The road to a fulfilling, enduring relationship is almost always littered with a few attempts that turned out to be unfulfilling and unenduring. That’s what dating is all about: finding out if two people have the qualities and compatibility to sustain a relationship over the long haul. Sometimes you don’t have to question how to know when to break up with your partner—you just know it’s time. But other times you’re not so sure. You find yourself wondering, ‘should I break up with him (or her)?’ ‘Should I hang in there and give it a chance?’ or ‘Should I move on so I don’t squander precious time and energy?’
You’re at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do, working hard at make sense in your own head about what you want. Feelings are our gauge of well-being. When we feel negative emotion—sad, discouraged, uptight, frustrated, angry, or dissatisfied— we can know instantaneously that something isn’t right. And when we feel joy, quiet calm, free, happy, content, and pleased or thrilled, we can also know instantaneously something is exactly right.
The challenge in relationships—and in the task of knowing when to break up with someone—is that each day and with each interaction there is the potential for our feelings to shift up or down. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the patterns in the relationship. If, over the course, of time the daily blips are repeated and repeated, and your negative feelings continue, then there’s a pattern you might want to be concerned with.
Here are 9 clear, no-doubt signs of a breaking relationship:
You’re simply not happy.
This is a great place to start. Someone who is dating the right person consistently enjoys the relationship and feels a general sense of happiness. We’re not saying that they wouldn’t argue or be upset with their partner occasionally; even the healthiest couples do that. And we’re not saying that there wouldn’t be times when a person in a good relationship would get down or struggle emotionally at some level. But generally speaking, a person who is in the right relationship is going to be happy. So if you find yourself wondering whether you should break up, frequently, then that’s a fairly clear sign that this may not be the best person for you.
You’re doubting everything—big time.
It’s natural and healthy to evaluate a relationship at critical steps, but don’t ignore those nagging concerns that are trying to tell you something. As a general rule, voices inside you are there for a reason, and they ought to be listened to. Sometimes, something within us is whispering (or even screaming) that we’re dating the wrong person, presenting the signs of a breaking relationship. If this is the case for you, then one of the worst things you can do is to ignore that voice. Give it free reign and let it direct you to the conclusion you may have already come to.
You can’t figure out a way to work it out.
As you’re wondering whether or not to break up — consider asking yourself another question: ‘Can you two work it out, and do you want to? Is there anything about this relationship that’s worth salvaging? Even if you’re still unsure about your commitment to the relationship, try to pursue healthy conflict resolution. Talk about your concerns, voice your needs, and apologize for your role in the current situation. Listen to your partner and respect how he/she is feeling.
If you can resolve—or at least calmly address—conflict, you can better assess the future direction of your relationship. But if you can’t keep your cool? It might be time to hit the road.
You don’t think you’ll regret it.
One way how to know when to break up is to consider the consequences. Deep down, do you believe you’re giving up too quickly? Do you still believe, deep down, that he’s ‘the one’? Remember, regret is not the same things as ‘feeling bad.’ Of course you’ll hate to hurt your partner’s feelings, and will be sad to end something you once hoped would last a lifetime. Regret, however, is painful disappointment in yourself for missing out on something that could have been good. If you don’t think you’ll think back and wish you made a different decision, you probably have one foot already out the door.
You wonder about what else is out there.
It’s normal to have occasional doubts and questions about the long-term prospects of your partnership, but don’t ignore the warning signs if those thoughts become increasingly frequent. It’s not always the case that a person is wrong because of some sort of character flaw or personal defect. One of the signs of a failing relationship is when you are dating one person but secretly wishing you were with somebody else. It could be that it’s an ex you’re still carrying a torch for. Or maybe it’s someone else in your life you wish you could be with. Regardless, if you are constantly (or even frequently) wishing you were dating a different person, then that’s a sure-fire sign that your current relationship is not all it should be.
You don’t feel good about yourself.
Sure, everyone will have doubts and insecurities, and they may even deal with some bigger questions about themselves. But the time they spend with their partner will make them feel better about themselves, not worse. In contrast, if your partner exacerbates your self doubts and undermines your confidence, then that’s a major red flag that this is not a good person for you to be in a relationship with. You want someone who affirms and celebrates the great things about you, not someone who wrecks your self confidence and torpedoes your every attempt at growth.
Your friends are encouraging you to end it.
Truth be told, you’re not just wondering about breaking up in your head, but you’re seeking the help of your besties. If the people you trust and are closest to feel that you’ve found a good catch and therefore encourage the relationship, that’s a good sign that you two may belong together. On the other hand, if the people who love you the most are begging you to get away from someone, then that person’s probably not the one for you. Of course, sometimes your friends and family may choose someone for you who isn’t a great match. In these cases, it’s not always wise to follow their advice. But if they are the people you trust the most and who know you best, and they are urging you to get out of your current relationship, then you owe it to yourself to give their advice a serious listen.
The cons outweigh the pros.
A cost-benefit analysis can be helpful in situations other than at the office. Sit down for a few minutes and write down the advantages of continuing to date the person you are with. Then list the disadvantages. When you compare the lists, you might determine that the reasons to stay together are more compelling than the reasons to break up. But if the opposite appears to be the case, that’s how you know it’s time to call time on the relationship.
You’re lying to yourself.
We’ve all been there: we know something is true, but we just can’t bring ourselves to see it or admit it. Maybe you don’t want to believe something negative about your partner, or you want to ignore the fact that all you two ever do is argue when you’re together. Whatever the actual issue, one of the signs of a breaking relationship is when you are working hard to deny facts about your relationship that you know to be true. Like what? The gut feeling that he’s simply not right for you.