Andrea Harrn Counselling Services

How do you know when a relationship has past its sell-by date?


Take the shopping:  When the price is right, the food might still go in the trolley on and beyond the sell-buy date.   Use-by dates are also not necessarily adhered to.   The food may be a bit manky round the edges but the taste isn’t too bad, certainly not enough to throw away.  It is only when there is more concern of greater harm than good do we throw away.

So how can we use the same guide for our relationships.

In the beginning it all looks good, feels good and tastes good.  The attraction is there, nice packaging, nice smells and lots of effort on both parts.  Of course we are talking here about matches made in heaven, or the rose coloured spectacle types.  Where love takes over all sense of rhyme or reason.  Faults are not easily distinguished or displayed.  Its all about impressing, attracting, finding mutual interests and of course sexual attraction is usually high at this point.

Further down the line, about 18 months later……  things start to change.  Its hard to keep up all those niceties.  You can’t look good 24/7 and its about time you spoke your mind about a few things that have been bugging you for a while.  Still doing ok though on the sell-by date.  Its at this point that the relationship really starts to deepen and grow as you get to know each other truly for who you are.

Marriage and children later life becomes busier, and the kids do tend to take the limelight.  Sex is on the back burner, well for some its still in the hot pot.  Understandably life can get in the way of romance and for some couples relationships suffer and have to be worked at even harder.  The partner you married no longer has that six pack and there is less time to look after yourself too.

By the time the children have flown the nest, if you’ve made it this far then its “Just the two of us”……     Another difficult time for relationships, all about readjusting and trying to re-kindle the sparks.  Often at this time you look at one another and wonder about how you’ve both changed and whether you can see growing old together as something to dread or be treasured.  After all those years what do you have?

–   a lifetime of experiences

–  family

– shared memories

plus so much more.

But maybe you are just not feeling it, or are confused about the future.

So when is enough enough.  There is no standard answer to this but as a guide:

–   When you have been unhappy for a long period of time and have tried to talk to your partner

–   When your partner does not or cannot seem to listen to you or take responsibility

–  When you stop caring

–  When you know that there is not even friendship between you

– When the sexual attraction has gone (although this happens to many that do still stay together)

– When you are being physically or emotionally abused

– When you begin to see a life for yourself apart

– Meeting someone else and wanting to be with that person

– Preferring to be on your own than in an unhappy relationship

– When you dread coming home

– When the atmosphere at home has been bad for a very long time

There is no easy answer but like the food in the fridge I would say go with your gut instinct and before you throw away the relationship speak once again to your partner and be honest about the situation as it is and see if there is anything that you can both do to improve the situation.


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One thought on “How do you know when a relationship has past its sell-by date?

  1. Your walking buddy

    In my experience a person will know when a relationship has past its sell by date because they will no longer have the energy or desire to keep asking themselves all of the questions you have posed! One day something small will happen (and it will be minor) but it will be the straw the breaks the camels back! In short – if they need to ask you then its not the right time!

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