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Valentine’s Day – Can Our Relationships Burn Us Out?

Written by: Ellyn Schinke, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Can our relationships burn us out? I’ll admit…it’s been a minute since I’ve been in a relationship. I’m relatively happily single. But, I think this question is an important one to know the answer to ‒ single or not ‒ because when it comes to our relationships? It’s not just about the romantic relationships. It’s about our friendships and our family relationships too.

Shot of a young couple sitting on the floor in their new home and feeling stressed

So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let’s dive into this!

Long story short – Yes. Our Relationships can burn us out…

There are two ways to look at this. First, burnout can infiltrate our relationships. This is one of the biggest reasons why I’ve always said that burnout is holistic because, if we’re burned out at work or our relationships are burning us, that will inevitably and naturally bleed into our relationships—romantic, family, and friends… all of our relationships! Because most of us aren’t great at compartmentalizing our work or other life stresses away from the people in our lives.

Not to mention the fact that social support is such an important ingredient in burnout recovery. Why do you think it’s so important for me to have a community component in my memberships? We need to know that there are people around that will support us and that get what we’re going through. That are willing to listen.

But that's just the first side of things.

The second part that we have to take into consideration is that our relationships can be a direct cause of our burnout, particularly emotional burnout. Because social support is so important in recovering from burnout, when we feel a lack of social support, especially in those places we feel like we should be getting it, that’s where the problem comes from.

Think about it. How do you feel when your boss or client devalues you?

When they don’t appreciate how hard you’ve been working? Or completely overlook your contributions and how much time and effort you put in? It feels pretty shitty doesn’t it.

Now, take that exact same situation, and think about how you feel when a friend, significant other, or family member does it. Arguably, it feels even shittier.

Burnout in our relationships happens when:

We feel undervalued by our partners or friends

We feel like we’re giving more than we’re getting

When we’re taking out other life stressors on our partners or friends—though this typically leads to them feeling burned out.

I’m sure there are more scenarios and situations that lead to relational burnout, but I would say these are the primary ones. And the reason why it can be so pervasive is that most of us are a) very comfortable in our relationships and we don’t want to leave them (even if they’re not working) and b) most of us are non-confrontational and don’t want to bring things up (or just don’t know how).

When you’re burned out in your relationships, it can look like a lot of things.



Negativity and complaining about the relationship.

Emotional exhaustion.

Feeling drained and unmotivated.

Frequent fighting in your relationships.

Lack of interest in sex.

Lack of interest in spending time together.


Daydreaming about “leaving” or escaping.

It’s not fun anymore.

The relationship feels like it’s taking more than it’s giving.

So, what can we do about this?

I don’t want this to be all doom and gloom! It’s Valentine’s Day for Christ’s sake! And—single as I may be—I enjoy flowers and chocolate just as much as the next person and, though I’ll admit to being naturally pessimistic (I blame my dad 😂), I don’t want to be. And I want to make sure we leave with some tangibles about what we can do.

  1. If you don’t like something that you’re doing in your relationship, change it. If you don’t like that you’re distracted when they’re talking, put your phone away. If you don’t like that it doesn’t feel fun anymore, inject some fun activities into your relationship. This is an obvious step 1, but sometimes we don’t do the obvious thing.

  2. Write out your concerns. It’s easy to say “talk to your partner about it,” but sometimes we don’t articulate our concerns well when we’re face to face with the person who we’re having issues with. That’s why I’m a big fan of writing things out. Maybe you just bullet it so you have talking points. Maybe you write them a letter and read it to them. And if they ask they you have it written down, just say, “I just wanted to make sure I had my thoughts fully formulated” or something similar.

  3. Tell them what support looks like. Sometimes we get emotionally burned out in our relationships because we feel like they’re not giving us the support we need, but—serious question—have you ever told them what support looks like? And what it doesn’t look like? After I left grad school, I was making more money than I ever had before in my life and my parents were still making jokes about me getting a “real job.” As obvious as it might be that that might be considered offensive, it took me having a conversation with them to get them to stop. We sometimes have to articulate what we want support to look like and what we don’t want support to look like in our relationships. Note: I totally get that sometimes it doesn’t even feel worth it to have this conversation. It might be time, then, to walk away from that relationship.

  4. Seek out therapy to help you explore things. I think this is particularly important if you see a pattern of behavior showing up in your life when it comes to relationships and relationship burnout. I’ll be fully transparent that I went back to therapy recently to navigate this exact thing. So, sometimes it does take a professional to help us find the mindsets and behaviors that are holding us back, and then change them.

So, can our relationships burn us out? Yes.

But I hope you got some insights on what to look out for & things to try that might help!

For more tips and information about burnout coaching, head to

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Ellyn Schinke, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ellyn Schinke is a former scientist turned top coach and international speaker specializing in burnout and stress management. After burning out while pursuing her Ph.D., Ellyn was sick of all the cookie-cutter, BS burnout tips online and sought out the real, tangible tactics that would actually make a difference in her life. As a result, burnout when from being her lifestyle to her passion. Now, she's focused on helping corporate professionals and businesses free themselves from burnout and take back their lives. Ellyn is the founder and CEO of Coach Ellyn LLC, one of the top burnout coaches on Google, host of the Burned Out to Badass podcast, and more. Her mission: Make burnout a choice.



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