Are You Growing Complacent in Your Relationship? 11 Signs You Are and How to Fix It

Are you bored?

Are they bored?

Have you both lost the energy and desire to keep your relationship fresh and exciting?

The comfort of a committed relationship can easily give way to a complacent relationship if both people aren't actively involved in the process. 

The monotony of daily life and familiarity can wear on us, especially if a relationship starts hot and heavy. 

We also go through changes as we evolve together, lacking the energy, physical prowess, and focus that led us to a relationship in the first place. 

Complacency is a common stop on the relationship road, but it doesn't have to be the end of it. 

What Does It Mean to Be Complacent in a Relationship?

Complacency means we take our partners for granted and make little effort to keep the relationship simmering.

In fact, the actual definition of complacency might make you cringe.

Complacency is not just laziness. It overtakes us for some specific reasons.

  • Overly Confident: A self-rewarding feeling that we've achieved the relationship summit. Also known as being smug. 
  • Unaware: We're SO smug during complacency that we don't see the risks that could be stewing. 
  • Effort: We don't feel the need to make any effort because we're smug and ignorant of risks.

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays, American Minister

When Mary J. Blige crooned about “No More Drama,” she might not have realized all that existed in a drama-free relationship.

Early relationship stages involve wooing each other, but by the time the comfort, trust, and familiarity set in, they can breed contempt and complacency in marriage or any love relationship. 

The opposite of complacent isn't much better. Synonyms include dissatisfied, unhappy, depressed, and upset. But sometimes, it takes these feelings to snap you out of complacency.

11 Signs of Complacency in a Relationship

It will take a bit of soul-searching to wrap your head around these signs, especially if you're festering in complacency. Hopefully, this will be eye-opening for you or your partner. 

1. The Physical Sign

At the start of a relationship, we always look our best and try to be an attractive partner. Once he puts a “ring on it,” we can stop trying. Sexy lingerie gives way to flannel pajamas. Spur of the moment sex transitions to scheduled events. 

Adding in parenthood and homeownership can leave less time to care for our physical appearance. You might be complacent if you're sporting more yoga pants and high buns than heels and little black dresses.

2. The Mental Sign

These complacent sufferers might as well have a t-shirt that reads, “You're fine. I'm fine. We're all fine.” We feel like we've “won over” our partners and don't see any risk that might be approaching.

We might even be slightly annoyed at the little things we used to find endearing. 

Depression can also set in, especially for those who set unrealistic expectations of a real committed relationship. You or your partner might be complacent if you're suffering from mental health struggles.

3. The Indifference Sign

Indifference is a mean cousin of trust. We might not think twice about our partner's happy hour habit, but they could also be looking to escape their own complacency. 

It’s also a slippery slope because if your partner keeps talking about the new secretary at work, indifference isn't ideal, but jealousy is also a bad idea. If you start to feel like the two of you are roommates and not partners, you might be complacent. 

4. The Wandering Eye Sign

Many studies show that humans aren't wired to be monogamous, yet society dictates we should be. Human nature will take over when we meet someone attractive or intellectually stimulating. 

We tend to look for other people who fill the traits our partner lacks. If you're focused more on walking by the hot barista each day instead of impressing your partner. 

5. The Lack of Effort Sign

We get it – with work, kids, friends, and all the challenges the 2020s have thrown at us, it's hard to make an effort in a relationship when that's the only thing that seems stable. 

Love is a decision you make every day. It's an evolving storm of chaos and rainbows. If you feel like you don't have the willpower to make an effort, you might be complacent.

6. The “What If” Sign

Those unrealistic expectations can leave us wondering, “What If?” especially if the relationship was off to a rocky start. We cyber-stalk our former lovers and see their rose-tinted look at life on social media. 

The internet allows too many gaslit glimpses of other people's lives that make us feel like we could be better off elsewhere.

You might be complacent if you're spending more time wondering what could've been rather than focused on what is. 

7. The Smug Sign

“Honey, did you feed the dog?” Of course, you did! You always do. Why are they asking? This household runs like clockwork because of your expertise and organizational skills. You are the apex predator of the family, and nobody should question you. 

The peasants should just bow to your royal routines and offer thanks for your efforts. If you feel like you're always being passive-aggressive with your partner, you might be complacent.

8. The Evolution Sign

Think back to what you wore to your high school prom. Do you cringe? Maybe it's realizing after a certain age that hangover headaches last days instead of hours. Every human evolves, for better or worse, throughout their life. 

Relationships should see two people evolve together and support each other through each stage. You might be complacent if you realize you are branching off from your partner but make no effort to get back in cadence. 

