Relationships are a great and essential part of human life.
Israel Houghton in the track “To make you feel my love” aptly sang, “everybody needs love.” This truth was also expressed by Bebe Winans in “This song” when he too sang, “see everybody, wants to be loved. No one deserves to be lonely, or accused for taking love for granted.”
Human beings, of necessity, desire to be connected to a significant other in a monogamous relationship. This is not only good for our emotional and mental well being, but has contributed towards procreation and the centuries-long perpetuation of the human species.
Sadly, people are not always honest about how they feel. Sometimes, rather than hurt their partner, some people would rather stay on and act like nothing has changed, even though it is evident that their heart has migrated and the situation been the two people has altered significantly.
This is what I call checking out. When a person wants to opt out of a relationship but continues to linger on for some reason or the other. It’s a bit like a guest at a hotel reception, handing back the keys and paying the bill because they’re leaving, although they will be physically present on the spot while carrying out the process of checking out.
Some signs that that your partner has checked out
1. Affection is lop-sided. In a relationship where feelings are mutual, surely both parties should be expressing and professing your love for each other. If only one who can pronounce the L word, there is certainly something wrong with the picture. Clearly, love has migrated from the other end and is probably perching somewhere else. Anytime something between two people is lop-sided, there is clearly a problem. If only one party is constantly expressing their care without reciprocation, then there is problem, particularly if the partner is not one of the reserved types who have to be coaxed into expressing themselves.
2. Physically present but emotionally and mentally absent. Ever been around someone who is there but not there? People can physically occupy a space while their hearts and minds are elsewhere. A person who wants to be with you will be fully present in your company. They will be physically, mentally and emotionally engaged in your presence. Once a person checks out, the company you used to enjoy will not be there, nor will the emotional support and intellectual stimulation. If anything, you’re better off alone than with the person because their physical presence is just occupying space while adding no value by being there.
3. Exclusion from current and future plans and activities. The average couple engages in joint activities and plans the future together – that’s normal. The more time people spend together, the closer they become. However, when someone checks out, they no longer have time for their partner. Other priorities take precedence over quality time once spent together. Also, the partner who has checked out starts to plan for the future alone or with other people. Statements that once began with “we” or “our” are replaced by “I” or “my.” Everything worth having requires some investment in time, which is an essential ingredient to the success of any relationship, so once people have no time for each other, one of them has certainly checked out.
Usually, the signs that someone has checked out of a relationship are plain to see, yet no one wants to confront the issue or make the first move. The problem with most people is that they tend to hang on in there and somehow hope things will work out, even when it is clear that the relationship has reached its tail end and the other person has checked out.
The reasons for hanging on vary. It could be the fear of being lonely, or that the social ties that bind the relationship go beyond the two individuals and involve other people of significance. On the other hand, the person who has checked out could be staying on because they are afraid to hurt their partner, or it is socially convenient to hang around, even if they are no longer emotionally invested in the relationship. Sometimes people stick around for a single element, e.g the partner is good in bed, or some other quality.
Whatever the reasons for hanging around, it is important to weigh one’s options and decide if it is worth it to stick with someone who has checked out or move on.
Sadly, when people see clear signs that their partner has checked out sometimes, rather than talk to each other, they act out their frustrations, much to the emotional detriment of both parties. While this is understandable given the irrational nature of emotional relationships, there is always a more rational and mature approach to resolving such situations.
So what do you do when you notice these signs?
As with any challenge, there is no single solution. It’s always best to talk to your partner and find out what’s going on. It’s good to be honest with each other and express exactly how you both feel. There are many reasons why people check out. Sometimes it’s because of insecurity – the person has been hurt before and is afraid to invest too much in a relationship. It could also be a result of infidelity – the other party has probably met someone else who is preoccupying them mentally and emotionally. Or, it could be a sign of frustration – some people shut out rather than confront issues. Or perhaps it could be out of a realization that you are incompatible but already too deep in a relationship. The social ties around the relationship could also be greater than your emotions for each other. Or, there could be an economic dimension – probably, the person is no longer interested in the relationship but hangs on because they derive some economic benefits.
Whatever the reason, it is best to talk about it and come up with a joint solution.
If the person has checked out because of something that can be addressed but still wants in on the relationship, then its best to thrash it out and find a joint solution. Normally, nothing works out on its own accord. There has to be concerted efforts from both partners and where there is a will, there is usually also a way to bring redress.
On the other hand, if the situation is untenable and one party wants out, it’s best to let go.
Remember, it takes two to tango and relationships, particularly of a social nature, are purely voluntary so there has to be mutual consent, otherwise there really is no point in being together. It is pointless being in a one-sided relationship and will only cause the interested party much stress and emotional pain.
So, in a nutshell?
Be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge that your partner has checked out. Discuss the issue. Either work out a solution and stay together in a stronger relationship, or part ways amicably – it’s not the end of the world and sometimes it may be in both your best interest to separate. Whatever the outcome, you will emerge a stronger and wiser person.