How to Know When to End a Relationship

Break-ups are hard. The longer the relationship, the harder the break-up. Not all relationships are meant to last forever. So, how do you know when it’s time to get out? Here are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to move on.

You’re always waiting for the next big move.

You feel like you’re waiting for the proposal. Or the wedding. Or to have kids. Or the next big gesture. If you find yourself constantly seeking, maybe it’s time to step back and evaluate the present. There’s a reason why you’re consistently looking toward the future instead of remaining in the now. It’s definitely important to keep progressing in the relationship, but maybe it’s become too stagnant for you in the present moment. Is this relationship taking you to where you want to be or are you stuck on what it could be?

All of your favorite memories together happened some time ago.

We all love to reminisce. We do it with friends and family. It often starts with, “Remember when…”. It curates a whole range of “feel good” emotions. However, how dated are they? Are some of your fondest memories from last week or last year? Sure, there are important events that stand the test of time. But what about the more day-to-day joy like doing something silly or receiving flowers just because? If they’re missing, maybe it’s time to evaluate.

You feel frustrated, hurt, unheard…a lot.

It’s completely normal to feel all these things in a relationship. It just means you’re human. But do you find yourself feeling these emotions a lot? Particularly when you’re with your significant other? That should be a warning sign that something isn’t right. Something has to change directions; maybe it’s your attitude towards a problem or maybe it’s the relationship.

They consistently refuse to be part of your life.

This is a good rule for anyone, not just your significant other. I once had a friend whose boyfriend despised me. He would valiantly try to be decent when I was around, but you could tell that he’d rather stick his head in quicksand than be in the same room as me. It’s okay if they don’t adore every friend. However, at the very least they should go to the parties hosted by your friends because they want to show their love and support for you more than they want to nurture their petty loathing. Same goes for family affairs.

They shut down when you talk about the hard stuff.

Nobody likes to talk about the nitty gritty, but the fact is that every relationship has some. No relationship is a polished version of perfection and it takes work. Sometimes, the work is mutual: you both have to work at it as a couple. Sometimes, the work falls on you: you’re having a hard time in life and you need that support where you can talk openly about your emotions without being ignored, accused of being burdensome, or abandoned. Sometimes, the work falls on them: they need to deal with some of their own deep shit and learn to open up instead of letting it come out in a hurtful way. Anger, fear, and sadness always find their way out whether or not you want them to. If there’s no open communication around them, you’re asking for a relationship explosion, or at least self-destruction.

You find yourself thinking about the “what if” frequently.

Again, some of these concepts are completely normal. It’s normal to imagine what life would be like if your significant other never walked into it or decided to walk out of it. Would you move to a new place? Would you finally go after your dream job? Or would you be completely miserable? However, if you find your mind drifting constantly to what life would be like after a break-up, maybe it’s time to take those thoughts seriously. Do you imagine yourself being devastated or going off and doing something that you felt you could never do? Be honest with yourself.

You have fears that breaking up might lead to them hurting themselves or someone else.

This should be enough to head the other direction. You might catch yourself being frightened that your significant other will hurt themselves or you. Let me make this clear: Anybody who threatens suicide if you leave is an emotional abuser and you need to run, fast. It will seem counterintuitive, but you’re trapped in talons if that’s the case. Save yourself before you strap on your cape and attempt to take on someone else’s emotions. Here’s a good place to start if you don’t know where your relationship stands on this.

The bottom line?

You can’t change someone else. That is not within your power. However, you can change yourself. You have complete control over your own journey and path in life. Life is too short to be spent wondering if there’s something, or someone, better out there. Some relationships can thrive off of an honest conversation and some will automatically crumple. Regardless, is this the hill you want to die on?


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Originally published at on August 18, 2015.