You entered your relationship with every hope that it would last — maybe forever. But somewhere along the line, you’ve felt something shift. Maybe you’ve been hanging in there, remaining committed, even though doubts have surfaced about your future together. If this situation sounds familiar, you might be wondering if you’re holding on too long. Watch for these signs that you are:
1. You’ve been waiting for your partner to “catch up.” You might feel he/she is lagging behind in relationship investment, career ambition, personal growth, or any number of areas. This is not a matter of you feeling superior—it’s about your partner’s lack of motivation and commitment. Over time, an imbalanced relationship fosters feelings of resentment and impatience. One thing to recognize is that people don’t tend to change that much. Ask yourself, “Can I accept this person for exactly how they are right now?”
2. When it comes to problems, small has become big. In the early phases of relationship, you probably tended to minimize disagreements and difficulties. Eventually, you realized that some problems don’t just go away and, in fact, they have started to loom large. The question to ask here is: “Are we compatible? Do we look at the world in the same way? Do we share values?”
3. You’ve started to feel like you’re biding your time. Regardless of your age, you’ve begun to think that the time you’re spending in your current relationship could be better spent exploring other possibilities. Time is one of your most valuable assets—don’t let it be squandered.
4. An emotional gap has opened up between the two of you. Whether the distance is caused by one partner or both, emotional detachment does not bode well for a future together. Give a relationship every chance to succeed, but realize that you’re holding on too long if you feel little heart-to-heart connection.
5. More and more, you’re feeling restless. That stirring deep inside you could be saying, “You’re stuck, and you need to get moving.” Restlessness can be a sign that you’re not getting what you need to remain engaged and interested in your relationship.
6. You find your eyes wandering. You don’t want to flirt with someone else, of course, but you must admit that other people are starting to look increasingly attractive. Pay attention to that impulse and consider what it’s telling you. Holding on too long could be holding you back.
7. Your friends are asking pointed question. Take note if your pals are asking, “You don’t seem happy—are you?” Or, “Are you excited about your relationship, or just sticking it out?” Or maybe, “Can’t you see that you deserve better?” Don’t shrug off such questions–your friends are in your life for a reason.
8. You have a list of ways you wish your partner would change. It’s one thing to hope for and encourage the other person’s improvement; it’s another thing to wish for fundamental changes. If you’re waiting month after month to see if your partner will change, you might be holding on too long.
9. Questions keep popping up in your head. It’s natural and healthy to evaluate a relationship at critical steps, but don’t ignore those nagging concerns. If significant questions keep piling up about your partner or the relationship, strongly consider addressing them head on.
10. You’ve thought about a breakup conversation—but just can’t do it. All of us are wired to avoid pain, and ending a relationship is full of pain. Many people hold on to a relationship when the facts confirm that staying together is only delaying the inevitable. The compassionate act—to you and your partner—is to move on so you can find someone better suited to you.