Is Your Relationship Burning Out?

Is Your Relationship Burning Out?

Written by Judy Klipin

Relationships, just like people, are living, breathing entities and are therefore vulnerable to the same complexities and challenges that individuals experience. Burnout is a modern condition that is increasingly prevalent amongst people and relationships – not just romantic relationships (although this is where the focus of our attention tends to go first), but all kinds of relationships. Platonic, professional, familial and social relationships are all at risk of becoming burned out if we do not pay sufficient attention to their care and maintenance.

There are many symptoms of burnout, including:

  • Exhaustion,
  • Overwhelm,
  • Feeling like you’ve got nothing left to give,
  • Boredom or a feeling of ennui,
  • Lack of motivation,
  • Craving sugar, carbs and caffeine,
  • Waking up feeling tired,
  • And more.

While we can’t ascribe the physical symptoms of burnout to the entity that is our relationship, the emotional and spiritual experiences can certainly apply, to the individuals within the relationship and to the relationship itself. Individually and collectively we may start to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, unmotivated and bored with and in our relationship. When the relationship reaches the real burnout stage it may feel as though we have nothing left to give to each other or to the relationship.

Why do our relationships suffer from burnout?

The same reason that individuals suffer from burnout: boundaries! Or, more precisely, a lack of healthy and honest boundaries:

  • Saying yes when we mean no, and no when we mean yes.
  • Pretending.
  • Not being honest – with ourselves or each other – about what we do and don’t want and need.
  • Not taking enough care of our own needs.
  • Paying attention to the (real or imagined) needs of the other and of the relationship at our own expense.
  • Not taking enough care of our own needs.
  • Trying to do too much.
  • Not spending enough time alone – as individuals and as a couple.

Differently put, our relationships, and we, get burnout when we do too much of the wrong (for our relationship and for us) things.

How can we manage relationship burnout?

The same way we manage our individual burnout. By resting. By reflecting. And by making some changes to how we are as individuals within our relationship, and to how, in the relationship, we are in the world.

We need to work on our boundaries, on our self-care and on our communication – both as individuals and collectively. We need to embark on a course of action that allows us to regain our own (individual and collective) energy, enthusiasm and excitement about our relationship. We need work to re-energise and re-ignite our relationship.

And we also need to identify what we need to do to maintain that regained energy and enthusiasm, and put actions and processes in place to achieve that. Just as we need regular quiet alone-time to check in with ourselves and identify our own needs, wants and fears, we need to do the same with our relationship.

Even if we are busy.

Especially if we are busy.

Taking anything for granted (our health, our wellbeing, our relationships) is asking for that thing to be taken away from us. We must be present and vigilant if we want to avoid losing our relationship to burnout.

I am pleased to offer two opportunities to provide support for relationship and individual burnout understanding and management:

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