Why Do Relationships Go On Autopilot Mode?

“Till death do us part, if as long our love shall last.”
Confused? It’s exactly what it sounds like, the new ‘temporary’ wedding vows doing the rounds, thanks to present-day stagnant, “inconvenient” relationships. In fact, while some people are insisting on changing the age-old wedding vows, others do not wish to enter into a committed relationship at all.

How does this happen? A relationship or a marriage becomes inconvenient, stagnant even, and goes into an autopilot mode? When you look at your partner you think, “where is that spark”? “Where is the love?”
There is no connection, no desire anymore.

Instead, now you argue with your partner about the same things over and over again. At times you lose interest in trying to convince your partner of your point of view.
You desperately miss the heady feeling you had experienced in the early stages of the relationship, but those seem to be faint memories now. The intimacy has reduced. You do not remember why you liked this person so much anymore. Everything seems too predictable and there is boredom creeping in.

This is the the make it or the break it point in a relationship. This stage can last for a few months or drag on for many years before it transforms. The transformation occurs because both the partners decide to transform themselves and work it out, or they decide to stay together simply because they have children (i.e. if they are married) but live more like roommates than life partners, or they decide to pull apart. A fourth scenario is, where there is no decision taken and the relationship crashes on its own.

Now dear reader why do you think the relationship is in this position? To find out, in this first part of the article let’s take a look at:

    1. The signs of a relationship running on autopilot
    2. Why does a relationship stagnate?

Feel free to click on any of the links above to directly go to the section of your choice.

To find out what steps you can take to change the course of the relationship, you can also directly go to the second part of the article here: My Relationship Is On Autopilot, What Do I Do?

The Signs of a Relationship Running on Auto-pilot

These are the red flags showing the signs of stagnation in a relationship :

  • Constant arguments: You argue about the same things over and over again and neither of you is open to the other’s viewpoint. In fact listening to each other only makes you both more angry.

  • Your social media pictures seem beautiful lies you wish were true: Friends congratulate you on the beautiful pictures on your Facebook, or Instagram profiles. They exclaim you make such a lovely couple, they envy you. And you think, ‘if only I could confide in them that on the surface it all looks sugar and spice but underneath it’s all ice.’

  • Constant criticizing or comparing: There is a feeling of contempt in the relationship and you or your partner or both feel criticized and judged by the other. As criticisms pile up so does resentment. Finger-pointing becomes a habit.

  • Forcibly doing things to feel you are in a relationship: To maintain the façade of a relationship in front of friends and family, or even to desperately feel the feeling of being in a relationship yourself, you attempt to do things together such as go on a date, or a holiday and end up arguing endlessly, go for a movie but don’t enjoy it, spend time with each other families but keep looking to escape as soon as possible.

  • Shutting down frequently: There are long periods of no communication. There is complete disinterest, or anger or both and you feel too tired to make an attempt to communicate.

  • You don’t want to think where the relationship is going: We have a tendency to brush anything unpleasant under the carpet. It is the same with relationships you may not want to address or resolve any issues in the relationship for fear of raising sleeping demons. Therefore, you spend time away from each other and distract yourself.

  • No physical intimacy: Physical intimacy is an important, if not crucial part of a relationship. When you don’t feel anything for your partner it affects your physical equation with him/her. This accelerates the process of stagnation in the relationship.
  • You don’t enjoy being with your partner’s family: Visiting or being with your partner’s family seems like a chore now and you can’t wait to get away. Or your partner is not at all interested that you meet his/her family.

  • You haven’t talked about your future in a while: Couples in love talk about their dreams, of being together in the future, of where they are going in life together. But you and your partner cannot remember the last time you had a talk which was about being together and doing something together in the future. You are completely out of touch with each other’s dreams.

  • You are too tired and you just let the relationship be: Finally, the days seem to just go by and everything is just routine for you. You or your partner or both are simply tired going through each day and you are no longer actively involved in giving a direction to your relationship. You simply let it run any way i any direction on autopilot.

  • You are confiding in someone else and not in your partner: If you are beginning to get closer and confide in someone else other than your partner, it is definite red flag in the relationship. For the person you should be able to be close to, focus on, and confide in completely is your partner not someone else.

  • Why Does a Relationship Stagnate?

    To revive a stagnant relationship and bring it out of the autopilot mode both the partners need to put in equal efforts. Sometimes the efforts work and sometimes they don’t. If you understand the cause behind the stagnation it can help guide your focus and efforts towards a definite direction. Some of the main reasons for relationship stagnation include:

    • Unrealistic Expectations: In the initial stages of love everything appears rosy and beautiful. Once everyday life begins to make demands upon your time, the rosy hue fades away. You or your partner then may feel inadequate or betrayed in the relationship. It would be wise to remember that love too requires work.

