Picture this: you’re at a thrilling amusement park, heart pounding with excitement as you step onto a roller coaster. The adrenaline courses through your veins, and every moment is a whirlwind of joy and discovery. You can’t help but marvel at the endless potential of this exhilarating journey ahead.
But keep riding that ride over and over again, and soon the excitement, interest and discovery starts to fade. Do you really want to wait in line AGAIN for this ride? Or is it time to turn your attention elsewhere.
This, my friends, is what it’s like when the next relationship red flag appears.
It’s a subtle monster that attempts to creep into every single relationship you’ve ever had and ever will have. While it’s subtle, it’s also dangerous and damaging.
It’s next up as we continue to make our way through a number of relationship red flags. These are warning signs to be aware of as you’re navigating relationships and deciding if they’re good candidates to be further developed.
There’s motivation and energy when relationships begin
New relationships bring enthusiasm and excitement because they always carry with them new hope and possibility for what they can become. We all long for close-knit relationships because we’re made in the image of God, and He is a close-knit relationship (as close as it gets!) in and of Himself.
We all desire to experience that as well with other humans.
The emotion of it all can provide the motivation and energy to work at a relationship to keep it alive and growing.
Apathy appears out of nowhere
However, apathy can creep in after the initial euphoria begins to fade. It often takes time because, as the novelty of the relationship wanes, we lose that sense of potential and hope for its future development. In their absence, it can appear out of nowhere.
Apathy, in its essence, is a “lack of interest in anything, or the absence of any wish to do anything; the inability to feel normal or passionate human feelings or to respond emotionally.” It’s when someone doesn’t seem to care, lacks interest, or simply can’t be bothered to invest the energy required to nurture the relationship.
Apathetic individuals often exhibit a disinterest in the relationship, lack motivation to make positive changes, and may even seem emotionally distant.
Apathy is contagious
One of the most concerning aspects of apathy is its contagious nature. Once one person becomes apathetic, it can quickly spread throughout the relationship.
An example from author Stephen Matthew’s book Rooting Out Relationship Killers illustrates this phenomenon vividly in a marriage…
The husband who always used to bring a gift home for his wife one day thought to himself. “Why am I doing this? What has she done for me recently anyway? I don’t think I will bother – after all, she isn’t bothered whether I do or not.”
His apathetic response was based on the apathy he perceived in his wife. He perceives that she has not done anything for him recently and that she doesn’t really care whether he surprises her with a gift or not.
Whether this is true or not is another issue, but her “apparent” apathy fed his apathy. No doubt she will have noticed and thought to herself, “He doesn’t think of me when he is away any more. So why do I bother going out of my way to make his favourite meal and trying to make his homecoming special? He can get himself whatever he wants from the freezer!”
Now his apathy has fed hers. So the cycle continues and quietly becomes all-pervading.
Matthew points out that apathy isn’t just a solitary red flag…
It also opens the relationship up to the damaging effects of other relationship weeds like silence and mistrust.
If you’re not careful, now you’ve got multiple toxic behaviors working to take down the relationship.
The answer for apathy is passion
The answer for apathy is a decision to be passionate about the development of the relationship.
Keeping passion alive isn’t always easy. It requires a conscious choice to invest effort, even when we don’t feel like it. Just as a flame needs fuel to continue burning, our friendships require our consistent commitment and enthusiasm to flourish.
So how can we notice if someone is actually a good candidate for a close relationship?
Here are a few telltale signs that someone is not apathetic in your relationship…
- They are fully engaged in conversations with you, paying attention, asking thoughtful questions and showing genuine interest.
- They prioritize spending time together.
- They initiate communication and get-togethers.
- They are there offering support during both challenging times and celebrations.
- They make sacrifices for you.
If you recognize apathy, take action
If you spot apathy in a relationship, take it seriously and take action. Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. That apathetic! 🙂 You’ll continue to invest in a relationship that’s not really going anywhere.
So consider if the relationship is one you should continue investing in.
If you feel like it’s not, you can redirect yourself elsewhere with the confidence that you’re choosing wiser investments in your life.
If you feel like it is, address it quickly and identify together the need to continuously inject passion and energy into sustaining and developing the relationship.