9. The Dating Sign

Even if you reach 100 years old with your partner, you should still be dating and courting each other, even if it's just to get arthritis pain gel. The dawn of your dating life should help define future dating opportunities. 

If you aren't making date night a priority or think, “We haven't gone bowling in years,” you might be complacent. 

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10. The Stranger Sign

One day, your partner leaves for work, and a stranger comes home. Time in a complacent relationship can fly by or drone on, but poor communication and lack of quality time can create strangers in the same home. 

If your partner states at a dinner party that they love archery and can't wait to go again, and you're left baffled, you might be complacent. 

11. The “Where Did That Come From?” Sign

The worst part about complacency is that you might not even know it until it is too late.

Since people can be blind to their complacency, we don't notice the boredom in our partner's eyes or the hanging head whenever we dismiss their attempts for a kiss. 

Female partners are especially vulnerable to non-sexual intimate relationships with others if they crave being seen and heard. If your partner says, “I just can't do this anymore,” you might be complacent and headed for a breakup. 

How to Stop Being Complacent in a Relationship

So, now we know we don't want to be complacent, but the idea of being non-complacent isn't ideal either.

Where do you go from here? 

1. Set the Tone

Call this your own personal butt-kicking. If you feel complacent bubbling, do something about it. Make a plan of attack, so you don't appear to be trying too hard or setting yet another unrealistic expectation. 

Start your day with affirmation and meditation that you will prioritize your partner and lead with grace and love in all interactions. Make an effort, even when you aren't in the mood for it.

You don't have to be a victim of your partner's complacency either. You can choose to reboot the relationship with simple efforts. Try this relentlessly, but not overwhelmingly, for at least three weeks. 

2. Have the Talk

When communication is one thing lacking in a relationship, the train gets back on track with good communication. Make it less of a “we need to talk” and more of an “I really missed hearing about your day” and work forward from there. 

Offer compliments, celebrate successes, and participate in activities with them that complacency would've prevented you from attending. 

Key elements of this discussion include: 

  • Leave emotion out of it. If someone starts crying or freaking out that you're about to leave them, it's a non-starter.
  • Give examples. Avoid “always” and “never” in the conversation, as this leave room for argument and not progress. Be specific with examples of times you felt invisible or ignored. 
  • Listen and ride out the silence. Sometimes, getting complacent people engaged in a conversation is not easy. Don't overwhelm with your own words while allowing silent pauses, so your partner can think and respond. DO NOT argue back when they finally speak up about their concerns. Just listen and absorb.

3. Have the Sex

Whether you need to binge-shop the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale or schedule a staycation to avoid household duties, bring the passion and fire back into the relationship.

Greet your partner at the door in nothing but a robe that “accidentally” slips open.

Intimacy and sexual connections fuel our bodies with oxytocin, which helps us feel that seemingly long-lost “love hormone,” bringing us closer together.

Shut off mobile devices, cover the clock, and seduce like you did when you were dating. 

4. Explore the Boundaries

Relationships can be put into a comfortable box with a gift tag FROM: COMPLACENCY.

Numerous apps are available to fuel deeper and more exploratory conversations so you can get to know each other all over again, but as the person they are now. 

Topics like biggest fears, unfulfilled desires, and “truth or dare” can all reignite connections and allow you to re-introduce yourself to your spouse. 

Questions can also get a little more sensitive, for example:

  • Is there something you want in a relationship that you feel isn't present right now? 
  • What do I do that annoys you the most? 
  • What is the greatest success and challenge of our relationship? 

5. Seek the Help

While anxiety and restlessness can happen in any relationship, you aren't stuck there. Whether you speak to a counselor on your own or as a team, it's important to understand what is feeding the complacency. 

Even if you insist you aren't complacent, a trusted and objective psychologist can help you see things that might not be evident in your routine.

With virtual sessions being more commonplace, it's easy to find time from the privacy of your home to have these crucial discussions. 

6. Make the Goals

We spend so much time creating career milestones or choosing when to start a family that we miss out on the important goal-setting benefits in a relationship. 

Whether planning a milestone birthday or saving up for the Alaskan cruise, setting relationship goals can help let each other know that you are in this for the long run and look forward to building on the relationship instead of being stagnant as it is.

Make long-term goals, like the cruise, and include short-term goals, like two date nights a month. 

Final Thoughts

As author Beau Taplin said, the sad truth about complacency is that it's really the process of growing apart.

You can fix it now while there's a small leak or wait until the water main bursts and clean up the mess. 

Don't accept complacency as a relationship death sentence. Use it to remind each other why you fell in love in the first place.