      Love is not a destination to be reached but is a journey which keeps growing and evolving at each stage. The romantic love needs to die so that a mature much stronger love can grow and sustain the relationship against all odds.

    • Relationship was based on sexual chemistry: If the relationship was based purely on sexual chemistry it is bound to falter in the long run, because only sexual chemistry is not the foundation of a relationship. Once the infatuation stage is over, one of the partners or both may feel that they are not ideal for each other. And that can cause a serious rift in the relationship. A relationship requires the foundations of love understanding, trust, and adjustment to be able to withstand any storm.

    • This relationship was an escape from being single: Some people get into a relationship because they are afraid of staying single. This relationship provides an escape from loneliness. After the initial phase of infatuation dies down though, they suddenly realize this is not the person they want to be with. The relationship then becomes stagnant and dies down.

    • A partner changes: This is an interesting reason for a relationship to stagnate. If one of the partners evolve and transform, for example if the woman in the relationship evolves and grows emotionally, materially, spiritually, and mentally, and her partner is not evolving with her, a conflict or even repulsion may occur. The option for the other partner is to grow or the relationship doesn’t work out anymore.

    • Maybe it’s too soon: Maybe it’s too soon for one of the partners to move forward to the next stage in the relationship. Maybe there are old hurts that need to be healed for you, or your partner before you are able to make a commitment. Maybe there are other areas in life that need to be addressed before a new chapter in life begins. Or maybe you or your partner simply want to take it slow and not rush into entering a commitment and taking responsibility for which you or your partner are not ready.

    • Clingy partners: If one of the partners in the relationship is too clingy, it is bound to take a toll on the other partner. The other partner gets emotionally drained. He/she then may choose to avoid spending time with the clingy partner, and yet also face an internal conflict that his/her partner may not like it. This can strain and damage the relationship.

    • Financial problems: Though this may sound strange but yes, financial problems have lead many a relationship to break. Both the partners need to be aware of each other’s financial expectations, strengths, and weaknesses, even before they plan a long-term commitment. When they are aware of what to expect, they are mentally ready and aware of what they are getting into. This, in the long run, provides mental relief. Constant worries about money can weigh down on a partner and lead to a break in the relationship.

    • Maybe love is not a priority: Maybe the profession, the hobby, honing the talent, the dream that he/she wants to fulfil since years, is the priority right now and not love. And that is fine. This person in the relationship could be you or your partner. In any case, make your priorities of the moment clear to your partner and also find out about your partner’s priorities. That way you know where you stand and where this relationship stands right now, and what is its future.

    • Too much interference from extended family: This may sound funny, but in India there is a saying that when you marry someone here, you marry the entire family. That can be a great source of strength for some, and yet at other times be a constant source of a headache for many. Constant intrusion by extended family can cause misunderstandings between a couple, for example, a partner may feel he/she is not getting enough time from the other because too much time is demanded by the extended family members. Love, trust, understanding, and support between a couple need to be firm enough not to let any extended family member cause a disruption in the relationship in any way. A partner can become distant from his/her spouse emotionally, physically, and mentally if there is too much interference in their family life from extended family members.

    • Betrayal and mistrust: Trust is the foundation of any relationship. If a partner has been cheated on, it can take a very long time for the trust to be regained or may never be regained again. There will always be a crink in the relationship even if it largely heals, because at a seemingly slightest provocation, the individual in the relationship who was cheated on may start doubting her/his partner again.

    • Incompatibilty: Once the infatuation stage dies out, the couple begin to realize each other’s true characteristics. This then can reveal how well they can gel with each other in the long run. If there is no mental and emotional compatibility, then the relationship is doomed. If the couple are from different cultural backgrounds there could be some incompatibility in mannerisms, way of talking, and everyday habits. These factors can be worked out with understanding, acceptance, and compassion.

    • Not emotionally expressive: A communication gap may arise if one of the partner in the relationship is not emotionally expressive. There could be many reasons for this, including past emotional hurts. In such a case you or your partner can go for emotional counseling. There are multiple relationship counseling platforms that can be of aid to you. You can also post any emotional issues that you may be facing in your relationship right here at www.askmile.com, or also engage a counselor of your choice to guide you through your relationship.

    • There is no respect for the partner: This is a major relationship killer. If a partner does not respect and admire the other from the core, the relationship will never work out. This is a major hiccup that couples find difficult to accept when they realize it, but gradually later it sinks in that they cannot spend a lifetime with a person they cannot respect.

    • Your life goals do not match: A relationship can be successful when two people know where they are going and what they are working towards. If the big life goals are not commonly shared, such as marriage, having children, sharing a home together, rest assured this relationship will never work.

    Now that you understand what are the possible causes behind the relationship going into an autopilot mode, what are the steps you can take to get the relationship moving?
    Find out here: My Relationship Is On Autopilot, What Do I Do?

    – Anoo Pathak
    Spiritual Counselor & Mentor

    Online Counseling Askmile