t want to be wasting someone else’s time either, if you know it is not going anywhere the longer you stay in the relationship the more difficult it will be to end it and the more heartache there will be.

If you don’t see someone as your future spouse, then really you are just using them for the time being until the right person comes along, and nobody deserves that treatment.

Remember as with every dead-end you can always turn around get back on track and travel on another road.


Questions to ask yourself about your relationship:

*Do you picture this person in your future?

*Do you share the same goals for marriage and family?

*Do you make time for this relationship?

*Are you still excited by this person’s company?

*Do you talk about issues on a deeper level?

*Do you feel a need to make this person happy?