You can barely get out of bed. You want to sleep all day. You can’t string four words together. No, you’re not sick — but your relationship might be. All of those symptoms (and many more) are the physical signs of relationship burnout.
Here’s the thing about burnout. It’s sneaky. It kind of creeps up on you so that you know that you’re miserable, but you just can’t really pinpoint why. And since burnout is so often associated with work-related matters, you might assume that those blah feelings festering inside of you are because of a micro-managing boss, not the person you promised to spend the rest of your life with.
What does it mean to burn out? As Psychology Today explained, “burnout usually occurs when you start to feel you're working too hard for the results that are being produced.” The same can be said of romantic relationships, when you’re putting in so much time, effort, expense, and yes, love, and getting little (or nothing) in return. "Life is challenging and burnout is part and parcel of our modern time period," Susan Winter, a relationship expert in New York City, tells Romper. "Compile that with a relationship and children, and you have a recipe for burnout."
But burnout is more than just a bad bout in the relationship or a fight with your fiancé. It’s a relentless sort of unhappiness that pervades every part of your life, including (and especially), your health. Know these 11 shocking physical signs of relationship burnout to determine if it’s time to extinguish the flame for good.
One of the biggest signs that you’re suffering from relationship burnout is fatigue. “If you’re in a relationship where you feel burned out, you’re going to start feeling tired,” relationship expert April Masini, explains to Romper. “You’ll drag. It’ll be tough getting out of bed.” And you’ll find you don’t have the energy you normally have — because you’re feeling down and out about the relationship.
Although burnout comes with feeling sluggish and lethargic, it can also leave you anxious and upset, which all falls under the umbrella of being stressed. While being stressed is just a part of everyday life, continuous stress (particularly on the home front), can put you at greater risk for bigger health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more, Medical News Today reported.
3. Weight Gain
Whereas you might have eaten less in the springtime stages of your relationship (when you were so excited to see your sweetie that you barely had an appetite), burnout does the exact opposite. Stress can cause you to gain weight, reported Health.com. Cortisol, a stress hormone, spikes when we’re stressed, which can increase your appetite not just in general, but for fried or fatty foods that aren’t good for you at all.
Taking naps and sleeping late (when that’s not what your normal behavior is) can definitely be a physical sign of relationship burnout. “Sleeping is an escape,” explains Masini. “If the relationship is in the doldrums, it’s easier to not face it by zoning out.” Sleep is that ultimate escape from the reality of a relationship burnout.
5. Lowered Libido
As much as cortisol might rev your body’s engine in some ways, it totally puts the breaks on when it comes to nookie. Cortisol actually lowers your libido, reported Self, subsequently throwing your whole sex life out of whack. And if you’re already having issues with your partner, the last thing you’re probably going to want is to have sex, anyway, agrees Winter. "It's going to feel as exciting as doing 10 loads of laundry," says Winter. "You’ll barely go through the motions to make an attempt to keep up your part of the marriage requirement, and you’ll become resentful."
6. Slower Metabolism
Being burnt out can cause a whole slew of tummy troubles, not the least of which is a slower metabolism. While cortisol can initially boost your metabolism, you might find that you’re hungrier, and therefore, hitting up the fridge more frequently. And since cortisol breaks down muscle for energy, over time it can cause a decrease in your metabolism, according to Livestrong.com.
Coming quickly upon the heels of fatigue comes the benchmark of a relationship gone wrong: depression. Says Masini: “When the relationship is in a rut, and you feel burned out about it, you’re going to feel depressed.” Apart from feeling sad and blue without any real reason why, you’ll feel like walking through mud to get ready for a date night or a party with your partner. Or, on the opposite end, you might go into "active depression", where you throw yourself into a new activity or hobby as a form of escapism, adds Winter. "We think of boredom as lethargy, but you can go into escapism, where you become very involved in something else as a means of avoidance," she says. "Ultimately, it's all part of depression, even if it doesn't look like it."
8. Hair Loss
Let’s say that you’re in the shower and you’re suddenly spying some extra hair collecting down by the drain. It’s not your imagination — or that new shampoo you bought; burnout can cause your hair to fall out, as Healthline reported. Technically known as Telogen Effluvium, you might find that your hair comes out in clumps, or partially in patches. Not to worry, TE is reversible, and your luscious locks should grow back in eventually.
9. Period Problems
When you’re stressed out and sad, it can throw your menstrual cycle out of whack, according to Self, which likely won’t put you in the mood for anything, much less romance. As Very Well Mind explained, spikes in cortisol cause the brain’s hypothalamus to decrease the release of hormones that aid in reproduction. That means that your period might be off by a few days, weeks, or stop entirely. You should speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing amenorrhea, (which is missed periods not due to pregnancy), to see if there are any underlying medical issues not related to burnout.
10. Fuzzy Thoughts
Having problems concentrating or collecting your own thoughts? Psychology Today discovered that the exhaustion that comes with burnout can lead you to have cognitive issues like forgetfulness or not being able to process what people are saying. That can impede your ability to not just work, but function as a parent, too.
11. Weakened Immune System
Find yourself catching more colds lately? Burnout can bring on a cold or other possible infections, the National Institutes of Health explained. When your body is not functioning at its prime, your natural defense system is weakened, leaving you open for airborne viruses or bacteria that you could normally fight off.
Relationships fizzle and fail everyday, but sometimes it takes an ungodly amount of time for us to realize it. Why? You want to make it work, you don’t want to believe it’s over, the list goes on and on. But at some point you should take a good long look at your relationship to recognize if it's healthy for you, both mentally and physically, or if it's not.