Knowing when to leave a relationship is one of the most confusing aspects of long-term dating. Because you’re emotionally involved, you may be completely torn about what you should do, even when you know that a breakup might be for the best.
Every situation is different, but here are a few signs to look for that tell you it’s time to leave a relationship.
1. You’re Not Genuinely Happy to See Your Partner
You may be afraid of being alone and you may even genuinely love your partner, but put those thoughts aside for a moment.
Whenever you see your special someone, are you happy to see them? Do you feel joy, or relief, or at least a pleasant sense of familiarity? Do they make your day brighter?
On the other hand, does it seem like a room darkens when your partner walks in? Do you get stressed out when you see them? Do they seem to suck the happiness right out the moment when they show up?
We all have our bad days (or weeks), but if your partner doesn’t consistently add some kind of joy to your life, then there’s something seriously wrong. You may be holding onto the idea of the relationship in spite of the fact that you don’t like being in it anymore.
2. Your Partner’s Actions Damage Your Life in Some Way
Obviously, if there’s some kind of abuse going on, you need to start planning to get out of the relationship. Ask someone you trust for help if you feel like you can’t let go on your own.
Sometimes the problem is more subtle, though. It may not be deliberate abuse, but the situation is nonetheless damaging. For example, maybe you are trying to scrimp and save to make ends meet, but your partner is addicted to shopping and spends all of the money. Really, any kind of addiction can end up causing unintended problems for both partners.
If your partner refuses to stop and their actions are seriously lowering your quality of life, you might want to seriously consider leaving the relationship.
3. You Realize That You’re Only With This Person Because You’re Afraid of Being Alone
Let’s say that you could rub a magic lamp and produce an attractive partner who would love you and be with you forever. Would you feel empowered to leave your current partner?
If the answer is yes, then you may just be sticking around because you think the person you’re currently dating is your only option. Not only is this not true in most cases, but your fear of being alone will only make it harder for you to find a more compatible partner.
If this is your only reason for staying, then this is a huge sign the relationship is over already. You might be going through the motions, but you’re fueled by desperation, not love.
4. The Relationship Is Interfering With a Major Life Goal
Is it your life’s mission to become an astronaut, but your partner refuses to move to Mars with you? You might both be holding each other back.
This is nobody’s fault, and sometimes this issue is resolvable with compromise or some creative planning. However, if something important to you is always on the back burner because of your partner’s needs, then resentment will slowly start to build in you.
5. Your Partner Seems to No Longer Be Interested
Does your partner seem bored with you? Have they been ignoring you or giving you the run-around?
People who are actually interested in the relationship don’t blow you off or make excuses not to see you. Your partner could be checking out of the relationship and be in denial about it, or they may simply lack the courage to tell you that it’s over.
If you believe this is the case, the best you can do is bring these concerns to light. Have a talk with your partner and get a straight answer from them.
6. You Argue Frequently About Stupid Things
One of the more common signs a relationship is over is when little things start to irritate you about the other person. Do you get into constant fights about household chores, where to go for lunch, and whose turn it is to mow the lawn?
If you’ve been bickering and getting into arguments about dumb things, then the underlying respect and love may be waning. Disagreements are normal in a relationship, but usually, we’re much more willing to let things go quickly when we have deep feelings for the other person.
7. You Keep Making Excuses to Stay Together
This may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a difference between having reasons to stay together and excuses to stay together.
Reasons don’t need to be explained normally. They are so obvious that you don’t even need to think about it. You love your partner and feel a special bond with them, so you wouldn’t need to question your reasons.
Excuses, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like: stories that you make up to justify why you’re still together.
“According to my astrological charts, we belong together. This must be a 10-year rough patch we’re going through.”
“We can’t break up. Then we’ll prove all of the naysayers right.”
“We have kids. I can’t break up the family like that.”
Again, all relationships go through ups and downs, and an excuse or two might help you weather a natural storm in your connection. However, if you find yourself making excuse after excuse, year after year, then this is a sign the relationship is over. Chances are, it’s been over for longer than you realize, too.
If You Notice These Signs, Does That Mean You Should Give Up?
Maybe you’re a little alarmed because your relationship has shown some of these signs of being over and you’re not sure how to react. It’s normal to be hesitant to throw away a relationship that has lasted for years or even decades. You probably don’t want to be like “those people” who give up at the first sign of trouble.
And you know what? There is something to be said for sticking it out. Sometimes relationships go through rocky periods and by seeing the problems through and not giving up too easily, we can learn valuable lessons.
The question here is: how long have you had these issues? If you’ve been wincing at your partner’s presence and arguing daily about who forgot to clean the dryer lint for a significant portion of the relationship, then you probably have deep incompatibilities.
Examine these conflicts and try to determine if they can ever be resolved. Sometimes you’ll find that too much damage is already done. If you hurt each other’s feelings very early in the relationship, for example, then that seed of resentment can live on for a long time.
On the other hand, if you know that your relationship can be great and most of the time you’ve had a deep, fulfilling connection, then you might just be going through a rough patch. Talk to your partner about what’s been going on. Be honest and bring the issues out into the open before they become resolvable.