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Stagnant Relationship: Has Your Relationship Come to a Standstill?

All relationships fall into ruts now and again, but being in a stagnant relationship is a whole different story. What is your relationship temperature?

Stagnant Relationship

Relationships ebb and flow. There are times when you cannot imagine having anymore fun. But, there are also times where things are on pause. You are content, but stuck. You aren’t going out together or really doing anything together other than living your life. Are you in a stagnant relationship?

Now, this is normal every once in a while. If you are going through a busy period at work or have a lot going on, making the romance and fun of your relationship a priority is difficult. It happens. As long as you break out of that rut, it shouldn’t end your relationship.

However, a rut is different than a stagnant relationship. A stagnant relationship isn’t just put on pause temporarily, it is truly on hold indefinitely. 

[Read: Relationship feels like friendship? 15 naughty ways to spice it up]

What is a stagnant relationship?

A stagnant relationship isn’t always what you think. You can think you are happy, but really you are just fine. And relationships should be more than fine.

Often stagnant relationships are formed out of ruts that are never broken. You may have fallen into a rut with your partner after a fight, a hard time in your family, or even a big change. 

Most of these things are temporary. If you don’t take the steps to get back into the fun of your relationship and really focus on your partner and your connection, your relationship becomes stagnant.

[Read: The signs your relationship isn’t working out and it’s time to end it]

A stagnant relationship will lack communication, passion, romance, intimacy, and may even lack anger, arguments, and fights. 

A stagnant relationship isn’t the same as a doomed or dysfunctional relationship. It isn’t necessarily toxic. A stagnant relationship is more empty. The strong feelings that make relationships so amazing, those are what’s missing. And trying to get that back may be even more difficult than remedying something more dramatic.

[Read: How to make a relationship work and build a stronger bond]

Am I in a stagnant relationship?

It can be hard to figure out if you’re in a stagnant relationship or just in a passing rut. Either way, breaking out of those down or empty times in a relationship is important to ensure you are on track and happy.

There are quite a few signs of a stagnant relationship that can help you better identify where your relationship is and kick off your efforts to come back from this emotional lacking.

#1 Lack of quality time. You may think your relationship is doing just fine because you spend a lot of time together. But it isn’t about the quantity of time, it is about the quality. You may eat dinner together, watch TV together nightly, and even go to parties together. But if you aren’t making the most of that time, it is like you are apart.

A stagnant relationship has no depth to it. It is taken up by filler. You may talk about the bills or a TV show or even your families, but you don’t really connect any more than roommates. And you may eat dinner together while staring at your phones, but don’t really enjoy a meal with each other’s company. [Read: 15 common reasons why you’re getting bored with your relationship]

#2 You’re waiting for something. A stagnant relationship is hard to break from. You are always waiting for it to get better on its own. We are often in a stagnant relationship thinking it is a pacing feeling. You are waiting for intense feelings to rise up or for your partner to surprise you with a candlelit dinner.

Patience is a great trait to have, but too much patience in a relationship causes a stillness. If you are just patiently waiting for a change or movement, you could be waiting years while your relationship gets colder and colder.

#3 Feeling like you’re single. Sure, on paper you’re in a relationship. When it is stagnant, you may not feel that partnership. It’s not necessarily that you go out and flirt with strangers, but you just don’t feel your partner’s emotional presence.

You may not have their active support or you may not vent to each other or confide in one another. You may have someone to bring as a date to weddings, but lack the closeness and dependability of being in a relationship even though you technically have one. [Read: 15 revealing truths about feeling alone in a relationship]

#4 You’re letting go. Sure, in relationships you want to pick your battles. You don’t want to start a fight about something so minor it doesn’t matter, but letting things go too easily can be a sign of a stagnant relationship. 

It is fine to let go of the fact that your partner left their dirty clothes on the floor after a rough day of work. If you don’t say anything about them going out every night without letting you know when they’ll be home or where they are, it could be a sign that you aren’t caring as much.

Not wanting to ruffle feathers because you don’t have the urgency to, shows that your passion for this person is lacking. You don’t want to put the effort into difficult discussions. [Read: Why are relationship ruts so common and how to recognize and fix them]

#5 You lost your spark. Relationships can start with a spark or with a slow burn. But without at least some passion, attraction, or chemistry, you basically have a friendship. Something that keeps couples together for decades is that spark. It is a touch of flirting even after years together.

You may be living your lives, but a simple kiss in the morning and comment about how good your partner looks goes a long way. Your spark can flicker quite often over the years. Once it goes out, it is hard to get it back. [Read: How to rekindle love and bring back the romance spark]

#6 You don’t talk. Talking is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Communication, comprehension, and just listening are what drives a relationship. If you don’t really interact, your relationship is going to stop existing and turn into a stagnant relationship.

Even without a proper breakup, not talking to your partner about your feelings and desires can end a relationship before you know it.

#7 You don’t fight. Fighting is a hard term to quantify. You can have a healthy and vibrant relationship without yelling and screaming. Sharing your concerns and disagreements is important to ensure honesty and trust. 

If you don’t want to share what you are feeling or thinking with your partner, especially when you disagree, it can lead to a lack of caring. You may think things are going well because you don’t fight or have disagreements, but it can actually be a sign that you are in a stagnant relationship. [Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and grow closer]

#8 You’re not excited. Whether you are in a new relationship or have been together for years, there should still be excitement for new adventures to take together. Whether you are flying to another country or trying a new restaurant in town, a lack of excitement for spending time together is a bad sign.

You may not dread spending time with your partner, but you feel nothing about it. If going to lunch with your mom ignites more feelings from you than a date with your partner, things are definitely stagnant. [Read: How to let go of your past and be excited by your future]

#9 You’re scared of being alone. If the strongest feeling you have for your partner is the fear of being alone, it is not a good sign. A healthy relationship includes a fondness for your partner and maybe even a fear of losing them. 

But if your only fear is being alone, this relationship is not just stagnant but a placeholder. Being with someone just to be with someone is like having a vacation house just to tell people you have it. It isn’t doing anything for you nor adding to your life. It is just there. [Read: How to let go of your fear of being alone and find peace]

How to break out of a stagnant relationship?

Breaking out of a stagnant relationship can be done in two ways. You can end things because you have no hope of recovering that spark and closeness. Or you can try to get back what you had.

Ending things may be the easier option. There is a good chance you would both be relatively okay with that. But, sometimes your relationship becomes stagnant just for a lack of effort. [Read: How to not be boring in a relationship and bring the magic back]

If you want to get the life back into your dead-end relationship, tell your partner how you feel and ask how they feel. You need to really listen.

Try new things together. Dress up for a casual dinner. Make a weekly date night. Take a dance class, go on a mini-vacation, or even work on a project together. Be intimate. Hold hands, cuddle, just making eye contact can even reignite something between you.

[Read: The simplest and sweetest romantic gestures you can use in your everyday life]

A stagnant relationship can be so dull you may think you can never get the fun back, but if that is what you both want, it is possible. Just start with the right kind of effort, however small it may seem, and you’ll be there very soon.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...